A Week in Tulum

 

Hellooooo my friends! I thought I'd put a guide together of some of my eats, drinks, and other favorites in Tulum!

We stayed at the Hotel Cabanas, which I would highly recommend.  The staff was AMAZING (you download Whatsapp and can text them for anything) and were wiling to do whatever to make the vacation more enjoyable.  The location was perfect for being near most of the best dinner spots (within 0.5-0.7 miles) so walking was totally fine or even riding bikes.

 
 

Breakfast was also included - you could dine at either Fresco's (where we chose everyday) or Ziggy's (more Mexican-inspired), which are both on property.  I would come back just for the breakfast - it was absolutely incredible (and you weren't limited to how many dishes you ordered) and the menu had enough items where you wouldn't get sick of the options being there for a week.  They had everything from matcha lattes, to avocado toast with eggs, to smoothies with oats and chia seeds, to coconut pancakes.  

 
 

In terms of things to do at or around the hotel, they had a spa (we got massages), a pool (it was just okay), hammocks, yoga classes (everyday at 8:30am), and mezcal & wine tastings. Plus it was right on the beach.

 
 
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Let's talk dinners.

Thank god Gitano Tulum is way better than Gitano NYC...which by the way, I'm not sure is even still operating.  Overpriced cocktails and $19 guacamole?  No thank you.

The atmosphere is about what you would expect: intimate but lively, suave waiters with attentive service, and large groups of bachelorette parties.

We ordered a tostada, octopus, and beef tacos, which were all good but not entirely memorable.  However, the cocktail list is mezcal-forward and beautifully crafted.  I would recommend the "Jungle Fever": mezcal, chile, lime, cliantro or for a more fruit-forward drink "Kisses in the Car": mezcal, passion fruit, tangerine, habanero. 

Gitano is open daily for dinner and reservations can be made through OpenTable.

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Arca is my new favorite restaurant in 2018.

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The ambience, the service, the food.  Everything about Arca is five stars.  In terms of menu items, I'd stick with 2-3 appetizers and one main for two people + bread.  I highly suggest ordering the bread because 1) it has local amish butter and Mayan salt and 2) it has a great surface for scooping up the appetizers (think roasted peppers with cured egg yolk, toasted almonds, and chile oil).  We ordered the charred heirloom long beans, tartare of roasted peppers, bone marrow, and suckling pig (UNREAL), and sourdough bread and wouldn't have changed a thing. 

Arca is progressive, it's dynamic, and it's damn good.  Make sure this is on your list.

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Open Tuesday - Sunday and only OpenTable reservations between 6-7pm or walk-ins only.  While we visited Tulum in the off season, we didn't have trouble walking in but ended up waiting ~20 minutes. 

 Roasted bone marrow, tamarind and pasilla glace, charred scallion salsa, pickled onion, and grilled house bread

Roasted bone marrow, tamarind and pasilla glace, charred scallion salsa, pickled onion, and grilled house bread

 

Posada Margherita is probably the only Italian restaurant you can find in Tulum that is actually worthwhile and trust me, it really is.  The restaurant sits right on the water with options to sit on the beach, patio, or indoors.  The menu is fairly small, maybe 10 or so seafood focused items including pastas, fresh fish, shrimp and one caprese salad.  The salad is HUGE and easily more than enough for two people.  We shared a pasta and shrimp dish (and dessert, obviously) and it was definitely more than we needed (but one main dish wouldn't be enough).  It is fairly expensive but worth it for the beach view and getting Italian when you're sick of "Mexican-inspired cuisine."  No reservations, cash only. 

 

Hartwood, one of the more well known restaurants in Tulum, is situated in the same vicinity as Arca and Gitano.  The menu changes daily and is written on large chalkboard signs throughout the restaurant, which the waiter will break down in detail once you sit down.  

A sample menu includes:

  • Appetizers including salads, ceviche, and a couple other items
  • Main fish dishes
  • Rib Eye or another beef
  • Pork ribs
  • Sides (e.g., roasted carrots, sweet potatoes, etc.)
 Margarita with grilled pineapple and habanero

Margarita with grilled pineapple and habanero

I liked Hartwood a lot, but didn't love it.  By that, I mean it was an impressive restaurant with a lot of character but was up against a high bar.  That been said, I would put it in your rotation if you can but if you're not able to get in, there are quite a few other options worth checking out close by. 

Hartwood serves dinner Wednesday - Sunday and takes reservations up to a month in advance (I emailed them three weeks out and was able to get a reservation, but did go off-peak).  I suggest going on the earlier side because they run out of items and cross them off the chalkboard!

 Fried corn tortillas with lamb

Fried corn tortillas with lamb

We ordered two appetizers (lobster salad and fried corn tortillas with lamb), one main (grilled fish), and one side (sweet potatoes) and thought it was enough for two people, but obviously depends on how hungry you are.  Cash only.

 Salad with lobster and grilled watermelon

Salad with lobster and grilled watermelon

Our last night we visited Kin Toh, the restaurant in the hotel Azulik, a mile and a half north of our hotel.  Because I had heard the views were supposed to be unbelievable, I definitely was not expecting as good of dining experience as our previous nights. 

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The new menu rolled out the day before we dined, and everything we ordered blew my expectations out of the water.  At the beginning, they brought out two small bites from the Chef - one being lightly fried and another a lightly toasted corn tortilla with black bean puree.  We ordered the roasted carrots to start, which you dipped in a bowl of melted goat cheese given on the side and then rolled in crushed up banana flakes.  For the mains, we chose the lamb and risotto with pork belly which were both delectable and filling.  If you can visit Kin Toh, it truly is a unique and worthwhile experience.

There are three availabilities for dinner reservations on OpenTable: 6pm, 7:30pm, and 9pm.  I would make the 7:30pm reservation and go early to get a drink, lie in the nets, and sit on one of the private nests up top to watch the sunset before dinner. 

That's what we did :) 

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As for other activities, we visited the Tulum Ruins, a few of the cenotes (including a snorkel tour at Sac Actun), and golfed at Riviera Maya which were all between 30-40 minutes away.  We rented a car in Tulum (instead of Cancun and then driving to Tulum), which was very reasonable and drove to all of these places.  I would recommend doing that over taxis/car services if you're doing some of the longer drives because it's cheaper and way more convenient.  A lot of people give Tulum a bad rap for not being safe...but we were never concerned leaving our car parked at the cenotes or even walking at night. 

Feel free to email me for a full itinerary!