Eating in Tulum
Tulum is split into two areas - in town and at the beach. Each area has it's own scene. The beach tends to be more expensive, and the food is also a little bit more trendy. Here you'll find all of the places that you read about in the New York Times review on Tulum that prompted you to visit in the first place. The vibe is beachy-jungle-chic. Every hotel is an "eco-lodge" (running off a diesel-fuled generator), every drink is "cleansing" and every bite of food is "nourishing." Despite reading these obnoxious buzz words on every menu, I'll admit that the beach area is pretty dang adorable.
Town is a mix of taco stands, thatch huts with 2x1 margaritas, and mostly average international cuisine. There are some incredible restaurants in this town, so it's important to figure out how much you can fit into your agenda. As is always the case in Mexico, the taco stands rule. But if you really want that pad thai with tofu and a basil margarita while watching the sun set over the water you will not be disappointed.
On the Beach
Maybe because we saw some one propose to his honey on the beach, maybe because the drinks were so good (I feel like they should be at 140 pesos/a pop), or maybe because you feel like you're totally secluded on a perfectly empty beach - but I loved this place. The space is just...pretty. It's really pretty. The food is good (curry crab rangoon - my one and only exception to being a vegetarian), the drinks are tasty, and the scene is pretty mellow. No island band playing the steel drums here. That's a good thing. If you go to the website, just ignore the line "have you been looking for a bean bag with a beautiful view of the ocean...?" I think it's a joke, but you really can't be sure here.
Holy moly, this is the best place ever, ever. Ever. Their food is so good. Homemade pasta, really fantastic wine, a bread basket of the likes that I would have put together myself if I had access to their entire kitchen and no one was watching. The interior decor and design is beyond charming. It's so cute that I would have totally still liked it if the food was terrible. But it was really just the opposite.
When we first arrived in Tulum, I asked our landlord what she thought of Hartwood (since I'd heard so much about it). She told us to skip the line and make a reservation at this place instead. When our friend Kim was in town, we decided to check it out. The food was awesome. The space was really cool - it's basically all outside in the jungle. They are pretty strict with the res rules, so don't try to just show up - but it's very much anti-hype (for now).
In The Town
Let's take a break from the tortas for a moment and discuss something truly fundamental. Ice cream. Campanella has the best gelato that I've yet tasted in the entire country of Mexico. It is simply delicious, especially the cafe flavor. They also have the best croissants in Tulum, which isn't saying much since it might be impossible to recreate the flakey perfection we had in SMA with all of the humidity here, but it's something.
Technically, this would be a "drink" spot since the food is meh and the espresso is insanely good. Definitely the best in Tulum. Order an iced chai with a shot of espresso and the day is off to a raving good start. Sometimes they have bagels, too.
That Taco place...
The one that always has a long line outside, a really good salsa bar and veggie tacos for 7 pesos. It's on the same side of the street as the ADO bus station. It's next to Campanella. The food is really good! It's official name is Antojitos La Chiapaneca. Some one on tripadvisor called the food "very authentic" which strikes me as a funny way to describe Mexican food made by a Mexican person in Mexico. The place next door is equally good, and run by a very charming portly Mexican man who has sampled all of the food and the horchata.