Isla Mujeres, Mexico has many hidden gems that you don’t want to miss. These places are a little harder to find, but include two of my favorite bars and two of the best restaurants on Isla Mujeres. This video shows you where to find live music, a mezcaleria, and a restaurant with an art gallery that sells a Juicy Lucy like they have in Minnesota. Don’t miss an of these hidden gems on Isla Mujeres.
Isla Mujeres is a small island off the coast of Cancun. And while the island itself used to be a hidden gem in Mexico, I wouldn’t say this is true any longer. The calm blue water and white sand has led to Playa Norte being named as one of the best beaches in Mexico. And the influx of tourists and foreign retirees has led to new an abundance of construction and a boom in population.
For some of my other recommendations about Isla Mujeres check out my post about my favorite bars and restaurants in Isla Mujeres located in El Centro (the northern downtown area of the island) and also a guide on places to go if you rent a golf cart and explore Isla Mujeres down to Punta Sur.
Aurora Cocina & Bar
Formerly Madera Food and art
If you are staying in the northern part of Isla Mujeres, you’ll want to rent a golf cart. Because about halfway down the island facing the Caribbean Ocean, lies one of Isla Mujeres’ best hidden gems. Aurora Cocina & Bar (formerly Madera Food & art) moved a few blocks north into a new beautiful location and a bigger menu. Try the tuna lettuce bites, or one of the rice bowls. But the main attraction is their Juicy Lucy burger. This type of burger was created in Minnesota, which makes sense because that’s where the owner Nick is from. And it has the cheese inside the patty. This is often recognized as the best burger in Isla Mujeres (Isla Burger is another favorite). As the name suggests, there is also an art gallery on site. If you stop in, you’ll quickly find why it’s an Isla Mujeres restaurant that locals love.
A short walk from El Centro along the Malecon on the eastern side of the island will take you right to Tiny Gecko. This is a place for local Isleños, tourists, and part time residents to meet up together while enjoying drinks, food and live music. This is my favorite pace for happy hour on Isla Mujeres as the music starts early and the seaside views showcase great sunset (yes, the sunset here is somehow great even though it sets on the other side of the island).
The picture above is absolutely horrible. But it you can see how the ocean view, bar, and live music are able to create a perfect spot for sundown.
Mezcaleria Bandidos del Maguey
After making the video above, Mezcaleria Bandidos del Maguey has had even more success and moved into a larger space at the Punta Blanca Beach Club.
Although it no longer has the hidden speakeasy feel, Bandidos still serves the same great mezcal based cocktails. Plus they have added food to the menu.
Walking into La Lomita feels like walking into your grandmother’s house for dinner. The owner will make you feel welcome as they cook up some classic Mexican and Mayan dishes. I like the ceviche and chicken mole, but the enchiladas are a hit with regulars. If you’re looking for the feel of a homecooked meal with local dishes, then La Lomita is one of the best restaurants in Isla Mujeres.
La Palapa del Capitan
La Palapa del Capitan is the hidden gem among hidden gems. It’s the tropical definition of a “hole in the wall” bar. It is at the very end of a dead-end street. And it’s the furthest golf cart ride you can take from downtown.
If you like busy bars, this might not be for you. But if you like a relaxing bar with cold beer and the most hospitable owners on the island, then La Palapa del Capitan is for you.