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18 Must-Visit Restaurants in Merida, Mexico

What’s the first thing that comes to mind when you think of Merida and the Yucatan Peninsula? For many people, it’s Mayan culture and cenotes. Merida is the capital city of Yucatan state and a great jumping-off point to explore the peninsula’s many cenotes and Mayan ruins.

What some people may not realize is that Merida is also home to some of the best Mexican food in the country. It’s on par with other popular food destinations like Oaxaca, Puebla, Mexico City, and Guadalajara. In fact, we were having dinner with a local in Oaxaca one night when he told us that in his opinion, Oaxaca and Merida have the best food in Mexico.

Merida is home to many great restaurants serving terrific Yucatecan food. Chichen Itza may be the biggest reason why people visit Merida and the Yucatan Peninsula but delicious traditional dishes and local specialties keep them coming back.

If you’re visiting the Yucatan and love Mexican cuisine, then this guide to the best restaurants in Merida will be very useful to you.

MERIDA RESTAURANTS QUICK LINKS

If you want to really dive into Yucatan food, then you may be interested in going on a guided tour or taking a cooking class. Check out some of the most popular food-related tours and cooking classes in Merida.

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Cochinita tacos and stuffed queso de bola

WHAT LOCAL DISHES IS MERIDA KNOWN FOR?

The Yucatan Peninsula was the seat of the ancient Mayan civilization so Yucatan food is heavily influenced by Mayan cuisine. Because of its history of colonization, migration, and trade, Yucatecan food also draws influences from Spanish, Dutch, Lebanese, Caribbean, and North African cuisines.

Being the capital city of Yucatan state, Merida is home to a wealth of amazing food, all of which you can read about in our guide on Yucatan food. I won’t get into too much detail here but some of the tastiest Yucatan specialties you should look for in Merida include cochinita pibil, salbutes, panuchos, poc chuc, and relleno negro.

Be sure to read our guide on Yucatan cuisine for more details. It includes pictures and information on 25 of the most delicious traditional dishes to look for in Merida and the Yucatan Peninsula.

THE BEST RESTAURANTS IN MERIDA

To help organize this list of Merida restaurants, I’ve categorized them by type of establishment. Click on a link to jump to any section of the guide.

  1. Sit-Down Restaurants
  2. Casual Restaurants
  3. Markets / Street Food Stalls
  4. Dessert Shops

Sit-Down Restaurants

Personally, we love street food and fondas (small family-owned restaurants) but not everyone is as crazy about them as we are. Many people prefer proper restaurants.

If you’d rather go to fine dining and sit-down establishments, then in this section are some of the best and most recommended Merida restaurants in the downtown area.

1. La Chaya Maya

No article on the best restaurants in Merida would be complete without La Chaya Maya. A Merida institution, it’s recommended in nearly every article about the best food in Merida. Even my AirBnB host told me to eat here.

La Chaya Maya is known for serving some of the tastiest examples of local dishes like huevos motuleños, cochinita pibil, lomitos de valladolid, and relleno negro. They have an extensive menu so you can find most if not all Yucatan specialties here.

With all the good food to be had at La Chaya Maya, I was unsure what to get so I wound up going with a dish that isn’t commonly served at street food stalls – papadzules. It refers to an enchilada-like dish of corn tortillas stuffed with hard-boiled eggs and then drenched in a sauce made from pepitas (pumpkin seeds).

You don’t have to be a vegetarian to enjoy this dish. It’s delicious.

Papadzules from one of the best restaurants in Merida, Mexico

La Chaya Maya is one of the most popular restaurants in Merida so you may have to wait for a table at peak times. It’s definitely worth it.

La Chaya Maya restaurant interior in Merida, Mexico

I went to their newer restaurant but La Chaya Maya has two branches just one block apart. If one is full, then you can try walking to the other one. By all accounts, it’s one of the best restaurants in Merida so you should definitely enjoy at least one meal here no matter how short your stay.

La Chaya Maya restaurant exterior in Merida, Mexico

La Chaya Maya

Address: C. 57 x 62, Parque Santa Lucia, Centro, 97000 Merida, Mexico
Operating Hours: 7AM-10PM, daily
What to Order: Traditional Yucatan cuisine
What I Spent: MXN 142 with a drink

2. Museo de la Gastronomia Yucateca (MUGY)

Like Chaya Maya, no list of the best restaurants in Merida can be complete without mentioning Museo de la Gastronomia Yucateca, or MUGY for short. It’s a beautiful fine dining restaurant that serves some of the best food in Merida.

