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Merida, Campeche


MLZeats
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I will be traveling to Merida, Campeche, and Puerto Morelos in early April. Food recommendaitons will be greatly appreciated.

Our lodging has been tentatively arranged but if anyone has personal experience (good or bad) regarding the Hacienda San Jose, Hacienda Uyamon and Ceiba del Mar, that input would be appreciated as well.

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Been to Merida several times, but it's been a while. Don't have any specific food recommendations, but would strongly advise you to drive to Celestun for the day. There is a wonderful restaurant there, right on the beach. Hire a boatman to take you to see the flamingos.

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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Ooh, so jealous! Merida and Campeche are both gorgeous.

Merida is really only a lunch town. All the dinner restos are for tourists only, and are a little overpriced and cheesy. One possible saving grace, actually: La Casa de Frida, off the plaza to the west (C 59, I think), which looked hipster-y and had things like bone-marrow gorditas. I haven't tried it yet. Otherwise, head farther west to the Parque Santiago--good snacky cafes frequented by families at night.

For lunch, you must go to El Marlin Azul, on C 62 two blocks north of the plaza. Right (east) side of the street. Blue awning. Not much signage. Cheap and fantastic seafood--better than anywhere in the Yucatan, even on the coasts. There's a lunch counter setup on one side, and then the adjacent storefront, which looks shut, is actually their sit-down dining room. Closes at 4pm or so.

On C 62 south of the plaza, there's a little lecheria that does great milkshakes and fruit salads with bee pollen and the like--good place for brek.

If you can be on Merida on a Sunday, that's a treat--lots of food stalls and festivities on the main plaza.

Campeche is delish too--there's a wonderful 24-hour place on block east of the plaza off the north end--La Parroquia is the name. Big open front, high ceilings with fans, lots of old men. Great brek and dinner, with cheap Campechano standards like pan de cazon. Also go to La Pigua, which is actually now probably still under construction, and operating out of the adjacent place called, dorkily, Sir Francis Drink. (Campeche is a pirate town--yaaarrrrgh.) Soooo good. Very fun on a Sunday afternoon, if a little frenzied. It's on Av Aleman, which you hit if you go north on C 8, beyond the old city walls.

For a classy dinner, or at least a drink, the ritzy new Puerta Campeche hotel has a surprisingly great restaurant--"modern" Mexican, but not over-fancified. _Really_ fantastically anchovy-y caesar salad. The setting is gorgeous, though the prices are pretty steep.

And Puerto Morelos is nuts--no town that small deserves to have so many tasty restos. Most are geared to tourists, but that's not bad in this case. Caffe del Puerto has a small dinner special that's usually fantastic and only $10. Hola Asia is great--super-fresh Asian. And John Gray's Kitchen is upscale, but cheap for what you get, and very classy. For local stuff, go to La Pepita, which is the fishermen's hangout--in block closest to the beach, just north of plaza. That's where you get fried fish by the kilo and lots of beer.

(Shameless plug: I write for Rough Guides, by the way. Guide to Cancun and Maya Riviera coming out in the next couple months. Yucatan guide early next year... Both books are food-obsessed, even if they don't say it on the cover...)

And Celestun is beautiful, I agree. But damn, the ceviche at Marlin Azul beats the pants off anything I've ever eaten in Celestun...even though the shrimp all comes from the same place!

Zora O’Neill aka "Zora"

Roving Gastronome

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Just reread and saw your query re: hotels. The hacienda hotels are insanely gorgeous and well appointed. I've only ever stayed at Temozon, but I'm sure you'll be fine at the others. Puerta Campeche, in the city, is operated by the same group, by the way. It doesn't yet seem to be quite up to the level of organization as the others yet, though.

Ceiba del Mar... Ohhh. Hmmm. If you can afford it, I would much more highly recommend Maroma, halfway between Morelos and Playa. Much more together operation and all-around gorgeous setting. Ceiba is nice, but there's lots of sea grass in the water, and the beach is very shallow; also, the buildings feel pretty packed in. Resto is not so hot, so don't go for AI deal...As I said, plenty to eat in Morelos. One cool thing (which you don't have to be staying at Ceiba to enjoy) is the mangrove walk across from the hotel--a long boardwalk that winds into the mangroves...good for morning or evening strolls, with lots of birdlife. Look for wood gate in small parking lot directly across from the hotel.

Zora O’Neill aka "Zora"

Roving Gastronome

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Zora: Thank you again. MLZeats

Just reread and saw your query re: hotels.  The hacienda hotels are insanely gorgeous and well appointed.  I've only ever stayed at Temozon, but I'm sure you'll be fine at the others.  Puerta Campeche, in the city, is operated by the same group, by the way.  It doesn't yet seem to be quite up to the level of organization as the others yet, though. 

