Xcalak Restaurants & other food options


Unless you’ve traveled extensively in the Third World, your first visit to a restaurant in Xcalak may be an eye opening yet ultimately, just as likely a pleasurable experience. Do not expect a menu and don’t be surprised to find dirt floors, stick walls but some surprisingly good food. When you’re ready to order, simply ask what they have that night and go from there.

There is very little advance prep work done in most local restaurants. In fact, the cook will probably begin preparing your meal from scratch when you order, so don’t be too impatient.

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We have found that the seafood, including conch, a local specialty, is usually extremely fresh and well prepared. Most restaurants will also usually have a chicken and pork entree to choose from. There is a lot of new construction going on in Xcalak so by the time you read this; there may be more restaurants than we have listed here to choose from. In fact, we haven’t had a chance to check out several of the newer places listed below.

Prices at most in-town restaurants will be similar with breakfast costing $2 to $4 and dinners other than lobster, around $5 to $8. The price of a lobster dinner can vary from $12 to $15 depending on the price set at the local fisherman’s co-op. On our most recent visit, beers and soft drinks were about a dollar.

Our all-time favorite Xcalak restaurant is Capt. Caribe’s, located on the waterfront just south of the in-town pier. The owners are Tito, a local boat captain and his wife, Ma Bayyah. The restaurant may or may not still have a sign that says they are open for breakfast (at 8:30am), lunch and dinner but frequently you will find them closed (even at dinner time.) In fact, on occasion when we’ve been to Xcalak, it was never open. We hope that’s not a permanent condition. If you pass by and see a light on, be sure to try this place. The seafood is well prepared and reasonably priced. We’re not sure if it’s because the chicken is free range, just extremely fresh or for some other reason but believe us when we say that the fried chicken at Capt. Caribe’s is about as good as it gets.

In the same general area you will see Brisas Del Mar. This place was closed for some time while being remodeled. We haven’t eaten there since it re-opened but it used to be pretty good although slightly expensive by Xcalak standards. The owner is Luz Maria, a pleasant friendly lady.

And now for something completely different. A few years ago, Chef Marla Stiles and her partner Linda Bestard arrived in Xcalak from Ontario, Canada and set about applying French cooking concepts to local ingredients. The result is the Leaky Palapa Restaurant, a restaurant unlike anything that you might expect to find in a setting like Xcalak and one which has turned into a favorite of locals and tourists alike. Located near the office of the Harbor Master.  One note:  before you get your heart set on eating at the Leaky Palapa on your next visit, check your calendar as the restaurant is only open for about half the year.

Restaurant Toby serves a changing local menu including tacos on Friday nights and special menus for some special occasions (like chili dogs for the Superbowl.)  Like most places in town, Toby serves home made corn and flour tortillas, which are hard to beat.

Xcalak Caribe is located on the second floor of a building on the waterfront. Our friend Alan Treat, a native of South Carolina and original owner has moved on but his former partner and Xcalak native Adolfo (who also owns the El Paton store) is still there. The menu here is a bit limited but they serve a nice ceviche and good fried fish. Not sure if Alan took his computer or not. If not, you may be able to check your email here. This place is really more of a bar than a restaurant

When most other restaurants are closed you will find Sylvia’s Restaurant open. Along with convenient hours, we are happy to report that the food there is usually pretty good. The restaurant is located on the main business drag a couple of blocks off the waterfront. From the road, you will see three or four white plastic tables in a well lighted screened in patio attached to a residence. As you enter, you’ll be looking right into the family living room. We’ve had and liked the chicken soup, conch, pork chops and fried fish here.

If you are lucky enough to have landed some, any of the restaurants in town will prepare seafood that you might have caught for a very reasonable set up charge.

A taquiria has reportedly opened next to the San Jordi store in Xcalak. At this writing, we haven’t tried the food there yet but the sign indicated it was open on Friday and Saturday nights only.

Many of the hotels and resorts located north of town not only offer food service to their quests but to walk in trade as well. We’ve eaten at several of these places and can report that typically the food is very good but will likely be a bit more expensive than what you will find at most restaurants in town. If you’re planning on eating at any of these places you need to make a reservation either in person or by VHF radio (channel 16). While many would tell you that they would like 24-hour notice, most can accommodate dinner guests if you let them know by 4pm.

Playa Sonrisa (formally Villa Caracol), owned by Cindy and Don “Murph” Murphy is several miles north of the village. They offer fish, steak, chicken, pasta, shrimp and lobster (in season), although not all of these are available every day. The prices range from $12 to $20 per person. Dinner is usually served from 7 – 8pm but can be ready earlier if desired. Lunches are also available with advance notice.

The owners of Tierra Maya, ask diners to radio ahead for reservations by 3:00pm. The last time we checked, prices ranged from $95 pesos for fish, chicken, pork or conch to $110 for shrimp and $185 pesos for lobster. Meals come with a soup (different every day) and desert (also different every day). The entrée is served with a vegetable of the day and rice.

