If you’ve been following me on Twitter, Facebook, or Tumblr, you probably know I was in Mexico on vacation two weeks ago. If you didn’t, now you know, and you’ll probably be reminded for the next few weeks because I came back with lots of Mexican food porn. I’ll try to keep it short, but I love Mexican food, so you never know.
The first few days of the trip, I stayed in Zona Hotelera in Cancun with my mom, and was later joined by David after she left. (Soon after we left for Playa del Carmen, but more on that later.) Zona Hotelera with its powdery, white beaches and crystal clear waters is gorgeous, but also extremely touristy and expensive, so finding good Mexican food that wasn’t overpriced was a bit of a challenge. In the few days we were there though, we managed to find a few gems, and for seafood tacos, the place that stood out was Santos Mariscos.
Santos Mariscos isn’t fancy and located right along Boulevard Kukulcan with no view of the lagoon, it’s not the most scenic of spots. Especially if you sit on the “porch” which is actually on the parking lot of the restaurant where every once in a while you get a good strong whiff of exhaust. However, the tacos are mighty tasty and worth the momentary inconvenience.
David was fond of the Tacos de Pescado al Pastor (MXN $23 / USD $1.75), white fish pastor-style, with cliantro, pineapple, and onions on handmade corn tortillas. I liked the pineapple but wished the fish wasn’t mashed.
Likewise, I liked the Tacos de Pulpo Manotas (MXN $28 / USD $2.13), octopus taco, but wished the meat wasn’t chopped so small.
Much better, were the Tacos de Camaron Baja (MXN $25 / USD $1.90), fried beer-battered shrimp with cabbage slaw on handmade corn tortillas. The shrimp were small, and there was a bit too much batter, but it was fried well, golden and crunchy.
Similarly, the Tacos de Pescado Baja (MXN $23 / USD $1.75), fried beer-battered fish with cabbage slaw, was also crunchy and delicious. And if you notice in the picture above, for the fish taco, we opted for fried cheese instead of a corn tortilla.
WHAT?! Yes, you read that correctly, fried cheese! At Santos Mariscos, you can substitute a fried cheese base (made from a four cheese blend) for the tortilla. Why? Because fried cheese is “light” since it has no carbs. Seriously, that makes no sense, but who cares when you can eat fried cheese under the false pretense of health! And yes, the cheese was crisp, salty, and amazingly snackable. I could have eaten plates of the fried cheese alone. All for my health, of course.
And for condiment lovers, all the tacos come with a basket of salsas (one had strawberries), flavored mayos (plain, habenero, and chipotle), and tamarind. None of the tacos really needed much sauce since it was all well-seasoned, but a little additional heat is always nice.
Santos Mariscos was my favorite for seafood tacos, but also noteworthy was El Fish Fritanga. While it wasn’t as good as Santos Mariscos, it had a great view of the lagoon, and if you’re lucky like my mom and I were, you’ll get a visit from one of the local crocodiles as you’re enjoying your complimentary chips and salsa. By the way, the chips at Fritanga were crunchy and not too oily.
If you do decide to get tacos, shrimp (MXN $24 / USD $1.82) were better than the fish ($20 MXN / $1.52 USD), and breaded was better than the tempura, both of which were tasty but too soggy.
Not good were the pescadillas (MXN $22 / USD $1.67 for 2), small empanada-like turnovers fried and filled with mashed nurse shark. You might be intrigued by the idea of eating nurse shark like I was, but the meat was fishy, similar to canned tuna fish.
Surprisingly, of all the food we ate at Fritanga, the clam chowder (MXN $105 / USD $7.99) was probably the best. Drizzled with olive oil and with bits of bacon (fat and all) swimming throughout, it was heavy but also creamy, salty, and rich; as good clam chowder should be. If there had been more clams and there hadn’t been sand in the one whole clam in my bowl, it would have been perfect.
So depending on what you consider more important, ambience (El Fish Fritanga) or food (Santos Mariscos), the choice is yours. I’d more likely return to Santos Mariscos. Sunsets over the lagoon is a beautiful thing, but so is fried cheese.
Blvd. Kukulkan KM. 12.73
Cancun, Quintana Roo, Mexico