Bacalar was a surprise!! A fabulous feast!
We gave ourselves a week this time to explore the town on the colorful lake of the same name. It was an increase from our first time there, two years ago, when we made a Christmas hop from Merida for a few days.
And, now we put the week into a top 20 list of places visited since we moved to Mexico in 2018.
The town has swirls and blocks of color – murals abound, hotels can be bright – and your eyes stay occupied.
The lake, of course, is amazing!! The ever-changing display of blues and turquoise in all shades plays against the green of the jungle and the popping flowers. There were murals everywhere.
Paddleboard, sail, kayak, snorkel, over its surface. Experience the many temperatures of its changing depths. Watch out for those dramatic drop-offs where the cenotes lie, they go down meters upon meters.
Then bask in the sun.
Bacalar is a great place to hang out for a while.
Work up that appetite. You will need it.
It is nice that the town is easily walkable and safe, and taxis pass by for those in need. Go ahead and saunter a bit. It is a small town with hidden gems.
The big surprise of Bacalar, something we didn’t have time to explore on our last visit, is the food!! And I use that term loosely. That word doesn’t do what we enjoyed justice.
The delightful and creative cuisine is around the corners, down the block, and even in your own backyard. We just didn’t have enough meal times to try everything recommended to us. But we managed some.
If we could use a phrase for our favorite plates, it would be risk-taking.
And a big applause to the restaurants for trying new combinations of flavors and cooking styles.
We ate very well!!
And we let the waitstaff, chefs, and owners know how WOWED we were with their menus, both food, and beverage. Must give kudos and be agreeable guests. Signature cocktails had to be tried, of course. Delish!!
We were so impressed with the proud attitude of everyone. Although not all are owners, there was a sense of ownership throughout and a desire to have customers leave fully satisfied. We lingered.
Before you think that every place we went to hit the high notes, we will have to burst that bubble a bit. We had some less spectacular dining experiences.
But, in a small town with dozens of restaurants, the “spot-ons” came more often than not.
Some of our favorite places and food choices were:
Chaca– although we are taking a few points off for the inconsistency in the hours of operation, which were certainly not the same as TripAdvisor. The food was very fresh, the service lovely, and the outdoor seating was comfortable and bright. Great for breakfast. Ours started with a fruit bowl served in a dried coconut shell with assortments of citrus fruits such as starfruit, papaya, mango, decadent berries, and kiwi with a splash of coconut juice over it. For the main, we had creamy eggs Benedict and French toast. If you are visiting Bacalar and Chaca is open, definitely stop by.
Baraka– definitely come here!! We did so twice and had some lovely chats with Carlos? Although I preferred the French toast to the waffle, both were tasty and Glenn’s choices of the poke bowl and Chilequilles Verde were spectacular. Top off with an out-of-this-world smoothie, fruit bowl, and delicious coffee and you have a hell of a breakfast. It is in a calm and relaxing outdoor environment right on the lake. Linger a bit. In the evenings, they open the cute and funky food court serving all sorts of Mexican dishes while live music plays.
La Maison de Yara – for a cute breakfast off of one of the main townie streets and simple crepes. I chose one with ham and cheese. Glenn enjoyed a well-turned-out, clean omelet that stood on its own. Large cappuccinos made me happy, as I hate tiny coffee cups! There is a front and back area, chose back if you want to be cooler.
La Playita – well, we came back here from the last time we were in Bacalar – see post here – and enjoyed two more meals. We love the lakeside dining, and the big seating areas scattered through several spots for coziness and a mellow atmosphere. Then there are the great food choices. Some of our favorites are tacos, tostadas, and bowls. But I don’t think we have ever had an awful choice. The seared tuna poke bowl was out of this world. The flavors just burst into our mouths with such delight. They have two great infused gin and tonics, which I indulge in every time. Glenn liked the Mango Mezcal. It can get busy, so make a reservation or stop by in the off-hours.
La Cabañita Grill & Cantina – Pricey but worth the splurge! They brought an appetizer to start, which comprised a clothesline of fresh tostadas hung with clothespins over several small cups of salsa from no spice to very spicy and soooo delicious. I chose a tuna dish that literally had a dome over it with what looked like a bong attached to smoke the fish tableside with rosemary infusion. It was a very interesting presentation that made us laugh. I can’t remember the last time I had a bong. And never before one attached to food. How convenient. Glenn had a delicious salmon over nice rice pilaf with a flavorful mole sauce and garnished with flowers and different colored turnips and herbs which were out of this world! This place was very forward-thinking with its different dishes. The cocktail choices were intriguing and innovative. And, our spectacular waiter served everything with a smile.
Bote de Leche – Delightful waitstaff and exciting foods that were a mix of Indian with European cuisine. It was original, and we came here twice too. We started with the most delicious, smooth, cheesy garlic bread that we’ve ever tasted. I had a very tasty chicken curry that reminded us of our days in India. It was nice to be back there, if only for a few savory moments. Glenn had a truly amazing filet mignon over polenta with white rice and chives and a nicely done leek. The outdoor ambiance had a very intimate feel, considering it was in a small strip mall. The same Argentine waitress served us both times, and we enjoyed interesting conversations with her. We thought most of the clientele was French, which was interesting. We know the French do have great taste in food. And we have noticed them traveling a lot in the Yucatan.
For our last night, we finally found Nixtamal. All organic, it was a lovely dinner with great service. They have a workshop in the back where they make furniture and glassware. They also have their own herb gardens and vegetable garden. There is music some nights. We even got a tour of the restaurant by the manager who was very dynamic and showcased the restaurant in a way that we found interesting like the 3 different types of wood they use as charcoal and smoke to infuse the foods from a sweet to savory taste. The fusion of Mexican ingredients and the local produce is very interesting to learn as Glenn explores cooking methods. Next time we come Glenn will take a cooking class for this region. To start, we had some delicious cocktails like infused gin and tonic with blueberry and cucumber (Pepino). Glenn had a mezcal and pineapple margarita with tamarind. They were delicious. Throw in some sushi and afterward, I had beautifully garnished salmon with mole negro that tasted like BBQ sauce but with a brilliant chocolaty mole taste. It was interesting and delicious.
Bacalar had the best cuisine of our month in the Yucatan.
I wrote this sitting on a beach on the Oaxaca coast. It is light years away from the crowded Yucatan.
Would we return to Bacalar? We think so, but we have been to the lake twice now and have seen what it offers, and there are so many other places in Mexico on our bucket list. If we come back, we are going to bring friends in tow so they can add a few pounds with delectability. And enjoy this marvelous beauty.
And would we recommend a visit to others? Absolutely.
P.S. – I must thank my partner in crime, my “esposo marveloso,” Glenn, for helping me with the post. Glenn, a much better cook than I ever will be (and I don’t even want to try) will join in on the writing experience and create posts of his own, so watch for them. Go, Glenn!!