Food: Tulum

You'll find the freshest seafood and spiciest tacos in the beautiful, boho enclave on Mexico's Yucatán Peninsula

By Helen Warwick
Published 21 Aug 2015, 09:00 BST, Updated 5 Jul 2021, 10:19 BST

Papaya Playa Project
The HQ for hipsters and stupidly pretty pleasure seekers, this pop-up hotel — which decided to stay popped-up — hosts beach parties and Victoria Secrets shoots… yes, really. It's all very sceney, and you can't knock the food, which is cheap and wonderfully fresh. The guacamole was the best I tasted in Mexico, while a ceviche of sea bass served in a coconut shell, huge prawns in mole, and barbecued octopus were serious standouts.

Set back from the sands on the jungle side of the beach road, Cenzontle combines chilled beats and dinner by candlelight beneath a sweep of stars. In an area where fish is king, its pork ribs ticked the boxes, as did the catch of the day — served whole, in lime, ginger and paprika.

Parayso Hotel
Swing by this rustic beachfront spot, flop on a sunbed and order your fill of tacos. A far cry from the plastic, crispy versions you see in the UK, these soft corn wraps are topped with chunks of deep-fried fish, prawns, beef or chicken and a healthy sprinkling of pickled onions. But it's the sauces dousing every handful that clinch the deal, from creamy avocado to fiery hot.

There's a woman at this al fresco spot whose sole job is to waft incense around — but don't let that put you off. Dimly lit with candles and a chandelier hanging from branches, Gitano is all wooden beams and boho cushions, dishing up a locally-sourced menu of fish, tacos and inventive takes on veggies. Particularly memorable are the ceviche or the catch of the day, smothered in garlic, lime and salsa.

The best guacamole

Halve and mash three avocados and combine with a handful of coriander (including the stalks), plus the juice and zest of a lime, a finely chopped red chilli (de-seeded if you don't want the full fiery effect) and a good pinch of salt. Serve with tortilla chips.

Published in the September 2015 issue of National Geographic Traveller (UK)


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