Outside of Tulum’s hotel zone, there are more than enough hole-in-the-wall eateries and late-night street stalls to go around. All places on this list are budget-friendly, locally-owned, and super delicious—most are in Tulum Town, away from the pricier options on the beach.
Once upon a time, Tulum was a remote, laid-back beach town with unpaved roads and very few tourists. These days, it is an international luxury destination for the fashionable and design-savvy.
Despite the influx of all things western and trendy (hello yoga studios, vegan restaurants, and European boutiques), small-town Mexican culture thrives beyond the fancy hotels and beach clubs that you see on Instagram. While you’ll mostly find high-end restaurants in Tulum’s hotel zone, there are still more than enough hole-in-the-wall eateries and late-night street stalls in Tulum Town to go around. Cooks come from all over Mexico to start restaurants in Tulum and bring the diverse flavors of their hometown with them. In our two weeks here, we met cooks from Chihuahua, Pachuca, Sonora, Sinaloa, and more—you’ll truly get a little taste of everything.
Not sure where to eat in Tulum? Keep reading for my full restaurant and street food guide!
Tips for Eating in Tulum
- Food offerings vary drastically by location. There are two sides to Tulum—the swanky, international jet-setter vibe of Tulum’s hotel zone by the beach, and the more local vibe of Tulum Town. Restaurants in the hotel zone tend to be upscale and serve modern Latin cuisine and Asian fusion, with prices on par with San Francisco, LA, and NYC. Tulum Town, while also getting increasingly touristy, is still home to a plethora of authentic Mexican restaurants and street stalls. I tend to favor the latter, so my list reflects this. After all, what’s the point of visiting Mexico if you’re not going to eat Mexican food?!
- Bring cash! Unless you’re eating at the more upscale restaurants in Tulum’s hotel zone, it’s highly unlikely that you can pay with a credit card. Always have pesos on hand.
- Tip 10-15%. Pesos preferred.
- Approach communal garnishes and sauces with caution. I got a mild tummy upset after eating communal salsa and raw onion at a crowded taco restaurant, so eat at your own risk—especially if you have a sensitive stomach.
Best Restaurants, Street Food, and Cheap Eats in Tulum
1. Los Morros
Oh my, I cannot say enough good things about this place. Los Morros prepares local catch from Tulum with the flavors of Sinoloa, a state in the north of Mexico known for its seafood dishes. A recommendation from our local guide Ivy! In her words, “inexpensive and really delicious!”
We tried the El Chingon aguachile (a spicier take on ceviche with raw shrimp, cooked shrimp, and raw scallops topped with ground black pepper, lime, and a spicy brown sauce) and the La Gorda tostada (corn tostadas topped with chunks of raw tuna, octopus, shrimp, and avocado). Everything was so fresh—10/10 recommend. And if you’re looking for a cocktail the size of your head to accompany your meal…their micheladas get the job done.
Located next to the 7-Eleven on the 307 in Tulum, Hidalki is a street stall specializing in goat barbacoa (meat wrapped in agave leaves and slow-cooked), mixiotes (a traditional barbeque meat dish), and consomé (a soup made with meat and bone broth).
The most authentic barbacoa in Mexico is made in Hidalgo State, and the restaurant pays homage to this tradition in its name.
Hidalki was one of the best—if not the best—meal we had in Tulum. And that’s saying a lot. The fatty, rich consomé broth is addicting and useful for tackling a hangover, and everything else was delicious as well. You definitely don’t want to miss this place.
3. Nativo Tulum
A no-frills joint in the Tulum center serving up revelatory seafood tacos. The ceviche is decent, but the fried octopus tacos, fried shrimp tacos, octopus tostadas, and calamari tostadas are just…wow. At 35-40 pesos apiece (around $2), it’s a no-brainer to come here if you’re in town.
4. El Pescador
An outdoor restaurant with a rustic, bohemian-chic atmosphere serving up classic Mexican fare during the day and seafood in the evenings. We tried the grilled octopus and lobster—both were delicious, and we were able to watch our food being cooked in the open kitchen.
