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Cozumel


richw
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So my wife convinced me to try a cruise, something I have been reluctant to do even though I live in Fort Lauderdale, which is huge cruise port city. The ship stops in Cozumel and I'm hoping that someone here can help me navigate past what I presume to be an abundance of tourist food. Help make this trip and please share anything you know about where I can eat the good stuff that's close enough to where the ship docks. My preference is to eat authentic local food but as long as you say it's good I'll try it.

Thanks! :biggrin:

South Florida

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It's been a few years since I was in Cozumel, but the best, most authentic food, no surprise, was in the old town of San Miguel. Can't recall any names, but there are a ton of small, family run places where they'll show you the fish or whatever they have on hand before cooking it.

It's right downtown, a comfortable stroll, as I recall, from the main beach. Avoid the "duty-free" stores.

Arthur Johnson, aka "fresco"
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No place on the planet is 100% safe, and I'm sure Cozumel isn't either. But their crime rate is very low. As one local put it to me, "This is an island, where can you go?" And so, when I'm there, even as a woman by myself, I feel very comfortable exploring the town of San Miguel.

Cozumel earns its living from tourism and it's a fairly small island, so it's not like you're going to discover a place no tourist has ever heard of. There is a really good out-of-the-way spot around on the other side of the island (which is much "wilder" and less inhabited) from where the ships put in; but since you only have one day, I'd recommend that you just wander San Miguel rather than getting in a cab and trying to get to that restaurant.

In San Miguel: Few tourists ever get more than one block back into the town from the main drag along the oceanfront, so if you're looking for a more local experience, just keep walking that way.

You'll be offered shore excursions through your cruiseline. The four-wheeler experience is everyone's favorite. You head off across the sand dunes toward the more remote areas of the island. In fact, depending on which company you're with, it might even include lunch at one of the seafood shacks over on the other side.

The snorkeling is wonderful. You'll probably only have time for one shore excursion, though, and I'd do the 4-wheelers. You reallly see the island much better that way, and you can snorkel many places. Most likely even many places on this same cruise.

I know you'll enjoy it. Personally, I love Cozumel.

I don't understand why rappers have to hunch over while they stomp around the stage hollering.  It hurts my back to watch them. On the other hand, I've been thinking that perhaps I should start a rap group here at the Old Folks' Home.  Most of us already walk like that.

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I had one of those culinary experiences in Cozumel that haunts you years later. I don't know if this will be any help since it has been several years since I was there but I will describe it anyway in case you can find something like it.

The location was San Francisco Beach, a little way south of San Miguel. This was a popular public beach with decent snorkeling and concession stands. There was an outdoor grill under a palapa and they were grilling fish. We ordered and got 2 or 3 grilled fillets with rice and black beans. HO-HUM you say. Not so. The fish was actually griddled. The griddle-master had a container of oil that he sloshed on the griddle before putting the filets on. The filets were perfectly cooked, crispy and lightly browned on the edges and perfectly moist on the inside. Some of that yellowish griddling oil flowed over into the beans and rice on the plate. It was the most delicious thing I had ever tasted. I found out later that the "oil" was actually mojo de ajo. This is finely diced garlic that is slowly toasted in oil or a mixture of oil and butter. Then the oil is used for griddling. I now make mojo de ajo regularly and it is one of the staples in my fridge. I have tried doing fish with it in my cast iron skillet and have come close. But I have never achieved the perfection of that griddle-master on that particular day.

Linda LaRose aka "fifi"

"Having spent most of my life searching for truth in the excitement of science, I am now in search of the perfectly seared foie gras without any sweet glop." Linda LaRose

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Several years ago, my wife and I went to Cozumel for a week with another couple. The best restaurant food we had was at a place called La Choza in San Miguel. Attentive preparation of straightforward food with good service.

Actually, if the stars are aligned and the restaurant is still there and the avocado pie is still on the menu, you must try it. Sublime baked-custard-style pie of avocado flavored with lime (and possibly lemon). We have tried to recreate it at home and haven't come close to the smooth as silk texture.

It was far enough inland that the throngs of cruise ship patrons didn't make it to the restaurant. Hopefully the place is still there.

Edited to add:

Google search turned up a few recent reviews of the place by visitors so it should still be open. Also, people still seem to like it.

Here is the address:

La Choza

Calle Rosada Salas 198

At Avenue 10 A Sur

Cozumel, Q.Roo

Phone: 987-20958

Edited by slbunge (log)

Stephen Bunge

St Paul, MN

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This is quite a stretch I know, BUT....

the ferry from Cozumel to the mainland goes to Playa del Carmen, where I had a couple remarkable meals at a restaurant called Yaxche earlier this year. I wrote up my experiences here.

