A Beach Side Guide to the Best Vegetarian-Friendly Restaurants in Puerto Morelos, Mexico
The beachside town of Puerto Morelos might not be as popular as the neighboring resort towns of Cancun and Playa del Carmen, but the small beach town has a surprisingly booming restaurant scene. We were actually shocked by the extensive array of restaurants, especially when it comes to brunch. Whether you are looking for traditional Yucatan Mexican food (more on that later), Instagramable brunch spots, vegetarian or vegan food, or cuisines from all over the world, this town has it all. Your palette won't get bored easily with all of the options!
We've visited Puerto Morelos three times since early 2020. Every time we visit, we're astonished by the change and development that the town has undergone. Puerto Morelos is in the Riviera Maya, situated just south of Cancun and just north of Playa del Carmen -- two huge foodie destinations that are spilling over into this sleepy beachside town. Usually, when we tell people we were visiting Puerto Morelos, they immediately say, "where is that?" That is all about to change for this relatively sleepy beach town.
As of 2022, Puerto Morelos, Mexico is set to become the next "it" destination for jet-setting vacationers. The restaurant scene in Puerto Morelos already has a solid foundation and has changed completely since our first visit here. We noticed that several restaurants have scrambled to move to better locations in town in an attempt to place themselves in a prime spot for the growth that's expected.
If you are from the USA or Canada, you're probably more accustomed to Mexican food that's commonly found in the North and/or West regions of Mexico. Traditional Yucatan food is a bit different and carries influences from both the ancient Maya civilization and the Caribbean. Here on the coast in Puerto Morelos, you are likely to find some of those regional cuisines, as well as a huge selection of seafood restaurants.
Here are 4 of the most typical Yucatan cuisines we've tried and see on most menus in the area:
Pibil or Cochinita Pibil - pork meat that is marinated in citrus and spices, wrapped in a banana leaf, and slow-cooked for hours. You will traditionally find the pork served on tacos. We did successfully find a vegan and vegetarian version of this dish in Puerto Morelos at Tuch Tlan (see below).
Queso Relleno - okay, this is a dish that you really need to understand before you commit to ordering it! Bre and I both grew up eating chile rellenos -- usually a poblano pepper or green chile stuffed with cheese and fried with a batter coating. If these are the rellenos you are accustomed to, then the traditional Yucatan queso relleno will throw you for a loop! The chef takes a whole Edam cheese ball, hollows it out, and stuffs the ball with pork, peppers, onions, tomatoes, capers, spices, and the weirdest part...raisins. When we tried a vegetarian version of this dish, it was served to us on a plate at room temperature. It's safe to safe we did not care for this dish one bit! It's a confusing combination of ingredients and feels very out of place in the realm of Mexican food. If you try it, let us know what you think!
Ceviche or Puplo Frito Ceviche - since Puerto Morelos is located in the Caribbean, there is a big seafood influence in the cuisine. You will commonly find ceviche and more specifically pulpo frito ceviche. Ceviche is raw fish marinated in spices and heavy amounts of citrus, mixed with fresh tomatoes, onions, and cilantro. Pulpo frito ceviche is fried breaded octopus with citrus, fresh tomatoes, onions, and cilantro.
Sopa de Lima - our only problem with this dish is that eating soup in the heat of Mexico is never ideal. Other than that, this soup is quite delicious. It is a lime-based soup with tortillas, vegetables, and a choice of chicken or vegetarian.
Okay, and now let's get to the exciting part and help you discover the new foodie destination of Puerto Morelos, Mexico. We tried just about every vegetarian-friendly restaurant in town and here were our favorites:
Tuch Tlan - this restaurant is very low-key, easy on the wallet, and offers a large vegan menu with a lot of the traditional Yucatan and Mexican cuisines -- only in vegan form. We went here two times and loved the easy-going vibe. Our favorite dish was the tacos. You can get three vegan tacos for just 65 pesos. They even have the infamous Yucatan pibil tacos -- delicious!
Cafe Layla & Layla Vegan Pizza - a brunch spot that morphs into an Asian fusion lunch spot that later morphs into a creative and delicious vegan pizza restaurant in the evening. We know, you didn't come to Puerto Morelos to eat vegan pizza or Asian fusion, but if you are visiting here for several nights, do yourself a favor and take a break from Mexican food to check this spot out.
