Mérida is one of the most gastronomically diverse cities you will ever visit. From traditional Yucatecan dishes to ancient Mayan recipes and from regional to cosmopolitan cuisine, limitless variety can be found. Of course, between local kitchens and internationally recognized chefs, the choices can be overwhelming. That’s why I’ve created this list of Best Restaurants in Mérida.
I don’t know about you, but I love to eat out. Clearly, the taste and smell of food, chatting with the bartender or waiter, and the whole restaurant experience creates a feeling of excitement. The cool thing is when I lived in London, I learned that the entire time spent in a restaurant was one to be savored. From selecting the restaurant to the best time to go to breathing in the delectable aromas from the kitchen upon arrival to sitting down and perusing the menu, it’s all part of the process. Above all, here’s something really interesting. As I considered moving to Mérida, I had no idea about the range of cuisines offered. Trying a few restaurants on my initial research trip, I realized Mérida is a veritable heaven of food delights. Like in London, it’s not just about the food, it’s about the entire experience.
This article was updated in August of 2023.
Mérida is a gastronomic destination
Not surprisingly, Indigenous Maya utilized vegetables such as maize, squash, pumpkin, red and black beans, chili peppers, tomatoes, yucca, and sweet potatoes in their traditional recipes. Notably, fish, seafood, and turkey were popular meat dishes. Cacao beans were used to make a chocolate drink with honey as the sweetener. Did you know when the Spaniards conquered the Yucatan in the 16th Century, they brought rice, herbs, and spices? Of course, by introducing beef, pork, chicken, goat, and sheep as well as dairy products such as cheese, the number of ingredients increased exponentially.
Food of the Yucatan Peninsula
Subsequently, as other nationalities arrived in the Yucatan, the cuisine changed according to new ingredients, preparation, and tastes. Wikipedia states: “The food of the Yucatán peninsula is distinct from the rest of the country. It is based primarily on Mayan food with influences from the Caribbean, Central Mexican, European (especially French), and Middle Eastern cultures.” For example in the Yucatan, you will find quite different dishes than offered in other regions. The food isn’t as spicy. You’ll also find more diversity with side dishes. The meat is prepared in a special way which makes it extremely tender.
It should be noted, one of the most important dishes in Maya cuisine is Mole Poblano. Remarkably, Mole Poblano can contain up to 20 ingredients: chiles, spices, tomatillos, dried fruits, sugar, spices, and even thickeners with chocolate. Mole is used for meat dishes such as turkey, chicken, pork, and lamb. This local dish can be found in some of the best restaurants in Mérida. With this in mind, can you see how diverse the evolution of the food in the Yucatan and Mérida has become?
Popular and world-famous Yucatecan dishes
The cuisine of Mexico is incredibly diverse. Apart from this, it varies from region to region and even from city to city. Understandably, Yucatán has a very traditional cuisine by passing on centuries-old recipes and dishes from the Maya. Believe it or not, some people travel to Mérida just for the food.
Cochinita Pibil is the national dish of Yucatan. Pork is seasoned with a pre-Hispanic spice called achiote which also gives the meat a red-brownish color. Sour orange juice, garlic, and other spices are added. Next, all of this yumminess is wrapped in banana or corn leaves and braised for at least 4 hours in an earth oven.
Furthermore, Poc Chuc is another signature dish of the Yucatán. Pork is prepared in a citrus marinade then cooked over a grill. Served with a side of rice, pickled onion, refried beans, and avocado, I’m told it’s simply delicious. Without a doubt, Sopa de Lima is Mayan chicken and lime soup topped with sizzling tortilla chips famous all over the Yucatan Peninsula and in the best restaurants in Mérida.
