In Part 1 of our look back on our December 2015 trip to Mérida, the capital of Mexico's Yucatan state, I promised to show you the delicious food we ate while in the city. I'm making good on that promise in this post. Simply revisiting our photos makes my mouth water.
Mérida is well known as a haven for foodies, and there are many wonderful dining choices here, with over 600 restaurants listed on Tripadvisor. Yucatecan cuisine abounds, of course, but there are also a wide range of international restaurants of all flavors with many countries of the world represented. Being somewhat creatures of habit, we primarily ended up revisiting places we'd enjoyed on our first trip here a few years prior, though we did try a new lunch spot and found a fabulous new gelato place for treats. Since a tasty breakfast buffet of fruit, cereal, and pastries was served daily at our lovely little hotel, we didn't eat any breakfasts out.
The new lunch spot we found was one of the classic Mexican holes in the wall offering cheap eats, a different almuerzo (lunch) special daily, and was packed with locals; always a good sign. I couldn't even tell you the name of this place as we just stopped in as we walked by because it looked busy and inexpensive. We ordered turkey panuchos, our favorite Yucatecan treat, and they were delicious!
For dinner, we enjoyed returning to Hennessy's Irish Pub on the Paseo de Montejo, one of the spots we'd enjoyed on our first trip. In addition to traditional Irish fare and a lengthy beer menu (of course!), they offer lighter salads and appetizers that hit the spot after a heavier Yucatecan lunch. And by eating a lighter dinner, we saved room for gelato for dessert!
We ate dinner at Hennessy's twice. The first time, after our lunch of panuchos, we enjoyed loaded salads. These obviously aren't exceptionally low in calories, but at least they offered the veggies we were craving.
On our second visit, we shared a couple of items from the appetizer menu, and they were as delicious on the palate as they are to look at. The top one is beet salad with sprouts and spiced nuts, but I can't recall the bottom one; I think a fish cake of some sort, with salads on the side. (Note to self: It helps if you don't wait over a year to blog a restaurant!) I do recall that they were both specials that evening.
We celebrated Barry's birthday while we were in the city. For his birthday lunch, we returned to one of our favorite spots from our first visit, the well-known Restaurante La Chaya Maya. Of course we had to go for panuchos again, and Barry enjoyed one of the chaya-pineapple drinks they are famous for and some chaya soup. A perfect lunch for the birthday boy!
For his birthday dinner, he wanted casual, so we re-visited another spot from our first trip. El Chile Habanero serves Mexican and Latin food but also pizza! And we've never seen anyone but locals inside. Their specialty is the Pollo Afrodite (Aphrodite Chicken), heavy with fruit. And of course, margaritas! They have 2x1 drink specials if you arrive early, which suits us just fine, as we eat dinner a lot earlier than most folks in Mérida seem to.
I tried a small Vegetarian Pizza, and it was loaded!
Please stay tuned, as we have one more post on Mérida to share, followed by our jaunts into the interesting "Yellow City" of Izamal and charming coastal Celestún.
Mérida is the capital of the Yucatan state of Mexico and also its largest city, with a population approaching one million.
This is a city that beckons us back for multiple visits, as there is always something to see or do -- or eat! We originally visited Mérida in 2012 while living in Belize and were enchanted by this colonial city, her architecture, her food, and her people, many of Mayan descent.
This second visit, in December 2015, while living in Playa del Carmen, gave us a chance to re-experience many of the places we enjoyed the first time around -- and to discover some new favorite spots.
To get to Mérida, we walked to the ADO bus station, then took a comfortable first-class bus, an approximately five-hour ride. Once in the city, we followed the map we'd drawn and found our hotel. Of course we could have taken a taxi, but as you probably guessed, that's really not our style!
We stayed at the Hotel del Peregrino, which I found on Tripadvisor. We had stayed at a bed & breakfast the first time around but decided to try something different this time. Although a hotel, it was a small one, and did serve a nice buffet breakfast each morning.
The floor in the lobby was gorgeous. Tiles were laid to look like a floral carpet.
Our room on the second floor had two very comfortable double beds and a nice tile bathroom. Despite being in a busy city, the hotel was super quiet and provided a wonderful respite from the hustle and bustle right outside its doors. Rates were very reasonable as well.
I love these Mexican sinks!
Our room was the door on the right.
The residential streets of the city have homes hidden behind impervious facades and often painted in vibrant colors. I wish I had x-ray vision to see what is behind some of these doors!
The old colonial doors are tall and very beautiful to me.
One of our favorite things to do on both our trips to Mérida was strolling along the beautiful Paseo de Montejo. Unlike many of the other streets in the city, where the sidewalks can be busy and narrow, the sidewalks on this divided, tree-lined boulevard are wide, with plenty of space to walk. The 19th-century mansions on either side were previously residential, but most have been commercialized and are now restaurants, museums, hotels, and shops.
I especially enjoyed checking out this new, modern pavilion, an addition to the Montes Molina museum. The project, designed by Mexico City studio Materia Arquitectonica, was awarded the silver medal at the Architecture Biennale 2015 in the Culture category. For more information about the pavilion, check out this article in Yucatan Expat Life.
To give you an idea of the scope of this structure, here I am, looking small!
The famous Monumento a la Bandera (Flag Monument, also known as Homeland Monument) lies along the Paseo at a busy roundabout.
And at night the Paseo was all lit up in Christmas lights. Enchanting!
Mérida is especially beautiful during the holidays,
Stay tuned for more from Mérida, including some of the great food we enjoyed during our visit.
Thank goodness for Facebook. Without it, I might never have discovered a lovely little shop for local, organic fresh produce right in downtown Winter Garden. You see, this special little place is tucked into a cozy alcove on a side street we never normally traverse by foot or bicycle.
We had been buying the majority of our produce at the Winter Garden Farmer's Market every Saturday morning (along with a little at Aldi and Publix, all a short walk from our campground). The farmer's market had great variety but rarely offered organically grown choices, and even some of the produce we assumed would be local to Florida, like broccoli, was actually grown in Calfornia! They do label everything, so you know if you're getting local produce, but we wanted to find a better source for organic and local greens.
That's where Facebook comes in. I happened across a video posted by a visitor to the area over the holidays. He walked all over charming downtown Winter Garden and took video of several spots he visited, like the local brewery, a home decor shop, and an adorable little local produce/health food market called The Farmacy. Who knew? We surely didn't -- but we made swift plans to check it out on our next Saturday morning market walk.
It's housed in an clean little white building with flowers out front. The space is tiny, but...
...for a such a small space, they have an excellent selection. The moment we walked in, we knew we'd found our spot. For the quality of produce, prices are good -- comparable to places where we used to shop in North Carolina, like Carrboro's venerable Weaver Street Market.
They offer a weekly specials in both produce and meats. Great deals!
Just look at all these lovely fresh greens! Most are local and organically grown.
Although the focus is obviously on fresh produce, The Farmacy also has a good selection of meats, cheeses, dry goods, and toiletries.
Here's The Farmacy's Facebook page. Give 'em a like!
Emily & Barry
We're a long-married, early-retired couple who are currently traveling as nomads with no fixed home base. After years of living in North Carolina (Emily's home state), we spent 18 months living oceanfront on Ambergris Caye, Belize, a year road-tripping the US in a Honda CR-V, a year in Playa del Carmen, Mexico, and are now roaming North America in our 32' motorhome, Pearl, following warm weather whenever possible.
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