We’ve been popping into the “white city” regularly during the past five years and have had a chance to check out many of the best restaurants in Merida, Mexico. Armed with a notepad of recommendations and an endless array of restaurants to try, we have set out on a mission to explore all the delicious Yucatan cuisine this capital city has to offer. It’s been a tasty challenge to discover the best restaurants in Merida, Mexico.
The following Merida restaurant reviews and recommendations are simply based on our personal opinions. We’re not chefs but have been eating our way around the world over the past five years. So we’d like to think that we know a good dish when we taste it. Yet we tend to put a heavy emphasis on the value. We love a good deal almost as much as good food, so you’ll see this clearly reflected throughout our Merida restaurant reviews.
We gravitate towards local cuisine rather than international restaurants, as we like to taste the flavors of the regions we travel to right on their home turf. Hence most all of these restaurant recommendations in Merida reflect Yucatan and other Mexican cuisine. We scoured the city in search of the best cochinita pibil in Merida rather than finding a great Thai restaurant or burger joint.
Like most people visiting Merida, we always stay in Centro. So most of the restaurant recommendations in this guide are within walking distance of the center of town unless otherwise noted.
There is an endless array of restaurants in Merida; likely over a thousand restaurants by some estimates. We’ve been able to try about seventy or so of those eateries while visiting the Yucatan’s capital city. We’ve taken our recommendations from locals, expats living in Merida, notable chefs, guidebooks, food bloggers, crowd-sourced review sites (e.g. Yelp, Tripadvisor), and even comments we’ve received directly to blog.
We’ve attempted to try each and every one of Merida’s top recommendations with an open mind so that we could develop our own opinions. This has led us to explore the city with a fork in hand in search of the best restaurants in Merida.
So what are the best restaurants in Merida? It was difficult to whittle down a selection of our favorites. But here are our top picks!
Best Cheap Eats, Street Food & Snacks in Merida:
These are some of the cheapest (and best) places to eat in Merida. Whether you’re on the hunt for street tacos or local snacks like marquesitas, here is where you’ll find some of the most budget-friendly options in Merida.
What to eat: Tacos!
Many people vouch that Wayan’e has THE best tacos in Merida.
We can’t disagree.
Wayan’e is one of our favorite places to eat in Merida. Go here for breakfast tacos or lunch but don’t go much later than noon because all the best taco fillings get picked over. There are about 30-40 different varieties of taco fillings to choose from, in addition to daily specials.
During our many visits, we have tried at least half the menu. Our favorite taco fillings at Wayan’e are the eggs with chaya (a local spinach-like vegetable), chicken in mustard sauce, chicken with poblano pepper & onions, pork belly, and something called the “chili bull.”
There are now four Wayan’e locations throughout Merida. The two Wayan’e locations we recommend is one for its proximity to Centro and another for being the original.
The Wayan’e location here is within walking distance to Merida Centro and boasts a pleasant ambiance with tables in a courtyard setting.
The original Wayan’e location, well northeast of the center of town, is a counter service joint on the street that retains a more rustic charm. Whichever location you go to, we hope you agree that this humble little establishment is one of the best restaurants in Merida.
💲Prices: Around $10 pesos per taco
📍Location: The closest Wayan’e location to Merida Centro is about a 15-minute walk east of Plaza Grande, on the corner of Calle 59 & Ave 1o de Mayo (AKA Calle 46)
Turkey Tacos & Sopa de Lima in Parque Santiago
What to eat: Yucatan specialties with fresh-carved turkey
Around lunchtime in Parque Santiago, there are many food stalls set up in a food market area bordering the park. And Parque Santiago is the place to go for the Yucatan staple of turkey!
Most of Parque Santiago’s food stalls have big juicy roasted turkeys behind the counter. Order a few turkey tacos (tacos de pavo) and they’ll carve the turkey fresh off the bird. It’s a cheap and delicious lunch with locals in a lovely setting away from Merida’s busier tourist hot spots.
Not in the mood for turkey tacos?
Put that fresh roasted turkey to use in other ways such as in traditional sopa de lima (lime soup), a favorite Yucatan dish that can eat as a meal. The tangy lime broth is loaded with turkey. It’s a must-try while in the Yucatan!
So which stall in Parque Santiago should you choose to get your turkey fix on? We’ve been to about a half-dozen of them and they’re all fairly comparable and great! In the Netflix cooking documentary, Salt Fat Acid Heat, chef Samin Nosrat and her photographer friend can be seen sitting at Taqueria La Lupita to taste different salsas. So it’s become a notable place in Parque Santiago to try, but do know that it’s their cochinita pibil tacos that’s their specialty rather than turkey.