One thing to remember about Merida restaurants is that even fine dining establishments will serve many of the same dishes you’d find at fondas, like salbutes and panuchos. I don’t want to pay 3-4 times more for antojitos (snacks) that taste just as good at market stalls so I go for Yucatan specialties that I know are likely to be done better at proper restaurants.

At MUGY, I had poc chuc, a signature dish in Yucatan cuisine consisting of a slow-roasted fillet of pork marinated in sour orange juice. I had poc chuc several times in Merida and this was by far the best. It was delicious.

Poc chuc from one of the best restaurants in Merida, Mexico

Here’s a closer look at that wonderfully tender fillet of pork. Slow-roasted pork, sour oranges, habanero chili peppers, and achiote are among the most important components of Yucatan cuisine.

Close-up of poc chuc at one of the best restaurants in Merida

Another important ingredient in the local cuisine is chaya, a chard-like shrub native to the peninsula. You’ll find it used in many Yucatan specialties like empanadas, tamales, and huevos con chaya (eggs with chaya).

Personally, I enjoyed it most when pureed into drinks (agua de chaya). You can enjoy cold refreshing beverages made with just chaya, chaya with pineapple, or chaya with lemon. They’re all delicious – sweet, herby, and a little citrusy if you get it with fruit.

Agua de chaya at a restaurant in Merida, Mexico

MUGY is a lovely fine dining restaurant with great food and excellent service. Surprisingly, they have reasonable prices as well. My poc chuc and chaya came out to just MXN 245.

They have rooms where you can dine indoors but the best space is right here in the inner open courtyard.

MUGY open courtyard seating

This is the reason why the restaurant is called Museo de la Gastronomia Yucateca. There really is a museum inside the restaurant. One section of MUGY is dedicated to a small exhibit detailing the history and characteristics of Mayan food.

Even if you don’t eat at MUGY, you can still visit the museum for free.

Displays inside the MUGY museum in Merida, Mexico

MUGY may look a bit intimidating from the outside but there’s nothing to worry about. It looks like a fine dining restaurant but the atmosphere is actually quite casual and relaxed. I went there for dinner and some diners were dressed in shorts and t-shirts.

Entrance to MUGY, one of the best restaurants in Merida

Museo de la Gastronomia Yucateca (MUGY)

Address: Calle 62 #466 x 55 y 57, Centro, 97000 Merida, Mexico
Operating Hours: 11AM-11PM, Mon-Thurs / 11AM-1PM, Fri / 9AM-1AM, Sat / 9AM-11PM, Sun
What to Order: Traditional Yucatecan cuisine
What I Spent: MXN 245 with a drink

3. Katun Cocina Yucateca

Katun is located about 2.5 km (1.6 miles) north of Plaza Grande, just off Paseo de Montejo. Many first-time visitors to Merida will be spending some time here so Katun is a great place to enjoy a meal after going sightseeing in the area.

Like the previous two restaurants, Katun features an extensive menu of traditional Yucatan specialties like papadzules, cochinita, lechon al horno, and brazo de reina. I went with the poc chuc. It wasn’t quite as delicious as MUGY’s version but it was still very good.

No matter where you have it, poc chuc is typically served with a few side dishes like pickled red onions, sour orange wedges, avocados, corn tortillas, and frijol con puerco.

Poc chuc from Katun, one of the best restaurants in Merida

Katun is one of the best restaurants you can go to for traditional food in Merida. The restaurant’s atmosphere is more casual as well.

Katun restaurant exterior in Merida, Mexico

Katun Cocina Yucateca

Address: C. 60 319B, Centro, 97000 Ejido del Centro, Merida, Mexico
Operating Hours: 8AM-7PM, daily
What to Order: Traditional Yucatan cuisine
What I Spent: MXN 191 with a drink

4. La Prospe del Xtup

La Prospe del Xtup is another Merida restaurant that serves a wide array of local specialties. I had lunch at this place to specifically have a dish that I didn’t see on any other restaurant menu – relleno blanco.

