Reader's Polls / Best Restaurant Near Merida's Zocalo

Best Restaurant Near Merida's Zocalo


Best Restaurant Near Merida's Zocalo

1 August 2007 Reader's Polls, Destinations 18

Something all expatriates living in Merida have in common is that we were all tourists once. When we first arrived here - whether by bus, taxi or rental car – most of us started at the zocalo, also called the Plaza Grande, to begin our exploration of The White City. Can you remember where you ate dinner on that first night you attended a concert at the Peon Contreras Theatre, or visited the Palacio de Gobernador to see the murals, or watched the Ballet Folklorico perform at the Ayuntamiento?

By now, you’ve probably eaten at least once at all the restaurants in this poll. Which is the best? What's the collective wisdom on the best place to eat near the zocalo?

We've picked the five restaurants most often cited in guidebooks or recommended by hoteliers. But remember, nominations are open until August 8th. Just leave a comment with your nomination and we will add it to the poll. Like all Reader’s Choice Polls, voting is open until midnight, December 31, 2007.

Here are the initial nominees:

Amaro - The first place we ever ate in Merida. They have vegetarian dishes on the menu but they also serve carne. Nowadays, they have live trova music every night starting about nine. We enjoy eating al fresco in the large courtyard. This colonial mansion also happens to be the birthplace of Andres Quintana Roo. Located on Calle 59.

Bella Epoca - Located on Calle 60 between 59 and 57, this is a two-story affair. Downstairs is a bar, upstairs the restaurant. The best seats in the house are on the balconies, overlooking the street, the church and the big beautiful trees. On Saturdays, of course, there are also tables out in the street.

Pancho's – This is probably the first themed restaurant near the zocalo. It uses icons of the Mexican Revolution to achieve an ambiance like no other. The waiters wear sombreros and bandoleros stuffed with wine corks instead of bullets. They have a great bar, and their large patio is a lovely place to enjoy the unique menu. On Calle 59, but you already knew that.

Pan e Vino - The owners are from Italy and prepare fresh pasta daily. They have big salads, lots of garlic, and delicious cappuccinos. The owner's poster collection gives their restaurant the air of a trattoria in little Italy in the 1970's and his music collection is so vast, you almost never hear the same song twice. Located across from Teatro Merida on Calle 62, this restaurant is a good spot for people watching too.

Pórtico del Peregrino - Quiet and set back from the street, this homey little restaurant has been featured in tourist guidebooks for decades. We love their sopa de lima, their pork chops (which we think are the best in the city, but that is for another poll) and if it isn't too hot, sitting outside in their charming patio. Located on Calle 57.

Reader Nominees:

Casa de Frida - Located just a couple blocks west of the zocalo on Calle 61 at 66, our first reader-selected restaurant is Casa de Frida, named after the famous artista, Frida Kahlo. This restaurant is a relative newcomer compared to the others in our poll but has garnered a faithful following thanks in part to their menu of traditional Comida Mexicana, a rare find in Yucatan. Their chiles en nogada are especially praised.

Villa Maria - The relaxed but elegant atmosphere with impeccable service, soft lighting and white tablecloths makes this restaurant a great place to spoil yourself without breaking the bank. The Villa Maria Restaurant has both indoor and outdoor seating in a renovated colonial building with tall ceilings, marble floors and a courtyard open to the sky. The menu features steaks, chicken, pasta, salads, and specials, including soups and entrees, as well as a good choice of desserts and a full bar.


  • Countdown to Mexico » Blog Archive » A Weekend in Mérida, Mexico 11 years ago

    [...] off but enjoying every minute.  We remembered a wonderful restaurant from our last visit – Amaro – with many vegetarian options for me and a nice cochinita pibil for Paul.  We had a [...]

