The island of Cozumel is home to roughly 100,000 people. The island also plays host to nearly 10,000 visitors a day that arrive on cruise ships, and it looks as if that number is only going to continue to grow. The island is also a hub for divers from around the globe who come to enjoy its warm waters and amazing coral reefs, amongst others who just enjoy the many charms and beauties the island offers.
With so much tourism on such a little island, where does everyone eat? Here are a few of the places to hit while you’re on the Cozumel, even if your stay is brief.
There is a wide variety of fare available to please even the pickiest palate. The first question to ask yourself is what TYPE of food do you want? We will break the various restaurants down into some categories, so you can make a choice based on the desired cuisine.
MEXICAN & SEAFOOD
There is no way you can visit Cozumel and not try the deliciously fresh seafood! There are many options, with menus generally offering a combination of seafood and Mexican cuisine.
Open Daily 5pm – 10pm This is a beautiful location for a sensational dinner in Mexico. Kinta puts a contemporary spin on the staples of Mexican cuisine and uses only the freshest of ingredients. Try the delicious, handcrafted dishes from their own wood fired oven: ribs, pork chops, etc. The setting is fantastic as well–you dine outside under the trees, in a garden-like environment, with pretty decorations and lighting. This is definitely a good choice for a special evening.
Open Daily 5pm – 10pm
Kondesa is another fantastic dining option that’s not too far removed at all from Kinta. The two restaurants share the same chef, Kris Wallenta. This restaurant is perhaps a little less fancy, but you’ll still enjoy an amazing outdoor dining experience under luxuriant trees, and you’ll be catered to by a very friendly and attentive staff. Chef Wallenta makes creative dishes that combine traditional Mexican flavors with a delicate balance of Mediterranean and Asian influence.
Open Daily 4pm – 2am
A delicious, fine dining experience on Cozumel is available at this new gem of a restaurant. The restaurant is a quaint blend of historical features with modern touches. As you dine, a projector screen displays old pictures of the island and right next to that is a live DJ booth. It’s tastefully done, though, in no way is the music overpowering. As for the food, it’s outstanding and beautifully presented.
FUN FACT: “Jacinta” (pronounced Ha-Seen-Ta), is the grandmother of the family that owns the restaurant. It’s her home where the restaurant is located.
Open Daily 8am – 10pm
A colonial-style hacienda set in beautifully maintained grounds is what you’ll discover when you arrive at Casa Mission. It’s a sprawling property and the restaurant serves up delightful views as well as food. As you take a step back in time, you’ll be treated to delicious Mexican dishes in a traditional Mexican style. Not located in a common touristy part of the island, the property has its own relaxing and charming ambiance. One other unique feature of Casa Mission is the free tequila tour, where you will sample 8 different types of tequila and be educated on the varieties. (The tours leave upon request at your leisure.)
PESCADERÍA SAN CARLOS
Open Daily 12am – 6pm
The best seafood on the island can be found at this little restaurant that’s off the beaten track. It’s owned by a Mayan man named Diego. The fresh fish and ceviche [seafood marinated in lime juice] is out of this world! The portions are huge and the prices are low (which makes you almost feel bad for getting such an amazing meal), so tip generously. Hit up this spot after a day of diving or being out on the water.
TIP: This is mostly a lunch spot as closes its doors pretty early. It’s easy to see why it’s such a bustling local favorite.
Even if you’re on a Caribbean island, a little Italian fare is always nice to throw into the mix as a change of pace.
Open Daily 1pm – Midnight
Part of a restaurant chain with various locations in the Cancun area, Rolandi’s is a good choice. Here you can literally eat right out on the water, with spectacular sunset views. Take in a totally unobstructed ocean view while enjoying a plate of pasta, lasagna, or a delicious wood-fired pizza. There is also the option to sit inside in air conditioning.
TIP: Sometimes the outdoor patio can turn into the smoking section, so if that is something you wish to avoid, it may be wise to sit inside. (Don’t worry, you still get the incredible views!)
Open Monday through Saturday 11am – 11pm, Sunday 3pm – 9pm
Another option of the Italian variety is Guido’s. It’s probably the most well-known Italian restaurant on the island. It has an excellent downtown, waterfront location and is easy to get to. Guido’s is a popular choice; it has tight seating where things get a little crowded at times. But the outdoor and indoor seating areas make for a very nice atmosphere that complements the scrumptious food.
Open Monday through Saturday 11am – 11pm, Sunday 3pm – 11pm
Sorrisi is loved by many for its amazing, authentic Italian flavors and great service. It has a small menu, but everything is excellent. This little restaurant is elegant and clean, with a true Italian feel. It’s a brick building with wine-inspired decorations all over the place. Try the lasagna, steak and definitely the pizza!
FUN AND FESTIVE
These are a few places that likely many people already know about. They’re often a hotspot for those who like to socialize, dance and drink, with the occasional snack thrown in.
This bar/grill/nightclub is very popular amongst cruisers especially, since it’s so close to the port. It’s known for its fun party atmosphere, loud music and good drinks, and has surprisingly good food.
CARLOS’ N CHARLIE’S BEACH CLUB
Sister restaurant to Señor Frog’s, this a great beach spot where you eat, drink, dance, party, and chill out. It’s complete with water activities, beach palapas and lounge chairs.
This is another tourist watering hole. You can jump in the stunning, aqua blue ocean right outside of Jimmy Buffett’s Margaritaville (the snorkeling is great)! They do have some pretty awesome coconut shrimp, but otherwise it’s just a fun place to hang out and play.