Eating in Cozumel, Part 1
During our week in Cozumel, we were invited to a number of restaurants. From chic to rustic, modern to traditional, breakfast, lunch and dinner, we sampled a little of everything the island has to offer. It was an intense culinary program and there were times when, regardless of how delicious the shrimp ceviche or grilled snapper was, I almost couldn’t take another bite. But I did… all for you! Please respect my sacrifice! Here were some of our favorite finds.
Immediately upon arriving, we drove to the island’s only five-star hotel and resort for a taste of the Good Life. We relaxed on the beach, did a bit of snorkeling, and then sat down to a delicious meal of fresh ceviche and fish.
Ceviche is a tricky dish made of marinated raw fish, and I’m usually too nervous to order it. But for some reason, I wasn’t concerned at the Intercontinental. At a five-star resort, you don’t have to worry about things like “quality”. And this wasn’t just the best ceviche I’ve ever tried, but probably the last. Everything else is going to be worse, so why even try?
Smart, chic food in a beautiful garden restaurant, it was almost a given that Kondesa would become one of Cozumel’s trendiest spots, when it opened in 2011. Everything about this place is cool, from the music to the decor, and the food isn’t bad either. We had sampled a few great dishes, and I’d say my favorite was the guacamole sampler: traditional, fruit and nut varieties.
Or maybe I best liked the cheese fondue. Or was it the lion fish crabcakes? I don’t know, I was in the mood to enjoy everything. It was Friday night and there was a DJ spinning music in the corner. A light rain had fallen, forcing everyone into the interior patio, and it was a conspicuously good-looking bunch to be crowded in with. For a casual yet classy night out, Condesa is probably Cozumel’s best bet.
It took us awhile to realize that, in Mexico, torta means “sandwich”. In Spain, the same word means “cake”. So when I was told that the most famous dish at Casa Denis was Torta de Camarones, I almost got up and walked out. What kind of sick freaks…
But luckily I realized my error, and was soon devouring the most delicious shrimp sandwich I’ve ever encountered. They’ve had a lot of time to perfect the art. Casa Denis, an institution on Cozumel, has been in business for over 90 years.
With the most enviable location in Cozumel, directly between the ocean and the main square of San Miguel, Palmeras doesn’t even need to try. Customers are going to flock here, regardless. So, it was a happy surprise to discover that they do indeed try. Come for breakfast, order a plate of chilaquiles or enchiladas, and try to leave unsatisfied. And yes, you read that right: in Mexico, enchiladas are for breakfast. Chilaquiles, I don’t even want to get into.
Okay fine. Chilaquiles are basically nachos: tortilla chips covered with a rich red or green sauce, smothered in shredded chicken, cream and cheese, and served for breakfast! They’re called chilaquiles because, nachos for breakfast? That’s a little heavy. But these are chilaquiles so, no problem, breakfast is served.
A hip, downtown diner serving delicious food at unbelievable prices, dependably crowded with locals… who wouldn’t enjoy a place like La Cozumeleña? You’d have to be miserable not to immediately love this joint. We had heard that it has the best huevos motuleños in the entire peninsula. That’s quite a claim, but after devouring my entire plate in about three minutes, I’d be happy to hand them the title.
It bears noting that we were invited for meals at all of these restaurants. We were under no obligation to write positively about them, and only chose our favorites to include in this list. Luckily, almost every place we visited was great. We hit so many excellent spots, that we easily have enough material for a second article full of dining recommendations. Which will be coming soon.
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December 13, 2013 at 3:28 pm