Relleno negro – a Mayan dish of turkey and pork drenched in a thick dark sauce – is one of the most common traditional dishes in Merida. It’s available everywhere unlike relleno blanco which seems harder to come by.

Relleno blanco is a similar dish but instead of the dark roasted chile ancho sauce, it’s served with tomato sauce and k’ool – a white sauce made with thickened turkey broth.

Relleno blanco at a restaurant in Merida

Here’s a closer look at the ground pork. Relleno blanco is tasty but personally, I prefer its darker and more popular cousin.

Ground pork in relleno blanco

Another reason I wanted to eat at La Prospe del Xtup was because of this dessert – dulce de papaya. It’s a simple Yucatecan dessert of sweetened unripe papaya served with shreds of Edam cheese.

Dulce de papaya at a restaurant in Merida

These inner open courtyards are a common feature of Merida buildings. La Prospe del Xtup looks plain during the day but like MUGY, I imagine this space to look much more dramatic at night.

Like the previous three restaurants, La Prospe del Xtup is a great place to visit for traditional Yucatan specialties in Merida.

Courtyard seating at La Prospe del Xtup, one of the best restaurants in Merida

La Prospe del Xtup

Address: Calle 59 530, Parque Santiago, Centro, 97000 Merida, Mexico
Operating Hours: 12NN-7PM, daily
What to Order: Traditional Yucatan cuisine
What I Spent: MXN 256 with a drink

5. Cheen Cocina Yucateca

Like Katun, Cheen is a bit outside the downtown Merida area but it’s definitely worth the walk. It’s one of the best Merida restaurants to visit for what feels like a delicious, lovingly prepared, home-cooked meal. I know that sounds a bit cheesy but that’s exactly what it feels like when you eat here.

Unlike the previous restaurants on this list, Cheen looks and feels like a family-run restaurant. It’s in a converted home about 2 km (1.2 miles) east of Plaza Grande. I was drawn to its stellar reviews which described its food as some of the best and most authentic in Merida. According to one local, the food they serve is exactly how his grandmother used to make it.

Cheen has a more focused menu but you can find the most important Yucatan specialties here like cochinita, relleno negro, and papdzules. I asked my server for recommendations and she suggested I get the queso relleno, a classic Mexican-Dutch fusion dish made with stuffed cheese.

Queso relleno consists of a rind of queso de bola (Edam cheese) stuffed with minced meat, nuts, raisins, and other ingredients before being poured over with k’ool and tomato sauce. It’s a delicious but extremely filling dish so don’t expect to eat anything else after this!

Stuffed cheese dish at a restaurant in Merida

When you eat at Cheen, you’ll feel like a guest in someone’s house. It’s cozy and feels very much like a home restaurant.

Cheen Cocina Yucateca restaurant interior

Cheen Cocina Yucateca is as warm and inviting outside as it is inside. It’s a hidden gem and for me, one of the best restaurants in Merida.

Cheen Cocina Yucateca restaurant exterior

Cheen Cocina Yucateca

Address: C. 61 x 34, Centro, 97000 Merida, Mexico
Operating Hours: 8AM-6PM, Mon, Wed-Sat / 8AM-5PM, Sun (closed Tuesdays)
What to Order: Traditional Yucatan food
What I Spent: MXN 194 with a drink

6. Manjar Blanco

If you’ve seen the cochinita episode of the Netflix series Taco Chronicles, then Manjar Blanco may be familiar to you. It was the main Merida restaurant featured on that show.

Manjar Blanco offers a similar menu of local specialties as the pervious restaurants on this list, but they’re known for serving some of the very best cochinita pibil in the Yucatan. I enjoyed cochinita many times in Merida, Valladolid, and Mexico City and this was easily one of the best. The producers of that show really did their homework.

Cochinita pibil is arguably the most iconic Yucatecan dish so it’s important that you try the best. Manjar Blanco is definitely one of the best Merida restaurants you can visit to try this dish.

If you haven’t seen the show, cochinita pibil refers to slow-roasted suckling pig marinated in achiote paste and sour orange juice. It’s wrapped in banana leaves and cooked in an earthen oven called a píib for up to 16 hours until the meat is fall-off-the-bone tender. It’s absolutely delicious and a must-try dish in Merida.

