Cancun Waterfront Dining: Tasty Cuisine and Spectacular Views

When you think of Cancun you may think of Mexican food... tacos and enchiladas washed down with a cold margarita on the rocks, but Cancun is actually home to restaurants that serve cuisine from all over the globe.

If you want to eat on the beach, you'll have to eat in a resort or one of the only restaurants located on the Caribbean in the Hotel Zone... Mocambo, a seafood restaurant located at km 9.5. There are also a few seafood "restaurants" (tables and chairs set up on the beach) at Playa Tortugas (Turtle Beach) at km 6.5 that serve fresh seafood. In addition there are a few eateries in Plaza Forum that provide a view of the Caribbean. Arrecifes, located in The Westin Cancun Resort & Spa, is open to the public and offers a spectacular view of the Hotel Zone, especially at night.

Visitors will find countless waterfront dining options on the lagoon side of the Hotel Zone, and they all provide a front row seat to Cancun's unforgettable sunsets. Thai is well, a Thai restaurant, located in La Isla shopping mall that serves up the best ambiance in Cancun. Puerto Madero, Lorenzillo's and Fred's House Seafood Market & Grill are a few of Cancun's best restaurants. Harry's Prime Steakhouse and Raw Grill and Cenacolo Zona Hotelera are also located on Nichupte Lagoon. All have outdoor seating available.

For something more economical try Fish Fritanga or El Galeon del Caribe aka Las Pescadillas, a Cancun hidden treasure.


Zona Hotelera

One of Cancun's oldest restaurants, Lorenzillo's has been a favorite among locals and tourists since it opened in 1979. Since there is a lobster farm on the premises it's no surprise the menu consists primarily of seafood dishes. A few meat and poultry dishes are also offered. For starters, try Las Cornamusa, which is lobster croquettes, served with chipotle mayonnaise. The hardcore seafood fan should try the Treasure Chest entree. It is a grouper filet, stuffed with lobster, shrimp, mushrooms and Bernaise sauce. Alaskan King Crab Legs are offered seasonally and they are nothing short of fabulous. After enjoying the perfectly prepared seafood entrees, finish off the evening by indulging in one of Lorenzillo's sinful desserts, like the Chocolate Volcano.

Recommended for Waterfront Dining because: Lorenzillo's has a wonderful deck where you can dine right on the lagoon and watch the sun set and the crocodiles swim by.

Susan's expert tip: This restaurant has a lobster farm on-site and you can choose your own lobster.

Read more about Lorenzillo's →

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.

Recommended for Waterfront Dining because: El Galeon del Caribe is nothing fancy, but they serve authentic, delicious Mexican seafood.

Kristin's expert tip: Order 2 o 3 pescadillas. One won't be enough.

Read more about El Galeon del Caribe (Las Pescadillas) →

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 cocktail).

Recommended for Waterfront Dining because: Fish Fritanga is great for the entire family and their food is yummy and economical.

Kristin's expert tip: El Fish Fritanga delivers in the Hotel Zone so if you feel like staying in one night, have them bring dinner to your doorstep.

Read more about El Fish Fritanga →

Zona Hotelera

Arrecifes (Reefs) is a well-kept secret in the Westin Resort & Spa Cancun, which is located at Km 20 of the Hotel Zone. The prices are very reasonable for Cancun hotel dining. The restaurant has indoor and outdoor dining, both with spectacular views of the Caribbean Sea. Service is efficient and attentive, and the food fantastic. Arrecifes serves fine modern Mexican cuisine and seafood and features live mariachi music. If you require vegetarian, vegan or gluten free dining, let your waiter know and the chef will accommodate you. This is a great place for a romantic dinner but children are welcome.

Recommended for Waterfront Dining because: Arrecifes serves up gourmet Mexican food and an oceanfront view of Cancun's spectacular skyline.

Kristin's expert tip: Arrecifes is in the Westin Resort & Spa Cancun, but you don't have to be a guest to dine there.

Read more about Arrecifes →

Cenacolo Zona Hotelera
Photo courtesy of Grupo Cenacolo

Cenacolo Zona Hotelera, located at km. 12.6 of Blvd. Kukulcan in the la Europea building, serves upscale Italian dishes and beautiful views of Nichupte Lagoon. The main focus here is seafood, and all of the pasta is homemade every day. Service is excellent, an extensive wine list is on offer and portions are large. The decor is chic, light and modern with the addition of a live pianist creating a lovely ambiance. There is another Cenacolo restaurant located in Marina Town Center and one in Playa del Carmen. Dress up and leave your flip-flops at the resort.

Recommended for Waterfront Dining because: Cenacolo Mare makes their own pasta by hand (not with a pasta press) onsite.