  • Joanne 12 years ago

    La Bella Epoca. This was the worst place I've eaten. Service was terrible, food arrived not hot, not even warm.....felt like it was sitting on counter for the 40 minutes we waited for it. Had to send it back. The grilled fish was not even the size of the palm of my hand. Asked for the check and after waiting 20 minutes, had to walk down to the main floor only to find the waiter talking to the girl at the bar. Then, he gave us the wrong check. When I told the manager about our experience, he didn't even apologize. Just listened and walked away. HUH? I vote them the WORST restaurant in Merida.

  • Darlene 12 years ago

    If you love real Italian thin-crust pizza, you MUST try Rafaelo's Pizza on Calle 60 at the corner of 49, across the intersection from Cafe Chocolate. As a professional chef myself, I have to say I haven't had pizza this good anywhere outside of Italy. And - get this - you and a friend can share a pizza for lunch or dinner, plus a drink for just $10.00 US! The atmosphere is simple but nice, and at night they open up the back courtyard. There is a pet parrot named Bruno who will greet you, and the happy husband-wife team are super friendly.

  • Working Gringos 13 years ago

    Jennifer, this list is a bit dated (about a year old). Check out our Merida Restaurants Listing (in the topics list on the top right of each page) and you'll see a very comprehensive list of restaurants, with times, addresses, directions and reader comments. There are a lot of good restaurants here now... but not necessarily right in the Centro.

  • Jennifer 13 years ago

    Great to find this list although might be out of date by now. I had some very average meals at Peregrino and La Bella Epoca. Peregrino: poor service, expensive La Bella Epoca: "old" fish. Heard a lot about Merida's great restaurants but haven't found them yet so I am going to try some of the others that readers mention here.

  • Carey Sutton 15 years ago

    I was appalled at the quality of food at Portico del Peregrino. I live on Cozumel, have for five years. I know decent Yucatecan cooking when I taste it. And I definitely know when seafood is fresh. The shrimp was not fresh. At all. The pepper steak, a slab of okay quality beef, was covered in a Campbell's soup flavored sauce. Terrible wine selection, too. This is a very pretty restaurant. The food is dreadful. Worst meal I can remember having in a restaurant in years.

  • Yucatan Living - Yucatan Living Readers Choice Award 2007 15 years ago

    [...] And which restaurant won? Well, a restaurant that appeals to both residents and visitors! Pancho’s Restaurant [...]

  • Yucatan Living - Yucatan Living Reader’s Choices for 2007 15 years ago

    [...] Restaurant Near the Zocalo - Visitors and residents alike often find themselves wandering downtown wondering where to eat. This Yucatan Living Readers Choice Poll tried to shed some light on that dilemma by sharing the opinion of the Yucatan Living community. And which restaurant won? Well, a restaurant that appeals to both residents and visitors! Pancho’s Restaurant, owned by the famous Wayne Trotter, beat out the Runner Up, Portico del Peregrino, by a handy margin. Must be those waiters dressed like banditos, with their big hats and their bandeleros filled with wine corks! OK, as residents, we must admit the waiters’ costumes and the flaming Mayan coffee were not factors, but the good food, the friendly bar, the charming owner and the outdoor dining room certainly were. Read the original poll here… [...]

  • Beryl 15 years ago

    My vote goes to the Alameda, an unobtrusive place on 58 between 55 and 57, or is it 57 and 59. Alameda serves excellent Lebanese food as well as standard Yucatecan favorites. Unusually tasty and moderately priced. There is no decor whatsoever and the waiters are wonderfully surly.

  • Mamacita 15 years ago

    Pane e Vino!!! The best home made pasta ever. Great wine & good value for your money. Always our first choice.

  • Nan 15 years ago

    Just wanted to add that we tried all the restuarants you put forward and they were all very good. However, my vote for the best still goes to Pancho's. It may be aimed at tourists but service and quality are good for anyone.
    We plan to move permanently to Chelem next year and it is good to know that when we want a "nice" place to go, we have plenty of choices.
    (Before anyone writes in pointing it out, I know there are very good places to eat in Progresso, but it is not quite the same)

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