When we think of restaurants that have left a significant footprint in Yucatán’s history, surely Hacienda Teya comes to the minds of many. However, to transform from one of the most important Henequén (sisal) Haciendas in the state during the 20th century, to one of the most prestigious Yucatecan cuisine restaurants on a national and international scale, it had to go through the visionary mind of Jorge C. Cárdenas Gutiérrez; a pioneer in the restoration of Haciendas for tourism purposes in Yucatán.
The family story says that, in 1974, Don Jorge decided to buy Hacienda San Ildefonso Teya from a friend, in exchange for his brand-new car. Back in those days, the Hacienda was in a state of ruins, and the development of Merida’s infrastructure, as we know it today, was still in its infancy. Because of this, the Cárdenas family was hesitant about the purchase. They considered that don Jorge had bought a Hacienda that, besides being decrepit, was too far away from the city.
Despite the skepticism, his love for Yucatán and his insightful mind propelled him to keep working on the restoration and remodeling of the Hacienda, which took approximately 20 years to complete. In its beginnings, Hacienda Teya served as a banquet hall for parties and other Cárdenas family events, where traditional dishes from Yucatecan cuisine would be the stars of the show.
Seeing the lack of Yucatecan food restaurant options in the market as an area of opportunity, and considering the praise and advice from their friends, who greatly enjoyed their dishes’ flavors, they decided to open a restaurant in the Hacienda premises.
That’s how the history of Hacienda Teya as one of the most iconic places to visit in Mérida started. To this day, you can see pictures of different world-renowned personalities like Sofía, Spain’s Queen Mother, Luis Miguel, Anthony Bourdain, and many others who have happily enjoyed the delicious food and breathtaking venue. The owners proudly share these pictures and many more on their Wall of Fame, right at the entrance of the restaurant. The visit of these individuals shows that Hacienda Teya is not only an excellent place to try Yucatecan dishes, but also to visit an authentic Yucatecan Hacienda, and learn about its history through a tour of the architecture and gardens.
In 2019, the Cárdenas family inaugurated TEYA Gastronomía Viva (located in Paseo 60), loyal to the belief don Jorge taught to them: Yucatán always has something to offer and share. But TEYA not only seeks to preserve and spread Yucatecan gastronomy but also to reinterpret traditional Yucatecan dishes, in a space where the new and the old converge. With the collaboration of famous Yucatecan Chef Roberto Solís, TEYA Viva offers an innovative menu of 16 dishes, that brings a vision of Yucatán of the future, in the present. Its enticing urban atmosphere surrounds you the moment you step inside, inviting the curious to try novel creations with unique ingredients, and the connoisseurs to taste innovative variations of familiar dishes, creating surprises for everyone who visits, frequent and first-time visitors alike.
Some time later, Restaurante Hacienda Teya would open in Santa Lucía. With hints of the Hacienda Teya architecture and a traditional menu, it’s a bona fide extension of the above. Located in the heart of the city, it’s an excellent option for foreigners and national visitors seeking an authentic foodie experience without the need to leave the city. Besides falling in love with the exquisite dishes that are offered, the music sessions with local artists on the terrace, surrounded by music and smells that’ll spark your appetite will surely make you feel like you’re in the right place at the right time.
Among the most popular options that are offered in the three restaurants is the Nohoch Tun Yucateco, a platter designed to be shared and containing three traditional dishes: Cochinita Pibil, Poc Chuc, and Lomitos de Valladolid. If we’re talking about desserts, the Flan de la Casa, elaborated with Don Jorge’s secret recipe, is the perfect choice to try on your next visit.
The future of Hacienda Teya continues to base itself on the legacy that Don Jorge Cárdenas left, always believing in Yucatán’s tourism potential. The Cárdenas family keeps the purpose of sharing the diversity of the brand and spreading the culture of Yucatecan gastronomy to a bigger scale.
With its history and tradition, Hacienda Teya has already transcended in time for being a point of reference for Yucatecan culture and gastronomy on an international level, besides being a huge promoter of tourism in Yucatán; now, its history extends to the future. This is your chance to be part of it!
By Sara Alba
Panamanian with a Mexican accent since 2005. Editorial Assistant, a walking jukebox, and always lurking on social media, in the constant search of hidden gems to visit and share.
Photography by Hacienda Teya for use in Yucatán Today.
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