Lola Valentina, Isla Mujeres 07-2019

I was looking for a brunch place after the perfect 10am swim at Playa Norte. No daytrippers yet, no sunbeds occupying all the space, no music. Just perfection in the water and scenery. A blogger had said Lola Valentina had the best brunches she'd tried outside of Australia. That's a pretty good accolade and I gave her credit for even knowing Australia's scene.

There's the outside area with fans or an inside bit with blasting A/C. We opted for outside just for the atmosphere. A few lazy cats slept nearby under a table.

The smoothies are actually really expensive. Avocado (avocado, papaya, coconut milk, spirulina, vanilla extract, hazelnut, cacao nibs, beepollen, chia) 140 pesos reads like a dream. It was pretty good although the avocado flavour wasn't very strong. It could be underripe or just their local avocado types being used. But the real test was the food.

- Caribbean benedict (poached eggs, mixed plantain, black beans, avocado, drizzled with hollandaise sauce, served with skillet potatoes) 165pesos - ok the potatoes were really nice. But the rest not so much. Poached eggs were overcooked (1 very much so), the plantains didn't work with the dish as it made things too sweet, and the hollandaise sauce didn't taste right;
- Chilaquiles gourmet (tortilla chips soaked in traditional adobo sauce, sprinkled with cotija cheese, fried eggs and juicy tenderloin) 215pesos - the steak was cooked quite through but maintained some tenderness and was quite nice. The flavour of the tortilla was good too. However it wasn't like the chips were topped with sauce, they were soaked in sauce which meant they disintegrated into a messy thick heap. It wasn't the most pleasant to eat.

I think that blogger needs to eat more breakfasts around the world. This wasn't bad as such, but there are many better forms...

Gelateria Monte Bianco, Isla Mujeres 07-2019

I really wanted to eat gelato at Wabi Gelato in Valladolid. We walked past one evening and it looked pure inside with metal tins and all. However the next afternoon when going to actually eat it, we discovered a sign on the front saying they weren't open that day due to water problems in Valladolid. And we left the next morning - I was so disappointed.

The next stop was Isla Mujeres which as a beach island you would think would have a lot of gelato places to choose from. Sadly that isn't true but it did look like there would be one Italian style artisan on the island.

I tried the pistachio and maracuya. Unfortunately the pistachio was a tasteless waste of time. The maracuya was actually a decent tart passionfruit, but I was too disappointed by then. Shame, Mexico.

Cocina Maya, Valladolid 07-2019

Ok so it isn't actually in Valladolid. It is in between cenote X'keken and Samula, which is pretty damn close to the Valladolid. After swimming in both, we needed some fuel before going back for another turn. It was a Sunday and so it seemed all the Mexicans were about with their large families sharing the water.

There's a few places to pick to eat here, although this looked like a good one with some ladies making the tortillas fresh, a young male manning the barbecue, and the family and children eating their lunches too.

The menu is pretty small, but nothing wrong with that.

- Poc chuc de puerco 65pesos - thin, not very tender, not much seasoning, plain. Quite disappointing meat overall;
- Huevos encamisados 65pesos - fresh corn tortillas were served with the food, but for this dish there is egg inside the two of them. Different.

They did however have the best hot salsa in all our trip (and you get hot sauce/salsa in every single place) with smoky chilli bits and flesh of perhaps aubergine (not entirely sure). That was hot but truly outstanding.

A bit of horchata and I was set.

La Chaya Maya, Merida 07-2019

During the long day of seeing Chichen Itza in the morning and then squeezing in Uxmal in the mid-late afternoon, there was a brief opportunity to find somewhere to eat in Merida. My friend/driver had a recommendation and so we ended up at this restaurant for classic Yucatan food.

It was definitely a large and full and busy restaurant, even with queues in the mid-afternoon as we were leaving. In a couple of areas, some ladies are constantly making the perfect fresh corn tortillas for each of our eating pleasure with the table salsa.

