The Yucatan Peninsula is a melting pot of history and culture. Mayan, Lebanese, and Latin American culture are all major influences on food in Yucatan. Mayan culture brings a unique array of local seasonings to the food. The influence of the three cultures makes the Yucatan culinary scene both fascinating and delicious. The dishes below are my recommendations of the must-try Mexican dishes to try while visiting.
Sopa De Lima (Better Known as Lime Soup)
This is an amazing bowl of flavor started with a poultry base, usually utilizing turkey. There are spices of cloves and a touch of cinnamon are added to the broth. The key to the next layer of flavor is charred tomatoes, onions and peppers. Fresh chunks of turkey and the use of the sweet limes of Mexico give it that unique flavor, with strips of fried tortillas floating on top.
This is a lovely fried corn tortilla stuffed with black beans. It’s typically topped with shredded pork or chicken. Thin sliced pickled red onion and avocado is added with small bits of fresh thin sliced radishes. Sometimes there is also an addition of a local cheese or a bit of Mexican sour cream. This dish is easily made vegetarian.
Chilaquiles are usually as a breakfast or brunch item. This dish starts with a base of triangle deep fried corn tortillas. Then, it’s topped with a red (rojo) or green (verde) sauce topped with local cheese, red pickled onions, and sometimes avocado or sour cream. The red sauce is a base of tomatoes, onions and garlic. The green sauce is cooked tomatiles, garlic, cilantro, chilis and onions. Any of the dishes can be served with chicken or marinated pork.
This is a favorite street food found in the Yucatan in every city. It is a thin crispy crepe topped with melted cheese. You get to choose your favorite sweet topping to create a savory-sweet taste. The most popular topping is Nutella, but you can also choose chocolate, peanut butter, or caramel. The crepe is then rolled up and placed in a cone like paper so one can walk and snack. It’s a perfect treat for on-the-go.
Chili en Nogada
Chili en Nogada is a seasonal treat usually made in September. It’s one of the most flavorful foods. The dish represents all the colors of the Mexican flag. A roasted poblano pepper is filled with a ground pork or beef mixture, and there are added carrots, potatoes, zucchini, and dried fruit, such as raisins. Then ground walnuts are added and all is sautéed in a tomato base. The poblano pepper is filled and baked with this mixture and served with a walnut crema sauce and persimmon seeds.
Sea Snail Ceviche
Ceviche is a local delicacy because the Yucatan has such an easy access to the sea. This dish has lime marinated shrimp, octopus, and a black shelled sea snail in it. Then added are fresh local chopped onions, tomatoes, and cilantro. The dish is served with fresh fried tortillas chips. This dish is typically served in the Riviera Maya region.
Tacos al Pastor
While visiting Mexico the menus will offer all types of tacos. The al pastor taco is a marinated pork cooked on a large spit and then sliced when tender. The marinate is made from dried chilis, pineapple, cumin, cloves, and a touch of cinnamon. When served, it is sliced off the spit and usually served on a corn tortilla with onions and fresh pineapple.
This is a signature dish in the Yucatan utilizing pork.
The pork is pounded out thin and marinated overnight in sour orange juice, limes, and garlic. Red onions are cut up and soaked in the same mixture for a delightful pickled flavor. The pork is grilled over high heat to cook quickly. This dish is usually served with rice, black beans, and corn tortillas. The pickled onions and different sauces are also served with it.
Chiles Relleno is another poblano pepper dish that you might want everyday. A roasted poblano pepper is filled with local Oaxaca cheese. After it’s stuffed with cheese, it is dipped in a batter and then deep fried.
This meal is served on a garlic tomato based sauce with rice and refried beans. As always, sauces range from fiery hot to a mild cilantro or avocado sauce, which allows you to adjust the heat.
This dish is traditional in the Yucatan and fun to watch being made. It’s made of marinated succulent pig, which is then wrapped in banana leaves and cooked in an underground pit. So, the marinade utilizes the local juice of sour oranges, garlic, achiote paste, thyme, oregano, vinegar, onion, salt, and sugar. The meat is wrapped in banana leaves to add to the flavor and protect the meat. It is cooked in the covered fire pit overnight and then the meat is shredded in the morning. This dish is usually served with corn tortillas, red pickled onions, and black beans.
You can check out some of these amazing dishes and more on our queer Mexico tour, Gay Cancun: The Rich Culture of the Yucatán Peninsula. Join us for a stay at the luxurious 5-star hotel, Maroma, A Belmond Hotel and enjoy all the wonders that Mexico has to offer. From a cenote tour to the Maya Ruins of Tulum, you’ll have an amazing time exploring Mexico with a group of queer friends.