💲Prices: $10-$12 pesos per taco, mains $40-$80 pesos.
📍Location: Go to the small market lining Parque Santiago, on the corner of Calle 70 & Calle 57.
Sunday Street Food in Plaza Grande
What to eat: Yucatan street food like salbutes and panuchos (refried tortillas stuffed with refried beans and various toppings).
On Sundays during Merida en Domingo, little tented restaurant operations spring up along Calle 60. Pick one, sit at one of the plastic tables, and get ready to chow down on some delicious local street eats.
Each booth offers similar yet different menus. Common menu items are tacos, tortas, panuchos and salbutes. So go ahead and play restaurant roulette to find your favorite Sunday stall.
We suggest looking for a booth that has the most customers. This is not only an indication the food there is good, but heavy traffic to one of these pop-up restaurants will help to ensure what you order will be hot and fresh!
💲Prices: $40-$60 pesos
📍Location: Eastern side of Plaza Grande along Calle 60
Lucas de Galvez Market in Merida
What to eat: Whatever looks good… tacos, pork, ceviche, local produce or an agua fresca
You’ll find street eats of all kinds throughout the sprawling Lucas de Galvez Mercado, for both eating within the market and to take away. This is our go-to spot to buy vegetables used for cooking at the kitchen where we stay.
But Merida’s big local market is also a great place to grab a quick lunch. We’ve had good luck with both tacos and pork at the market, but we shy away from the stinky grilled fish. We’ve heard reports that there is some great ceviche here too, but we’ve been leery to try.
Agua frescas and horchatas near the entrance are also a great bet if you fancy something cool to sip on while strolling through the warm mercado. That agua fresca stand is always a requisite stop whenever entering the Lucas de Galvez Market.
💲Prices: Varies, starting at around 10 pesos for cheap snacks
📍Location: Lucas de Galvez Market
Marquesita Stands All Throughout Merida
What to eat: marquesitas, of course!
Be sure to try the Yucatan street snacks known as marquesitas when visiting Merida. This is a must-try treat in the Yucatan!
What is a marquesita? This video below will explain further.
You can find marquesitas throughout the parks and plazas of Merida on any day of the week. Yet go to the Plaza Grande on Sunday for Merida en Domingo and there will be more marquesita stands than meets demand.
Choose a stand and enjoy this unique sweet & savory snack of the Yucatan. With various fillings available, there is nearly an endless combinations of ways to have a marquesita. So when ordering a marquesita, we recommend either one of two ways: the (1) traditional way or (2) what has grown to become the most popular.
A traditional marquesita includes cajeta (a sweet caramel-like spread made from goat’s milk) and shredded Edam cheese. So ask for “cajeta con queso.” Yet what we’ve observed to be the popular marquesita is with Nutella and Edam cheese. So ask for “Nutella con queso.”
💲Prices: Standard price for a marquesita in Merida is typically $20 pesos, but prices will range from $15-$35.
📍Location: all over Merida
What to eat: seafood tacos
The “Little Crab,” as its name translates, is a hole-in-the-wall on the outskirts of centro that dishes up a few variations of seafood tacos, in a style unlike we’ve seen elsewhere in Mexico. They’re cold seafood tacos, not hot. And it’s these chilled seafood tacos with lettuce, tomato, and peas that run the expanse of the menu.
There is no menu actually. Just ask Don Filipe in your best Spanish what he’s got when you go in. During our last visit they had three tacos to choose from: lobster, shrimp, and fish. The fish was grouper, known as “cherna” here. These tacos are alright. It’s not our favorite in Merida, but these seafood tacos make for something new and interesting to try in town.
Plus, we really enjoyed the no-frills atmosphere and the friendly owner/taco-maker/server, and hence makes this list. Go ahead and give it a try. And if you have a sweet tooth, try their homemade confections for dessert.
💲Prices: There is no menu w/ prices, but our six tacos and two sodas came to about $100 pesos
📍Location: On Calle 57, between calle 64 and 66
Gorditas Doña Gorda
What to eat: gorditas of various fillings
We’d be remiss not to mention this conveniently located gordita shop right in the heart of Merida. For the uninitiated, a gordita is a larger and thicker corn tortilla that’s stuffed with stewed meat or saucy vegetables. Gorditas tend to be more popular in Central Mexico, in places such as Queretaro. Yet this is one of the few Gordita shops in Merida.