Cochinita tacos at a restaurant in Merida, Mexico

I was so taken by that Taco Chronicles episode that I went straight to Manjar Blanco after checking in to my AirBnB. It didn’t disappoint.

Manjar Blanco is definitely one of the best restaurants in Merida to try cochinita and other Yucatan specialties.

Manjar Blanco restaurant exterior in Merida

Manjar Blanco

Address: Calle 47 496, entre 58 y 60, Zona Paseo Montejo, Centro, 97000 Merida, Mexico
Operating Hours: 8AM-6PM, daily
What to Order: Traditional Yucatan cuisine
What I Spent: MXN 200 with a drink

Casual Restaurants

I’m a street food guy so these are the types of restaurants I look for on trips. Just very casual establishments that focus mainly on great food.

7. La Teraza Amarilla de San Fernando

La Teraza Amarilla de San Fernando is a no frills restaurant that offers Yucatan meat specialties like cochinita, lechon al horno, relleno negro, and longaniza de valladolid. You can enjoy them in salbutes, panuchos, tacos, or tortas.

If it’s you first time in Merida, then I suggest trying them on salbutes and panuchos, two of the most popular antojitos in the Yucatan. They’re basically deep-fried tortillas that can be topped with any number of ingredients. The only difference between the two is that panuchos are filled with refried beans.

Pictured below are two salbutes and one panucho topped with cochinita, lechon al horno, and lomitos de valladolid.

Salbutes and panuchos at a restaurant in Merida, Mexico

La Teraza Amarilla de San Fernando is located just around the corner from Katun Cocina Yucateca. It’s another great restaurant to visit after going sightseeing along Paseo de Montejo.

La Teraza Amarilla de San Fernando restaurant exterior

La Teraza Amarilla de San Fernando

Address: Av Cupules 503C, Alcalá Martín, 97050 Merida, Mexico
Operating Hours: 7AM-2PM, Tue-Thurs, Sat-Sun (closed Mon, Fri)
What to Order: Salbutes, panuchos, tacos, tortas
What I Spent: MXN 119 with a drink

8. Taqueria Nuevo San Fernando

Just a minute away from La Teraza Amarilla is Nuevo San Fernando, a taqueria that offers just two things on their menu – cochinita and lechon al horno. You can enjoy them in tacos or tortas.

If you have a sudden craving for street tacos after visiting the colonial houses along Paseo de Montejo, then Taqueria Nuevo San Fernando is a good restaurant to visit.

Street tacos from a restaurant in Merida

Like La Teraza Amarilla, Taqueria Nuevo San Fernando is a simple restaurant that serves good inexpensive Yucatecan food in Merida.

Taqueria Nuevo San Fernando restaurant exterior in Merida

Taqueria Nuevo San Fernando

Address: 97000, Av Cupules 506, Centro, Merida, Mexico
Operating Hours: 7AM-1PM, daily
What to Order: Tacos, tortas
What I Spent: MXN 85 with a drink

9. Wayan’e

Speaking of street tacos, fans of Mexico’s most iconic dish need to go to Wayan’e. It’s one of the best restaurants in Merida to have tacos topped with Yucatan specialties like poc chuc, castacan (crispy pork belly), higadilla (liver and organ meats), and lomitos.

Only after leaving Merida did I learn that higadilla is a less common Yucatan dish. I regret not trying it here because Wayan’e is the only restaurant I went to that offers it. I’m definitely trying it on our next trip back to Merida.

On my plate below are tacos topped with castacan, huevos con chaya, pollo hulk, and chilibull. I thought the name “pollo hulk” was intriguing so I ordered it. I was amused to find the pieces of chicken tinged green, probably from chaya and green salsa. I’m not sure what chilibull is but it’s some type of stew made from chili peppers.

Wayan’e offers some of the best tacos in Merida. They make tacos with local ingredients that you can’t find anywhere else. Not even in Mexico City, the taco capital of the world, can you find tacos like these!

All of these tacos were delicious but the castacan is a must. It’s a specialty at Wayan’e.

Fried egg with chaya, green chicken, chilibull, and pork belly tacos

Wayan’e is a hugely popular taqueria with multiple locations. I suggest going to this branch. It’s just a few minutes’ walk from the main plaza and the easiest to get to.

