If there’s one thing my husband can do – it’s find incredible value deals on everything – food included. Having lived in Mahahual for several months as slow travelers, my husband Tedly and I have found some great value deals on meals. These are authentic Mexican places that serve downright tasty food!
All prices are current as of the time of this writing, at an exchange rate of 18 pesos per dollar. I am a pescatarian, but meat reviews are included, courtesy of Tedly. Also, prices do not include tips. Please, tip your server.
1 – Best value meals at a beach restaurant: Sulumar
We’ve ordered a wide variety from Sulumar’s menu over the last several months, but we found the best value to be the shrimp fajitas ($4.44). We split one order and we are satisfied – not overly full, but definitely no longer hungry. We also order guacamole often, which is excellent ($2.22). Be sure to get extra limes and salt for that. And when Tedly is really hungry, he’ll also order plain cheese quesadillas ($2.22). Tedly also loves the beer – liters of beer for 40 pesos ($2.22).
We’ve also eaten many other things on the menu here – and all are tasty, authentic Mexican dishes. We have spent more time here at this restaurant than any other in Mahahual.
We have developed a fond liking for all of the wait staff at Sulumar. They especially like Teodoro – and he will miss these guys when we leave. If Jorges, Rudulpho or Sergio are there when you visit Sulumar, please say hello to them from Teodoro and Elena!
Watch out for ants on the beach. They will bite your feet.
You can sometimes see the fishermen coming and going from Banco Chinchorro. They take fish to the co-op, near Sulumar, and pack up supplies to take back to the remote atoll.
Where: On the malecon, between Calles Atun and Almeja.
2 – Best value sit-down restaurant: Fernando’s 100% Agave
Finding a good salad can be tough in Mexico. Go here if you want a pile of lettuce with decent fixins. The ceasar salad has iceburg lettuce, bread-chunk crutons, ball tomatoes and dressing for 70 pesos ($3.88). I have always ordered dressing on the side, and I get my salad with shrimp, another 20 pesos for a total of 90 pesos ($5). It’s a meal for me.
My husband said the chicken burrito is the tastiest in town, with a generous portion of chicken, for 100 pesos ($5.55). He’s also had the steak burrito for 110 pesos ($6.11), and he said it was good, but he liked the taste of the chicken burrito more.
I’ve also had the rice and veggie plate with curry for 70 pesos ($3.88). It’s excellent – flavorful and filling. It’s a heaping pile of various veggies like carrots, broccoli, peppers, onions, tomatoes and more with a hint of curry and soy mixed with a huge portion of rice.
Everyone gets freebies: a shot of tequilla and fruit mix before dinner (I don’t drink, so Tedly gets two shots); a tequilla and coffee shot after dinner; each table gets a small plate of bread, pico de gallo, chocolate sauce, chips and various salsas including tamarindo sauce. The freebies are small, but tasty and impressive.
Fernando has an extensive array of tequillas, as you may have guessed by now, but I’m not a drinker.
Most evenings, Fernando will come to your table and either take your order, or at least welcome you to his restaurant. He is a pleasant gentleman who speaks English.
I have been bitten by ants in the sand under the tables in the back seating area.
Where: On the malecon, near Calle Martillo.
3 – Best value burger, wings and veggie burrito: Nam Nam
Most places that serve veggie burritos load it with lettuce, beans, rice and whatever veggies are on hand. But Nam Nam serves a veggie burrito with soy meat. Sometimes, when I get sick of fresh seafood (rare, but it happens), I crave sinking my teeth into a meaty consistency of salty soy. And this is the place for that. The veggie burrito has soy, onion, peppers, wrapped in a shell with cream and a light salsa topping for 79 pesos ($4.38).
While it satisfies my craving for something substantial and is quite tasty, I like to add a little sauce of some kind, because it can get a little dry if you chomp on one of these and the sun’s still up.
They also serve hamburgers and chicken wings, which cheered up Tedly one day when he was feeling a little homesick for deep fried bird parts. (I can’t understand why.)
Wings were 90 pesos for 10 ($5, not really a bargain compared to bar specials back in the U.S., but hey, this is a remote part of Mexico) and the burger was 70 pesos for a single, or a double for 99 pesos ($3.88 or $5.50). Burgers and wings came with fries.
Nam Nam bills itself as ‘fast food’ but food doesn’t come fast, as Americans are used to. It takes time to prepare each order individually. It’s more of a carry-out restaurant, unless there is a table available in the walkway in front of the store.
Where: Side street right off the malecon, corner of Calle Cherna (the part with no cars) and Calle Huachinago.
4 – Best value fish & chips and veggie fajitas: Nohoche Kay
They have a great veggie fajitas plate. A nice pile of sauteed veggies with rice and a small salad and a stack of tortillas for 80 pesos ($4.44). Tedly likes the fried fish bits with french fries for the same price.
Nohoche Kay has great tasting food – we’ve also had other plates, including fish fillets and a few items on their specials menu. The diablo fillet is my favorite fish dish, but for 120 pesos ($6.66), it’s not exactly the best value deal.