Gorditas Doña Gorda is just a fast-food style counter service joint that’s great for a quick bite when wandering around Plaza Grande. While there are certainly better places to eat around Merida, the gorditas here are cheap, tasty, and all too convenient. We’re apparently not the only ones who think so, as Doña Gorda seems to always have a line around lunchtime. Be prepared to order once you reach the register.
There are 21 different gordita fillings to choose from, all with tortillas made fresh on site. Check out the menu board and choose from local Yucatan fillings like cochinita pibil and pollo pibil to more broadly Mexican favorites like chicharron en salsa verde and pollo en mole. There’s even a decent assortment of vegetarian gorditas such as rajas (poblano peppers), champiñones (mushrooms), and beans & cheese.
If you just want a snack, get one gordita. If this is a meal, get three. If you’re starving, maybe four.
If this bare-bones counter-service joint is packed, we suggest to ask for your gorditas to-go (that’s “para llevar”) and enjoy in Plaza Grande.
💲Prices: Averaging $14.50 pesos for each gordita
📍Location: Northeast corner of Plaza Grande, corner of Calle 61 & 60
Pola Gelato Shop
What to eat: gelato or sorbets with local Yucatan ingredients
There are a few gelato shops lining the outskirts of Plaza Grande. But we suggest skipping those and instead going directly Pola for the best gelato in Merida!
Pola has some of the best gelatos we’ve tasted outside of Italy. Yet what has us coming back is seeing what interesting flavors they’re offering on their ever-changing menu. While they have standard gelato favorites like chocolate, vanilla, and coffee; they also play around local Yucatan flavors. You’ll often find seasonal fruits in the mix.
But they even highlight bizarre flavors you wouldn’t ever think of using for gelato. For example, every Monday you can get Pola’s frijol con puerco. That’s pork & beans gelato! With so many other great flavors, we’ve never been daring enough to try it.
Pola also has lots of delicious dairy-free sorbets. We’re particularly fond of the piña con chaya. That’s pineapple with chaya, the local spinach-like Yucatan veggie. Piña con chaya is a popular agua fresca, or flavored water, and their sorbet rendition of this local classic is on point!
💲Prices: one scoop: $30, two scoops :$50, three scoops: $60
📍Location: There are two locations
- A block west of Parque Santa Lucia, on Calle 55 between Calle 62 and Calle 64
- A block south of Parque Santa Ana on the corner of Calle 60 & Calle 49
🔗 Website: here
Best Value Restaurants in Merida Mexico:
All the listings in this section of this Merida restaurant guide include what we’ve found to be great quality cuisine at attractive prices. That’s what we call value! Most of these places have good meals for less than $100 pesos.
What to eat: Ribs, burritos, and other Tex-Mex cuisine accompanied with beer
Las Vigas is one of the best value restaurants in Merida and one of our favorites period.
Nearly every meal on the menu is in the $50 peso range ($2.75). Food quality is great and the cuisine leans towards Tex-Mex. There are some local Yucatan dishes on the menu. They do a pretty good rendition of poc chuc. Yet Yucatan cuisine is not really their specialty nor what you come to Las Vigas for.
Come to Las Vigas to get big portions of Mexican food alongside cold beers, all at low prices.
One standout is the ultra-tender, fall-off-the-bone ribs that are smothered in a mouthwatering sauce. It’s hard to believe the $3 US price point. This is what had us returning to Las Vigas again and again.
Meanwhile, the burritos at Las Vigas were another favorite. Generously stuffed then lightly grilled on the outside, they are the best burritos we found in Merida. The chicken in mole has proven to be another winner. Really their whole menu is pretty damn good, which may come as a bit of a surprise given the cheap prices and the loud sports bar ambiance.
Beer prices are just as inexpensive as the tasty food. If having a few cervezas, consider their bucket specials which offer even more value and come with snacks. When we last popped in buckets of 5 beers (Sol, Dos Equis, Indio, or Tecate) were $105 pesos, with the option to add on fries, wings, or nachos for just a few pesos more.
Although very close to the Plaza Grande, it’s a bit hidden. It’s mostly frequented (and packed) with local Meridians. Get here earlier in the evening before all the tables are scooped up. We’ve often gotten here too late and end up at the bar. Yet despite how busy it is, service is always extremely quick. Staff is great.