Wayan'e restaurant exterior in Merida

Wayan’e

Address: 412, Calle 59 408, Centro, 97000 Merida, Mexico
Operating Hours: 7AM-2:30PM, Mon-Sat (closed Sundays)
What to Order: Tacos
What I Spent: MXN 77 with a drink

10. Taqueria de La Union

Located in downtown Merida, Taqueria de La Union is another great restaurant to visit for street tacos. It’s a small restaurant that offers Yucatecan meats like cochinita, lechon al horno, and longaniza de valladolid served in tacos, tortas, panuchos, or polcanes. Polcanes are deep-fried masa and ibes (white beans) patties that can be filled with various ingredients.

Pictured below is my beautiful trio of cochinita, longaniza de valladolid, and lechon al horno tacos, all piled generously with juicy pork on homemade tortillas.

Trio of tacos from a restaurant in Merida, Mexico

Three tacos weren’t enough so I ordered a fourth – this intriguing-sounding taco called pork belly al pastor. I was expecting a cross between castacan and tacos al pastor but it turned out to be a type of pork belly stew served with the usual al pastor pineapples. Delicious!

Pork belly al pastor taco from a restaurant in Merida, Mexico

If you want to eat street tacos in a cleaner, less chaotic environment in Merida, then Taqueria de La Union is a great restaurant to visit. They make some of the best tacos in the Merida centro area.

Taqueria de La Union restaurant exterior in Merida

Taqueria de La Union

Address: C. 55 488, Parque Santa Lucia, Centro, 97000 Centro, Merida, Mexico
Operating Hours: 1-10PM, Tue-Sun (closed Mondays)
What to Order: Tacos
What I Spent: MXN 124 with a drink

Markets / Street Food Stalls

If you’re traveling on a budget and want cheap eats, then markets are among the best places you can visit. Not only will they give you a glimpse into local life and culture, but you’ll often find fondas and stalls offering great food at reasonable prices.

MERCADO SANTIAGO

Mercado Santiago was my favorite market in Merida. It’s clean, organized, and home to a few stalls offering delicious Yucatan food. I enjoyed it so much I went here three times and ate at three different stalls.

Mercado Santiago exterior in Merida, Mexico

11. Taqueria La Lupita

Taco Chronicles featured two Merida restaurants in their cochinita pibil episode – Manjar Blanco and this one, Taqueria La Lupita. It’s a popular stall inside Mercado Santiago that offers Yucatan food like cochinita, lechon al horno, relleno negro, and escabeche oriental. You can enjoy it in a variety of ways – on salbutes, panuchos, tortas, tacos, and polcanes.

Taqueria La Lupita dining area in Merida, Mexico

I ordered two salbutes and one panucho at Taqueria La Lupita. This salbut was topped with cochinita. I still preferred the cochinita at Manjar Blanco but this was damn good too, probably in my top three not just in Merida, but in all of the Yucatan.

Cochinita pibil salbut in Merida

This salbut was topped with lechon al horno. Not every restaurant does this but my favorite lechon salbutes or panuchos were topped with a piece of crispy pork skin. Lechon al horno isn’t as flavorful as cochinita so the piece of pork skin adds more flavor and crunch.

Lechon al horno salbut in Merida

Here’s the panucho topped with relleno negro.

As described, relleno negro is an ancient Yucatecan dish of turkey meat and ground pork bathed in a dark sauce made from roasted chile ancho peppers. It’s served with slices of hard-boiled egg and can be enjoyed on its own, as a stew like relleno blanco, or as a topping on salbutes, panuchos, and tacos.

In most cases, it’s hard to visually tell the difference between salbutes and panuchos but you can clearly see the difference here. The fried corn tortilla looks less puffy. Salbutes are generally softer and puffier while panuchos are a little more crunchy. Personally, I prefer salbutes.

Relleno negro panucho in Merida

Taqueria La Lupita

Address: Calle 57 Mercado de Santiago Interior, Centro, 97000 Merida, Mexico
Operating Hours: 6:30AM-1:30PM, daily
What to Order: Salbutes, panuchos, tacos, tortas
What I Spent: MXN 74 with a drink

12. La Reina Itzalana

La Taqueria Lupita is located inside Mercado Santiago while this stall – La Reina Itzalana – is located around its perimeter. La Reina Itzalana offers a full menu of Yucatan food favorites like papadzules, huevos motuleños, salbutes, and panuchos. I was here specifically to try their sopa de lima which I read was one of the best in Merida.

