Cancun, Mexico is known for its large resorts along the beautiful beach in the hotel zone. And that’s where most tourists stay. Few ever venture to the downtown area, and even fewer actually stay there. There are numerous tours that can take you to see the amazing cenotes, Chichén-Itzá, or day trips over to Isla Mujeres. But there is an entire city of Cancun to be seen as well.
This is not intended to be a comprehensive list of where to go in Cancun, but rather 3 places concentrated in one area that are definitely worthy of your time to visit.
Sure the shops at Market 28 (Mercado 28) that sell souvenirs, trinkets, and t-shirts that say “Cancun” across the chest show that this place is touristy. And the Señor Frogs outlet store just outside the market remove any remaining doubt that its a tourist hub. But, its great central spot to visit in the daytime. And there are several restaurants in the center of the market, my favorite of which is Atotonilco. But stop at any of the spots for a quick lunch.
Parque de las Palapas
Just a 10 minute walk east from Market 28, is Parque Palapas. This is a spot you will find many locals hanging out with their families at night and weekends. There are food carts that serve things like tacos, marquesitas, and elote as well as permanent food stands and other vendors. The prices are reasonable and its a chance to try several types of Mexican food at once. And there are several bars, night clubs, and other restaurants surrounding the park so you can make it an all night affair.
If you want a restaurant with a beautiful setting right near Parque de la Palapas, then Habichuela is a great option. It has a fantastic outdoor courtyard and is a great spot for a special occasion or a nice date night. And it’s quite reasonably priced considering its slightly fancier… unless of course you order the lobster or their famous cocobichuela which is a shrimp and lobster curry served in a coconut. I’ve been here several times, including our celebration dinner for our first sonogram.
Other Recommended Restaurants in Cancun
Cancun is a large city and there are lots of great places all around the city. Here are just come of the others that I’ll hopefully try to cover in a future post.
In the neighborhood behind Plaza Las Americas lies several great spots
- La Troje: A nice spot that I guess is Italian-ish / Mexican-ish… pizza, pasta, paninis, and some Mexican dishes. They have an inviting outdoor area in the front.
- Cafe Antoinette: a French style cafe that became my go to lunch spot. It’s a great for breakfast, pastries, sandwiches, and a glass (or 3) of wine. www.cafe-antoinette.com
- Marakame: One of the better Sunday brunch spots in the city. They have a buffet with Mexican specialties and Mexican coffee (brewed with cinnamon and sugar and its great!)
In between Parque de la Palapas and Plaza las Americas along Avenue Bonampak are several of the nicest “higher end” restaurants outside of the hotel zone yet priced much more reasonably.
- Peter’s Restaurant: They classify themselves as a “European Restaurant.” Although the menu can change, they serve dishes such as a “three chile” pork tenderloin, mushroom ravioli, and a shrimp stuffed chicken breast. Plus they have a great dessert menu.
- Locanda Paolo: A fantastic upscale Italian restaurant. Chef Paolo also experiments with mixing in Mexican and Asian flavors to create some fusion dishes. locandapaolo.com
- La Dolce Vita: Another Italian spot with a focus on seafood and homemade pasta. I generally love the shrimp scampi and whatever fresh fish filet they have on special, but the pork Osso Buco is a favorite as well. ladolcevitacancun.com