Kristin's expert tip: Plan your dinner around sunset and sit on the terrace.

Read more about Cenacolo Zona Hotelera →

Prime cuts of USDA beef, dry-aged beef and Kobe beef are served at this upscale, waterfront restaurant. Beef that is dry-aged has more flavor and is more tender than beef that has not undergone the dry-aging process. Kobe beef from Japan, Australia and the USA is offered, as well as several Kosher steaks. Kobe beef hot dogs, burgers, sliders and even tacos are available for those that crave beef but are looking for something a little different. Harry's Prime Steakhouse and Raw Bar offers an extensive selection of wines to accompany the melt-in-your-mouth steaks. Portions are large, so you might want to consider sharing an entree or side dishes.

Recommended for Waterfront Dining because: Harry's is one of Cancun's finest restaurants and located on Nichupte Lagoon with a front row view for Cancun's sunsets.

Kristin's expert tip: Save room for the cotton candy that is delivered to each table at the end of the meal.

Read more about Harry's Prime Steakhouse and Raw Bar →

Fred's House Seafood Market & Grill
Photo courtesy of JC Capitan

Fred's House offers fresh, delicious seafood in an elegant waterfront setting. The menu has an extensive selection of seafood dishes, as well as beef, chicken, and other specialties of the chef. There are also selections available from the raw bar, as well as sushi. Caribbean lobster and Maine lobster are both available. Seafood platters are available for parties of two or four people. Fred's House gives many dishes a little Mexican flair. A regional favorite is the Tikin-Xik fish. The mixture of spices on the fish make it incredibly flavorful. Outdoor dining is available, with tables overlooking the lagoon. Private, outdoor cabanas are available for small groups.

Recommended for Waterfront Dining because: Fred's serves exquisite food and the private cabanas on the lagoon are lovely.

Susan's expert tip: Reserve a private cabana for your small group. This is a great place to watch the sunset so if you arrive in time to watch the sun go down, get a table by the window or out on the terrace.

Read more about Fred's House Seafood Market & Grill →

Zona Hotelera

One of Cancun's finest restaurants, Puerto Madero is named for the Buenos Aires port district that has risen to upscale trendiness in recent years. The decor has a stylishly industrial feel, much like the district itself. Argentinean cuisine is the specialty, so expect a lot of fresh seafood and prime steaks grilled to your specifications. Many of the entrees are big enough to share. Don't miss the Marlin Carpaccio. If you're not a meat eater, there are also plenty of salads and pasta dishes to choose from. This is the perfect place to celebrate a big date or a special anniversary.

Recommended for Waterfront Dining because: Puerto Madero is one of the best and most popular restaurants in Cancun.

Kristin's expert tip: Reserve a table on the terrace for a romantic dinner.

Read more about Puerto Madero →

This is arguably Cancun's best Thai restaurant and it happens to be the prettiest too. Actually, it's one of the most beautiful, romantic settings in all of Cancun. People rave about the food, the decor, the service, and the waterfront location. As the name implies, Thai cuisine is the specialty of the house. The food and setting will make you feel as though you've been transported to Thailand. The atmosphere is unbeatable and includes soft lighting, ambient music, incense burning, plants, trees, palapas, palm shelters, gardens and little wooden huts. Make sure you arrive on time if you have a reservation because they will only hold your table for 10 minutes. Keep an eye on the lagoon for a visit from the resident crocodile. Thai is located in Plaza La Isla at km 12.5 in the Hotel Zone.

Recommended for Waterfront Dining because: Thai's ambiance cannot be beat. The private huts are charming. This is a restaurant you won't soon forget.

Kristin's expert tip: Call ahead to reserve a private, over-the-water table for special occasions.

Read more about Thai →

Photo courtesy of Kristin Busse

There are many restaurants on the lagoon in Cancun, but Mocambo is one of the few oceanfront eateries in town. Located right next to Playa Caracol, a popular public beach, Mocambo serves up some of Cancun's best seafood. Open for lunch and dinner, guests may order from the menu or opt for the seafood buffet, which is available several times a week. The dining area is open-air and covered with a large palapa (thatched roof). There are gorgeous views of the island of Isla Mujeres off in the distance, as well as of the lighthouse which is located a short distance away on the property of Hyatt Ziva. Prices at Mocambo are quite reasonable and the service is good. Most importantly, the food is delicious.

Recommended for Waterfront Dining because: Mocambo is one of the only restaurants in Cancun that is located on the ocean and is not in a hotel.

Susan's expert tip: If you want a front row view of the Caribeean Sea, make a reservation. The tables with the best views fill up quickly.

Read more about Mocambo →


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