My very first visit to Merida was in 2010. At that time, the city was not as lively as it is now, and the Centro Historico had a myriad of empty houses almost in complete ruins. For a food lover like me, finding a nice restaurant to dine in a charming atmosphere was not easy.
One year later, as Merida was still very present in my mind, I finally decided to come back to search for a house to remodel. I was thinking that maybe, it would be interesting to give my husband and I a pied-à-terre in a beautiful, under-the-radar sunny destination. At that time, I had been learning Spanish for several year, and remodeling a house in Merida was giving me a nice opportunity to become completely fluent. I had always felt a lot of interest for the Spanish culture, and this city was representing my piece of Spain closely accessible, my European land I could afford.
Today, two remodeled homes later, I am still in love with this city, enjoying every stay and being sad each and every time I have to go back to Texas. But nowadays, Merida is evolving at a rapid pace and one of the area where it sets apart is Food. Merida is becoming a city for the food lovers. Although Mexican food has always had a very good reputation, the Merida’s restaurants are flying above the usual expectations. So, without any further delay, here are my top five places to eat if you are a food lover coming to visit the city.
Apoala is literally three minutes away from Casa Santa Lucia. This is my first stop after unpacking my tiny suitcase. The chef is from the Oaxaca region, and her cooking is a fusion between modern and traditional Oaxaca cuisine. I love the place, the service, and specially the Manila Margarita (made with fresh mango) and the Tiradito de short-rib. Nothing is better than this food combination after a long trip DFW-Cancun- Merida. The restaurant borders the Parque de Santa Lucía, one of the city’s most historic plazas, with tables set out under the surrounding arches. Public concerts are regularly held in the park in the evenings, making Apoala’s terrace a coveted al fresco dining spot.
Apoala Mexican Cuisine, Parque de Santa Lucía, Centro, Mérida, Yucatán, Mexico, +52 999 923 1979
What makes Amaro unique is the large outside patio with gigantic old trees. Every night starting at 8:30 pm, an acoustic guitarist plays the most beautiful songs of the entire Latin America Repertoire. The food is good and inexpensive, the service very kind, and the atmosphere delightful. The menu is extensive and includes pastas, pizzas and vegetarian dishes, but the traditional Yucatecan cuisine is the highlight. Among Amaro’s signature dishes are cochinita pibil and sopa de lima, a refreshing soup of shredded chicken, tomato, sweet green pepper, onion and lime juice. Make sure to try the Chaya drink, it is fresh, delicious and healthy. This place is a must-go when coming to Merida, and its close situation to Plaza Grande makes it a great place to take an after dinner walk around Centro Historico.
Amaro, Calle 59, Por 60 y 62 Centro Historico, 97000 Merida
Exquisitely modern and crowded, Oliva is my favorite place to eat the best Italian food in town and drink the best wine. They serve authentic classic Italian dishes, like the ones an Italian grand-mother would cook it. The Carbonara is one of my favorite dish, and they also serve delicious primi piatti, tasty salads and desserts. Set in a beautiful contemporary atmosphere with an open concept, Oliva offers a friendly service with great comfort food.
Oliva Enoteca, Esquina Calle 56 & 49. Col. Centro Merida, Yucatán, Mexico, +52 999.923.3081
4. Casa De Piedra, Hacienda Xcanatun
A short drive north of Merida is Hacienda Xcanatún and its lovely restaurant Casa de Piedra. The Hacienda boasts a rich history with its magnificent structure dating back to 1789. So, if you want to live a moment out of time, and experience a lovely diner, you are at the right place. Ask for a table al fresco on the terrace, and admire the lush gardens and the two rows of majestic Palm trees. The menu features a variety of regional flavors, coupled with the mastery of French culinary techniques. The restaurant aims to offer delectable cuisine infused with the Yucatan savor. From the Chaya Mousse with Pear Sauce, to the Double Pork Chop with Guava, you can experience unparalleled cuisine with abundant flavors.
Hacienda Xcanatun, Calle 20 S / N x 19 and 19a, Commissioner Xcanatún, Km 12 Carretera Progreso Merida, 97302, Merida, Yucatan, Mexico. +52 (999) 9302140
5. Hennessy Irish Pub
One of my favorite restaurant in Merida. Located in beautiful Paseo de Montejo just 10 minutes walking from my two houses, this is my favorite stop to eat the best spaghetti bolognese in town. I love going there or alone, when the afternoon is too hot to eat outside and I feel tired, or with my family at night because the menu offers variety at good price. Everything is tasty, everybody will be happy, so it is a very good restaurant option.
Hennessys Irish Pub, Paseo Montejo. C 56-A No. 486A x 41 y 43. Centro. Mérida, Yucatán. Tel: +52 (999) 923-8993