La Reina Itzalana dining area in Merida, Mexico

Sopa de lima means “lime soup” and refers to a type of Yucatecan soup made with shredded turkey or chicken served in a broth with fried corn tortilla strips.

As you can probably guess from its name, it’s a citrusy soup that gets its signature acidity from lime juice. It’s one of the most popular dishes in Yucatan cuisine and a must-try in Merida.

Soup with turkey, lime, and fried corn tortillas

La Reina Itzalana

Address: Parque Santiago, Centro, 97000 Merida, Mexico
Operating Hours: 7AM-3PM, Mon-Sat (closed Sundays)
What to Order: Sopa de lima, papadzules, tortas, quesadillas
What I Spent: MXN 90 with a drink

13. Taqueria Tetiz

If you’re looking for fresh seafood dishes in Merida, then look no further than Taqueria Tetiz. They offer different types of seafood preparations served on tacos, salbutes, panuchos, and tostadas.

Taqueria Tetiz seems to have multiple locations but I suggest going to their stall inside Mercado Santiago. Based on their reviews, they’re one of the best seafood taquerias in Merida.

Check out my server hamming it up for the camera. He must have been happy with my tip. Friendly service always leads to big tips. Ha!

Taqueria Tetiz dining area in Merida

I was tempted to get shrimp and fish tacos but since I’m in Merida, I stuck to salbutes. On my plate below is a beautiful trio of camaron (shrimp), pescado (fish), and caracol (sea snail) salbutes. All three were seriously delicious.

Seafood salbutes in Merida

I enjoyed the previous three salbutes so much that I had to get another, this time pulpo (octopus). I can’t decide which one I liked best!

Pulpo salbut in Merida

Taqueria Tetiz

Address: Mercado de Santiago, local 23, 28 y 33, C. 72, Centro, 97000 Merida, Mexico
Operating Hours: 6AM-2PM, Mon, Wed-Sat (closed Tue, Sun)
What to Order: Seafood
What I Spent: MXN 128 with a drink

ARTESANIAS BAZAR GARCIA REJON

Artesanias Bazar Garcia Rejon is a shopping market located in the Merida centro area. It’s home to dozens of shops selling clothes, bags, shoes, and other non-touristy items.

I didn’t come here to go shopping but I did go to have breakfast at one of the many food stalls inside the market. They offer typical Yucatecan and Mexican antojitos like salbutes, panuchos, tacos, and tortas.

Artesanias Bazar Garcia Rejon building in Merida, Mexico

14. Taqueria El Pavo Feliz

Whenever we enter an unfamiliar hawker center in Singapore, the trick is to look for the stalls with the longest line of locals. This rule applies no matter where you are in the world, including Mexican markets.

At Artesanias Bazar Garcia Rejon, that stall was clearly Taqueria El Pavo Feliz. I don’t remember what time I was here but I know it was pretty early, maybe around 8AM. The place was already buzzing with locals enjoying panuchos and tortas filled with all kinds of Yucatan specialties.

Taqueria El Pavo Feliz stall in Merida, Mexico

I started off with this tasty pair of salbutes. If I remember correctly, one was castacan and the other was lechon al horno.

Salbutes in Merida

As was often the case, my initial order wouldn’t be enough so I’d have to get another. What you’re looking at below is a delicious relleno negro salbut. Pavo (turkey) is a specialty here so I recommend trying this.

Taqueira El Pavo Feliz opens from 5AM till 12NN so I suggest coming here for breakfast as early as you can.

Relleno negro salbut in Merida

Taqueria El Pavo Feliz

Address: Local 122 y 123, Calle 65, esquina con Calle 60 S/N, Centro, 97000 Merida, Mexico
Operating Hours: 5AM-12MN, daily
What to Order: Salbutes, panuchos, tacos, tortas
What I Spent: MXN 60 with a drink

PARQUE DE SANTA ANA

15. Parque de Santa Ana Food Stalls

Parque de Santa Ana is a park located about a 15-minute walk from the main square. The park itself isn’t all that interesting but it’s worth a visit if you’re looking for cheap eats in Merida. It’s home to a cluster of food stalls offering Yucatan food at reasonable prices.

