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