I discovered chaya is a kind of leaf. I wasn't exactly sure what, but Google now tells me a type of spinach. Which makes sense because the food (and chaya drink) did have a spinach flavour but less bitter and more savoury.

- Crema de chaya 71pesos - a thick green, slightly spinachy soup. Very creamy and cheesy. Delicious;
- Mucbil pollo 109pesos - if you read the Spanish text, it says the dreams of a Yucateo is to eat this dish at any time of the year. That may or may not be true, but I can tell you that the dish has very hard, thick crust which is really really difficult and not that pleasant to eat. However inside soft savoury meat and some tomato. It went very well with salsa and hot sauce.

It was nice to have some traditional Yucatan food. The flavours were nice overall and I'm glad I tried a more dishes in their cuisine.

Tacos y Tortas Mexican Snacks, Valladolid 07-2019

I don't know if there is an actual name for the place but that's what is on the sign above the entrance and that's what comes up in Google. It's not the most original. But it does seem like a local place with an elderly male host who was only too happy to serve and cook for us.

- Enchilada mole 75pesos;
- Chile relleno pierno horno 75pesos - a green chilli stuffed with meat.

It was a simple meal and reasonably tasty. Local stuff I imagine.

La Esperanza, Valladolid 07-2019

I did a Google search for elotes whilst in Valladolid and incredibly this one popped up, which happens to be a permanent (I think) stall in the park.

True to the search, they do corn spiced with salt, chilli, lemon, mayo and cheese.

Not bad at all. Although I was disappointed during my entire trip to never find any other varieties of corn.

Campanella, Tulum 07-2019

Second place in a world gelato competition? That's worth a look in 33C heat isn't it?

I tried pistachio and (I think) a yoghurt one. They were fine, the flavours were nice, but there was an ice crystal or two. I wouldn't say it's the second best I've ever had. But it was alright.

Marley Coffee, Playa Del Carmen 07-2019

Bob Marley's son owns a coffee shop (normal coffee shop as far as I saw) in PDC. It's a relaxing space serving smoothies (I had Rocksteady - banana and blueberries 60pesos) and some sandwiches.

It's sort of close to the ferry port, but very close to the ADO bus stop and so was perfect for breakfast while waiting for our bus to Tulum.

Tres Mentiras, Isla Mujeres 07-2019

Finally on the last night of the 2 week holiday, I had the opportunity to go to a mezcal bar to drink the specialty I'd been waiting for. Honestly I probably could have earlier in the trip, but early starts, diving/water sports, being tired, being too hot, being a bit lazy, and not really finding anywhere specifically good was the deterrent.

And so Tres Mentiras even though as a mezcal place, didn't seem to have all that much range and variety that I expected. Certainly the nearby bottle shop had way more varieties.

The mezcal drinks weren't that special to be honest. Although adding the chilli salt to the rim was a spicy and different touch.

Mayan Beach Club, Isla Mujeres 07-2019

To watch the sunset on Playa Norte in Isla Mujeres is something of dreams. Once all the sundecks have been kept, the daytrippers have left, the loud music has stopped blaring, and you just have the warmth of the Caribbean waters under the setting colours of the sun, it truly is perfect. I'm not a fan of beach clubs generally, as it tends to be something you pay for the location more than the quality. However it seemed like a good idea at the time, and the Mayan Beach Club had decent online ratings.

Because of the quiet season, the tables on the beach in front of the ocean was available. Luckily there weren't (too many) mosquitoes to ruin the atmosphere.

The prices are naturally a little higher here, but the overall vibe is fantastic. Not only the things mentioned above, but also a jazz band playing (not too loudly) entertaining us throughout the meal and the food was actually good too.

- Mayan-style fish with coconut milk 241pesos - an expertedly cooked soft fish in a lovely coconut broth;
- Local grilled octopus (from the warm waters of the Yucatan Peninsula) 325pesos - a generous amount of perfectly charred and flavoured octopus which retained a bit of bitey texture;
- Dessert of chocolate and nuts.

A lovely experience complemented by an excellent sunset (as always seems to be the case in the Yucatan).