Las Vigas may not be the absolute best restaurant in Merida, but we hold firm that it delivers the best for value.
💲Prices: Most mains range from $40-$60 pesos.
📍Location: You can find this gem right by Plaza Grande on Calle 63, between 62 & 64. Just look for the stairwell leading above Los Arcos Hotel.
What to eat: Botanas, which are complimentary snacks that are like Mexican tapas
Come here to fill up on the free botanas that come complimentary with the purchase of a beer. The food itself is nothing outstanding. But it’s free, plentiful, and usually composed of mostly local Yucatan cuisine. We began calling it Yucatan roulette because we’ve found that some plates are not at all to our tastes and we can barely eat them. Meanwhile, others are delicious! It’s a total surprise what you may be served and that’s half the fun.
Order a single beer and an unfathomable six plates of complimentary food will also be whisked out to your table. It’s for these generous botanas, which eat like a meal, that put Eladios onto our list of best value restaurants in Merida.
Come here, enjoy the live music, a few beers, and stuff your face on the huge assortment of complimentary botanas. It’s a great option to eat and drink in Merida on a budget.
💲Prices: Do NOT order any food off the menu. Instead do as the locals do: order a beer and simply await the generous botanas that come complimentary.
📍Location: Multiple locations, closest to Merida Centro is at the corner of Calle 59 & 44
🔗 Website: Eladio’s Bar (site is in Spanish)
What to eat: Ceviche, among other seafood dishes
This long-held seafood favorite in Merida is a simple hole-in-the-wall in Centro that largely draws a regular local crowd in addition to the occasional gringo. Marlin Azul is what we’ve found to be the best value seafood joint in Merida. Prices are low for the delicious seafood that they serve in its charmingly humble setting.
The local specialty at Marlin Azul is, as the name suggests, blue marlin. Yet, we must admit this grilled pescado is not among our favorites on their menu.
Instead, we highly recommend Blue Marlin’s delicious ceviche! It’s the best ceviche we’ve had in Merida.
We always enjoy the mixto that comes with fish, shrimp, and octopus. Marlin Azul’s tostadas and shrimp fajitas also come highly recommended.
For a more economical option, go for the fresh fish filet meals, which start at only $60 pesos. You can opt to have the fish deep-fried, pan-fried, pan-fried with garlic or butter, among other tasty renditions. Meanwhile, locals tend to gravitate to the seafood cocteles. It’s not a cocktail as you know it, but rather a ceviche-like mix of seafood, tomato, lime juice, and hot sauce served in a big cocktail glass.
💲Prices: fish filet meal: $60, blue marlin: $90, shrimp $150, ceviche $115 (medium) $190 (large)
📍Location: On Calle 62, between Calle 57 & Calle 59
What to eat: Gourmet tacos
This indoor/outdoor space in the heart of Merida Centro must be doing something right, as they’ve been around since 1972. Yet most recently Pancho’s is reinventing itself to draw upon their gourmet tacos. Although they have other dishes, such as steak and fish, we recommend Pancho’s for their tasty tacos. They don’t disappoint!
Pancho’s has about a half dozen taco offerings, ranging from shrimp to short rib to vegetarian, which all come on a homemade blue corn tortilla and are well-dressed with creative toppings. Ranging from $70-$130 pesos for an order of two, these tasty tacos are reasonable, although not particularly cheap.
The reason why it makes our list of Best Value restaurants in Merida is for their Wednesday and Thursday promotion. It’s only those two days that you can get two free tacos with the purchase of a Vopper beer! It’s a decent beer made in Guanajuato, yet it’s the tasty free tacos that outshine the beer accompanying it. You may want to verify this promo still exists, but it was still going strong during our last pass through Merida.
💲Prices: Tacos: $70-130 pesos, Mains: $100-$200, Vopper beer promotion: $70 peso beer that includes two free gourmet tacos!
📍Location: On Calle 59, between Calle 60 and 62
🔗 Website: Pancho’s
What to eat: Virtually anything
This is a somewhat new (opened summer 2016) gastronomic food hall with loads of different food stall options to meet all tastes. It’s an outdoor setting, perfect to grab dinner after dark once Merida cools down. That’s also when live bands tend to play, particularly on the weekends. It’s a really attractive and trendy space too, with communal seating and plenty of cold drinks from the bar.
