Merida Cuisine | What to Eat in Merida
Strongly influenced by the Mayan culture and contributions of European immigrants, Yucatecan cuisine is one of the most original and unique versions of Mexican cuisine. The dishes are typically accompanied by glazed red onion, habanero pepper, bitter orange, corn tortillas, and refried beans. Getting a chance to try traditional Yucatecan cuisine is, without a doubt, one of the reasons to visit Merida.
Cochinita pibil is perhaps the most traditional food of Merida and the state of Yucatan. It is prepared with marinated pork that’s wrapped in a banana leaf and baked in an underground fire pit. Two of the most common Yucatecan appetizers, panuchos and salbutes, are always available in restaurants for breakfast and dinner. Another traditional dish that you must try is sopa de lima (Yucatan lime soup), which is perfect for diners that prefer a lighter, more mild dish.
Queso relleno, probably the most exotic dish of Yucatecan cuisine, is made from Edam cheese that’s hollowed out, filled with ground pork, and served in a white flour-based sauce called “k’ool”. You should also try relleno negro, a soup made with chimole (dried chili paste); and poc chuc, a roast pork filet served in a delicious tomato sauce. Remember to ask your waiter for papadzules (corn tortillas filled with hard boiled eggs in pumpkin seed sauce), lomitos de cerdo (pork tenderloin), longaniza de Valladolid (smoked pork sausage with achiote), brazo de reina (a large tamal filled with eggs and herbs), and all types of tamales.
After the meal, be sure to try one of the traditional desserts from the region. Don’t miss the caballero pobre, made with bread, milk, sugar, and raisins; or manjar blanco, which is custard sprinkled with cinnamon.
If you’re walking through the city streets and parks, you’re sure to find street vendors selling kibis, deep fried snacks made from wheat and ground beef. And you also can’t go to Merida without trying marquesitas, rolled wafers stuffed with Edam cheese and topped with caramel, Nutella, condensed milk, cream cheese, or jam.
Botaneros are cantinas that have been operating in the city for many years and offer a unique way of tasting some of the most traditional cuisine of Yucatan. The idea is to serve small portions of a variety of dishes for free, while only charging for drinks. In addition, they offer a family atmosphere and many have live music.
La Chaya Maya
Combining artisanal details with a modest atmosphere, this restaurant has positioned itself as one of the most iconic in Merida. Many of the dishes it serves are seasoned with chaya leaves, one of the most traditional plants in the state, and accompanied by delicious handmade tortillas that are prepared in-house.
Since opening its doors in 1972, this restaurant has been showcasing the flavors of Yucatecan cuisine. Its exquisite dishes have become very popular among Mexican and international tourists. It is located in the historic center across from Mejorada Park and the Faculty of Architecture at the Autonomous University of Yucatan.
El Principe Tutui-Xiu
If you travel from Merida to Ticul or the Loltun Cave, you should definitely try the delicious dishes at this restaurant. According to many of the residents of the state, El Principe Tutui-Xu serves the best poc-chuc in all of Yucatan. It is located in the town of Mani, approximately an hour and a half from the capital.
Sorbeteria El Colon
The hot climate of Merida causes tourists, above all, to seek out ways to cool off. Yucatecans highly recommend a delicious sorbet at El Colon, a shop that’s easily accessible to visitors, as it has a branch in the Plaza Grande and another on the Paseo de Montejo. For more than 100 years, El Colon has preserved its tradition of making artisanal products.
If you’re traveling on a budget, Merida also offers affordable dining options. In the Santiago and Santa Ana markets you’ll find places serving traditional snacks and delicious flavored waters made from dragon fruit, chaya, and other local flavors.
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