Most women don't seem to know how much flour to use so it gets so thick you have to chop it off the plate with a knife and it tastes like wallpaper paste....Just why cream sauce is bitched up so often is an all-time mytery to me, because it's so easy to make and can be used as the basis for such a variety of really delicious food.

- Victor Bergeron, Trader Vic's Book of Food & Drink, 1946

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I will definitely make it to San Miguel if the consensus is that the more authentic food is there.

Jaymes - thanks for all of the tourist info, but who's worried about the safety of Cozumel? I'm certainly not.

I'll be looking for La Choza

Thanks to all for your responses. Happy New Year to all.

Rich

South Florida

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Jaymes - thanks for all of the tourist info, but who's worried about the safety of Cozumel?  I'm certainly not.

A great many people are reluctant to wander aimlessly around a strange town in a foreign, underdeveloped country, and well they should be. Unless they are familiar with an area, and know it to be safe, it's unwise to just charge blindly ahead. It's best to do some homework ahead of time and gain at least perfunctory knowledge of the risk factor. That's what smart travelers do.

What I was trying to say to you (in response to your request to "Help make this trip, and please share anything you know about where I can eat the good stuff" and "navigate past...an abundance of tourist food") is that in Cozumel, the crime rate is low enough that if one is attempting to avoid "tourist food," one can feel quite comfortable in exploring the back areas of San Miguel where few tourists go, and just meandering wherever your nose takes you.

Or in renting a 4-wheeler and exploring the wilder, less-populated areas of the island where there are several "authentic" fish shacks on the beaches.

As opposed to other similar tourist destinations (such as Playa del Carmen) where the incidence of rapes and muggings is startlingly high (and a gang of thieves recently hijacked an entire car ferry returning from Cozumel and held everyone at gunpoint while they relieved the passengers from their valuables) and where that would be a stupid thing to do.

Sorry if you found my advice too unspecific and off-topic to suit, and the "tourist info" a tiresome and unhelpful waste of your time. Clearly I misunderstood your request.

Guess this is better: Go to La Choza.

Period.

Edited by Jaymes (log)

I don't understand why rappers have to hunch over while they stomp around the stage hollering.  It hurts my back to watch them. On the other hand, I've been thinking that perhaps I should start a rap group here at the Old Folks' Home.  Most of us already walk like that.

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I just went on my first cruise this fall and Coz was one of the stops. I had spent a week there last winter doing some diving so already had a bit of familiarity with it. I love Cozumel and yes.... the cruise ship traffic has altered the character of the town but for the most part only the main drag by the water and the area right around the town plaza have become infected by touristy glitz. There are loads of little loncheria's with excellent food on the side streets once you get a very short distance past the plaza in any direction. If you speak Spanish it's immensely helpful when dinign inthe smal local places.

If you're going to be on Princess Cruise Lines I can offer some info on food and coffee that may be helpful. Also - if by chance one of your stops is Costa Maya Mexico - please advise as I have a good tip for a place there with amazing conch seviche and fresh fish/lobster.

At La Choza it's recommended, if you speak Spanish, to ask for the "local's menu". I had breakfast there and although the coffee was horrid the meal was excellent. There is a new loncheria recently opened on Calle 5 between Avenida 3 and Avenida 5 if I recall correctly. It's across from Villas Las Ancles, where we stayed, and the villa proprietor tells me it's very good - open for lunch only. Here's a review of it - sounds really good

Sabones Loncheria

A great choice for breakfast is Coffelia's - they're on Avenida 2 (I think) just a half block or so from the water. Very good Belgian style breakfast crepes and a tasty Mexican breakfast - artsy atmosphere and very much a place for locals

i2010.jpg

At the back side of the plaza is the best of the places that tourists do frequent - Cafe Denis - cheap and good. IMHO the absolute best restaurant in town is La Cocay, run by a chef from Montreal and his wife. It's only open for lunch but they also run a small casual place with a few outdoor tables, right next door. It specializes in authentic Yucatecan dishes and is said to be excellent. Can't recall the exact location but it's on the main avenue that runs east from the Chedraui grocery store and is very close to the lovely and historic Corpus Christi church.

I had great tacos (the real thing not the American style) for lunch at El Morrito III - I think it's on Avenida 6 a a few blocks up from the water.

i2011.jpg

You can get lots of great Coz info on the

Food and Drink section of the Cozumel My Cozumel Forum

Folks there will also be able to provide exact directions. It's a great town to walk in but you'll need to get a cab from the cruise ship pier unless you're at the pier that's right near downtown San Miguel (most of the ships go to the pier that's a few miles out of town).