Ceiba del Mar... Ohhh. Hmmm.  If you can afford it, I would much more highly recommend Maroma, halfway between Morelos and Playa.  Much more together operation and all-around gorgeous setting.  Ceiba is nice, but there's lots of sea grass in the water, and the beach is very shallow; also, the buildings feel pretty packed in.  Resto is not so hot, so don't go for AI deal...As I said, plenty to eat in Morelos. One cool thing (which you don't have to be staying at Ceiba to enjoy) is the mangrove walk across from the hotel--a long boardwalk that winds into the mangroves...good for morning or evening strolls, with lots of birdlife.  Look for wood gate in small parking lot directly across from the hotel.

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Zora: Thank you, just the type of advice I was hoping to receive. I will report back upon return. MLZeats

Ooh, so jealous!  Merida and Campeche are both gorgeous.

Merida is really only a lunch town.  All the dinner restos are for tourists only, and are a little overpriced and cheesy.  One possible saving grace, actually:  La Casa de Frida, off the plaza to the west (C 59, I think), which looked hipster-y and had things like bone-marrow gorditas. I haven't tried it yet.  Otherwise, head farther west to the Parque Santiago--good snacky cafes frequented by families at night.

For lunch, you must go to El Marlin Azul, on C 62 two blocks north of the plaza.  Right (east) side of the street.  Blue awning.  Not much signage.  Cheap and fantastic seafood--better than anywhere in the Yucatan, even on the coasts.  There's a lunch counter setup on one side, and then the adjacent storefront, which looks shut, is actually their sit-down dining room.  Closes at 4pm or so.

On C 62 south of the plaza, there's a little lecheria that does great milkshakes and fruit salads with bee pollen and the like--good place for brek.

If you can be on Merida on a Sunday, that's a treat--lots of food stalls and festivities on the main plaza.

Campeche is delish too--there's a wonderful 24-hour place on block east of the plaza off the north end--La Parroquia is the name.  Big open front, high ceilings with fans, lots of old men.  Great brek and dinner, with cheap Campechano standards like pan de cazon.  Also go to La Pigua, which is actually now probably still under construction, and operating out of the adjacent place called, dorkily, Sir Francis Drink.  (Campeche is a pirate town--yaaarrrrgh.)  Soooo good.  Very fun on a Sunday afternoon, if a little frenzied.  It's on Av Aleman, which you hit if you go north on C 8, beyond the old city walls.

For a classy dinner, or at least a drink, the ritzy new Puerta Campeche hotel has a surprisingly great restaurant--"modern" Mexican, but not over-fancified.  _Really_ fantastically anchovy-y caesar salad.  The setting is gorgeous, though the prices are pretty steep.

And Puerto Morelos is nuts--no town that small deserves to have so many tasty restos.  Most are geared to tourists, but that's not bad in this case.  Caffe del Puerto has a small dinner special that's usually fantastic and only $10.  Hola Asia is great--super-fresh Asian.  And John Gray's Kitchen is upscale, but cheap for what you get, and very classy.  For local stuff, go to La Pepita, which is the fishermen's hangout--in block closest to the beach, just north of plaza.  That's where you get fried fish by the kilo and lots of beer.

(Shameless plug:  I write for Rough Guides, by the way.  Guide to Cancun and Maya Riviera coming out in the next couple months.  Yucatan guide early next year...  Both books are food-obsessed, even if they don't say it on the cover...)

And Celestun is beautiful, I agree.  But damn, the ceviche at Marlin Azul beats the pants off anything I've ever eaten in Celestun...even though the shrimp all comes from the same place!

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  • 2 weeks later...

If you love tacos you absolutely MUST eat at Los Trompos taqueria. They are the best tacos in the Yucatan if not all of Mexico. Try the queso fundido, carne queso, torta al pastor, tacos al pastor, nachos, I could go on. Last time I was there they had two locations, one just out of Garcia Jinerez that opens in the evening(its an old colony with tons of beautiful old french style mansions that you shouldn't miss) and one in one of the shopping malls (sorry I don't remember which one). I'm sure if you asked you could find your way to either, or if you are really interested I can call some friends in Merida and get directions for you. There are other places I would recomend but I don't want to send you too far into the "hood" if you know what I mean. I can't reccomend any more formal dining places because when I'm in Merida I just eat at friends homes (which is ten times better than any restaurant, and free :biggrin: ). Also don't forget to eat a bunch of marquesitas on the street (a thin waffle cone batter filled with melted edam cheese from Holland and rolled up to be all gooey and crispy.

Are you going to see any ruins? Try the Ruta Puuc which is a circular road with 5 or 6 ruins on it (Uxmal is the most famous but people rarely see the others Labna Kabah etc.) You start with Uxmal and drive for about 45 minutes total and end up back at Uxmal (I hope that makes sense).

