There are plenty of things that make a vacation enjoyable and truly memorable, but nothing pushes the experience over the top quite like great food. There’s often a special dish that becomes an instant favorite—the kind of item that we think about for months and even years until the next trip—and when we have the opportunity to actually learn from the cuisine and understand what makes it so special, well, those are the moments for which we yearn.
Cancun is the kind of destination where great meals can be found everywhere, and our favorite resorts in this region are renowned for going above in beyond in creating concepts that can be downright mind-blowing. Here are five dining experiences that will undoubtedly make your next Cancun trip the best yet.
The Chef’s Table at Haven Riviera Cancun Resort
One of the great things about dining on vacation in another country is being able to see the chefs in action. It’s like a live action art show in which the artists display their culinary talents for everyone to see, and it always makes eating the dishes even better, because the guests understand the seriousness of this craft and the emotion that some chefs put into their work. But it also helps when the food is amazing.
That’s the essence of Haven Riviera Cancun Resort’s brand-new experience, The Chef’s Table, in which guests enjoy front-and-center seating to watch the Olios Mediterranean kitchen action and marvel as the cooks prepare each of the exquisite nine courses being served that evening.
As many as 12 guests (and a minimum of four) will “Ooooh” and “Ahhhh” over the appetizer, six entrees, dessert, and petit fours are presented and served. Wines from Spain, Portugal, and Italy are also chosen to complement the dishes that change seasonally but include items like Spanish croquettes with imported Iberico ham and truffle aioli, a crispy avocado mole, farm-raised duck confit, and dry-aged ribeye.
Indulge All Five Senses at Le Basilic
Food can also be an incredible learning experience when you want to know more about the places you visit. When I stayed Grand Fiesta Americana Coral Beach Cancun a few years ago, I couldn’t wait to visit the restaurants, because there are so many things happening beyond the delicious food. For starters, there’s The Table Experience at La Joya, the property’s upscale, authentic Mexican spot, and anyone who wants to learn more about the region’s history and how food has always played a huge role in the culture should pull up a seat for this 12-course interactive affair.
But the best moments typically come when we least expect them, like when I expected an amazing meal at Le Basilic, the resort’s AAA Five Diamond French-Mediterranean restaurant that is a must-visit… if you can score a reservation. What makes it so special is how a regional artist has been commissioned to paint (when I visited it was the phenomenally gifted León Alva) while guests enjoy Chef Henri Charvet’s brilliant culinary creations, and by the time the meal is complete, so is the art.
The Food Truck at Garza Blanca Resorts and Spa
We come to Cancun for the food, sure, but we’re also there for those beautiful beaches and the impossibly turquoise water. When we can enjoy the best of both aspects at the same time, then it’s a win-win for everyone. We assume that’s the basic idea behind the food truck at Cancun’s Garza Blanca Resort and Spa, where guests could already expect the best and tastiest cuisine at Blanca Blue. But now they can enjoy something equally great with some of the best views in town.
Dishes like Marinated Fish Ceviche, Shrimp Black Aguachile, Octopus Tostada, Tuna Tartar, and Raw Oysters will blow minds and put big smiles on guests’ faces, especially when paired with the food truck’s signature cocktails. And the setting guarantees the selfies of those big smiles will make everyone back home extremely jealous.
SacBé Beach Shack Mezcal Lab
It’ll be a long, long time before I stop singing the praises of this cool spot at the Marriott Cancun Resort. Even if you just want a delicious lunch with one of the best fruity mezcal cocktails you’ll find anywhere in the city, it’s worth a shuttle ride. But the main event and the experience any Mexican spirits lovers should pencil in for an unforgettable evening is the Mezcal Lab at the SacBé Beach Shack.
On special occasions, the monthly spectacle might be hosted by rock star Mezcalier Manuel Benavente and Chef Albert Marquez, but this event that seats as many as 20 people will also include other mezcal enthusiasts and brilliant chefs for the sake of offering varying perspectives, information, and flavors. No matter the professors, the Mezcal Lab is a classroom no student will want to be absent from.
When the resorts are so spectacularly creative and generous with their food offerings, it’s difficult to imagine leaving the properties to try anything else. In the case of the new restaurant Chambao, though, that would be a huge mistake. We visited this wild, stylish spot on a recent trip to Cancun, and the running joke was that it was like the real-life version of a Stefon bit from Saturday Night Live.
That’s because this place has everything: fashion models, a very stylish clothing boutique, an over-the-water twirling act, fireworks, a charismatic guitarist who looks like Antonio Banderas was mashed with Jeff Goldblum, and a private pod seating area that feels like someone dropped a Balinese hut into the heart of the Mexican Caribbean.
And I haven’t even mentioned the food. Between the wagyu steak and crab legs the size of an adult human’s arm, this is about as decadent as surf and turf gets, but the entire menu is so creative and packed with mouth-watering dishes and Instagram-worthy cocktails, so guests better arrive with an appetite.