A Real Taste of Mayan Cooking

Lizaola does give some of his fare a modern spin. For example, the Chile relleno isn't served with poblano peppers – it gets an unexpected sweet twist with bananas. Food & Wine magazine recommended making a reservation to eat here on holidays, like Valentine's Day. New Year's is an extra special evening here, as they celebrate a ritual Fuego Nuevo, or New Fire, dinner. e mock covered cave. You won't be alone, either – you may spot the resident pair of spider monkeys that are always frolicking on site. Try the tuna with sesame seed & cascabel Chile crust, or the classic chicken simmered in mole sauce with beans & rice. Whatever you order, be sure to get a glass of one of the many Mexican wines they offer.


It's impossible to avoid Mayan cuisine on a trip to Riviera Maya in Mexico – while you may not know it, traces of the flavors are present in nearly every dish you savor there. What you may not know is that this region of Mexico is responsible for some of your favorite foods. In fact, Southern Mexico's capsicum annuum species of chile is a core component of almost every spicy cuisine worldwide, & the Mayans have been cultivating high-quality chocolate from toasted fermented seeds of the cacao tree for nearly 3,000 years.

It goes without saying that a luxury vacation to Riviera Maya would not be complete without some authentic Mayan cuisine. So which spots are serving up truly traditional fare? If you want a taste of the culture's real culinary history, here are a couple restaurants that you can't miss:

La Cueva del Chango Dining at La Cueva del Chango isn't your typical restaurant experience. The name literally translates to "the monkey cave," & eating here feels like that's just the environment you're in. As you savor Mexican fare made from local, natural ingredients, you'll be surrounded by lush trees, vegetation & small waterways on the open-air patio, or under the mock covered cave. You won't be alone, either – you may spot the resident pair of spider monkeys that are always frolicking on site. Try the tuna with sesame seed & cascabel chile crust, or the classic chicken simmered in mole sauce with beans & rice. Whatever you order, be sure to get a glass of one of the many Mexican wines they offer.

Yaxche ​You don't have to worry about authenticity at Yaxche: In fact, chef Ramón Lizaola learned some of the complicated Mayan recipes from his mother, which have been passed on through the generations. He did some of his own research, too, spending years looking up traditional dishes & cooking techniques. Try the Cochinita Pibil, which is shredded pork prepared according to Mayan methods in a stone oven, marinated in axiote paste & sour orange, & then served with pickled onions, black beans & handmade tortillas.

Lizaola does give some of his fare a modern spin. For example, the chile relleno isn't served with poblano peppers – it gets an unexpected sweet twist with bananas. Food & Wine magazine recommended making a reservation to eat here on holidays, like Valentine's Day. New Year's is an extra special evening here, as they celebrate a ritual Fuego Nuevo, or New Fire, dinner.



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