El Pescador is a little pricier than the other places on the list, but the portions are generous and the restaurant goes the extra mile to present the food beautifully. It is the perfect spot for a romantic date night.
Mercado Tulum is a small market that is home to a few small restaurants, juice stands, and meat and produce stalls. We ate at Cocina Las Veracruzanas, a restaurant run by cooks from Veracruz serving up seafood and Mexican classics. The other restaurants in the market didn’t look so bad either!
We ordered pozole, a traditional Mexican soup made with pork and hominy, mondongo, a soup made of beef intestines, and barbacoa, a slow-cooked goat stew. All were delicious and cost around 85 pesos, or $4, each.
6. Street Stalls on Av. Satélite & Av. Tulum
If you’re looking for drunk munchies after a long night of partying (which you will be in Tulum, believe me), look no further than the street stalls on the intersection of Av. Satélite and Av. Tulum (Tulum’s main street). You’ll find anything from tortas and hamburguesas to tacos and churros.
Our favorites were churros from Churros la Lupita (we ate here three days in a row) and the stalls serving up hamburguesas. If you don’t know what a hamburguesa is, they are a revelation. A Mexican take on the hamburger, the hamburguesa we ate one drunk night came with a beef patty, cheese, slices of ham, AND a hot dog. Tell me a better drunk food. I’ll wait.
7. Taqueria Honorio
Taqueria Honorio is a now-bustling taco restaurant with humble beginnings as a street stall. It was recommended to us by our friend Ivy, a Tulum local, for having the best cochinita pibil (a traditional Yucatan dish where pork is marinated in achiote, wrapped in banana leaf, and then cooked underground in a special oven called pib) in town, as well as other Yucatan specialties like lechón al horno (roast suckling pig) and poc chuc (grilled pork marinaded in citrus). Apparently they also have a mean breakfast!
8. El Takazo Jr.
A cute, affordable restaurant right off Av. Tulum that is doing wonderful things with cheese. The costras are a must-try (think of a mini-burrito where the tortilla is made of crunchy cheese), as are the melted quesos served with a variety of meat. If they have it, the consomé de res, or beef soup, is delicious as well.
Pinching pennies? The al pastor taco special is just 55 pesos (a little under $3) for 5 tacos, though the meat we got a was a bit dry.
9. El Camello Jr.
If you love fresh seafood in a casual, lively atmosphere, El Camello Jr. is a good choice. We had the ceviche mixto and octopus tacos, which I highly recommend, but the menu is extensive and you definitely won’t be short of options. A small ceviche mixto (pictured below) fed both me and Lenza and cost only 125 pesos, or $6.50.
10. Street Stalls on Calle Sol Ote
In the evenings, Calle Sol Ote (intersecting Calle Osiris Sur) becomes a pedestrian street crowded with street stalls of cheap, local eats.
You’ll find all the usual suspects like tacos, gringas, and empanadas. But what this street serves that I haven’t seen anywhere else are marquesitas, Mexican crepes that you can customize to your wildest dreams. The vendor cooks it for you from scratch, and we loaded ours up with cream cheese, nutella, condensed milk banana, and lots and lots of…shredded parmesan? Very extra. Very delicious.
Taqueria La Eufemia is a funky taco restaurant and no cover beach club serving up Mexican breakfast and yummy seafood tacos (among others—the chicharrón taco is mindblowing). The decor is funky, with leopard print tables and pop culture icons painted on the chairs.
La Eufemia is perfect for bringing a group of friends to day-drink and eat on the beach. It’s also the only affordable choice in Tulum’s hotel zone, and the vibe is very laid back compared to the posh hotels and clubs lining Tulum beach.
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How’d you like my Tulum food guide?
If you visited any of the restaurants above, please share your experience with me in the comments below! And if you have recommendations for delicious and authentic Mexican restaurants in Tulum please let me know as well!