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10 Best Restaurants to Visit for Authentic, Homestyle Food in Cancun



Some people might not consider Cancun to be the "real" Mexico, but the world-class vacation destination is also home to around 750,000 residents, most of whom are Mexican. Many come from other parts of the country to live and work in Cancun, and bring their traditions and their food with them.

Most might imagine, and hope, that their vacation would include long, leisurely gourmet dinners, and of course it should, but why not try some homestyle Mexican food as well? We're not talking nachos and hard-shell tacos, which is actually Tex-Mex food and more popular in the US and along the US-Mexico border, we're talking about authentic Mexican food.

Visitors can try homestyle Mexican food in small, rustic eateries like Tacun or restaurants Hacienda de Mortero in the Hotel Zone. In downtown Cancun La Parrilla and La Casa de los Abuelos both serve traditional Mexican food. If you are looking to try local seafood, El Galeon del Caribe (aka Las Pescadillas) and El Fish Fritanga in the Hotel Zone and El Cejas downtown in Market 28 all prepare the freshest traditional Mexican Caribbean-style seafood dishes. Cheester, a local favorite, has various locations in downtown Cancun and serves huge portions of homestyle pasta. Bovino's Churrascaria is Cancun's favorite place for Brazilian homestyle dishes.

Discover authentic Mexican flavors and more in Cancun's homestyle restaurants.


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El Galeon del Caribe (Las Pescadillas)
Photo courtesy of Myrna Carrillo - Myrnation

El Galeon del Caribe aka Las Pescadillas, is a rustic (to say the least) hidden treasure in Cancun's Hotel Zone. Tucked in between the mangroves on Nichupte Lagoon at km 19.4 of Kukulcan Boulevard (across the street from the GR Solaris Cancun) Las Pescadillas, is essentially chairs and tables under a palapa, but they serve the yummiest, freshest pescadillas (fried corn tortillas stuffed with fish) around. They also serve delicious ceviche, garlic shrimp, soft drinks, cold cerveza and more. This is traditional, authentic Mexican seafood at its best, and the price can't be beat. Oh, and there's no dress code.

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La Troje

La Troje (The Shed) is tucked in a upscale neighborhood near Plaza Las Americas in downtown Cancun. The restaurant has a sidewalk cafe feeling and they serve delicious salads, pasta, crepes, baguettes, pizza, fondues, beer and wine...so it's a wonderful place for lunch or a light dinner. Try the extremely popular Ensalada Margarita (Margarita Salad) which features shrimp and asparagus. La Troje is owned and operated by a family of three generations and has been open since 1999. It's a Cancun landmark. Portions are generous and can often be shared between two people.

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In case you haven't heard, Brazil is known for its delicious steak. At Bovino (cow) Churrascaria (churrasco loosely translates to barbeque) delicious, high quality cuts of meat (baby beef, arrachera , Brazilian chorizo, pork ribs, Rio filet, lamb and many more) are prepared on a huge grill and served to patrons on skewers. For around 40 usd, diners have access to the salad bar and as much steak as they can eat. Drinks and desserts are offered at an extra cost. Bovino's has an extensive wine cellar, is very popular with locals and shows high-profile soccer (futbol) games.

Read more about Bovino's Churrascaria →


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El Fish Fritanga

This casual seafood restaurant is located smack in the middle of the Hotel Zone but it's also a local favorite. El Fish Fritanga is open daily from 11 am to 11 pm but their taco stand is open from 7 am until 1 am. This is a great spot for a family meal. They have high chairs and a changing station available and an outdoor kids play area. Prices on their menu range from 10 to 200 pesos (USD: 75 cents to 15 dollars). They are located on the lagoon so you'll enjoy a lovely view. They have all this to offer plus their food is delicious. Try the ceviche or fish tacos with a frosty chelada (prepared beer drink).

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When you're in Cancun, it's easy to get caught up in the festive atmosphere and maybe overdo it a little. If you find yourself in this scenario, then pull it together and head to El Cejas for lunch and their renowned cocktail, Vuelva La Vida (Return to Life). After you rejoin the world of the living, settle in for some of the best and freshest seafood in the city. Favorites include ceviche, a piquant seafood cocktail, shrimp soup, and of course, the grilled fish selections. El Cejas is located in Mercado 28 (Market 28) so do a little souvenir shopping afterwards.

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If you're in the mood for an authentic Mexican fiesta, complete with live mariachi music, Hacienda el Mortero is waiting for you right on the edge of Cancun's Party Zone at Km. 9 of Boulevard Kulkukan in the Hotel Zone. There's also a magician that will do tricks at your table and make balloon figures for your kids. What's the perfect meal at Hacienda de Mortero? How about caesar salad prepared tableside, followed by duck enchiladas, accompanied by an authentic margarita or sangria? To finish, order the caramel crepes, also prepared right at your table. Hacienda de Mortero is part of the all inclusive program at the Krystal hotel but all other patrons are welcome as well.

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Cheester is one of Cancun's most popular restaurants despite the fact that they don't take reservations and they don't deliver. What they do however, is serve delicious pasta, pizza, salads, crepes and breakfasts at a very reasonable price. Their biggest location is in Plaza Outlet but their original location in Supermanzana 31 is still open. They recently opened a new location in Malecon Americas and there is also one it Parque las Palapas. All four locations are in downtown Cancun. Locals can't get enough of Cheester and rave about their pasta dishes like Atenas, which features spinach, black olives, onion, tomato and feta cheese. Portions are huge and take out is available.

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Hotel Zone
Tacun

This is real Mexican food at a great price. Tacun is located across the street from Plaza Flamingo on the ocean side of the street at km 11.5 in the Hotel Zone. This is the type of authentic, economical food you would normally only find in downtown Cancun. Unlike some larger, less personal restaurants, the owners treasure every single customer. Expect great service and a delicious meal. If you don't see something on the menu, ask. Save yourself a few pesos and eat at Tacun a couple of times during your vacation. You'll be amazed at what you get for the price, but bring cash because Tacun does not accept credit cards.

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La Casa de Los Abuelos
Photo courtesy of Kristin Busse

La Casa de Los Abuelos (The Grandparents' House) is a Mexican family restaurant and bakery. They have six locations, three of which are in Cancun. The idea here is that the food is traditional Mexican fare, something your abuelos (grandparents) might make, if you are Mexican of course! Try one of their unique quesadillas, one with chorizo (Mexican sausage) and potato, or even nopales (cactus). Then try some pan dulce (sweet bread) for dessert from the bakery. This restaurant is great for families because they have an enclosed playroom which is supervised by nannies where kids can hang out before or after they eat.

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When visitors and locals go in search of a festive Mexican meal, they usually end up at La Parrilla. The restaurant features a large salon and terrace, festive colors and fountains, and those wanting a little variety can order a margarita mixed from one of 50 different tequila brands. One menu favorite is tacos al pastor, which is made with pineapple, pork and salsa, and other Mexican staples are served with handmade tortillas. Plenty of seafood choices and steak are also available. Live mariachi music begins at 8:00pm. Look for the Mole (a popular Mexican sauce) Festival each May.

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Meet Kristin Busse

After vacationing in Mexico many times, Kristin decided to move to Cancun "for a year". That was in 2001.

Kristin grew-up in Michigan and studied Communications at Michigan State University....  More About Kristin

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