Also.... if you rent a car and drive around the back side of the island (which is quite beautiful) - stop for grilled shrimp or other food at Coconuts up on the bluff - skip Playa Bonita (Playa Bonita is right by the road - small white structure with a great beach and awful food).

If after all of this information overload, you're still looking for more Coz info... here's an article by someone very close to me (hint, hint)

Searching for the perfect cappuccino in Cozumel

Please note that Cafe Manati, referenced in the article, has a new chef and reports are that food quality has suffered.

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The location was San Francisco Beach, a little way south of San Miguel. This was a popular public beach with decent snorkeling and concession stands. There was an outdoor grill under a palapa and they were grilling fish.

Good call - Sounds like the same place (and food) that I found by luck about 10 years ago. Rented a scooter one day to see the island and saw a small sign for SF beach beside a larger sign with a black marlin painted on it and no text. Looked intriguing so I turned right and followed the dirt/sand road for about 1/2 mile to the beach. Very few people at the beach and I was the only Gringo (mainly a few local families). Found a spot on the beach and later went to the palapa and ordered a beer and the grilled fish and black beans. Went back 2 more times. Food from heaven.

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dls... I am glad to hear that it was still there 10 years ago. I have just realized that the experience that I wrote about was about in 1980! :blink: My, how time flies when you are having fun. I have been back a few times in the past 10 years but just never had an occasion to seek out that magic griddle. I was usually with a group for 3 days of fishing and the schedule was full. We did manage to catch a whole boatload of dorado one time and took the filets back to the Presidente. We had a guy that was "looking after us". I think his name was Miguel. Miguel was standing there in the lobby and greeted us. We handed him a BIG bag of filets and asked if the chef could prepare them for us for dinner. He said he would see to it. And, the chef did. They were done just like at the palapa at San Francisco beach. I have never eaten so much fish at one sitting in my life. Of course, the dorado had flapped their last flip less than 8 hours before.

I won't even try to describe the ceviche that we made on the boat.

God, I love Cozumel!

Linda LaRose aka "fifi"

"Having spent most of my life searching for truth in the excitement of science, I am now in search of the perfectly seared foie gras without any sweet glop." Linda LaRose

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God, I love Cozumel!

Me, too, fifi. There's just a vibe about that place.

Have been fortunate enough to visit there many times. And I think my daughter is going to get married there this summer. If so, I'll probably rent a house for about a month to get everything ready. I love the El Presidente, as well. So stately. I'm thinking about it for the wedding. And those "jungle casitas" are really romantic.

I don't understand why rappers have to hunch over while they stomp around the stage hollering.  It hurts my back to watch them. On the other hand, I've been thinking that perhaps I should start a rap group here at the Old Folks' Home.  Most of us already walk like that.

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A month in Cozumel. In a house. With a kitchen. I think I hate you. :biggrin:

Hmmm... I think I smell a blog.

Linda LaRose aka "fifi"

"Having spent most of my life searching for truth in the excitement of science, I am now in search of the perfectly seared foie gras without any sweet glop." Linda LaRose

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God, I love Cozumel!

Me, too, fifi. There's just a vibe about that place.

Have been fortunate enough to visit there many times. And I think my daughter is going to get married there this summer. If so, I'll probably rent a house for about a month to get everything ready. I love the El Presidente, as well. So stately. I'm thinking about it for the wedding. And those "jungle casitas" are really romantic.

Good idea might be to visit

The Cozumel Forum

The webmistress Carey and her husband own a place in San Miguel that they rent out. I've walked by the outside of their house and it's quite remarkable looking. If it's too big or too pricey she can point you to some other good rentals.

I am also envious - both of the time you'll have to spend there and the notion of having a kitchen at your disposal - how cool is that (rhetorical - it is very cool).

The people who claim that cruise ships have ruined the town never seem to get past the main street, the tourist trap restaurants or the junky shops. Lots of great stuff there. be sure to visit Caffe Chiapas for your coffee - they have excellent fresh roasted Mexican Altura Tollan organic beans. My favorite thing in Coz is the Sunday evening music and dancing on the plaza - what a treat.

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My favorite thing in Coz is the Sunday evening music and dancing on the plaza - what a treat.

Have you ever been to Merida? Each plaza in the city hosts a free concert one night of the week. So every night, you can attend one. I heard a world-class tenor there one evening. It's just magical.

I don't understand why rappers have to hunch over while they stomp around the stage hollering.  It hurts my back to watch them. On the other hand, I've been thinking that perhaps I should start a rap group here at the Old Folks' Home.  Most of us already walk like that.

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My favorite thing in Coz is the Sunday evening music and dancing on the plaza - what a treat.

