Dining on Caribbean islands has been a little hit-or-miss for Chris and me. We have found plenty of amazing restaurants and beach bars in our isle-hopping adventures, but we’ve also encountered our share of eateries that left us feeling a little “meh.” I’m especially always on the lookout for places that are worth the price which is often on the high side, understandably so, due to the amount of effort it takes to import food onto a small island.
All this is to say, we were very pleasantly surprised by the quality of food we found all over Mexico’s tiny island AND at such good prices. We often enjoyed drinks, entrées, and dessert for about $20-30 USD, which is unheard of in the USVI or the BVI, for example. So in order to share our recommendations and to relive the deliciousness that was Isla Mujeres, I put together a list of our absolute favorites.
Polo’s Mango Cafe
When Chris and I arrived on the island, we practically made a beeline to Polo’s Mango Cafe since it came highly recommended to us by so many reviews on TripAdvisor and also by my very own sister and brother-in-law who had enjoyed the restaurant on a trip to Isla Mujeres a few years ago. We ended up eating here twice, and my favorite out of all the dishes was easily the popular stuffed poblano pepper. I’m not a morning person (understatement) and often find it difficult to get going in time for breakfast out, especially on a lazy-themed trip, so I was happy to discover their breakfast menu extended well into lunch hours! This is definitely a don’t-miss restaurant.
We went to Basto’s Grill based on our villa host’s recommendation. This little hidden gem was a bit tricky to find, but worth the effort. (It’s exactly where it says it is on Google Maps, but it’s tucked away among residences.) We ate here on a super hot day though, and I think maybe the heat made me forget to photograph our food. Oops! I distinctly remember the chips and salsa here being one of my favorites, and their quesadilla hit the spot. Chris loved the crispy tacos, which were rolled up and fried, more like flautas.
We popped into La Catrina for lunch one afternoon when we found ourselves ravenous after a morning of snorkeling around the Lighthouse. I ordered a rum punch and ended up with two because our server explained, “That’s the way we do it on Isla Mujeres.” So two rum punches on an empty stomach it is! And that, my friends, is a great way to almost forget where you park your golf cart. Man were those tacos delicious! I may or may not have been biased by post-snorkeling exhaustion and/or rum punch deliriousness, but I loved this place. And I burned off all the taco calories by wandering the streets in search of our golf cart. Win-win!
Another restaurant I had my sights set on before we even arrived in Mexico was Qubano because I simply can’t resist a good Cubano sandwich. It’s one of my favorites, and Qubano’s version didn’t disappoint! I surprised myself by also really digging the toston sandwich with fried plantains in place of a bun. Get the sampler platter if you’re not quite sure about it – you’ll get to try the Cubano, the toston sandwich, and two other fun sliders.
Green Verde, ranked quite high on the TripAdvisor list, turned out to be one of our very favorites. I wish we had time to eat there more than once! This is where Chris found his favorite tacos of the week, and I loved the grilled steak burrito and my mojito. The atmosphere is super cute, and they serve breakfast, too.
For dessert, we were curious about the “Tequila Banana” which sounded like a drink, but when we ordered it, this is what arrived! It was quite tasty.
I celebrated a birthday on Isla Mujeres, and I chose Limón for my celebratory dinner so that we could try one of the island’s finer dining spots. Chris ordered grilled chicken skewers and I enjoyed a stuffed fish fillet with mixed veggies. One thing to note: despite being one of the more upscale establishments on the island, Limón does not take credit cards. We wish we had been aware of that policy before we arrived because we would have opted to bring more cash.
The food was great, but the real star of the show was the Piña Estilo Sergio or Pineapple Sergio Style which served as my birthday cake! I’d love to try to replicate this at home someday, but I’m trying to remember exactly what was in it. It’s grilled pineapple with brown sugar, butter, brandy, cinnamon, and a scoop of vanilla ice cream at least, and maybe one other thing that I’m forgetting. Nutmeg? Amazingness? If you’re on the island, don’t miss this fantastic dessert.
Last but not least, we ended the week at Bahama Mama, where we found a fun mixture of Caribbean and Cuban influenced dishes. I wasn’t necessarily expecting a homemade sweet bread as an appetizer, but I am so very glad we got to try it and I wish it was sitting in front of me right now. It reminded me of King’s Hawaiian bread, only better. We rounded out our Isla Mujeres dining experience by devouring frozen drinks, that wonderful bread, coconut shrimp (check out all of those side dishes – come here hungry!), and empanadas.
After spending a week on Isla Mujeres and eating/drinking our way across the island, we can easily say this was one of our favorites if not THE top contender for island food so far! The bar has definitely been set for our future Caribbean travels.
Note: all of the restaurants in this post are accurately marked on Google Maps with the exception of Limón. At the time of posting, their new location at Isla 33 Resort & Villas had not yet been updated.