When NOMA lands in the street where you have your hotel for a 7 week pop-up you know that you might just have hit the right spot for great food. Yes, this is NOMA Copenhagen doing a side step in the tropics. This pop-up was already booked full out before it started and with a 700 USD cover charge this might surprise you, but probably not the foodies amongst us. While I was not in the know for this event to happen it set some great expectations for the restaurants in Tulum in general and I was not disappointed.
Hartwood – one of the examples where a NYC chef with a passion for Mexican food decided to change his life and open a restaurant where his heart is. Eric Werner’s story is well described in this blog at Lucky Peach. Hartwood is an open air restaurant with amazing food using Mexican ingredients. They serve for example pulpo with vegetables you’ve never heard off, ceviche with fruit that is uncommon and all of this is mouth watering. Line up early, put your name on the list and wait knowing that it is more than worth it.
Mamasan – it was the first restaurant at the start of our holidays which we joined for lunch. We needed an airy space because we were just adjusting to the tropical temperatures, and Mamasan offered just that. On our zizag chairs we were tasting our first ceviche. I can tell you this was a great start of our holidays.
Casa Jaguar – run by Patricia Calles and her son Diego this restaurant combines Asian and Caribian food. In a stone setting with a wood fire for the kitchen, amazing dishes emerge and land on your plate. Casa Jaguar has that tropical vibe and the freshest of ingredients that are able to surprise your taste buds.
Cenzontle – this secret garden restaurant is a lovely candlelit place with Mexican style dishes with a modern twist. Ivan Angeles the owner, started as a waiter and then opened Cenzontle. It is indeed that hidden garden secluded from the rest of the world with lovely Mexican food being prepared for you. BTW he is also one of the founders of the stone building bar at the corner opposite Hartwood which serves great cocktails.
Arca – I quote from their website: Chef Maya Scales and Chef Benjamin Coe’s menu pays homage to the Yucatan Peninsula using the very best products from local beaches, farms, and the chefs’ own vegetable nursery. Their dishes change frequently according to the seasons and availability of the freshest produce. Below 8 people Arca accepts walk ins only and they can host you at the bar if you need to wait a bit. The best cocktails are prepared for you on the spot at the impressive bar.
Restaurare – not so upscale and a bit more humble is Restaurare. This vegetarian restaurant makes you turn to become vegetarian after one meal. I had a vegan tofu noodle dish which was amazing. The menu has theses dishes that seem not too interesting when you read their description, but they are amazing when you taste them. The waiter – there was just one – was running like crazy to support the restaurant which was pretty much full. Make sure not to miss it on the Tulum beach road hidden behind the trees.
Gitano – A Mezcal Bar and a great restaurant that’s what is Gitano. With life music and parties organized throughout the week you will be sure to test some of their cocktails. And try to come early one day to test their menu. You will order different dishes like vegetables, carbs and fish/meat to form your meal and share amongst all on the table. And don’t forget the cauliflower Mole. This vegetable with the original Mexican chocolate sauce is their signature dish that you will probably see at every table.
Safari – The airstream serving as a kitchen will lure you in. This open air restaurant is really relaxed and camp (and cheap), with a lovely team bringing it all together. The fish taco’s are great, as is the ceviche, and with the drinks from the great bar you will have a wonderful evening.
All of the restaurants are in Tulum Boca Paila area, the trendy bit of Tulum. You pass by km 7.5 and the hippy part approximately one mile earlier and continue to find this culinary heaven and these trendy hotspots.