Have you ever been to Merida? Each plaza in the city hosts a free concert one night of the week. So every night, you can attend one. I heard a world-class tenor there one evening. It's just magical.

Yep. And if you're interested in renting a beach house for a couple of weeks or months, Merida is the place to do it--or, rather, the beach area around Progreso about 30 km away.

There are tons of places owned by people in the city, who usually only use them in the summer months and at Easter.

We rented a place a few years ago, right on the ocean, completely furnished, with a guard/handyman and had one of our best holidays ever.

Arthur Johnson, aka "fresco"
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My favorite thing in Coz is the Sunday evening music and dancing on the plaza - what a treat.

Have you ever been to Merida? Each plaza in the city hosts a free concert one night of the week. So every night, you can attend one. I heard a world-class tenor there one evening. It's just magical.

Yep. And if you're interested in renting a beach house for a couple of weeks or months, Merida is the place to do it--or, rather, the beach area around Progreso about 30 km away.

There are tons of places owned by people in the city, who usually only use them in the summer months and at Easter.

We rented a place a few years ago, right on the ocean, completely furnished, with a guard/handyman and had one of our best holidays ever.

Yes, Progreso is a nice little town. And I also like Celestun, with the flamingos.

But my daughter is getting married in Cozumel, and Progreso and the Gulf Coast are too far away for me to make the wedding arrangements from there.

PS -- Owen, thanks for the Cozumel link. I have gone there and emailed them for information about renting a house. Looks like lots of good info on that site.

Thanks again!

Edited by Jaymes (log)

I don't understand why rappers have to hunch over while they stomp around the stage hollering.  It hurts my back to watch them. On the other hand, I've been thinking that perhaps I should start a rap group here at the Old Folks' Home.  Most of us already walk like that.

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  • 3 weeks later...

For the record, the Cozumel ferry heist business was back in 1999, and the robbers were targeting an armored truck and its contents, not tourists. Which doesn't make it _right_, but obviously, but it's not like this stuff happens all the time. And Playa had a very heavy (and friendly) tourist police presence, even on back streets, when I was there in September--I felt very safe there as a single woman.

But more importantly, food: I second Coffeelia, La Choza was so-so (though I didn't get any avocado pie--that might change my mind!), and Conchita del Caribe, Av 65 between C 21 and C 23, is a popular way-off-the-beaten-track place, known for ceviche. I think it closes by 5 or 6pm (as do most good traditional restaurants--plan your day around lunch). Also, Chilangos, Av Coldwell between C 3 and C Morelos, is a huarache stand (open-face quesadilla thingies, not shoes) where you can pick all your toppings.

I'm not usually one to be squeamish about food safety, but it might bear mentioning that most of the beach restaurants don't have running water--if your GI tract hasn't been toughened up by prior traveling, these might be the places that would cause trouble. For this, and the length of your visit, I agree you're better off staying in town for a meal.

Zora O’Neill aka "Zora"

Roving Gastronome

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I'm not usually one to be squeamish about food safety, but it might bear mentioning that most of the beach restaurants don't have running water--

Yes, and they use water from a hose (or worse) for making their salsas and aguas (drinks)

I know plenty of Mexicans (including me) who have gotten sick eating on the beach - stick to cooked foods and avoid the salsas and raw veggies/fruits...

www.nutropical.com

~Borojo~

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No matter what.... avoid Pancho's Backyard. The original location is connected to the Cinco del Soles store on the waterfront and the new one is in the new complex out at the big cruise ship pier. We ate at the one in town on our first night based on a recommendation from an acquaintance. It was mediocre microwaved Americanized Mexican food of the worst type. Think Don Pablo's but bump it down a notch.

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For our week's stay in Cozumel we (four of us) rented a house in San Miguel about four or five blocks from the water. The house was owned by a family in Minnesota, was very comfortably appointed, and extremely reasonable. (The house was actually around the corner from Casa Tina that is shown here). I think it would be a great way to spend a month getting ready for (and winding down from) a wedding.

Conchita del Caribe, Av 65 between C 21 and C 23, is a popular way-off-the-beaten-track place, known for ceviche.

We ate at Conchita de Caribe for a late lunch and my only regret was they had run out of conch so I 'settled' for a great shrimp ceviche.

This thread is making me want to go back.

Stephen Bunge

St Paul, MN

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  • 1 month later...

Just back from a quick stop in Cozumel. Thank you SO much for the tip of Conchita del Caribe- it was an amazing lunch! The fresh chips and salsa were so yummy and the ceviche (we got mixed- a little of everything) was out of this world. We also had a "snack" of some pork tacos two styles at Casa Denis later that afternoon. With a few Sol beers, it was the perfect eating day.

thanks again!!

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