Back in the early 90s, Tulum was a safe and quiet small village along Mexico‘s Riviera Maya. Fast forward to today, and this once-unknown destination has now become one of the most sought-after global beach vacation hotspots – attracting hippies, want-to-be yogis, and celebrities from all over the world.
With this influx of local and international tourism came higher costs, tourist crowds, and a thriving restaurant scene.
Tulum has plenty of great culinary options, from trendy outdoor space restaurants, with wood-fired ovens serving fusion dishes and healthy breakfast to authentic Mexican eateries cooking up delicious local ingredients from all around Mexico.
In recent years Tulum saw a big influx of some of the best chefs of Mexico City upscale restaurants, making the food scene in Tulum even more exciting, If you are looking for something more affordable and authentic, don’t be disappointed … as there are still plenty of affordable options for those seeking to experience traditional Tulum Mexican cuisine.
Expert Tip: Food in Tulum is a lot better than Cancun and Playa del Carmen. So make sure you try as many places from the list as you can.
A great culinary experience in Tulum is more than just food; the best restaurants here try to bring out the allure of this trendy beachside destination with exquisite dishes made from local produce cooked using age-old Maya techniques like recaudos (herbal marinades).
But dining in Tulum can still be costly and if you’re going to invest over $300 on a meal for two, probably best to make sure the experience is worth it.
We have been visiting Tulum for the last 10 years and here is a list of our finest spots for experiencing some of the best food in the Yucatan Penninsula!
1. Hartwood – Beach Zone – $$$$
Hartwood is one of the most well-liked and well-known restaurants in Tulum. It’s also hands-down the best fine dining establishment and our favorite beach restaurant in Tulum featuring a different and delicious menu every night. The menu emphasizes seasonal ingredients from nearby Yucatan farms and sustainable fresh fish and meats.
All your food here is prepared over the fire of an outdoor wooden-over and candles are used to create a romantic dinner experience. Dinner is served here only Wednesday through Sunday.
The decor is in typical Tulum boho style, with vintage wooden tables and an immersive jungle atmosphere, but the food is what really sets Hartwood apart for us.
Their menu changes daily based on the generosity of mother earth, but their specialty is woodfired meat or fish, and their specialty is roasted collar grouper.
Unfortunately, don’t accept bookings. the long line outside the restaurant is evidence of this. But it is really worth the wait when you eventually get a seat and table. (if you really need a reservation try emailing them at least a month in advance). They also (like most Tulum restaurants) don’t accept credit cards and take only cash.
When you visit Tulum, make sure you make your way to this amazing restaurant.
Cetli restaurant is tucked away in downtown Tulum. It is a cozy small upscale restaurant with delicious food located in a former hacienda (plantation).
The ambiance in Cetli is quaint and romantic due to the candlelights, small number of tables, and the restaurant’s beautiful design that will make you want to take plenty of pictures.
You can hear the chefs pounding fresh local ingredients using a metate stone. Cetli is open for both a delicious lunch and dinner; if you are planning to have dinner here, reservations are highly highly advised (try days or weeks in advance).
We have no doubt that you’ll adore the meals and ambiance of Cetli.
So when in Tulum downtown, you should definitely try their really special fusion of Mexican food and global cooking methods… at least once!
If you want the best steaks in Tulum then head to Casa Banana Tulum located on the Beach Roads. Casa Banana serves high-end Argentine-Mexican cuisine. The menu includes succulent meat cuts, handmade chorizo, regional beer, and a large variety of delicious mezcal drinks and signature cocktails. Open all day, however, the greatest service is around dinner.
And even though they are known for their meat cuts and stakes, the many include delicious dishes of fish and vegetables. It has some of the best vegetarian and vegan options in town.
Since they don’t take reservations, if you really want a table here and hate waiting in lines, make sure you arrive before 7.30pm, especially in the high season. Otherwise, get ready to wait.
Cenzontle serves amazing, tasy and unique food. This is one of our favorite restaurants in the Yucatan because of the well-balanced blend of tastes and a unique presentation. And all this while being served in a stunning, lush private jungle garden.
The atmosphere is very cozy and intimate and if you’re out with someone special, this is one of the spots you should definitely check out.
The charming garden setting is candlelight and together with the fitting music and delicious cuisine, Cenzontle is for sure to make for a delightful experience.
They also take bookings…Yay!!. No more standing in lines…yes please!
Chef Cesar Castaeda has perfected his craft in Mexico City in high-end restaurants like Dulce Patria. He is now servicing guests at the Nu, a chic, modern Maya-Mexican cuisine right under the stars of the Tulum sky. This candlelit, romantic restaurant is surrounded by foliage. Order a glass of Valle de Guadalupe Mexican wine, savor a sweet and complex passionfruit aguachile or enjoy the mouthwatering grilled oysters that have been delicately flavored with anise from the local xtabentn liqueur.
While many recipes concentrate on traditional ancient Mayan techniques and ingredients, most dishes adopt an international approach, like the modern interpretation of the mole negro, an Oaxacan duck classic (juicy on the inside, crispy skin on the outside), and chochoyotes (masa dumplings).
Nu is perfect for special events because of its romantic and intimate atmosphere. The restaurant does take reservations and they are highly advised.
Posada Margherita is a very elegant, but unpretentious beachside Italian restaurant. It serves mouthwatering homemade pasta and possibly the finest pizza in Tulum, cooked from a secret Italian family recipe.
The restaurant is candlelit, with candles extending all the way to the beach (photo opportunity), adding to the peaceful and rustic ambiance.
The wine list in Posada is extensive and features a wide range of top-notch international brands and some local favorites. Despite being open all day, if you are looking for the best menu then head here during lunch and dinner hours.