Costa De Cocos is located closer to the town and offers meals and prices similar to those listed above. It is the oldest and best-known cabana hotel in Xcalak and is one of the few hotel restaurants that can usually accommodate walk-in dinner guests (without a reservation.)

Your Options for bars in Xcalak are a bit limited. Most of the beach resorts will have some sort of bar set up, usually on or near the beach. If you’re up for some local color, Melchor’s is a popular in town watering hole and gringos are welcome there too. Melchor will sometimes show big sports events received via his satellite dish.

When he left Xcalak Caribe, Alan Treat opened the Maya Village Cabanas on the beach just north of the bridge out of Xcalak. We haven’t been by since they opened but understand that Maya Village also includes the open air bar Alan’s Folly 2. Occasionally, Alan hosts cookouts on the beach on some weekend nights. Chance’s are that if you go there, you’ll hear Jimmy Buffet on the stereo.

And as mentioned in the restaurant section, Xcalak Caribe has been a popular spot with gringo visitors and a good resource for a wide range of local information.


If you’re staying at a hotel or resort, grocery shopping is not going to be a huge concern for you on a visit to Xcalak. But if you are staying in a house, like we usually do, you’re not going to be a very happy camper if you wait till you get there to do your shopping.

While some groceries are available locally, you should plan on bringing most of your supplies with you. One of your best options for picking up everything you’ll need on your drive down is the Chedraui Superstore in Playa Del Carmen, which is about 68 km or 45-50 minutes south of the Cancun airport. When you reach Playa, go through the first light at Ave Constituentes. Be sure to get in the left lane so that you can take a left at the 2nd intersection light onto Ave Juarez (before you pass the store and find yourself unable to get across 4 lanes of traffic on 307). Go 1/2 block and Chedraui will be on the right a block south of Ave Juarez.

San Francisco Assis is another large grocery store in Playa Del Carmen. From Highway 307, you turn towards the waterfront at the main entrance to the town and then take a left at the stop light after the Pemex gas station. Stay on this for about 8 blocks and the store will be on your right. This is a large grocery store with just about anything that you might want to bring down except beer in return deposit bottles.

Your best price on bottled beer will be from a distributor, but if you’re in a hurry, there is a store across the street from San Francisco Assis that carries most of the popular brands.

If you don’t want to stop in Playa, there is also a San Francisco Assis in Tulum.  While it is not as large as the two super stores in Playa Del Carmen mentioned above, it is conveiently located right on Highway 307.

There is a good fruit and vegetable store and a small grocery store with a very limited selection in Felipe Carrillo Puerto. Both are located on Highway 307 about 2 blocks past the in-town gas station. Felipe Carrillo Puerto is one of the last convenient spots to pick up ice and beer as well.

You will pass citrus fruit stands along the road in the midst of the orchards near the town of Limones. If in season and they are open, do yourself a favor and buy a bushel bag of oranges for about US$2.

Our normal eating routine when we stay at our house in Xcalak is to plan on eating breakfast and lunches at the house on most days. On a weeklong visit, we also will eat dinner at home several nights but we find we enjoy the visit to town some evenings to just get away from the house for a few hours.

Ice is usually available in some form in Xcalak but you should bring or buy a cooler(s) and pick up plenty of extra ice on your drive down.

Drinking water in 5-gallon bottles is available in Xcalak and from the grocery truck for about $15 pesos (with bottle exchange.)

Your best and most convenient local source for groceries and supplies are several grocery trucks that drive the beach road several times per week. The trucks usually carry fresh produce, eggs, milk, bread, drinking water, gasoline and a wide range of supplies as well. Even if you don’t see it, ask the truck vendor for anything you need. It is amazing just how much they pack into those trucks.

Recently, an expatriate American couple living in the nearby village of Pedro A Santos has started to deliver some very good beef products and baked goods on Thursday afternoons.

There are a few small stores in town to visit for groceries. Most stock soft drinks, beer, eggs, milk and a few canned goods.

The best source for ice and purified water in Xcalak is at Melchor’s (located across the street from the store El Paton in town) but you can also sometimes find both at San Jordi. One of the grocery trucks also sometimes carries blocks of ice for sale.

Very near the town square is a cinder block building housing a store operated by the local fisherman co-op. This will probably offer the best selection of groceries in town and may even have some fresh fish.

If you are planning on buying bottled beer by the case anywhere in Mexico, you will quickly realize that the bottle deposit costs as much as the beer does. Soft drinks and bottled beer by the case and bottled water are available at Melchor’s

There is a small bakery in town. It’s not hard to find but with no street names a little hard to give directions so we suggest that you ask for directions once you are in town. “¿Dónde está la panadería?” The selection will be limited but the baked goods you will find are usually fresh.