I know the area pretty well so if you have any more questions feel free to ask.

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Andy, thanks for the suggestion. Sounds like the kind of place we love to experience. We are planning to go to the various ruins. I am not certain that we will complete the entire Puuc route but we will visit parts of it. We are headed down to Campeche specifically to see Ednza.

Should we be considering hiring a guide for Merida itself or is it easy to tour just with a book?

If you love tacos you absolutely MUST eat at Los Trompos taqueria.  They are the best tacos in the Yucatan if not all of Mexico.  Try the queso fundido, carne queso, torta al pastor, tacos al pastor, nachos, I could go on.  Last time I was there they had two locations, one just out of Garcia Jinerez that opens in the evening(its an old colony with tons of beautiful old french style mansions that you shouldn't miss) and one in one of the shopping malls (sorry I don't remember which one).  I'm sure if you asked you could find your way to either, or if you are really interested I can call some friends in Merida and get directions for you.  There are other places I would recomend but I don't want to send you too far into the "hood" if you know what I mean.  I can't reccomend any more formal dining places because when I'm in Merida I just eat at friends homes (which is ten times better than any restaurant, and free :biggrin: ).  Also don't forget to eat a bunch of marquesitas on the street (a thin waffle cone batter filled with melted edam cheese from Holland and rolled up to be all gooey and crispy.

Are you going to see any ruins?  Try the Ruta Puuc which is a circular road with 5 or 6 ruins on it (Uxmal is the most famous but people rarely see the others Labna Kabah etc.)  You start with Uxmal and drive for about 45 minutes total and end up back at Uxmal (I hope that makes sense).

I know the area pretty well so if you have any more questions feel free to ask.

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Merida is pretty easy to navigate if you have a map (I guess it really boils down to how good of a navigator you are.) How many days are you spending in Merida? Do you speak spanish. I spent a week in the peninsula with my family and was a pro by the end. The whole peninsula is pretty easy to navigate. Campeche is very beautiful in it's own special way. If you speak the language and you have some time for trial and error you should do just fine.

Depending on how much time you spend at the ruins you could tour the whole Ruta Puuc in 4 or 5 hours easy. (although Uxmal demands 2 hours alone) An early morning through late afternoon would be ideal, with enought time for relaxation and tacos that evening (and don't forget the marquesitas :biggrin: .) If I remember correctly to drive the whole route is only about an hour. The Loltun cave is kind of interesting but could be skipped if you're short on time. It's also sort of a pain with the different tour schedules; they won't just let you go in you have to go with a tour guide. You can also stop at Oxkutzcap along the route which is famous for it's fruit market.

I'm going to the Yucatan for 10 days this summer you're getting me so excited!

Andy

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Thanks for the further info. We will be in Merida for 2 days, we arrive Friday evening and plan to leave for Campeche Monday morning. A couple of us have taken high school spanish but, unfortunately, that is it in the language fluency.I appreciate your timing info on the Puuc route. I have been reading very mixed info on the length of time necessary. If it is the 1/2 to 1 day you suggest, then we will complete the route. Your enthusiasm has made me more excited. If I discover any new worthwhile food places I will be sure to report back.

Merida is pretty easy to navigate if you have a map (I guess it really boils down to how good of a navigator you are.)   How many days are you spending in Merida?  Do you speak spanish. I spent a week in the peninsula with my family and was a pro by the end.  The whole peninsula is pretty easy to navigate.  Campeche is very beautiful in it's own special way.  If you speak the language and you have some time for trial and error you should do just fine. 

Depending on how much time you spend at the ruins you could tour the whole Ruta Puuc in 4 or 5 hours easy.  (although Uxmal demands 2 hours alone) An early morning through late afternoon would be ideal, with enought time for relaxation and tacos that evening (and don't forget the marquesitas  :biggrin: .)  If I remember correctly to drive the whole route is only about an hour.  The Loltun cave is kind of interesting but could be skipped if you're short on time.  It's also sort of a pain with the different tour schedules; they won't just let you go in you have to go with a tour guide.  You can also stop at Oxkutzcap along the route which is famous for it's fruit market.

I'm going to the Yucatan for 10 days this summer you're getting me so excited!

Andy

Edited by MLZeats (log)
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I wish I could remember exactly how long it is to just drive the whole route. One thing I do know for sure is that 1/2 to 1 day is plenty of time to see the whole route, that I can be sure of becuase I did it (we even got lost a few times :blink:.) If you need a translator buy me a plane ticket I don't take up too much space :raz: . The Ruta Puuc is one of the more beautiful parts of the Yucatan that actually has rolling hills. You can see some beautiful vistas. I remember at one of the ruins on the route (Kabah or Labna I believe) you can actually see the tops of ruins in the distance that they're just barely getting around to uncovering. Have a great time! :biggrin:

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