There are 18 different establishments in total at Mercado 60, all separate from one another. It’s mostly international cuisine with stalls specializing in Asian, Argentinian, pizza, subs, wings, pizza pasta, burgers, and more. To go for local cuisine, try Ki’o’och that has an array of the most common Yucatan specialties on offer. We’re also fans of the arrachera (steak) burrito at Diezmillo. Yum!
💲Prices: Prices range greatly, pending the stall and food. Most items are somewhere between $60-$180 pesos.
📍Location: On calle 59, between calle 60 and 62
What to eat: Chilaquiles, one of Mexico’s most popular breakfasts
Chilaquiles are without question our favorite Mexican breakfast. And Chilakillers has become our favorite restaurant in Merida to eat them. This small trendy new restaurant in Merida specializes in this breakfast staple.
For the uninitiated, chilaquiles are fried tortillas that are then covered in a tangy, semi-spicy tomatillo salsa, then smothered with queso blanco (a creamy white cheese) plus crema (kinda like sour cream, but different) and usually includes a choice of shredded chicken or a fried egg on top. While it may sound like having loaded nachos for breakfast, it’s truly so much better than that!
Merida’s Chilakillers specializes in this delicious Mexican breakfast dish and allows patrons to customize their chilaquiles. Choose the type of corn tortillas (yellow or blue). Then choose a sauce. We recommend verde de la casa (green house sauce). Next, choose one of the seven meat or veggie topping options. And finally, it’s optional to add extras like an egg for an additional $15-pesos.
At $90 pesos for an order, these are not the cheapest chilaquiles in town. Yet we’d argue they are the best and the quality helps to push it towards a good value offering in Merida to try this classic Mexican breakfast.
And while chilaquiles are eaten for breakfast, you can enjoy them any time of day. For the best value, go to Chilakillers between 2:00 pm and 4:00 pm for their lunch special that includes an order of chilaquiles and a drink for $69 pesos. Now that’s a great value!
💲Price: $90 pesos for an order of chilaquiles
📍Location: Calle 57, between 56 & 58
This is another solid restaurant near Plaza Grande in the city center. It tries to appeal more to tourists rather than the local crowd and hence keeps a menu that features both local dishes and international fare. Yet they don’t charge tourist prices and they do have some good local fare.
From trial and error, we can tell you to skip their mediocre burritos and laughable pizza, and instead dive into their delicious cochinita pibil, which is actually one of our favorite renditions of cochinita pibil we’ve had within that price range.
Their pibil is reason alone to go here. Yet El Trapiche also offers some great hearty breakfasts. We love their vegetarian omelet that includes chaya, a local spinach-like leafy vegetable.
💲Prices: Mains range between $50-$100 pesos
📍Location: Calle 62, between Calle 59 & 61
Best Mid-Range Restaurants in Merida Mexico
The following suggestions are what we’ve found to be some of the best restaurants in Merida. Prices easily go beyond $100 pesos for a meal here, yet not too much more in most instances. These aren’t ultra high-end places, but definitely a step above the prior listings and well worth spending a bit more.
La Chaya Maya, Merida
What to eat: Local Yucatan cuisine
It would be difficult not to list this perennial favorite on a list of best restaurants in Merida. La Chaya Maya is enjoyed by locals and tourists alike and comes recommended by nearly most sources we used to guide us around Merida’s food scene. Only recently has this Merida staple began to receive some eye-rolls from a few expats, as it is perhaps overly-praised in a city that’s so full of so many great restaurants.
Yet Chaya Maya is a perennial favorite for a reason. They dish out consistently good cuisine, have fairly reasonable prices given their notoriety, and a great menu full of all the local Yucatan specialties.
We even go as far as suggesting that Chaya Maya to be your first stop when exploring Yucatan cuisine since it offers combination dinners meant for two people to share. This gives couples an opportunity to sample several of the regional Yucatan cuisine in one meal. We highly recommend ordering Los Cuatro Yucas to try four different Yucatan favorites in one sitting. The $220-peso feast for two will help determine your own personal favorites to try elsewhere in Merida and compare. Here’s what the Los Cuatro Yucas includes:
1) Cochinita Pibil – slow roasted pork marinated in sour orange juice, annatto, garlic, and other vibrant spices.
2) Pavo en Relleno Negro – slow cooked turkey in a black sauce starring burnt chiles.
3) Pavo end Sac-Col Indio – baked turkey served in a rich Thanksgiving-like gravy.
4) Pavo en Pipían – turkey cooked in a beautiful orange-colored pumpkin seed sauce.
