First, the essential details:
Pick-up is in front of Casa Montejo on the south side of the Plaza Grande Monday to Saturday at 12:15 pm and 2:30 pm. The tour lasts around two hours. In this time the bus drives around the city, checking out all the most important sights (except those that are unreachable in a big coach). During the tour there is a live commentary in both English and Spanish. If you require other languages, you’ll need to book ahead. And while the bus tour was interesting, for me it was secondary to the gastronomy side of the day.
What’s the Menu?
As part of this tour you are fed a nine-course traditional Yucatecan tasting menu. If you think this sounds like a lot of food, that’s because it really is a lot of food! But it was good. Seriously good. I think it easily rivals anything I’ve eaten in traditional restaurants around the peninsula. My personal favorite was the “relleno negro,” not a dish I usually enjoy, but this one was superb. While the food isn’t strictly cooked on the bus (it’s actually prepared daily by two professional chefs), it is plated beautifully in a teeny-tiny kitchen at the back of the bus before being served by the attentive waiter.
It was very obvious that the team takes pride in being part of a brand new venture. The attention to detail was marked: the waiter always made sure everyone’s drink was topped up, the courses were all presented well, and the owner, Jorge, was very keen to hear what people thought of the experience.
I checked in with the other guests on the bus too, to see how they were feeling about the tour, and the response was definitely a positive one. Like me, everyone was surprised by the high quality of the food.
If you’re worried about spilling your food, don’t be, the driver kept to a good “eating-speed”, not one drop was spilled, not even of the “sopa de lima!”
The guide’s commentary on the city and the food was good; I’m a local resident and I still learned something new. Because I was there in a professional capacity I got to chat to Jorge throughout the trip, which was great. He’s a well-travelled guy who loves to see what’s going on in other parts of the world and figure out what would work in México. Interestingly though, he doesn’t have a tourism background, he comes from the catering world, which is presumably why the quality of the food is so high.
Jorge and I had a good discussion about vegetarian options. As he rightly said, most Yucatecan food is meat based, but he is aware of the need to provide a non-meat based menu too. If you are vegetarian and are interested in taking the tour, I recommend getting in touch with the company as there are plans afoot for future meat-free offerings.
The tour would be a great option for people who want to see more than just the historical center of Mérida, who want to see where people live and how life happens in the city, and, of course, those who want a good meal while experiencing all of that!
Editorial by Cassie Pearse
Photography by Cassie Pearse for use in Yucatán Today
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