Merida is best known for its historic architecture and proximity to the ancient Mayan site of Chichen Itza. But its culinary scene rivals other major food cities in Mexico, thanks to young chefs and restaurateurs inspired by the culinary traditions of the Yucatan region. Here are five new(ish) spots to check out.
Walk through the neoclassical entranceway to find 15 food and drink vendors inside a spacious, covered courtyard. Here, it always feels like a relaxed Sunday afternoon with live music or DJ selections. It’s like an upscale version of a food court that includes Hop for local craft beer, Snacks for onion rings and wings, Joop for veggie burritos and Konsushi for Japanese cuisine. Happy hour happens every day at 5 p.m. with two-for-one drinks.
Hours: Tuesday to Saturday 5 p.m. to 2 a.m., Sunday 5 p.m. to midnight
Order a flight of beer at local Patito Brewing Company’s brewpub Hermana Republica. You’ll taste the various beer styles which include American IPA and pilsner in that flight. The food menu offers traditional Yucatecan dishes such as cochinita pibil (slow roasted pork) tacos, tuna tostadas topped with avocado and chipotle mayo and esquites (grilled corn with spices and cheese). Choose a seat at the back garden, a popular spot for locals toasting the end of the work day with a chilled Belgian Blonde Ale and side of mashed plantain patty with fried beef.
Hours: Monday to Thursday 1 p.m. to 11 p.m., Friday to Saturday 1 p.m. to midnight, Sunday 1 p.m. to 6 p.m.
This sunny cafe and restaurant located in Central Merida is the latest dining creation by chef Stefano Marcelletti who is well known for his Italian-Yucatecan fusion restaurant Oliva Enoteca. The scent of Illy coffee mixed with freshly baked, flaky croissants lures in passersby. Go for broke with the nutella bread or the au courant avocado toast.
Hours: Monday to Friday 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., Saturday 8 a.m. to noon.
Choose from 18 restaurants at this colourful outdoor market. It features up-and-coming local chefs, murals and performances by artists and local bands. Start with classic pork tacos from El Pastorcito and a chilled glass of Clericot (a red wine cocktail) from La Cantinita Sagrada. Browse the pop-up stores selling local art and handicrafts before sitting down for some slow-cooked and worth-the-mess ribs from Poncho & Chel’s, a tasty pepito con chistorra (sausage sandwich) from Argentine-influenced 60 Brasas or a sweet treat from Carajillo.
Hours: Monday to Sunday 6 p.m. to 2:30 a.m.
This romantic and elegant restaurant channels porfiriato—the Mexican décor style of late 1800s—with its 19th century French architecture and modern tiled floors. Chef Juan Miguel Rodriquez takes inspiration from the wide variety of regional antojitos (small plates) from across Mexico and names them after classic Mexican film stars. Order Tacos Pedro Infante paired with a glass of Tinto de Verano Maria Felix. After dinner, claim a velvet banquette in the restaurant’s Bar 1906 for a mezcal cocktail and a whirl around the dance floor.
Hours: Tuesday to Sunday 6 p.m. to 1 a.m.
A Guide to Mérida, Mexico
Hailed as the cultural capital of the Yucatán Peninsula, Mérida attracts visitors for its historic, colonial architecture, and for its museums, galleries and delicious Yucatán cuisine. Here's what to do in this ancient city if you're a foodie, a nature lover, a culture seeker or a history buff.