What could possibly be better than a good breakfast? Tortas and tacos are great, but for me, there’s nothing like starting the day with good coffee, pastries out of this world, and a dish that, for some reason, tastes even better before noon.
Justo Bread Studio
You might believe that this charming place’s location (just a few meters from Monumento a la Patria) is its best feature; you would be very wrong. Its incredibly appetizing (and dangerous) selection of giant pastries and delicious Mexican coffees are just the beginning of an excellent foodie experience. I must admit that I am one of those people who want to try everything; my favorite people to go out to new restaurants are always those who are willing to order dishes for the table to share. At Justo Bread Studio the menu isn’t too extensive, but it doesn’t need to be; everything we tried, we loved. The members of this particular expedition ordered a Grilled Cheese, a Sandwich Español and a Mediterranean Toast; they were all very good, but the latter, with hummus and cucumber slices, really surprised me.
Relatively far from the most touristy areas of Mérida, on Avenida Yucatán, there is a little spot that easily goes unnoticed due to its modest façade. However, let me tell you that Al Alba is full of surprises; if you’re an unashamed lover of bread, like me, you’ll be delighted to try what they have to offer. Perhaps the most visually impressive section of its menu (in addition to its bread display) are its sandwiches, which will catch your eye on their way to other diners’ tables, but its Beet Toast (Toast de Betabel), with arugula and goat cheese on sourdough bread, is proof that some things are much more than the sum of their parts. My party’s top pick: the lemon croissant, with meringue and sheets of “gold”.
To be fair, Bachour doesn’t specialize solely in breakfast, but I couldn’t not mention it in this article. Their pastry cart gets an A+ for looks, and it only gets better from there. It would be easy to believe that such beautiful and colorful pastries are going to be all style and little substance, but there’s a reason chef Antonio Bachour has been recognized as the best pastry chef in the world on more than one occasion. If you have a sweet tooth for breakfast, the French Toast is a dream come true; if not, you’ll have plenty to choose from, but be sure to check out the Spanish-style scrambled eggs, and the Bachour Cuban sandwich (suitable for two people). But back to the pastry cart of my dreams (and probably yours too): I suspect it’s hard to go wrong, but the Strawberry Mascarpone Croissant really is one of a kind. Our waiter kindly suggested we order it to share, because it is, as we Yucatecans would say, pretty Nojoch (big). Objectively, it is an excellent recommendation, because it is a big pastry, but you will wish you could have the whole thing to yourself, and then more.
Perhaps you already know that the Siqueff restaurant originally started in Motul, and that its founder, Don Jorge Siqueff, is considered the inventor of the famous Huevos Motuleños. Although it could be said that this dish is already in the public domain, Siqueff continues to be one of the most traditional places to enjoy them. However, its extensive (and original) breakfast menu has endless options that could easily take you into paralysis by analysis: the Arabic eggs with Kafta, for example, served with Labneh and flatbreads; or the poached eggs with hummus (available only at the Centro restaurant), served with cream of bell peppers; the eggplant omelet; the Shakshuka… See what I mean about ordering dishes to share? Their restaurant at Plaza Luxury also offers pancakes, sandwiches, and specialty bakery.
Calle 60 #350 x 35 y 37, Centro
Plaza Luxury: Ave. Andrés García Lavín x 27 y 29, Montebello
Tel. 999 925 5027 (Centro) / 999 406 3763 (Plaza Luxury)
FB: Siqueff Restaurant
Every day: 8 am – 6 pm
When Merci opened in Plaza San Angelo, it changed the way in which we Meridanos thought of breakfast, with specialty coffee and the kind of pastry that, on the first bite, makes you go wide-eyed and ask yourself “what is this, and where had it been all my life?” Nine years later, Merci continues to surprise its patrons with pastry and dish specials that change periodically, but without neglecting those that keep people coming back again and again. The Benedictine Eggs, the Croque Monsieur, and the Pepita/almond croissant are, for me, classics that I will never not enjoy having. Demand for Merci is (justifiably) so high, that going to enjoy breakfast at either of its two branches requires either arriving very early to occupy one of the first tables of the day, or keeping a brunch state of mind: the wait is fine, we’re in no rush: good things come to those who wait.
