Some weeks ago, a buddy invited me to go to Mexico with a group of friends. Hey, after the year we’ve had w/Covid, I’m like – yup, I’m totally down. I booked my suite and headed for the tropics of Cancun. We ended up staying at Planet Hollywood. It’s a newer hotel and it’s far away from basically everything. It’s about a 45 minute ride from the airport. It’s not in a convenient location for anything except resort living. And here’s where the blessing/curse started.
Don’t get me wrong, resorts are nice. BUT, after a certain amount of trips to various resorts, you’re left with ummm, one feeling. They’re all basically the same. They look great. The accommodations are nice. But, there’s one thing that’s seriously lacking…the food.
Let me try to explain, I’m not really one that likes to travel to see stuff. I honestly don’t care about your hiking trails or mountains. I don’t care about your museums or architecture. I don’t care about your historic homes and breath taking parks. If the food isn’t good, I’d rather stay home! Not that I’m not there to have a good time, because I am. However, the thing that burns my biscuits is to go to a fancy place that looks amazing and the food is absolutely horrendous.
So, I had to take matters into my own hands. I hatched a plan. It wasn’t easy, but I did it. First, you should know, there are absolutely NO taxis sitting and waiting at the hotel. So, you’ll need to have the concierge call a taxi for you. Then, you need to remember, there’s a slight language barrier. Most people in the tourism industry in Mexico speak relatively good English. However, they’ll also take the opportunity to make sure you know a bit of Spanish too.
Enter: Florencio. He was my taxi driver and he’s the one that took me around each day. It was a weird request for him, but by day 2, he totally understood what was going on. Be prepared for that. Usually, when you’re in Cancun, the taxi drivers are used to taking you to a place, waiting, and then dropping you back off to the resort. Telling them to take you to tacos is a bit strange for them. After some conversation, he really thanked me. I didn’t understand why at first. After we talked, he explained that tourism is definitely down. Also, with all-inclusive resorts, the options are limited and most people only want to a ride to the airport. He appreciated my business.
Now, onto the details. Each trip was about $45 for a round trip ride. Not cheap. But, hey, it’s work – so I can expense it. I popped him off with $60 each time. That kept him excited. They take cash in the taxi, so bring cash with you. Actually, every place takes either US dollars or credit card. There was never a need to convert money. Although, you’ll need to convert to understand just how much to pay because the tabs are in pesos. I took pics of each of the receipts so you can see what I mean.
Tacos Rigo, Cancun (5 out of 5 stars)
Tacos Rigo is a super popular place. When people hear of tacos in Cancun, this is one of the spots that is super popular. They do things simple, but they do them in a super great way. I started with a Tamarind Aqua Fresca (which I drank much of while I was in Mexico). It’s a cross between a fruity drink and an Arnold Palmer. It’s hard to describe, but it’s good. I kept it simple. I ordered two tacos (#VSGLIFE) – one pork chop and the other arrachera. Bothe were amazing. They come with nothing more than onions and cilantro. BUT, they have this amazing array of sauces, hot to mild, that you can add. Perfect! For two tacos and a drink, my total was $3.98 USD. A decent meal for $4 – I’ll take it!
Los De Pescado, Cancun (10 out of 5 stars)
Don’t judge me. BUT, I went to another taco joint right after I left Taco Rigo I was kinda feeling seafood. Florencio said he had a great place in mind. He took me to grab a fish taco from Los de Pescado. I’ll have to admit, this was the best fish taco I’ve ever had in my life. I’ll tell you why. First, you can never judge a book by its cover. The bring out a piece of fried fish on a tortilla and that’s it. But, again – it’s the sauces that make the tacos. They have an array. I’d say, try your own combo and see what you like to come up with. I topped my with cabbage, cucumber, tomato, and two types of sauce – one was some sort of avocado mayo and the other was a tamarind sauce. Listen, that tamarind sauce was so good, I’m contemplating flying back to Mexico JUST for the sauce. I also grabbed a “Jamaica.” It’s pronounced Huh-my-ka – it’s hibiscus tea that’s been sweetened – and boy, is it some kind of amazing! If you do nothing else in Cancun, eat these tacos! The whole thing cost $99MXP which equates to $4.99USD. Again, another steal!