Many menus include other traditional favorites:
- Pollo Motuleno: a chicken dish made with orange juice, achiote, and plantains
- Tamales: seasoned meat wrapped in cornmeal dough and steamed or baked in a banana leaf or corn husk
- Relleno Negro: turkey cooked with black chili paste, vegetables, and a hard-boiled egg
- Escabeche Blanco: turkey or chicken simmered in a vinegar sauce
- Queso Relleno: Edam cheese stuffed with seasoned ground beef
- Tikinxic: achiote paste used in grilled fish dishes
- Panuchos: a corn tortilla stuffed with beans then lightly fried until crispy
- Salbutes: similar to panuchos but without the beans inside; they are less crispy than panuchos
My List of Best Restaurants in Mérida
As in any other city, you’ll find a plethora of reviews and recommendations.
Traditional and Local
Let’s get to the point . . . I am taking you along with me to some of my favorite best restaurants in Mérida for food, atmosphere, great vibe, and local flavor. Are you ready? Come on, let’s go!
Best Restaurants in Mérida for Breakfast
Undoubtedly, you will find exquisite establishments for breakfast everywhere. From small, local kitchens called cocina economicas to restaurants to coffee shops. Let’s explore my favorite breakfast spots.
Did you know there are over 100 coffee shops in Mérida?
Address: Calle 33D #498 x Av. Reforma, Col. Garcia Gineres (97070)
The moment you step into MidTown Café, you’ll feel warm and comfortable. Hector, the owner, knows a lot about coffee and shares his knowledge about pour-over coffee, espresso, and cold brew preparation. This cozy shop has a variety of coffees, fresh juices, pastries, and sandwiches; all of them delicious and super yummy. Notably, this quaint space also sells unique gifts and treasures from local artisans.
Daily specials are offered with a variety of pastries or sandwiches and a drink. Soy milk and vegetarian dishes are available. Frequent this coffee shop any time for excellent service with a smile. The Original Slow Food Market happens every Saturday from 9:00 am to 1:00 pm in the same center. Keep in mind, the cafe will be more crowded during this time.
Address: Victory Plaza, Av. Andrés Garcia Lavín #352 (97117)
French Chef Céline of Petit Délice is a trip to France where you will find high quality artisan gastronomy. Everything is made at home. We bake our bread daily to offer you the best flavor. Our Oaxacan coffee is organic, our juices are 100% natural and squeezed every morning. Our pastry is made with the best ingredients and classic French techniques.
We do the same with our breakfasts and meals that we prepare with love and care. In an atmosphere of warmth and freshness that evokes Parisian cafes, and her team welcome you to taste a slice of France in beautiful Mérida. Sit back, relax and enjoy the joie de vivre à la française.
Address: Calle 20 #235 x 15, Col. Altabrisa (97133)
In Altabrisa, a modern community in The North, visit Voltacafé. Coffee is plentiful and ingredients are fresh. You’ll have a choice of several places to sit inside or on the patio at a table, a comfortable couch, in a private area for meetings or a bar facing outside. The menu is extensive with comfort food, regional favorites, homemade bread, rich coffees, delicious hand-squeezed juices, sodas, and beautiful pastries.
A stylish, gourmet-style cafe with great service. Service staff is polite, professional, and knowledgeable about their menu and ingredients. Depending upon the time you go, the atmosphere can be a bit loud. I recommend going closer to opening time or around midday to avoid extensive waiting times. Most people want to experience the best restaurants in Mérida.
From Voltacafé: “All great ideas start with a cup of coffee. The essence of the brand focuses on the ‘gathering’, one of the many rituals that have arisen around a cup of coffee. The gathering becomes the main source of inspiration as it is a meeting where ideas related to art and philosophy are shared, which has become a tradition in several countries of the world.”
Best Restaurants in Mérida for People Watching
If you are like me, I love to people watch. Where better to do this than on the Paseo de Montejo where you will find locals and tourists at all hours. Numerous shops, restaurants, banks, and even Wal-Mart are located on the Paseo. It’s beautifully lit at night too.
