Where Locals Eat: The Best Mexican Restaurants in Cancun
Updated: Apr 30
Cancun is known for its pristine beaches and lively nightlife, but it's also home to a vibrant food scene that's often overlooked by visitors. While many tourists flock to chain restaurants and fast-food joints, locals know that the best food in Cancun can be found in small, family-run eateries and markets. If you want to eat like a local in Cancun, here are the best Mexican restaurants in Cancun you should check out.
Best Mexican Restaurants in Cancun
Located in the heart of Cancun's Hotel Zone, La Parrilla is a popular spot for both tourists and locals. The restaurant serves up traditional Mexican dishes, including fajitas, tacos, and enchiladas, at reasonable prices. The average cost of a main dish is around $10 USD. Make sure to try the cochinita pibil, a slow-cooked pork dish that's a Yucatan specialty.
For a more authentic experience, head to El Pocito, a small taqueria in downtown Cancun. This no-frills eatery serves up some of the best tacos in town, with a variety of fillings to choose from, including al pastor, carne asada, and chorizo. The average cost of a taco is around $1.50 USD. If you're feeling adventurous, try the cabeza (beef head) tacos, a local favorite.
Mercado 28 is a bustling market in downtown Cancun that's popular with locals and tourists alike. The market is home to dozens of food stalls selling everything from fresh seafood to grilled meats to authentic Mexican snacks. The prices are very reasonable, with most dishes costing around $5-10 USD. Make sure to try the ceviche, a dish of marinated raw fish or shrimp that's a staple of coastal Mexican cuisine.
Los de Pescado
If you're a seafood lover, you won't want to miss Los de Pescado, a seafood restaurant located in the Hotel Zone. The restaurant serves up fresh, locally caught seafood dishes, including ceviche, grilled octopus, and fish tacos. The average cost of a main dish is around $15 USD. Make sure to try the camaron al coco, a dish of grilled shrimp with coconut sauce that's a customer favorite.
For a more upscale dining experience, check out La Habichuela, a fine-dining restaurant that's been a Cancun institution for over 40 years. The restaurant serves up traditional Yucatan cuisine with a modern twist, including dishes like cochinita pibil, chile en nogada, and poc-chuc. The average cost of a main dish is around $25 USD. Make sure to try the habichuela con puerco, a dish of black beans and pork that's the restaurant's signature dish.
So, if you want to experience the true flavors of Cancun, skip the tourist traps and head to these local hotspots. From traditional Mexican dishes to fresh seafood to upscale Yucatan cuisine, there's something for everyone in this vibrant food scene. And with reasonable prices and friendly service, you'll feel like a local in no time
Best Restaurants in the Cancun Hotel Zone
The Hotel Zone is where you can find some of the best restaurants in the city. With so many options available, it can be overwhelming to choose where to dine. To make it easier for you, we've included some options here if you are looking for something different from the delicious Mexican options we listed earlier.
Harry's Prime Steakhouse and Raw Bar
Price range: $$$$
If you're a fan of steak, then Harry's Prime Steakhouse and Raw Bar is the place to be. The restaurant has a sophisticated ambiance and offers some of the best steaks in Cancun. The standout dish here is the 32 oz Tomahawk Steak, which is perfect for sharing. Harry's also has a great selection of seafood, including oysters, lobster, and sushi.
Price range: $$$
For those who love seafood, Puerto Madero is the go-to restaurant in Cancun. The restaurant specializes in Argentinean cuisine and offers a wide range of seafood dishes. The standout dish here is the Seafood Platter, which features lobster, shrimp, octopus, and fish. The restaurant also has an extensive wine list featuring some of the best wines from Argentina.
Price range: $$
If you're in the mood for Thai cuisine, then Thai Lounge is the place to be. The restaurant has a chic ambiance and offers a wide range of Thai dishes. The standout dish here is the Pad Thai, a classic Thai dish made with rice noodles, vegetables, and your choice of protein. The restaurant also serves great cocktails and has a rooftop terrace with stunning views of the Hotel Zone.
Cancun offers a diverse and vibrant food scene that should not be overlooked by tourists. While the city is known for its beautiful beaches and nightlife, the local cuisine is just as impressive. From traditional Mexican dishes to fresh seafood and upscale Yucatan cuisine, there's something for everyone in this foodie paradise. And with friendly service and reasonable prices, you can experience the true flavors of Cancun like a local. So, skip the tourist traps and head to these local hotspots to savor the best food the city has to offer.
Also see, Our Top Picks for Partying in Cancun
We may earn a commission or referral bonus whenever you click on an affiliate link or make a purchase on affiliate sites linked from this post.