Are you cold? We sure are. Over the past several weeks, we've had an extreme cold snap here in Washington, D.C., along with much of the rest of the country.
Which made it all the more wonderful when, a couple weeks ago, we snuck down to Tulum, Mexico, for a four-day weekend.
Tulum is amazing. It's a beach town on the Atlantic coast of Mexico's Yucatan peninsula, about 50 miles south of Cancun. Until about 10 years ago, Tulum was a sleepy stretch of thatched-roof huts and a couple of food stands on a spit of land between the ocean and the jungle.
But in recent years, Tulum has grown up. There are now several boutique hotels and pricey little shops. And there's a burgeoning restaurant and bar scene.
Despite the growth, it still maintains the feel of a tiny beach town. The hotels and shops and restaurants all blend in to the surroundings. There's exactly one road, a narrow lane that parallels the ocean, with no side roads. So everything in Tulum is either on the beach side of the road (in which case it's likely a terrace with the most perfect view of the sparkling ocean you've ever seen) or on the jungle side (in which case it's likely this impossibly romantic restaurant with a thousand candles hanging among the palms). The whole place was beachy, breezy, casual and beautiful.
We stayed in a tiny hut we found on Airbnb. We mean tiny. And hut. It had a high thatched roof, a concrete floor, a bed and a bathroom area in the corner. There was one naked bulb hanging from the ceiling, and one electrical outlet.
But our hut was right on the beach -- maybe 50 feet from the surf, with nothing between us and the water. The crashing waves lulled us to sleep every night. (The photo at the top of this post is the view from our hut.)
An aerial shot of out hut (and several others). This photo from Jana/Airbnb.
Anyway, we wanted to share with you some images from our trip -- the foods we ate, and some of the sites we saw.
So without further ado ... ¡vamonos!
If you go to Tulum, the first word out of the mouth of anyone you talk to will be "Hartwood." "You've gotta go eat at Hartwood." We totally agree. Is it "authentic Mexican food"? No. It was opened by New York ex-pats in 2010. But it showcases local ingredients and traditional recipes in an amazing new, fresh way. Bon Appetit readers might recall a feature on the restaurant in 2011.
It also happens to be a dead-sexy place to eat.
At the opposite end of the spectrum, we had an incredible lunch at a place called Chamico's. It was an amazing experience. It's an unmarked place down a dirt road with no name. You have to drive through a guard gate and then through this total residential neighborhood with these huge beach villas. Finally the road ends at grove of palm trees and some scattered plastic picnic tables. That's Chamico's!
There's no sign, no menus, and no English. And it's awesome.
Here are some more good food memories from the trip:
And here are some more miscellaneous shots from our time in Tulum:
If you go...
Tulum is super convenient for basically anyone living in the eastern U.S. or Canada. It's a very easy flight to Cancun, plus a two-hour drive south to Tulum itself.
We rented a car. We're glad we did, if for no other reason than the fact that it allowed us to eat at Chamico's. But there are tons of shuttles from Cancun to Tulum, and ample cabs once you get there. (Most places in Tulum are within walking distance anyway.)
Here are some restaurant recommendations:
Hartwood. Go early. They don't accept reservations, and it's such a popular place that it can fill up very quickly. We got in line about 20 minutes before they opened for dinner, and were seated with no problem. But people who arrived later were facing two-hour waits, or were turned away completely.
Chamico's. Laid-back cafe in a stunning setting. The food is authentic, local and delicious.
- Driving directions to Chamico's: Head north from Tulum on Highway 307 for about 12 kilometers. Turn onto the dirt road on your right toward the Hotel Jashita (the road is across the highway from Oscar y Lalo's restaurant). Follow the road until it ends at the ocean (past the hotel, past all the private villas).
Mateo's. Go for lunch and get the fish tacos. Several people told us they were the best fish tacos in Tulum. We can't disagree.
Posada Margherita. Beautiful beachside setting for breakfast. It's so adorable (like if Antrhopologie were a beach restaurant) that it's worth going at dinner, even if just for a drink. It's Italian food -- maybe that seems weird to you on the beach in Mexico...
El Tabano. Traditional Yucatan cuisine. We had a very tasty stew of cochinita pibil, which is a Yucatan preparation of pork marinated in citrus and then slow-cooked wrapped in a banana leaf.
Have you been to Tulum? Got any favorite spots to eat or places to stay? Leave them in the comments!