Dive into these four local dishes by grabbing a freshly made tortilla, pile on one of the four stewed filling, and then lop on those neon pink pickled onions that are a trademark condiment throughout the Yucatan.
As of 2016, La Chaya Maya opened a second location. Menu and prices are the same among the two locations, but there are some other key differences. The original Chaya Maya location tends to have no wait (or less wait than the new location). However, the newer location sports a more pleasant ambiance. We’d recommend the newer location if there’s little/no wait. Otherwise, if you’re hungry, walk just a few blocks down the street to the original location, with less of a wait, if any.
💲Prices: Main courses average around $100 pesos. Combination dinner for two: $220 pesos.
- Original Chaya Maya: Corner of Calle 62 and Calle 57
- New Chaya Maya (known as the Casona branch) is just around the corner: Calle 55, between 62 and 60
What to eat: Local Yucatan cuisine
If you’re searching for some of the best renditions of traditional Yucatan cuisine in Merida, Manjar Blanco is one of the best restaurants in Merida to try the local cuisine.
The unassuming location across from Parque Santa Ana delivers beautifully presented Yucatan staples. All of the home-cooked meals come out of the kitchen with a delightful contemporary spin to them. The popular cochinita pibil was among our favorites in the Yucatan.
It’s no wonder that notable chef and TV personality, Rick Baylis, cites it as one of the best restaurants in Merida, Mexico. Go for lunch or an early dinner because Manjar Blanco closes at 6:00 pm each day.
💲Prices: Mains range $125-$150 pesos
📍Location: Calle 47, between Calle 58 & 60
Maiz de lo Alto
What to eat: Gourmet tacos with the best salsas in Merida
This is one of the few places in this Merida restaurant guide that is outside of Merida centro. Yet we found it to be well worth the $60 pesos Uber fare to venture out to for their fantastic gourmet tacos! Maiz de lo Alto has been the most consistently recommended restaurant in Merida that we hadn’t previously visited during our first several passes through the city. So during our latest visit, we had to see what all the fuss was about and were not disappointed.
There are eight different tacos to choose from, ranging from vegetarian options to braised short rib. One of my personal favorites is the namesake de lo alto taco, which is arrachera (skirt steak) topped with cucumber, radish, avocado tomato, peppers, and chicharon (pork crackling). The octopus taco is also outstanding, topped with Oaxacan cheese and chicharon.
Yet any taco connoisseur knows that tacos are often all about the salsa. And Maiz de lo Alto is known for their house salsas that accompany their fantastic tacos.
They also have some creative and delicious appetizers that shouldn’t be ignored. They tend to play up Mexican classics with interesting ingredients. For example, their rendition of esquites (Mexican street corn) includes chapulines (that’s crickets). And it’s great!
For the best deal on their gourmet tacos, go on Wednesday night. That’s when they have a weekly promotion of three tacos for the price of two!
💲Prices: Most tacos $90-$110 pesos. Veggie taco: $60. Braised rib taco: $135.
📍Location: North of Centro, on Av Jose Diaz Bolio & Calle 12.
La Prospe del Xtup
What to eat: Local Yucatan cuisine
Like La Chaya Maya and Manjar Blanco, La Prospe del Xtup is yet another great restaurant in Merida to try local Yucatan cuisine. That’s what they specialize in!
You’ll find all the Yucatan staples on Xtup’s menu in addition to a few dishes that are more typical to the neighboring state of Campeche. Pan de cazon, or shark bread, is one of the Campechan specialties for those wanting to try the saucy layered tortillas filled with shark meat.
Yet perhaps our favorite offering we’ve tried from the “Specialties” section of their menu is Xtup’s rendition of queso relleno. The “stuffed cheese” as it translates to is a wedge of Edam that is stuffed with a mixture of ground pork, olives, capers, and raisins, that’s then topped with a white almond sauce and a red tomato sauce. The taste is nearly as complex as the contrasting colors.
To try a little bit of everything, consider ordering the Xtup Combination ($480 pesos), which not only involves that delicious queso relleno, but further includes cochinita pibil, lomitos, escabeche, relleno negro, panuchos, and salbutes. This is a big Yucatan feast to share in order to try many local specialties.
Whatever is ordered, we’d recommend to consider skipping the appetizers. That’s only because small plates of complementary apps are brought to the table upon ordering and they’re delicious!