Parque Santa Ana food stalls in Merida

You’ll probably find around a dozen food stalls here selling pretty much the same dishes. No single stall seemed more popular than the others so I just randomly picked one.

I do advise on avoiding any stalls with overly aggressive touts. Places like that are aggressive for a reason.

Food stalls with plastic tables and chairs in Merida

After that fantastic queso relleno at Cheen, I wanted to see what the same dish tasted like at a cheaper place so I tried it here.

The tomato sauce and k’ool tasted similar but the main difference was in the queso de bola. It was hard and clearly wasn’t heated to make it softer and a little melty. I recommend sticking to antojitos at stalls like this.

Stuffed Edam cheese

The ground pork filling was also a bit dry and not as well-seasoned.

Queso de bola stuffed with ground pork

This agua de chaya con piña, on the other hand, was delicious. Up to this point, agua de jamaica (hibiscus) was my drink of choice in Mexico but in the Yucatan, it was chaya.

Agua de chaya con piña in Merida

Parque de Santa Ana

Address: C. 60 y 45, Zona Paseo Montejo, Centro, 97000 Merida, Mexico
Operating Hours: Varies per stall

PLAZA GRANDE

Plaza Grande refers to the zocalo or main square in Merida. Nearly every major city we’ve visited in Mexico has one.

Merida’s zocalo is no different from any other zocalo, at least on most days. On Sundays, it turns into the most vibrant part of the city. Keep reading to learn why.

16. Merida en Domingo (Merida Sunday Market)

Sunday is my favorite day in Merida, and Merida’s Plaza Grande is my favorite place to be on a Sunday. From 11AM till around 9PM, the streets are mostly closed off to vehicular traffic so people can enjoy the street food and handicrafts that go on sale in and around the zocalo.

Take a stroll along the perimeter of the zocalo and you’ll find these food stalls set up with tables and chairs just off the sidewalk.

Merida en Domingo food stalls

I walked all around the zocalo and only one side didn’t have food stalls set up. If I remember correctly, it was the only side where cars were allowed to pass.

Merida en Domingo food stalls

You’ll find a few roadside vendors selling a variety of Yucatecan and Mexican antojitos like salbutes, panuchos, tacos, kibis, polcanes, and marquesitas. I didn’t try them but these octopus-shaped fried hot dogs with french fries were quite popular.

Fried hot dogs and french fries in Merida

Marquesitas are among the most popular street snacks in the Yucatan. You’ll find them sold from mobile carts (commonly at night) in different cities throughout the Yucatan like Merida, Valladolid, and Playa del Carmen.

Marquesitas are basically rolled-up crunchy crepes filled with a variety of sweet ingredients like chocolate, cajeta (dulce de leche), seasonal fruits, and jam. The most classic version is filled with Nutella and shreds of grated queso de bola.

Marquesitas in Merida

If you’re fond of Lebanese food, then this Yucatecan snack may be familiar to you. It’s called kibis, and it’s basically the Mexican version of kibbeh, a Lebanese meatball-like dish made with spiced ground meat and bulgur wheat.

Kibis in Merida

The same stall that sold kibis had polcanes as well. It’s a pre-Hispanic Yucatecan snack made with deep-fried masa and ibes (white beans) patties.

Polcanes in Merida

If you like Mexican tamales, then you need to try tamales colados. It’s a Yucatecan version of tamales made with strained corn masa dough. It’s known for its silky smooth texture that’s softer and more delicate than any other type of tamales. This alone is worth the trip to the Sunday market.

Tamales colados in Merida

Merida en Domingo (Merida Sunday Market)

Address: Plaza Grande, C. 60 S/N, Centro, 97000 Merida, Mexico
Operating Hours: 11AM-9PM, Sunday

Dessert Shops

The one thing that surprised me most about Merida was the intense heat. The Yucatan Peninsula experiences a more tropical climate so diving into refreshing desserts and drinks will feel like a dip in a cenotes.

