Yucatecan cuisine is delicious, but during your stay in Yucatán, you might want to try some of the flavors that the rest of México has to offer. Luckily, the culinary scene in Mérida is vast and varied. Here are some options for you to consider.
Catrín offers a menu that essentially covers México from top to bottom, combining ingredients and preparations from all over the country into modern and surprising dishes. Located in the revamped Corredor Gastronómico (foodie corridor) 47- 60, Catrín provides a surprisingly relaxed atmosphere compared to some of its neighbors, but don’t let that fool you: its culinary offerings are top-notch. Appetizers like the veggie Aguachile, octopus and pork crackling Salbutes, or their black pork tacos will make it difficult to get to the main courses, so pace yourself or, better yet, start planning to go more than once.
María Raíz y Tierra
María Raíz y Tierra is what we could call a boutique restaurant. In this cozy space, you will find a combination of Mexican and Oaxacan dishes with a touch of love for local products and ingredients, such as native corn, egg fruit (Pouteria campechiana), and black sapote (Diospyros nigra), lesser-known but delicious native fruits. At María, you will be in the hands of a team committed to their principles of offering sustainable, traceable, and organic food from its origin at reasonable prices. In addition to their regular menu, María Raíz y Tierra presents a seasonal menu every month, where the freshest ingredients are creatively combined; in September, you still have a chance to try their tribute to corn. Don’t miss out!
María Raíz y Tierra
Hotel Villa Mercedes Curio Collection by Hilton
Av. Colón #500 x calle 59, Centro, Mérida
Tel. 999 315 7762
Matilda Salón Mexicano
In the heart of Mérida’s Centro, literally just steps away from the Cathedral, you’ll find a place that is sure to surprise you. The entrance, with its art deco-inspired style, will hardly prepare you for what awaits inside. As soon as you cross the threshold, you’ll feel embraced by México, from the music to the decor, and it only gets better from there. With dishes from different corners of the country, from Yucatán to Baja California, Matilda Salón Mexicano is an excellent choice to try something new. A tip: in case you’re still craving it, Matilda will continue serving traditional Chiles en Nogada throughout the month of September, along with a cocktail specifically crafted to complement it: the Granada (pomegranate) Elite. And another tip: whatever you do, save room for dessert.
Izel (which means ‘unique’ in the Náhuatl language) is a signature cuisine restaurant with Veracruz-inspired flavors—but here, you’re not coming for Picaditas (small tortillas topped with various ingredients) and Chilpachole (a traditional soup from Veracruz). Here, the guiding principles are the flavors of the Jarocho countryside, harnessed from their harvest, when they’re served fresh, to even months afterwards, when they’ve been transformed through the process of fermentation. I would dare to say that this was one of my favorite discoveries at Izel: here, the seasons work in different ways, because on the hottest days of summer, you can enjoy, for example, the wintery elder flower, and in winter, tropical fruits like mango. This is thanks to the fermentation expertise that characterizes Izel’s cuisine, and that you truly must experience for yourself. In September, under no circumstances should you miss the opportunity to taste their seasonal specials based on mushrooms; you’ve never tasted anything like this before.
Oaxacan cuisine, much like Yucatecan cuisine, stands apart from the rest of México. Its unique ingredients, preparations, and flavors have gradually been incorporated into contemporary Mexican cuisine, but now you can enjoy them on their own, as it should be, at a restaurant in Mérida’s Centro. At the end of Corredor 47-60 (on Calle 47 x 50), Sandunga is a cozy little corner with an extensive menu that, just a few months after its opening, has already captured the hearts and souls of diners from all over. Let’s not even get into their Mole and Mezcal options; under no circumstances should you miss out on their Pavlova with lime cream and fresh fruit; even if you, like me, feel that fruits aren’t dessert, you’ll be surprised. And get ready: in October and November, Sandunga is planning a festival centered around one of Oaxaca’s most beloved culinary delicacies: insects. Does that sound strange? You have to try them before passing judgment.
Yerba Santa is another instant classic in Mérida. Drawing inspiration from Chiapas, but committed to their ideology of “cuisine without borders,” Yerba Santa offers you a journey through México (and, let’s not deny it, the world) in the form of creative dishes that are not only full of flavor, but also vibrant in color. I think it’s hard to go wrong with your choice, but if you’re looking for a dish that can conquer any palate, try the Ceviche Balam; seafood isn’t your thing? Be sure not to miss out on the beef tail taco. Another fan favorite, their Kraken octopus, a spicy delight cooked to literal perfection. As for dessert, don’t worry: whatever you choose, you’re sure to love it.
Av. Paseo de Montejo x 35 y 37, Centro, Mérida
Tel. 999 802 2908
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 @holasoy.renee, Alicia Navarrete, and Yucatán Today for use in Yucatán Today.
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