Early Bird Specials at 7?
Finding your way around Merida can be challenging but once you get the lay of the land you will begin to discover so many wonderful places to wine and dine. Merida offers so much and the locals know how to eat. Discover all of the local eateries you can because each one is unique in its own right.
Yucatan food is distinctively different from other parts of Mexico, with a strong influence from traditional Mayan food. As well as the classic Mayan dishes, ingredients from colonial occupation have been introduced to create some great fusion dishes. Spanish and Lebanese cuisine are two of the strongest influences.
Merida Eating Hours
Meal times work very differently from American, Australia and the UK. If you intend to get the most out of eating at Merida Restaurants and want the ambiance and experience the locals get, you may have to adjust your eating times.
7am to 1pm – Breakfast / Brunch
The exact timings vary, but typically, brunch style dishes continue to be served later than you would expect. This is because Meridians each lunch later.
2pm to 6pm – Lunch
Some of the most popular lunch spots in Merida Mexico will not get busy until after 3pm. Many of the traditional local bars (Cantinas) are open until 10pm, but main food service will often end by 6 or 7, and it will be snacks (botanas) only after that time.
8pm to Midnight – Dinner
Many evening restaurants don’t open before 7 or 8. Even if they do, it’ll be you and a couple of other Gringos having dinner at 7. Head for dinner after 9 for more atmosphere! If you had a 2-hour lunch at 3pm, you won’t need to eat before 9 anyway!
Types of food
Cochinita pibil is slow roasted pork. Cooked underground, wrapped in banana leaves, baked in a “pib” – the traditional Mayan oven. The classic time to eat this is Sunday morning after the pig has been slow roasting all night.
Lechon is also slow roasted pork made with a different spice blend. Lechon is served with an additional piece of chicharron (Deep fried pork fat – like crackling). But, for the best version, ask for your Lechon “Con Cuarrito” – which includes the dark roasted fat, rather than the re-fried chicharron. The meat is served in your choice of corn tortillas, panuchos or salbutes.
Queso Relleno means “Stuffed Cheese”. Queso Relleno is a hollowed out ball of Dutch Edam cheese – but the stronger type, not the mild kind. The cheese is filled with minced pork, normally spiced with the local achiote. This is then covered in the blanco sauce (a white sauce made from turkey stock, flour, butter and sometimes saffron). To finish, it is topped with a rich tomato salsa. Some restaurants garnish with olives too.
Relleno Negro translates as “Black Stuff”. It really is just a load of stuff (Turkey mainly) thrown in a black sauce made from recado negro chile. It’s not as spicy as it may sound, but some versions carry a medium heat.
The second component of the dish is a giant meatball with a whole boiled egg inside. A couple of slices of this meatball are served with a portion of relleno negro. In some places, they don’t serve the meatball, just a bit of boiled egg. But really, the meatball is an essential part of this traditional Mayan food – so you need to try it.
With so many options available to you and so many wonderful locales that serve them, you are sure to eat your way through Merida and be very satisfied each and every time! Ask the locals where to go and then sit back and enjoy!
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