Cancun

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While it isn’t an official designation, Cancún has one of the world’s largest collections of franchise-based restaurants. You’ll find just about every U.S.-based restaurant chain represented here, ranging from fast food establishments, like McDonald’s, Subway, Domino’s Pizza, and KFC, to mid-priced chains, including TGI Friday’s, Hard Rock Café, Planet Hollywood, Bubba Gump Shrimp, Hooters, and Outback Steak House. Even the upscale restaurant chains have locations here, including Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse. If you look hard, you will find a few locally owned and operated restaurants, some featuring authentic Mexican cuisine, but they’re often hard to come by, especially in the Hotel Zone, which is where most tourists tend to stay. Also, many of the hotels and resorts have their own mid-to-high priced dining establishments.

Top Restaurants in Cancun

Carlos n' Charlie's

Come for dinner and stay to dance late into the night to the latest American pop songs and classic favorites at this always-crowded Mexican restaurant-cum-nightclub. For decades (since the 1970s), Carlos n’ Charlie’s has been the place for spring breakers and adult vacationers alike to drink and party the night away. It’s one of the most popular nighttime hotspots in Cancún (and for good reason). The atmosphere is casual, and the prices are reasonable. While the restaurant is family-friendly, the club is definitely for adults-only.

Blvd. Kukulcan, Km. 8.5, 011-52-998-883-4468, www.carlosandcharlies.com
Tags: nightlife | trendy | dancing

Cenacolo

Diners can watch their pizza and pasta being made at this reliable and authentic Italian spot that also has a lengthy wine menu. House specialties include Angus beef filet “Tagliata,” fettuccine Bolognese, and spaghetti with asparagus, shrimp, and zucchini. The dining room is elegant and sophisticated.

Kukulcan Plaza, Blvd. Kukulcan, Km 13, 011-52-998-885-3603, www.cenacolo.com.mx
Tags: family | moderate | trendy | italian | notable wine list

El Tacolote

Choose from a selection of authentic Mexican fajitas, tacos, and grilled meats at this taqueria that serves homemade spicy salsa and warm tortilla chips with every meal. For more than 25 years, El Tacolote has been a top pick amongst families vacationing in Cancún. The food is delicious, the service is friendly, and the prices are affordable. For people looking for American fare, basic hamburgers and steak dishes are also served.

Ave. Coba 19, Sm 22, 011-52-998-887-3045
Tags: family | budget | editor pick | great value | mexican

La Destileria

Tuck into Mexican seafood and meat dishes, such as shrimp in tequila lime sauce, at this spot decorated like a traditional hacienda. Tequila lovers can sample from a menu of 150 choices. The menu offers a nice selection of chicken, steak, and seafood entrees. Reservations are strongly recommended, especially on Friday and Saturday nights. A lunch buffet is served on weekends.

Blvd. Kukulcan, Km.12.65, 011-52-998-885-1086
Tags: family | seafood | expensive | smart splurge | mexican

La Habichuela

This Caribbean restaurant features a patio with a Mayan sculpture garden and serves up an extensive menu featuring seafood, steaks, poultry, and flambé dishes. Try the grouper stuffed with lobster in a guava sauce or the shrimp and beef fillet flambé. La Habichuela has been a popular restaurant for more than 30 years and has been the recipient of numerous prestigious awards for its food quality, selection, and presentation, as well as the top-notch service.

Ave. Margaritas, 011-52-998-884-3158, www.lahabichuela.com
Tags: family | moderate | seafood | patio | caribbean

Labna

Think Yucatan dishes, like pork sausage with Mayan spices, turkey cooked in pumpkin seeds, and queso relleno served in an airy dining room with high ceilings. Other popular entrees include broiled Caribbean lobster, maculam, pibil pork, grilled fish fillet, chicken in mole sauce, and baked pork knuckle.

Ave. Margaritas 29, 011-52-998-892-3056, www.labna.com
Tags: budget | great value | trendy | mexican

Laguna Grill

Enjoy a combination of killer lagoon views and seafood caught the same day it’s served at this upscale open-air restaurant. Also featured on the menu are a variety of steak entrees served with a contemporary flair. Don’t miss the lobster stuffed with smoked salmon in a coconut crust. The atmosphere is upbeat and sophisticated. There’s also a full service bar here that’s usually crowded.

Blvd. Kukulcan, Km. 15.6, 011-52-998-885-0267
Tags: seafood | expensive | editor pick | smart splurge | trendy

Puerto Madero

This fine-dining establishment expertly serves up Argentinean cuisine. The menu includes an assortment of delicious steaks and ultra-fresh seafood entrees. The restaurant is open from 1pm until 1am daily, and the dress code is casual, but proper. Reservations are recommended. The décor and menu is greatly influenced by the world famous and historic Puerto Madero Restaurant and Bar in Buenos Aires. Puerto Madero is a wonderful place to enjoy a romantic evening or celebrate a special occasion amongst an upscale and sophisticated crowd.

Blvd. Kukulcan, Km. 14, Marina Barracuda, Quintana Roo, 001-52-998-885-2829, www.puertomaderocancun.com
Tags: expensive | steakhouse

Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse

This popular chain of all-American steakhouses has a location in Cancún that serves up mouthwatering steak and seafood within an extremely upscale and elegant environment. If you’re looking for a superior, USDA Prime steak, this is one of the few places in Cancún where you’ll find one. Open daily from 1pm until 11:30pm. The service is top-notch. This is the place to go to celebrate a special occasion and enjoy a truly good meal (served up at a premium price).

Blvd. Kukulcan Plaza, Kukulcan, Km 13, 001-52-99-885-3301, www.ruthschris.com
Tags: romance | expensive

Senor Frogs

This is a popular indoor/outdoor bar and lounge that attracts a younger crowd in their 20s and 30s. There’s a full lunch and dinner menu, and the bar serves until 3am daily. The atmosphere is crowded, loud, and festive – day or night. Oh, and like Hard Rock Café, Senor Frogs has a fully stocked merchandise shop. Live music and karaoke contests are offered almost daily, and the menu is eclectic and extensive.

Blvd. Kukulcan, Km. 9.5 (In front of Chac Mool beach), 001-52-998-883-1092, www.senorfrogs.com
Tags: moderate | open late | cafe | happy hour

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