Relax under one of the adorable little beach huts during a sunny day and indulge in a refreshing beverage or a delicious ice cream. Enter night Posada Margherita turns into a romantic candle-lit restaurant.
Meze is a brand-new restaurant in Tulum. A chic Greek-style taverna known in Tulum for its meze dishes, the equivalent of tapas in Greece. Bring a companion or your hunger (or both) as all dishes here are meant to be shared.
The food is simply delicious, the atmosphere is quiet, romantic and nostalgic and the food is simply one of the best in Tulum.
This is one of the most popular restaurants in town and it can get crowded especially around dinner time.
Gitano is a posh jungle retreat with an old-world nostalgic ambiance that features Mexican architecture from the 17th century, and candlelit tables for romantic dinners under the palm trees and vines. The food is great but the mood and ambiance is what draws people so many people in.
The chefs combines Mexican American favorites like authentic tacos (try the fish tacos – al pastos tacos-), with Mediterranean mezze, and appetizers like quesadillas sliced into sharp triangles, just like the ones in American chain restaurants.
In this undoubtedly very cool ambiance (probably our favorite ambiance in all of Tulum) order a smokey, citrusy Gitano Swizzle or any of the tropical cocktails made with some local mezcal and eat and drink the night (or afternoon) away.
Bal Nak, is a beautiful outdoor restaurant. It has a backyard party feel in the middle of the jungle. It serves modern Mexican fine dining is still lively environment.
Our favorite here is the grilled watermelon aguachile in a hot guava sauce, the sweet and smoky Oaxacan chilhuacle chile mole served with roast suckling pig and the almond mole served with duck breast. The grilled chocolata clams entree is one of the most popular dishes here. No matter what you order for food, make sure you try the beetroot cocktail.
Bring Cash: The majority of restaurants in Tulum are cash only, including the fine dining establishments. While some take dollars, the majority only accept pesos. Pay in pesos to get the best rates. Restaurants that do accept tcredit cards usually tack on an extra 3% fee to your bill.
Tipping: Tipping is customary in Mexico as is in the US. The typical amount is between 10% and 15%. Sometimes the tips is already added to your bill…just look for the word “propina” (tip) on the bill. It’s recommended to tip in pesos so that the employees won’t have to pay bank fee to convert it to pesos into dollars.
With so many great options for dining, you should be able to find something you love. Our ranking is based on our personal taste and experience as well as the reviews and feedback we get on a daily basis from local friends and of course all of you.
Dont forget to ask questions, share a travel tip or leave comments below.
Traveling to 🇲🇽 Mexico soon?
I recommend these travel resources for Mexico that I personally use:
🏨 Hotels: I have found that Expedia and Booking.com consistently have the best deals on hotels and resorts in Mexico. If you prefer to stay at a vacation rental, check VRBO that is usually cheaper than AirBnB’s added fees!
✈️ Flights: To find the best flight deals to Mexico, I always use Kayak. Remember to subscribe to their price alerts for the travel dates you want. Another great alternative for flight deals is Expedia.
🚗 Rental Cars: I always use and highly recommend Discover Cars because it allows me to compare several car rental companies and view ratings on various factors such as overall value, pick-up procedure, agent efficiency, car condition, and total time taken.
🚙 CancunAirport Transportation: For the fastest and easiest way to travel, I suggest arranging a private transfer with Cancun Airport Transportation. Honestly, no better way to travel from the airport to your hotel or resort.
🤿 Tours & Activities: For tours and activities in Mexico, I highly recommend using either Viator or GetYourGuide. These websites offer a full refund if you cancel your booking 24 hours before the start of the tour, and they also provide excellent customer service in case of any issues.
🚨 Travel Insurance: I always suggest purchasing travel insurance as a precaution before traveling, especially after a recent accident in a taxi in Mexico. For short trips, I recommend Travel Insurance Master, whereas for digital nomads, Safety Wing is a better option.
📷 Best Camera for your trip: I always carry with me a GoPro, It’s light, compact, takes great video and pictures, and most importantly, it’s waterproof! You just can’t go wrong with one. If you are interested in higher quality video and photography, I always carry with me on my trips and highly recommend the Sony A7IV which I think is the best travel DSLR Camera out there.
☀️ Biodegradable Sunscreen: Remember to include a good sunscreen to protect yourself from the summer sun. I always use and suggest Sun Bum Sunscreen, which is vegan, reef-friendly, and cruelty-free.
Make sure you bring cash with you. Credit cards are not accepted at the majority of restaurants in Tulum, including fine dining establishments. And while some will take dollars, the vast majority of them only accept Mexican pesos. Try to pay in pesos if possible to receive the best rates; paying in dollars will usually result in getting a very bad exchange rate and overpaying. Those restaurants that do accept credit cards will tack on an extra 3% fee credit card fee.
Tipping: It’s customary to leave a tip, and the typical range is usually between 10% and 15%. First, try to see if “propina” (meaning tip) has already been added to the bill… just look for the word “propina” on the bill. If so, you can increase the tip amount to between 10% and 15%. The best way to tip is always in pesos so that the employees don’t have to pay a fee to the bank to convert the tip into pesos.
Absolutely. Tulum is a very popular destination and restaurants are usually packed with lines forming outside. Not all restaurants accept reservations (actually most don’t), but for the ones that do make sure you make a reservations weeks in advance.
Strictly Necessary Cookies
Strictly Necessary Cookie should be enabled at all times so that we can save your preferences for cookie settings.
If you disable this cookie, we will not be able to save your preferences. This means that every time you visit this website you will need to enable or disable cookies again.
3rd Party Cookies
This website uses Google Analytics to collect anonymous information such as the number of visitors to the site, and the most popular pages.
Keeping this cookie enabled helps us to improve our website.
Please enable Strictly Necessary Cookies first so that we can save your preferences!