Address: Calle 56A 500 x 47 y 45, Centro
An extensive menu with both local and international options. Really good salads and freshly prepared drinks (think Chaya). This is a cafeteria-style restaurant, keep that in mind when you decide to visit. Menu items are reasonable, and you can have a good meal here for a local price. Choose a sandwich, hamburger, hot dog, or a regional favorite such as a torta, carne asada, and more. Desserts are plentiful from gelato, flan, and ice cream. A wide variety of drinks including beer, frappe, horchata, and lemonade.
A tourist and local favorite, many frequent Cafeteria Impala after walking the Paseo de Montejo and stop by for a refreshing drink. My favorite times are Sunday mornings during the Bici-Ruta or late in the evening to view the magical lights of the Paseo.
Address: Calle 64 443A, Centro
While Dzalbay is not considered an official restaurant, they serve really great food. The majority of patrons come for the music and find fabulous food like portobello burgers, fish tacos, and hummus at very reasonable prices. Of course, this is why they made the list of best restaurants in Mérida. This eclectic, cool, neighborhood bar with a mellow and casual atmosphere attracts a well-mixed crowd of young and old, locals and tourists, people from all walks of life.
Seating is plentiful inside with an outside terrace upstairs. Check their Facebook Page for daily music and times to plan accordingly. Arrive at least 30-45 minutes prior to the music starting for seating. They recently added air-conditioning for the comfort of their guests and musicians!
Experience both live and recorded music, wonderful drinks and drink specials and people watch until your heart’s desire. The vibe will remind you of a jazz club in Chicago, Detroit, or Atlanta.
Best Restaurants in Mérida for Fancy Dinner
There is never a need to dress up in Mérida, even when you are headed out to a fancy dinner at one of the best restaurants in Mérida. I love to get dressed for dinner so I will put on traditional white linen. With warm, humid days, I welcome the opportunity to dress up a bit and enjoy a cool, refreshing glass of wine and a wonderful meal.
Address: Calle 56 x 49, Centro
Reservations highly recommended
Stefano Marcelletti, chef and owner of Oliva says, “I cook because I love it. My two passions were being a chef or an architect. I did not study for any of them, but I am lucky to have Oliva to satisfy one passion and the restoration of Casa Lecanda that has satisfied the other. I never expected to be doing all the things I like to do with such an enthusiastic response from my guests.”
In this cozy restaurant, where people come for a meal and a glass of wine, you will feel like part of the family. Everything is home-made including three of the pastas: fettuccine, tagliolini, and ravioli. The dried pasta is of the highest quality imported from Italy. Mouthwatering spaghetti carbonara, grilled octopus, and caprese salads are a few favorites. The wine list is incredible, try the Casablanca Nimbus Estate Pinot Noir or a delicious and refreshing white. Finish your meal with a house-made tiramisu, crème brûlée, or panna cotta with a cortado or espresso. Call a few days in advance for a reservation if you want a choice of times.
Micaela Mar Y Lena
Address: Calle 47 #458 x 52 y 54, Centro
Reservations recommended but not required
Born in Mexico in the 1840s, Micaela’s father was a former slave who escaped from a plantation in New Orleans. When she was 13 years old, her mother attempted to marry her off to an older man. She escaped and arrived in a small town in southern Mexico, where she became a nanny and cook for a wealthy family.
Chef and co-owner, Vidal Elias Murillo, found her diary in an antique store in Mexico City. Falling in love with her story and her food, he’s tried to make an homage to her with his cooking. In her diary, Micaela expresses her thought of using wood as another ingredient. So, Chef Elias does the same by using a lot of wood fire and smoke while serving the food family style.
Main courses are preceded by Vuelve a la Vida or Come Back to Life, a hot cup of seafood broth seasoned with chipotle and herbs. Micaela also offers a raw oyster bar with a variety of delicious and fresh oysters not found anywhere else in the best restaurants in Mérida. Octopus by far is the most popular; experience the wonderful smoky flavor of this succulent dish. Go late afternoon or early evening before the dinner crowd starts to arrive around 8:00 pm.
Best Restaurants in Mérida for Traditional and Local Flavor
Yucatecan food is like no other food in all of Mexico. The fact of the matter – There are some dishes you will only find in Yucatan. Alternatively, cochinita is a famous dish where each establishment or cocina ecomica has their own special blend of spices. Que Rico!