El Poblano, Cancun (4 out of 5 stars)
I mean, can you really have a bad taco in Mexico? Not really. This place didn’t disappoint either. The service was a little lacking, but, I think it was because of the language barrier. Plus, I went when the first opened and most of the servers were on the street waving people down to come eat tacos. Oh, and invitation? Sign me up! I actually forgot to take a pic of the receipt, so I can’t remember exactly what it cost. But, given the cost of the other places, I couldn’t have paid more than $6USD for the tacos. As you can see from the pics, these tacos come plain – just meat and a tortilla. It’s the simplicity that make them taste so good. I did have them add melted cheese, then I doused them with the array of sauces and limes they give you. It’s literally life changing. I’ve had better tacos, but these were super tasty. I opted for one of each – because, I couldn’t decide. The one thing they do really well is season the meat they cook. Again, a solid place to stop…probably not my first stop, but certainly not my last.
El Michoacan, Cancun (2 out of 5 stars)
Speaking of last, this is probably the last place I’d go for tacos. Not that the tacos weren’t tasty, because they were. But, they were just okay. There’s not much of an option here. So, if you’re into different styles or meats, they don’t have them here. They have like 3 types of tacos and that’s it. You either eat it or you don’t. They don’t have cheese (such an American addition). It’s just meat, sauce, and a tortilla. That’s it. It really wasn’t even all that exciting. Just a plain taco cooked well…but not jazz whatsoever.
Los Tarascos, Cancun, Mexico (5 out of 5 Stars)
It’s a simple joint, but they do it right. By this time, it was probably day two or three of my taco tour. And, well, I started to learn my lesson. Just grab two tacos and that’s it. Clearly, restraint isn’t my strongest suit. Whew. Well, I ended up heading to Los Tarascos. I must say, it was good – like really good. Some friends joined me and they combined our tab, so I don’t really know what I paid for 2 tacos and a limeade. But, I imagine it couldn’t have been more than $5USD. I ordered the el pastor tacos and I must say, they were worth it. Pastor is great because it’s got this sweet & spicy concoction that’s really good. Plus, they add fresh pineapple to the pork, which is always a winner in my book. The other taco was a steak taco with cheese and salsa. As you can see, it’s just as good as it looks. It’s rich. It’s creamy. The meat is seasoned well. Just a dope spot that does tacos well. Plus, that limeade was a huge hit. I have to say, after I left here, I wanted to grab another fish taco – just one. So, across the street is Los Del Pescado – you know, with the tamarind sauce…so I paid them a visit. I kinda wanna visit right now!
Flamingo’s, Cancun, Mexico (5 out of 5 stars)
There’s probably only one thing I’ll tell you about this place. BRING YOUR APPETITE. They feed you and they feed you well. The portions are HUGE. First, they brought out the seafood to show me what I could get…anyway I wanted it. The problem is that for me, it’s too much food. So, I passed on it. Plus, I knew I wanted tacos. So, I opted for a cocktail – a passionfruit mezcalita. Then, the brought out this shrimp soup – more like a cosomme. It. Was. FANTASTIC!. I mean, it was perfect. Just beautiful. Then, I put in a squeeze of lime, some fresh onion, and fresh cilantro and that made it even that much better. I ordered the shrimp empanadas (cuz who could pass up filled dough) and the shrimp tacos. Hands down, the best food I had in Mexico. The shrimp tacos were perfect. I took them how they came. Normally, I’m a corn tortilla kinda guy. But these flour ones were delish. The sauce. The veggies. The cheese. It just worked. It’s a little pricey, so be prepared. My meal came in at $655MXP which is about $33USD. But, still, totally worth it!
La Parilla, Cancun, Mexico (4 out of 5 stars)
Not that there was anything wrong with La Parilla, because there isn’t. Actually, La Parilla is a stop that I tend to make any time I’m in Cancun or Playa del Carmen. It’s official. It’s also a bit…commercial, in my opinion. That takes away just a bit of the local magic for me. Again, solid food. Solid tacos. you won’t be disappointed. Plus, I feel like it’s a must-try kinda place. For me, it’s a step below some of the grit and grime I expect from my local taco joints. I had the pastor con queso – which was great. I didn’t grab a hold of the beans, rice, or grilled veggies. But, I did manage to enjoy the passionfruit margarita. It’s non-fussy, classic Mexican food in a super festive environment.