17. Dulceria y Sorbeteria Colon

Dulceria y Sorbeteria Colon is a popular ice cream and pastry shop in Merida. They sell different types of pastries, sweets, and ice cream, but I was here specifically for their champola.

Popular throughout the Yucatan, a champola is basically a type of milkshake made with pureed whole fruit like lemon, mango, strawberry, and mamey. My server recommended I get the coconut which is one of the most traditional flavors. My god was this refreshing!

Coconut champola at a restaurant in Merida, Mexico

Dulceria y Sorbeteria Colon has multiple locations. I went to the branch along Paseo de Montejo but they have an outlet right at the zocalo as well.

Dulceria y Sorbeteria Colon restaurant in Merida, Mexico

Dulceria y Sorbeteria Colon

Address: C. 56 47A, Zona Paseo Montejo, Centro, 97000 Merida, Mexico
Operating Hours: 10AM-12MN, daily
What to Order: Champolas
Expect to Spend: MXN 55 per champola

18. Paleteria Las Rellenas de la 60

Paleta is Spanish for “popiscle”. I usually prefer scoops of ice cream over popsicles but these paletas nearly changed my mind.

Rellena means “stuffed” or “filled” so Paleteria Las Rellenas de la 60 specializes in popsicles stuffed with different ingredients. They have different flavors of popsicles made with either milk or water.

Popsicles made with milk can be stuffed with cajeta, Bailey’s liqueur, or Nutella, while popsicles made with water are filled with chamoy, a Mexican sauce made from fermented fruit.

Pictured below is a paleta de leche made with Mexican chocolate. It’s stuffed with rompope which is a type of Mexican eggnog. I kid you not, this was one of the best popsicles I’ve ever had in my life.

Oaxacan chocolate paleta in Merida

Here’s a look at the rompope filling. This Mexican chocolate is just one of two flavors you can get filled with rompope. The other is vanilla.

If you like chocolate and eggnog, then you NEED to try this.

Romope filling inside a paleta in Merida

After finishing my rompope-filled chocolate popsicle, I couldn’t stop at just one so I got this elote paleta de leche right after it. Can you guess what it was filled with?

Elote paleta in Merida

It was filled with cajeta or dulce de leche. Yummers!

Cajeta filling inside a paleta in Merida

I went back to the shop the very next day so I could try their paletas de agua. This one was watermelon filled with chamoy. This was good too but for me, not nearly as good as the paletas de leche.

Watermelon paleta in Merida

Here’s an inside look at the chamoy. It has an interesting sour-salty flavor that goes well with fruit-flavored ice creams.

Chamoy filling inside a paleta in Merida

As described, it can get brutally hot anywhere in the Yucatan so places like Paleteria Las Rellenas de la 60 will feel like an oasis in Merida.

Paleteria Las Rellenas de la 60 popsicle shop in Merida, Mexico

Paleteria Las Rellenas de la 60

Address: C. 60 399A, Centro, 97000 Centro, Merida, Mexico
Operating Hours: 11AM-10PM, daily
What to Order: Paletas
Expect to Spend: MXN 25-30 per paleta

LOCATION MAP

To help you navigate to these restaurants in Merida, I’ve pinned them all on the map below. Click on the link for a live version of the map.

Merida restaurants map

FINAL THOUGHTS ON THE BEST RESTAURANTS IN MERIDA

This Merida food guide focuses solely on Yucatecan cuisine. We prefer local food most of the time but you can find many good international restaurants in Merida centro as well.

One area that often gets mentioned is Parque Santa Lucia. This small park a few blocks north of the zocalo is home to a few highly recommended international restaurants. I went there during the day and if I remember correctly, I saw an Argentinian restaurant, a French restaurant, and maybe one or two Italian restaurants.

Based on what I’ve read, Parque Santa Lucia is dedicated to Yucatecan trova musicians. Every Thursday night, musicians gather at the park to play classic songs from the traditional Yucatecan serenade. It’s a popular event so I suggest getting there early if you plan on having dinner at one of the restaurants around the park.

And with that, I’ll end this food guide and wish you many memorable meals in Merida. I hope you enjoy these restaurant recommendations as much as I did. If you have any questions or suggestions, then please do let us know in the comment section below.

Thanks for reading and have a delicious time eating your way through Merida and the Yucatan!

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