Santa Ana Market
Address: Calle 60 x 47 y 45, Centro
Very Limited English Spoken
Located just one block west of the iconic Paseo de Montejo, you’ll find a broad range of Yucatecan street food in the market. Competing cocinas economicas offer many of the same items and are truly some of the best restaurants in Mérida. A favorite place for the unique flavor of Yucatecan dishes including panuchos, lime soup, turkey salbutes, papadzules, salbutes, panuchos, cochinita, lechon, pavo relleno negro and queso relleno. All available, at incredibly low local prices.
The restaurants here all offer pretty much the same menu including cochinita pibil, a marinated pork dish that is slow-cooked in underground pits. Be aware – The market gets busy on the weekends, especially during the early hours as this is a location frequented by locals and tourists alike for breakfasts and freshly-squeezed juices and aguas frescas. I like to go in the mid-afternoon. Cash only.
Maiz, Canela y Cilantro
Address: Calle 70 #464 x 55 y 55a, Centro
Some English Spoken
A delightful restaurant where you can watch the ladies in the kitchen while they cook, laugh, and enjoy themselves. Delicious fruit juices and coffee paired with home-cooked meals will delight your senses. The restaurant is housed in an old colonial building typical of the city. Adorned with artwork of the region, the space is fairly small with a sparse number of wooden tables and chairs. Ana, the owner and chef, prepares wonderful and authentic dishes full of fresh, bright flavors and healthy options.
From whole wheat pancakes with honey and fresh jam to wonderful egg dishes, you’ll also find vegetarian and vegan options. The coffee bar is located in the room to the right of the foyer. Specialty coffees include all types of espresso drinks; lattes and double macchiato are exceptional. Reservations are not accepted. It is likely there will be a small wait (well worth it) no matter what day or time you arrive. Try lunch around 1:30 pm.
Maíz (corn), canela (cinnamon), and cilantro are three prominent ingredients in Mexican cuisine.
Address: Calle 62 #354 x 41 y 43, Centro
Limited English Spoken
An incredibly quaint restaurant with seating on the back patio. The owner Anne says, “El Apapacho offers Mexican food and also feeds the soul, heart, and brain. We have a French bakery, art gallery, and feminist bookstore.” It can be difficult to find a restaurant that serves both meat and vegetarian dishes. El Apapacho is one of those restaurants where you’ll find both and the selections are remarkable. Meals are made to order with natural ingredients. Prepare to wait a little longer for your meal and enjoy one of the appetizers or hand-made drinks.
Great service and atmosphere, servings are plentiful and freshly delicious. Arrive close to opening time for breakfast or late afternoon to avoid the heat of the day. Try the enchiladas with chicken, covered with the red sauce or mole. Tasty vegetarian choices include mushrooms with mole de la casa and enchiladas verdes de nopales con queso. Finish your meal with a yummy dessert…vegan options too!
Best Restaurants in Mérida for Asian Food
Would you believe you can also find amazingly delicious Asian food in Mérida? Well, you can. Both of these restaurants offer authentic tastes of their native lands. I promise not only will you not be disappointed, but you’ll also be incredibly surprised at the blend of flavors.
Address: Prolongacion Paseo de Montejo #34, Merida (97115)
Air-Conditioned Indoor and Outdoor Patio
First and foremost, the ambiance of Miyabi is spectacular. Seating is in an open space surrounding a large tree that grows through the roof. A koi pond, water feature, and a variety of plants on different levels give a feeling of tranquility and peace. The indoor seating area is tastefully done as well. It is obvious that time, energy, and effort went into creating a quiet oasis. This is one of the reasons it made the list of best restaurants in Mérida. Once your order arrives, it is obvious that the chef has experience in the preparation of Japanese food and sushi with the perfect combination of ingredients to rice ratio.