💲Prices: Mains average $145-$180 pesos
📍Location: On Calle 59 at Calle 66
🔗 Website: La Prospe del Xtup
What to eat: Light fare with a Mexican flair
In 2017 this little restaurant moved locations from being tucked into a corner of Parque Santa Ana to a hidden spot within the Villa Verde hotel. Yet they’re still serving the same menu and they still have a generous two-for-one happy hour on cocktails, tequila, beer, and wine between 4:00-6:00 pm. And their new outdoor poolside setting couldn’t be any more of a pleasant place in Merida to sip on a few drinks before dinner.
Don’t come to Botella Verde starving, as portions are on the lighter side. Yet we absolutely adore the chicken salad-stuffed avocado just as much as Botella Verde’s new location. The tangy lime & cilantro chicken salad provides a cool filling inside a ripe avocado that could make for a perfect option for anyone on a no/low-carb diet.
Note: We’ve been informed they’re now only open Friday-Sunday. So come on the weekend for an early dinner from 4-6 to also enjoy their happy hour with your meal.
💲Prices: Most items on the small menu are $100 pesos, and runs up to $150.
📍Location: On Calle 56, between 53 & 55
What to eat: Gastronomic Mexican cuisine, steaks & seafood with a Oaxacan twist
Apoala is constantly raved about as one of the best restaurants in Merida, Mexico. It’s a great location in Parque Santa Lucia with lovely outdoor seating overlooking the popular plaza that makes for a great al fresco dining experience when the weather is nice. Apoala gives a contemporary spin on Mexican cuisine, with a Oaxacan flair.
It’s the Oaxacan-style dishes that shine brightest at Apoala, as Oaxaca is where the restaurant’s chefs are from. Menu items are largely steak and fish offerings, alongside a creative cocktail list. Apoala has a nice mezcal list too, which is appropriate given its Oaxacan roots.
There is no doubt that the quality of the cuisine at Apoala is top notch, but just be prepared to pay for it. Prices are about double, compared to what is found at other casual restaurants in Merida. Come to Apoala to indulge in a great dinner, but it’s somewhere to skip if looking for local Yucatan cuisine or those on a budget. Yet if budget conscious and still wanting to try Apoala, consider avoiding for dinner and instead come to Apoala midday when there are lunch specials on offer and it’s less busy.
💲Prices: Main courses average around $240-$300 pesos. Lunch: $100-$200 pesos.
📍Location: Parque Santa Lucia
🔗 Website: Apoala
Best International Restaurant in Merida Mexico
If you’re in Merida for a while and tire of the pibil and poc-chuc that abounds on most Yucatan restaurant menus, you’ll be thankful to find an eclectic mix of international restaurants abound. From burger joints to Korean restaurants. And from sushi to Lebanese. It’s vast.
We usually prefer to eat local cuisine, but can’t deny Merida’s excellent international offerings. So although this Merida restaurant guide is largely focused on Mexican and Yucatan cuisine, we can’t help but include what we think is the best international restaurant in Merida:
What to eat: Pasta
There are actually several Italian restaurants throughout Merida, but firmly planted as the best is Oliva. It’s not just one of those places that’s “a good Italian restaurant for Mexico,” it’s truly a superb Italian restaurant, period. Set in a beautiful contemporary atmosphere with an open concept, Oliva excels on its prompt & friendly service as it does their delicious Italian recipes.
Don’t skip the tasty salads. And consider trying the traditional burrata, a soft fresh Italian cheese made from mozzarella and cream. Although it’s the creative pasta dishes that reign supreme at Oliva. It all proves to be a welcomed distraction from another tortilla-based meal in Merida.
💲Prices: Salads and appetizers range around $100 pesos, pasta mains are $100-$300 pesos.
📍Location: Corner of Calle 47 & 54
🔗 Website: Oliva Enoteca
Best Splurge Restaurant in Merida Mexico
K’u’uk is the only restaurant in this Merida restaurant guide we haven’t visited firsthand. But anyone not including this gastronomic powerhouse in a list of best restaurants in Merida would be a crime of negligence. This high-end Merida restaurant gives a Yucatan spin to the molecular gastronomy trend. This award-winning restaurant set within a colonial mansion is Merida’s fine-dining at its best.
The recently increased price of their twelve-course tasting menu ($1,700 pesos) plus wine pairing ($900) adds up to what is likely the biggest splurge meal in Merida, coming out to about $150 USD. If you want to go big in Merida, K’u’uk is the place.
Yet we’re happy to see they’ve also introduced an a la carte menu with more affordable pricing ($290-$360 for most mains). We look forward to trying that on our next return to Merida.
