Chili & Lime: Mexican Culinary Wonders

Mexico is a culinary heaven!  There is so much yummy food that I do not even know where to begin tasting, and once I started, when to stop eating!

At the thought of going Mexico, my mind began to wander and my mouth to water. I was imagining spicy, flavorful tacos con carne asada or tacos al pastor or tacos con puerco. I could taste it in my mouth!  When I got to Cancun Zona Hotelera, hole-in-the-wall places like Tacun did not disappoint.  I went there twice in two days. The pork and beef skirts tacos were so satisfying. The mango margarita made you soooooo happy, and the parillada (a platter of pork, chicken, beef, and cactus), omg, was to die for. The chicken was so well seasoned and flavorful. The pork (which is cooked similar to Shawarma Kebab) was so juicy and to die for. With every bite, every gush of pork jus in my mouth, I was plotting and planning my return.

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The Yucatecan specialities, however, are totally unique. Yes, the Yucatecos also eat devilish habanero salsa and eat everything with tortillas (corn and/or flour), but the Yucatecan dishes are really something else!
Achiotes (the plant that produces red color seasonings used in Pibils) to the Yucatecos are like olive oil to the Mediterranean cuisines.  Indispensable!

Below are my favourite dishes and places (not in order of preference):

1. Panuchos and salbutes are typical Yucatecan food similar to tacos. The best I had was a USD1 dinner for two panuchos in Santa Elena. How good panuchos and salbutes are depends on the seasoning of the meat, how fresh the ingredients are, and how well done the salsa habañero is.

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Hole in the wall place for Panuchos in Santa Elena

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2. Cochinita Pibil in Chaya Maya

Chaya Maya is indisputably one of the best restaurants in Merida. I love the down to earth atmosphere and the local ladies making tortillas fresh in the restaurant. I tried the Chaya drink here (chaya is a meicinal plant with many benefits) and of course, the most well known Yucatecan dish, cochinita pibil. The best meal experience on the trip – hands down!

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3. Principe Tikul Xiu Restaurant

Here I had the best handmade tortillas ever!!! best tortilla ever! I also tried a bite of queso relleno (cheese cooked with meat in bain marie) and poc chuc (another famous Yucatecan pork dish). One of the best meals I had.

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This restaurant is so delicious! They have expanded to Merida and Oxkutzcab. They are initially started in Mani.

4. Pollo Pibil in La Central

I had a memorable lunch in a small restaurant in Santa Elena town. It is family run and a random non-touristy place. I had the pollo pibil. It was to die for!!! It was a long wait on an empty tummy, but it was worth the wait.

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5. La Buena Vida (The Good Life) in the North Akumal Beach

Not the most memorable meal, but it was a nice time enjoying the sun and the sea air with salsa music in the background and margarita in your hands. I did not want to leave. The perfect place to end such a wonderful and busy trip.

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6. For the garlic lovers: mojo de ajo cannot be missed. I had fish mojo de ajo in Celestun. It was flavorful and very light. Very satisfying!

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7. Chaya Tamale in Los Mestizos

Good things happen to those who are greedy! A detour to Izamal ended up in a tiny restaurant called Los Mestizos. I ordered a pork dish (similar to poc chuc – a seasoned grilled pork loin, but in Izamal style – served with blended beans – frijoles). And being greedy, I decided to order a second dish of tamales with chaya leaves. It was very interesting!! I love tamales, and the chaya leaves gave it a different twist.

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8. Sopa de Limon in Mayaland Hotel

Upon recommendation of a reliable friend with good taste, I decided to try the famous sopa de limon in Mayaland hotel. It was an awesome decision! I truly enjoyed every spoonful.

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9. Snacks!!! Botanas!!!

I eat a lot and I eat often. I snacked my way through the trip. All my snacking gave me idea of the title of this post. Mexican food is spicy and flavorful. And limes or lemons are used as flavor combinations in a lot of the food. I suppose spiciness and acidity combine very well. You can see that most of the snacks there burn your mouth like fire and it comes with lime flavors.

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There is no way you eat only one little morsel of these heavenly goodies: ¡A Que No Puedas Comer Una!

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