The difference with sushi here is that you can order it with or without nori (the seaweed wrap). An extensive sake and beer selection along with a substantial menu with something for everyone from sushi to sashimi to tonkatsu to salads and desserts. Prices are very reasonable with good service. If you are eating with others, ask to have your meal brought out all at the same time so no one will be eating alone. Go before 8:00 pm to have a relaxing meal without a crowd.
Best Restaurants in Mérida for International
It makes sense that an international destination would be part of this list of the best restaurants in Mérida. An extensive variety of international restaurants are here, too. It’s just one of the reasons many people love to eat here. The following restaurants take pride in creating a meal where you will feel like you are in the destination of choice.
Bryan’s Burger Bar
Address: Calle 60 x 53 y 55
Air-Conditioned Indoor and Outdoor Patio
When you are craving a true American hamburger, this is the ONLY place in Merida that will satisfy your taste buds. Bryan’s is famous for its high-quality gourmet burgers, both with meat and a vegetarian one too. The beef burgers are made with 100% certified Angus beef served on homemade buns. With any hamburger, especially in Merida, I recommend requesting well-done. Popular burgers are the California and the Parisina. Excellent service, quaint indoor space or cool-breezy patio will definitely help you feel like you are on vacation.
Bryan’s is located in Santa Lucia Park which is also a great place to people-watch. Arrive early evening and sit outside to enjoy the weather. An extensive cocktail and wine list, and domestic and imported beers complete the experience at Bryans. Trotter’s Group has an innate talent in creating stylish modern settings; you’ll find the same next door at La Tratto.
Address: Calle 60 x 53 y 55
Air-Conditioned Indoor and Outdoor Patio
Note: This review is for La Tratto in Santa Lucia Park (next to Bryan’s Burger Bar).
The beautiful location in Santa Lucia Park is the perfect place to relax and enjoy a fabulous meal and a refreshing drink with superior service. You’ll find a luxurious air-conditioned interior overlooking a beautiful garden. Sit at the sexy bar where you can chat with friendly bartenders and watch the kitchen staff work their magic at the best restaurants in Mérida.
La Tratto serves antipasti, fresh salads, Neapolitan-style pizza, and fresh homemade pastas, La Tratto is a one-of-a-kind experience with clientele that return again and again. Try the tuna tartare with avocado, soy sauce, coriander, and ginger served with housemade chips and a refreshing glass of Sauvignon Blanc. Find a full wine and beer list along with specialty cocktails.
Your attentive waiter will bring you warm, delicious housemade bread and chimichurri sauce before your main course. Ask them for recommendations if you can’t decide from the plethora of delightful options. Yes, this is the location where I met Angel who is now my wonderful husband!
Hennesy’s Irish Pub
Address: Paseo de Montejo #486 x 41 y 43
Air-Conditioned Indoor and Outdoor Patio
Sean Hennesy states, “I conceived a European-style place, a gastropub, a restaurant that would also serve as an international meeting point.” The actual conception provides exactly that. You will feel like you have arrived at an international destination when you step inside.
A combination of excellent food and great service with the ambiance and flavor of an authentic gastropub. Located on the Paseo de Montejo provides a respite from the heat where you’ll find both locals and tourists chatting about a variety of subjects. Try a typical Irish pub dish like my favorite fish and chips and Shepherd’s pie, or a hamburger, order of tacos, creamy sauce-covered pasta.
Hennesy’s even have some vegetarian dishes which are quite tasty (my second favorite). Go on Sundays, during any sporting event (which they play on TV’s at the bar) or Wednesday nights for live music. Sean posts weekly specials on the Hennesy’s Facebook page that will make your mouth water!
Best Restaurants in Mérida for Ceviche
With a location only a few kilometers from the coast, you can expect fresh seafood all the time. The cool thing – I have my seafood delivered weekly by a pescador from Progresso. Tuna, grouper, red fish, scallops, and shrimp are his specialties. Look for Pablo Ku’s Seafood Lovers! private group on Facebook.