💲Prices: Tasting menu: $1,700 pesos. Mains: $290-$360
📍Location: Just off Paseo de Montejo between Calle 27a and Av Romulo Rozo
🔗 Website: Kuuk
Yucatan Cuisine To Try In Merida Mexico
We’ve mentioned many different local Yucatan dishes that you can find throughout many of the restaurants in Merida, Mexico. So below is a list of local Yucatan foods that may help you decipher some of the menus in Merida and provide some inspiration of local dishes to try that are unique to the region.
Within Mexico’s Yucatan state, the cuisine is very unique, distinctive, and quite different from elsewhere in the country. Many of these regional dishes have roots from traditional Mayan cooking, but also have heavy influences from Europe, the Caribbean, and other Mexican regions.
From street snacks to signature dishes, these are some of the yummy Yucatan dishes that can be easily found throughout Merida.
Perhaps the most notable Yucatan dish (and our personal favorite), this tender slow-cooked pork is marinated in sour-orange, achiote, and other spices such as garlic and cumin. You won’t have a difficult time finding pibil in Merida, as it’s on most all menus serving local cuisine.
This is simply the chicken version of the above-mentioned dish. Tender chicken that has been marinating in sour orange juice, achiote, and other spices. It’s wrapped in banana leaves and slow-cooked in a barbeque pit for hours until the meat has that fall-off-bone quality.
This signature Yucatan dish is thinly sliced pork that has been marinated in sour orange juice and grilled to perfection. Garnished with avocado slices and the ubiquitous Yucatan topping of pickled onions – yum!
You can easily find poc chuc at any of the suggested Yucatan restaurants in Merida. Although for what many vouch is the best poc chuc in the Yucatan, make a food pilgrimage out to the tiny town of Mani to find El Príncipe Tutul Xiu, famous for their poc chuc. We’ve been and it is indeed delicious!
Sopa de Lima
A hearty soup loaded with shredded turkey in a deliciously tangy broth thanks to the namesake lime juice. It’s on most menus in Yucatan joints. Yet we can suggest trying this limey turkey soup at the local stands in Parque Santiago.
Pavo Relleno Negro
A stew-like dish of turkey that’s covered in a rich and dark burnt chili sauce and often topped with a boiled egg. We vouch that it tastes much better than it may look.
A hollowed out ball of Edam cheese is stuffed with ground pork and cooked until it becomes gooey before being smothered with gravy.
A naturally vegetarian Yucatan dish of hard boil eggs, wrapped in tortillas and topped with a pumpkin seed sauce.
Salbutes and Panuchos
Panuchos are tortillas stuffed with refried beans and covered with toppings like cabbage, poultry, diced tomato, avocado, pickled onions, etc. Salbutes are similar but are not stuffed with beans. Both are great snacks to have in Merida with a few cervezas.
The best street snack in Merida. Try them. The sweet and savory treat is a waffle-cone like base that is rolled up with a spread of choice and stuffed with shredded Edam cheese. It’s usually ordered with Nutella or cajeta, yet options of jelly, peanut butter, and other fillings abound.
A Yucatan breakfast dish, that’s composed of tortillas with eggs, beans, and cheese that’s covered in a salsa and topped with chopped ham and peas. Huevos Motuleños is found on many breakfast menus throughout Merida, yet head to the nearby town of Motul to eat this dish where it originates.
Best Restaurants in Merida?
Is this post about the best restaurants in Merida making you hungry? It is for us!
If you’re a foodie visiting Merida, why not consider taking a cooking tour? During this Merida Market Tour and Cooking Class, a local chef will take you through the Lucas de Galvez Market to pick out ingredients that you’ll learn to cook back at their kitchen. What better souvenir than being able to recreate some of the best tastes of the Yucatan when you return back home. Check the Yucatan Cooking Class availability for your travel dates.
If you liked this post, you may also be interested in our other two info-packed travel guides to Merida:
It’s comments to this post that have led us to some of the new restaurants we’ve tried upon returning to Merida. We’d love to have an entirely new list of restaurants in Merida to review the next time we return. And we will return. The Yucatan cuisine throughout Merida is too good not too! 😉
Ready to indulge in Merida’s best cuisine? Pin the image to the right to your travel Pinterest boards for future reference!
Publishing note: This post was first published in February 2016 and most recently updated January 2019, following our latest trip of eating our way across Merida, Mexico’s restaurants.