This restaurant is well-known and well-loved by locals and expats who live here year-round.
There is a beach with shallow water across the malecon from the restaurant, but it’s used more for relaxing and having drinks than for eating food.
Where: On the malecon, between Calles Liza and Cazon.
5 – Best value pizza: Arca
This restaurant is new – it opened up during the time we lived in Mahahual village. We have eaten there a few times, including once with a large group of people.
One wood oven pizza can easily satiate two people who are not super hungry. A pepperoni pie costs 120 pesos ($6.66). But, divided by two people, that’s well under $6 each. More important than the price – we felt this was the best tasting pizza in Mahahual.
I had the vegetarian pie, which is great, too!
This restaurant is run by another man named Fernando, who apparently has had other successful restaurants in Mahahual in the past. He told me he plans to add tables and chairs outside on the beach area behind the restaurant, but as of this writing, there is only dining inside a screened area that keeps bugs out (pictured above and below).
This is not Chicago, so it’s not deep dish. And it’s not New York, so it’s not a slice a heaven (hey – I grew up in NY!).
On Friday and Saturday evenings, live music on a keyboard is performed by Italian man named Enzo, and he has a great voice!
Where: On the malecon, adjacent to the outside of Hotel Porto Coral, between Calles Atun and Almeja.
6 – Best value tacos: Loncheria El Primo
This place is one block back from the beach across from the village soccer field and event center. Tasty plate of three tacos for 35 pesos ($1.94). Also, I do like their veggie burrito. It’s large and filling for five more pesos. Not much else to say. (It’s also open at dinnertime, despite its name.)
Where: On Calle Huauchinago at Calle Cherna.
7- Best value breakfast and milkshakes: Cafe Colonial
Tedly had eggs that came with beans, cake, toast, coffee and juice. He said it was very tasty, all for 90 pesos ($5).
I’ve had strawberry and chocolate milkshakes there, for 30 pesos ($1.66). You can mix two flavors for an additional 10 pesos. They give them to you in a one-liter sized tub previously used for yogurt. Genius.
If you order to go, there is a 10 peso charge for the carry-out boxes. We have ordered a milk shake to go, and brought our own yogurt container.
The waiter was extremely pleasant and gave us two postcards of Mahahual with the bill as a gift. I’m not sure everyone gets those, but if so, what a sweet touch!
8 – Honorable mention, not a value meal: Cocteleria de Tio Drope
This place has the best tasting ceviche we’ve had in Mahahual. It gets an honorable mention because it’s more than $6, but so worth the extra few dollars. (This is in The Casitas neighborhood. A description of Mahahual neighborhoods can be found here.)
When we first went there, there were just a few tables on the side of a convenience store. Now, there is a dining area over a convenience store, and the stairs to get up there are on the side of the building. The prices went up a little bit once the upstairs dining area opened.
The ceviche has lots of fresh tomatoes and onion and cilantro in a marinade that makes the seafood so tender and tasty. I can hardly finish a small shrimp ceviche for 140 pesos ($7.77), and Tedly had a tough time polishing off a medium-sized mix of shrimp and octopus for 190 pesos ($10.55).
They do not serve fish ceviche, and all they serve are ceviches or ‘coctails’. They do serve liters of Victoria beer, and Tedly says that’s hard to find here.
In the picture above, see those green peppers sitting on an onion slice? We never realized until a few months ago what we should do with them. Place them in the ceviche liquid on the plate, starting with one, and the liquid turns spicy. Dab the meat into the liquid in the area around the pepper. A Mexican friend showed us how it’s done. For years on vacations to Mexico and other Central American countries, we’ve been burning our mouths trying to eat them straight! Estupido gringos!
We met the woman who makes the food at Tio Drope. She is the sister to Senior Drope. She’s a sweet woman who hopes you’ll come visit!
Where: On Calle Bacalar near Avenida Paseo del Puerto in The Casitas neighborhood. Go up the stairs on the side of the building, pictured above. (Paseo del Puerto is the road leading to the cruise ship dock.)
About this list…
- I get *nothing* in return for my reviews – no discounts, no freebies – zero. Zilch.
- We have not tried every restaurant in Mahahual, and we could have missed something else that is a great value meal! This has simply been our experience.
- As budget travelers, we generally eat out once a day, but not always. We often make meals in our apartment.
- There are many other fine restaurants and bars that cater to cruise ship passengers and offer package deals. For reviews of those, maybe try Trip Advisor or Yelp. As slow travelers who live in the community, we don’t usually visit these.
- Some restaurants, including ones on this list, close on either Mondays or Tuesdays when there is no cruise ship at the dock.
- *One final note – as slow travelers, we pay in pesos for everything. If you pay in dollars, you will pay more for the convenience to you, and the inconvenience to Mexicans. There is no bank in Mahahual, but there are a few bank machines that dispense pesos, not dollars.
Thanks for reading this long list of best value deals in Mahahual! We hope it helps other slow travelers on a budget like ourselves!