Taquería y Marisquería Tetiz
Address: Calle 70 x 57 (Inside Mercado de Santiago)
Very Limited English Spoken
Inside my favorite and the famous Santiago market is Taquería y Marisquería Tetiz. Ceviche, tortas, salbutes, panuchos, tostadas and sauces, tacos, empanadas. Octopus, shrimp, squid, oysters, chaya, cheese. The ceviche is a must-try along with the queso empanadas.
You’ll also find fresh flowers, juices, vegetables and fruits, eggs, and other culinary delights. This is a local and tourist favorite inside the Santiago Market, where you can also people-watch until your heart’s desire. Best time to go is mid-morning. Cash only.
Best Restaurants in Mérida for Off the Beaten Path
Ready for some hidden gems? These off the beaten path restaurants are also some of the best restaurants in Mérida.
Street Food and Cocina Economicas
Typical for Yucatán are the food stalls, street vendors, and cocina economicas found all over the city. Local dishes from these simple, tasty, and authentic vendors will delight your senses.
Walk down the street, visit events in different neighborhoods and you’re sure to find something delicious and cheap.
- And so much more . . .
The most famous dish of Yucatan is cochinita or cochinita pibil. Sunday is the best day to have cochinita. It is typically eaten for breakfast with a Coca-Cola. Try different street food vendors and establishments to find your favorite. No matter what time of night that you’re hungry, you’ll be able to find something delicious and filling in the Best Restaurants in Mérida.
Address: Av. Andrés García Lavín 290 – Montebello (97113)
Air-Conditioned Indoor and Outdoor Patio
On top of the restaurant La Parroquia de Veracruz in City Center, visit Ostro known for offering outstanding service in a casual and relaxed atmosphere. Inspired by Italian Osterias and French Bistros, Ostro fuses classic with modern, integrating different styles of food and drinks. No matter what dish you order, you’ll love it from pizza to sandwiches to pastas.
Ostro offers Italian, French, and American wines, craft cocktails, and a range of domestic and imported beers. Don’t leave without trying one of the amazing desserts. The volcan de chocolate and the tiramisu are my favorites. Honestly, theirs is probably the best tiramisu I’ve ever had. Located above another restaurant, be aware you’ll have to climb a flight of stairs to reach Ostro. The best part is a comfortable outdoor patio where you can enjoy the fresh air late at night and views of the city.
Address: Calle 47 #463B entre 54 y 52, Centro
Air-Conditioned Indoor and Outdoor Patio
Catrin is a term used to describe a dandy of the high society elite.
The term became popular when catrines were seen walking in the streets with striped pants, a cane, and a bowler hat.
Dining at Catrin will feel like you are walking through Mexican society…past and present. Artwork indicative of the region provides eye candy throughout the interior of the restaurant and a large mural on the patio is the site of an enchanting video projection orchestrated to music.
This is my favorite spot for delicious unique salsas, tuna tostadas, and beet salad. The freshness and the consistency of the food are reasons I return again and again.
Catrin has an incredible selection of both hot and cold appetizers and a nice variety of vegetarian dishes. Other taste-tempting items for the carnivore include short rib tacos, fried octopus and pork belly salbute, and beef steak sandwich. For the price, value, consistency and quality, it is one of the best restaurants in Mérida. Be sure to peruse the gift shop when you leave. There is an assortment of beautiful handcrafted items from local artisans. Visit after dark to watch the light show on the patio. Ask the bartender to make you a refreshing mezcal margarita.
Final Thoughts on Best Restaurants in Mérida
By now, you know there is a vast range of cuisines offered as well as the multiple nationalities represented. It’s actually impossible to try only a few of the wonderful dishes in Mérida. You’ll find tantalizing smells at every corner of the city in these Best Restaurants in Mérida. I dare you to pass them by without trying a little nibble here or there.
With all this in mind, it’s your turn to dive into the veritable heaven of food delights. And remember, it’s not just about the food, it’s about the entire experience. Good luck and let me know your favorite best restaurants in Mérida over in our community (c’mon over and join us)
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