Café Montejo, Hotel Fiesta Americana
My Chichí (my grandma) loved to go out for breakfast, and one of her favorite places was always Café Montejo, or, as she called it, “the Fiesta Americana buffet”. That’s why I have so many beautiful memories of that place, where I like to go and reminisce from time to time, accompanied by good coffee and a few Bolitas de Queso (cream cheese pastries). This brunch is the real deal: juices, fruit, and cereal, yes, but also house baked goods, a cold cut counter, eggs station, regional dishes, chilaquiles, desserts… everything you need to treat yourself, and maybe some of your favorite people.
Hotel Fiesta Americana
Paseo Montejo #451 x Av. Colón, Centro
I know that many of us are coffee lovers, but I also know that there are people who are coffee lovers. I’m talking about people who enjoy trying different extraction methods, who perceive (and can explain) the difference between different roasts and origins, or who can tell if a latte is well made by the texture of the microbubbles in the milk foam. You don’t need to be in this category to appreciate breakfast at Márago Coffee, but if this is your case, that’s definitely one extra reason to stop by. And I do say extra, because the breakfasts alone are a good reason. Their Bailey’s French Toast has to be tasted to be believed, and I’m always partial to an English Muffin Sandwich, but the Márago Mix is a great way to eat a little of everything: scrambled eggs with chaya sauce and a chocolate-chip pancake.
One of the reasons I love going to La Libertad is their cardamom latte. If oriental spices aren’t your thing (which would rule out the matcha latte as well), but you still want to try a latte with a twist, you could try their rosewater, marshmallow, or horchata variety. My point is there’s plenty to choose from, and we’re still just talking about coffee. The breakfast (and brunch) menu at La Libertad is one of the most extensive on this list; perhaps that’s why it’s so difficult to choose a couple of dishes to highlight. However, a unanimous winner is their French Toast, which wins over everyone who tries it. If sweet breakfast is not your thing you can try their Benedictine Eggs, served on serrano ham, or the Chilaquiles with Poblano sauce. My to-try list is headlined by their Gourmet Chilaquiles (with goat cheese and caramelized onion), which I haven’t tried yet, but keep hearing good things about.
Casa de Piedra, Hacienda Xcanatun by Angsana
Now any Sunday can be a special occasion with a breakfast fit for kings at Hacienda Xcanatun by Angsana. Starting in March, their wonderful breakfast menu can be complemented with their buffet brunch every weekend. It’s true you can have a great breakfast at Casa de Piedra any day of the week, off a menu that includes regional, international, and fusion classics, but on Sundays, the buffet includes all the items on said menu, plus specialty pastries, fruit, dessert, and a line that includes quesadillas with handmade tortillas, eggs your way, Lechón al Horno, and Cochinita Pibil.
Whether you choose to sit inside the Hacienda halls, or at their marvelous terrace with a view of their breathtaking gardens, among trees and bird songs, this brunch experience is a great way to turn your Sunday into a mini-vacation.
Hacienda Xcanatun by Angsana
Carr. Mérida – Progreso Km 12
Reservations: Tel. 999 930 2140 / WA: 999 640 5243
Sun. 9 am – 2 pm
$650 pesos per person; children (5 – 11), 50% off; free for children under five (beverages not included).
This space is not enough to list all the places that I have already tried and love, and those that I am dying to but haven’t gotten the chance to. For now, I hope this list leads you to discover a place (or a dish) you didn’t know about, and if you know of a place just as good as these, share it with me so I can add it to my list.
By Alicia Navarrete
Communicologist born circumstantially in México City, but who says “uay” since 1985. Life has allowed me to see the world, which in turn has allowed me to discover how much I love the place where I live.
Photography by Alicia Navarrete, Color Nativo, Hacienda Xcanatun, Márago Coffee, Merci, Siqueff, and Sofía Segura, for use in Yucatán Today.
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