We stopped by for lunch one day and enjoyed a juice packed with locally grown fresh fruits and a couple of Asian bibimbap dishes. After eyeing their menu and seeing a picture of their "pink flow" pizza, we knew we had to return at dinner time. It's a pizza with all the standard ingredients: olive oil, basil, and tomatoes, but instead of cheese, they put on a creamed cauliflower topping. Not only does it look really cool, it actually tastes good despite the odd combination of ingredients. Expect to pay 150-200 pesos per dish no matter what time of day and around 50 pesos for a juice of the day.
El Socio Taqueria Naiz - Now this is what you came to Puerto Morelos Mexico for. The owner Gilberto is a kind man who has created a menu packed with creativity and some of the most delicious tacos in Puerto Morelos with plenty of vegetarian and vegan options. On top of that, Gilberto knows how to make a delicious cocktail. We visited here twice to try the various vegetarian taco options, fried avocado sticks, and delicious cocktails. We would generally order the two loaded tacos for 80 pesos and loved the cocktails we tried - El Bob Marley and El Remiks which run about 80-110 pesos.
Local Coffee + Shop - the best coffee in town goes to this place. If you need a good strong delicious brew then head here, you won't be disappointed. The first day we tried this spot we walked in, sat down, ordered some coffee, and skipped over the whole menu to try the carrot cake and blueberry lemon bread. They do know how to make some really decadent treats!
Another day, we decided to give their chilaquiles a try and it was the perfect combination of tangy & spicy and left us full for hours. This restaurant gets busy but it's worth the wait! Most entrees are going to range from 120 to 160 pesos and the coffee was between 80 to 100 pesos. Not the cheapest spot in town, but sooo delicious. Seriously, we dream about their carrot cake!
La Choza del Puerto - we are going to be honest, this restaurant is not the most amazing restaurant in Puerto Morelos. We've actually been there twice because they serve Mexican food we grew up with and are more accustomed to. Both times we enjoyed sharing the shrimp fajitas for 180 pesos and a cheap Mexican beer for 40 pesos.
Mangata - if you had too many margaritas the night before or you're just looking for a fancy brunch that makes you feel like you are in the US or Canada, this restaurant would be our suggestion. To drink they have many delicious smoothies, juices, matcha lattes, and other coffee drinks. To eat they have creative breakfast/brunch dishes with eggs, waffles, and delicious homemade bread. Mangata is a little on the pricey side with each dish averaging 180-200 pesos. Drinks are around 100 pesos each. This establishment also serves as a co-working space of sorts, so expect to see a lot of expats working on their laptops.
Burger Underground - this burger joint was started by an expat that found a new home in Puerto Morelos. Overall, eating a burger in Mexico might seem a little out of place, but we have to say, their burgers are delicious. The best part is that you can order any of the burgers on the menu with a veggie patty. For once, being a vegetarian doesn't have to feel like you are limited in choices. We really enjoyed the veggie burger with guac and pineapple with a side of french fries. The average price here is going to be 110-150 for the burger and fries.
One night, we ordered it as take-out, went home and watched Netflix, and shamelessly divulged!
Blue Morelos - this restaurant has been in Puerto Morelos for a little while, so we finally decided to give it a try our most recent trip. If you are looking for delicious Mexican seafood, then this would be our suggestion. It's a bit more of a local spot and they are most famous for their flavorful seafood tostadas. We tried some tuna tostadas which were delicious and reasonably priced! The staff here is wonderful and will go out of their way to make you feel welcome and taken care of.
Dai Smokehouse & Sake Bar - This restaurant was close to where we were staying, so we decided to give it a try. We were so pleasantly surprised! The chef has some real talent and offers delicious Japanese food.
Well, that's it! We hope you enjoyed our vegetarian-friendly guide to Puerto Morelos, Mexico. If you're planning a trip to Mexico, don't miss out on this town. As mentioned, it's undergoing a lot of changes and will be a drastically different place in the next three to five years.
As always, thanks for reading and please subscribe/share if you enjoyed it!
D & B