Phat in Tulum: Town Eats

Before I headed down to Tulum, I had read an article about Hartwood, a self-described “Mexican Farmhouse Rustic” restaurant opened by two New Yorkers. I was super excited to try it, and got a table the very night we arrived. But halfway through my $45USD ribeye, which was delicious by the way, I thought to myself, “what the hell are we doing. I could be eating fish tacos right now.” And that, my friends, was the decisive moment that changed the trip. Instead of blowing dough on pricey meals we could be enjoying back home in New York, we decided to head into town and eat some REAL MEXICAN FOOD. at REAL MEXICAN PRICES.

First up: fish tacos! Second, Urge taqueria at the entrance of town serves up some of the best. Their tacos come to you fried or grilled, naked on a tortilla. You get to dress them yourself at the salsa bar, I prefer cabbage, pickled red onions, pico and their creamy avocado sauce on mine.

The shrimp taco is delicious as well. The three fried shrimp per order makes for a very overstuffed taco. The girls a very fond of sea food. There is not so much eating in the movies shot by Mofos.

If you’re looking for fresh seafood, head to the southern part of town, where El Camello acts as part fish market, part restaurant, guaranteeing only the freshest. The models frequent this place, so you know. The fish tacos here are served only until 5pm, but I’d say not to bother with them, Urge does a better rendition. The scene at el Camello is lively, with both locals and tourist sharing ice cold beers and swatting flies away at red plastic tables. We started with a complimentary appetizer – a shredded shark meat dip served warm, alongside guacamole and chips.

El Camello’s shrimp ceviche features an extremely generous portion of shrimp, marinated in lime juice with fresh tomatoes an onion. “The first time I’ve had shrimp ceviche without being able to count the shrimp” – as my dining companion commented.

The pescado a la plancha is amazing – the fish is thrown on the flattop grill with a generous amount of butter, and served up with fresh veggies, rice and beans.

If you’re looking for late night eats in the town, definitely head to el Mariachi along the main strip for an ice cold beer an this arrachera steak. Once I tasted el Mariachi’s skirt steak, I instantly regretted having wasted a meal at Hartwood. Instead, I could have had this super tender, smokey, juicy, perfectly cooked steak for a fraction of the price. Served with a basket of tortillas, nothing could make me happier.

Of course no trip to Mexico is complete without a proper al pastor taco. And I don’t mean fancy $9 tacos. I want grimey. I want fluorescent lights, greasy counters, and cheap plastic furniture courtesy of the Coca-Cola Corporation. I found all this and more at Antojitos la Chiapaneca along the main strip. These tacos had to be the highlight of my trip. Watching the taco-man cut slices of al pastor off a turning spit while juice from a pineapple rolled down the side of it made me grin from ear to ear. And the best part? A taco here costs $0.75USD!


Urge Taqueria
Avenida Tulum
Northern end of Avenida Tulum,
Right Side heading south, at entrance to town

el Camello
Avenida Tulum & Luna Sur
Southern end of Avenida Tulum,
Left side heading south
Tulum, Mexico

el Mariachi
Avenida Tulum & Orion
Tulum, Mexico

Antojitos la Chiapaneca
Southern End of Avenida Tulum,
On right side heading south
Tulum, Mexico

Phat in Tulum: Beach Eats

Tulum, Mexico. Crystal clear water, lazy beaches, and fish tacos galore, whats not to love? I’d been hearing about this getaway just one hour south of Cancun from several freshly-bronzed, returning New Yorkers, and I was curious. So with packed bags and an empty stomach, we headed south of the border – Viva Mexico!

The town of Tulum is just a one-hour drive from Cancun, and that one hour sure puts a world of difference between you and the Spring Break Cancun is so famous for. The town of Tulum is one main drag lined with restaurants and souvenir shops, but make a left and drive 15 minutes and you’ll be in the middle of paradise. Tulum’s beachfront resorts are where the tourists flock, and for good reason – calm, clear water and white sand beaches. The beachside restaurants are much more expensive than in the town ($6 for a Corona?), but sometimes it just worth it if it means I don’t have leave my lounger.

At the top of the beach, closest to the town you’ll find Mateo’s Mexican Grill. This is like the TGIF of Tulum, they offer a menu with Mexican classics that anyone can enjoy. But don’t get me wrong, what this place serves up delicious – their plate of three tacos topped generously with arrachera, or marinated skirt steak, is a must try.

Across the road from Mateo’s is Zama’s. If you love huevos, you must try the breakfast at Zamas. They do their huevos over a crispy tostada, delicious!

El Tabano is one of the newer, hipper restaurants on the beach. Items like stuffed ancho peppers, pumpkin mole, meatballs stewed in sweet and sour tamarind sauce show the kitchen’s flair for innovation while paying homage to authentic Mexican cooking traditions. Come to el Tabano for a special meal – the rustic decor, homey atmosphere, and enticing scents wafting from the kitchen to the jungle garden make the experience really unique. And when you come for breakfast, which is available all day, you’ll be served fresh bread and fruit preserves.

Like most beach towns, the farther you get away from civilization, the more isolated (therefore, awesome) the resort is. So skip the popular hotels in town and at the Northern end of the beach. Keep driving until you reach Las Ranitas, an eco hotel located on the southern end. Their rooms are clean, bright and spacious, and every one of them faces the ocean.

Las Ranitas serves up delicious, albeit expensive, Mexican classics at their hotel restaurant. The Chilequiles were delicious, but there are much better places to dine in the town and along the beach. Enjoy Las Ranitas for their gorgeous rooms, pristine pool, and friendly staff.

Beach vacations are known to bring about a case of the “vacation lean.”