Food is a matter of regional pride in Yucatán, and a big indicator of quality is when a dish is cooked Pibil-style (in Maya: Pib = buried). This means that the food was cooked in an underground oven, which gives it incredible flavor. For symbolic reasons, this method gathers great importance during the time of Hanal Pixán when many Pibil dishes are enjoyed, especially Mucbilpollo which is a baked Tamal practically synonymous with the festivity. Let me tell you where you can try “buried” delicacies at this time of the year, but also year-round!
Over the past year, this restaurant has stood out as a place to not only try Yucatecan food, but to experience and celebrate it. It’s located in a colonial mansion in the Centro Histórico with gorgeous inner patios. Additionally, every day at 2:30 pm you can watch how they un-earth one of their dishes straight from the Pib. They add Tzalam and Jabín wood to the underground oven which enhances the flavors of different classics such as Escabeche Oriental, Relleno Negro, Pollo Pibil, and Mucbilpollo.
Calle 62 # 466 x 55 y 57, Centro
Tel. (999) 518 1645
FB: Museo de la Gastronomía Yucateca
Sun. – Thu. 12 pm – 11 pm, Fri. and Sat. 12 pm – 1 am
La Tradición has a reputation for being a restaurant where locals go for Yucatecan food, and getting that seal of approval is not an easy feat! The ambiance here is relaxed and pleasant, perfect for a family lunch. They cook all dishes the traditional way with firewood, coal, or buried in a Pib to achieve the state’s representative flavors. Without a doubt, their most iconic Pibil dish is Cochinita, but you can also try other regional specials here.
There are many spots where you can eat Lechón and Cochinita for breakfast, but Taquería La Lupita is a bonafide gem. Because it’s located inside the Santiago market, you’ll find the dining area to be very informal, but everything is nice and clean, with generous portions, and very reasonable prices. The Cochinita and Lechón served here are cooked in a traditional Pib, and on the table you’ll find homemade habanero salsa that you can add if you like it spicy! They also serve Panuchos and Salbutes, as well as other dishes like Relleno Negro, which is also very popular during this holiday.
Mercado de Santiago, Calle 67 x 70 y 72, Centro
Tel. (999) 924 6591
Mon. – Sun. 5:15 am – 1 pm
Publo Pibil is located about 20 km from Mérida in the town of Tixkokob, but it’s worth the drive! The setting is elegant but cozy, and you’ll find a menu with traditional dishes cooked Pibil-style which are served daily including Mondongo a la Andaluza and Relleno Negro. You’ll also see the Yucatecan Monday special Frijol con Puerco (only served on this day, of course). During this time of year, Mucbilpollo is also served, it’s a great opportunity to try this classic dish.
Calle 21 #180 x 26 y 28, Tixkokob
Tel. (991) 611 0805
FB: Pueblo Pibil
Thu. – Mon. 12:30 pm – 6 pm
This conceptual restaurant is located in a majestic 19th-century mansion facing the Monumento a la Patria and it’s known for reinterpreting the traditional. At K’u’uk, you can order from the set menu or a 15-dish tasting menu. Among its unique offerings you’ll find Calabaza al Pib and Pato Pibil. You may be wondering “what’s so innovative?” Well, instead of using the traditional underground oven, they use a machine of their own invention which is designed to give the same flavors as the Pib.
Editorial by Maggie Rosado
Photography by Yucatán Today and MUGY for use in Yucatán Today
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