Restaurants – Eating out is both safe and fun in Cancun. You don’t have to worry about the water in most  places (if you are concerned, just ask for bottled water which will come at a charge). I have a list of  restaurants I can give you, however, here are our favorites (in no particular order): 

Navios – This is more on the upscale end, but you can show up casual and don’t have to spend a fortune. I  like this place because you can walk there. When leaving Cancun Plaza, turn left towards BelAir and walk  along the sidewalk until you see the OXXO store across the street on the lagoon side and cross there. You  can see a lovely sunset from almost any seat in the place. Some tables are outside on the deck which makes  for a romantic dinner. Prices start at $17 USD. Last time we were there, my husband and daughter had  excellent steak while my other daughter had lobster alfredo, and I had lobster tacos! We were stuffed!  Coconut shrimp is also fantastic and I always take some home! 

19.5 KM Burger – This is very casual! Follow the same directions as Navios. It is just before Navios on the  lagoon side of the street just next to OXXO. My daughters and I have sat at a picnic table and watched the  sunset. Cost was $12 for a HUGE juicy Angus burger and home fries. Stuffed again! I’ve also had the shrimp  burger. My girlfriend likes the veggie fajitas. Also open for breakfast and lunch. (Bug spray may be needed  on the lagoon side depending if it is breezy or not. Most restaurants will supply the spray!) 

El Galeon del Caribe – Extremely casual – like bathing suit and cover up casual. Closing time is around 5 pm, so go for lunch or early dinner. Popular with the locals and taxi drivers, you might miss it if you don’t know  what it is. Walk out the front gates of CCP and turn right. Immediately cross the street and walk until you see  the brown sign with Corona bottles and a Spanish galeon between them (if the sign hasn’t blown away!). Look  for the stairs to take you down to the lagoon under a big tent with a sandy floor. The menu is hanging from the  palapa ceiling. Fish tacos are about $1 USD each. They also have shrimp cocktail and a few other things.  You’ll see them cooking just nearby. Corona beer is about $1. They sometimes have a guitar-playing  musician in Yucatan dress strolling around playing for each table (give him 20-50 pesos if he plays you a  song). You can’t get more authentic Mexican than this! Be adventurous and try it out! Who says you can’t  have authentic Mexican in ‘commercialized’ Cancun? Ha! Find it here and right across the street!

Italianni’s – At La Isla Mall. Get on the R1 or R2 bus and tell the driver you are going to La Isla Mall. You  won’t be able to miss the mall; it’s huge. Probably half your bus will be going there! When you get to your  stop, cross the street to go into the open air mall. Turn left at the figurine store selling Lladro’s in the window,  and cross over the bridge in front of Johnny Rockets. Go straight down the hall and you will see Italianni’s on  the right. Prices are about the same as Olive Garden in the USA, and you’ll have PLENTY to take home for leftovers the next day. There are also other lagoon-side restaurants deeper into the mall. Look for the Marina. 

CheesterThis restaurant just opened up in the hotel zone at KM 15 on Kukulcan on the lagoon side just  before McDonald’s. They serve Italian food. I haven’t been there yet because it is so new, but their original  restaurant downtown gets good reviews.  

Puerto Madero – The BEST steakhouse in Cancun. It is close by, and worth it if you are celebrating  something special. We go there every time. (More leftovers!) It is on the lagoon side about 5-10 minutes  toward downtown across from the Ritz Carlton. Just tell the bus driver that is where you want to go. About  $150 USD for two (includes wine & dessert). Ask for waiter “big” Francisco. He’s the best! We always get  tableside Ceasar salad – fantastic! Note that the smoking section is under cover but outdoors. They have an  extensive wine list. If you get a martini, you will pay more, but will get almost two martini’s out of one order.  Also try the soufflé potatoes which come in a potato chip basket with puffy potato chip pillows. I eat the  leftovers at the pool the next day : ) The crème brulee and Mayan coffee is amazing! 

Captain’s Cove – A very nice place and we always have good food and service there. Average meal is about  $25 US. It is on the lagoon side, and the bus always stops here as there is a traffic light right in front of it. If  you want to see crocodiles, this is the place! 

El Fish Fratanga – My dad’s favorite! On lagoon side near KM 13.5 (just past Distileria). They have a street side stand, but go between the buildings and down the stairs to this open-air restaurant serving Mexican food  lagoon side at a reasonable price. Super casual! Big portions. 

Onsite Restaurant at Cancun Plaza – Casa del Mar – There are so many good restaurants in Cancun that  we often don’t eat here. They serve breakfast, lunch, and dinner (snacks, too). Service has improved greatly.  The prices are reasonable. Pizza is inexpensive (~$7 USD). This is a great option if it is raining, your first/last  night in Cancun, or you just don’t want to get on a bus or walk far. We had boneless, skinless breaded  chicken cutlets for $130 pesos (about $12 USD) and shrimp fajitas (about the same price). Both delicious! If  there is a full moon, DO eat here for an unbelievable view of the moon shining on the Sea. The picture below  does not do it justice! You can’t get any closer to eating on the beach than this!

They do have a happy hour at the bar, but do ask the price in advance as I have been disappointed when  happy hour prices were not what I would consider a “deal.” Also, I have heard from some several friends that  they were not given a bill, but told verbally what their bill was and upon further questioning found out that they  were not being charged correctly. DO ensure you always get a bill for your meal and check it for accuracy.  That goes for ALL places. If there is a strange charge, ask! You should not pay any extra “tax” as that is  illegal. (I’ve heard they try to do this at the Isla Mujeres restaurants, so be aware.) They are also not allowed  to charge a tip (or propina in Spanish). If they do, it is normally 10% and well below what Americans are used  to, so sometimes I decide if they are going to add the propina, then they only get 10%. I think they do this  because Europeans are not used to tipping at all (it’s not their custom to do so), therefore, they leave zero and  that doesn’t sit well with the Mexican servers. 

Hacienda Sisal – KM 13.5 Kukulcan. We love this Mexican restaurant! It is a big yellow building on the sea  side of the street. Tell the bus driver this is where you want to go. The bus stop is just PAST this restaurant,  so you’ll have to back-track a bit. They also have strolling mariachi’s here. Jumbo margaritas are fantastic!  Food is very good (prices start about $17 USD). Lots of variety! We like this Mexican restaurant better than  the one across the street La Disteleria, but by all means, try that one, too. La Disteleria seems to have more  authentic recipes and moles, etc., where Sisal is more ‘mainstream.’ Sisal has a Sunday breakfast buffet from  8 am – 2 pm. Price is about $13 USD, but if you are big on breakfast, you might try it! 

Surfin’ Burrito – My sister’s favorite for a fast cheap meal. Take the bus into town to the Bayview Grand  Hotel bus stop (tell the driver) on the Sea side. It is near the street and you can miss it if you don’t look  closely. Canadian-owned shop open 24 hours! Complete a sheet with what you want on your burrito. Not a  lot of seating, so some get it to-go. Super-sized drinks!  

Terra Nostra at Hotel Nizuc – Looking for a Sunday jazz brunch? We’ve found a great one! Call a taxi from  the front gate and ask them to take you to Nizuc Hotel Puerta #4 (door #4). Nizuc hotel has 4 brown buildings.  You want to go to door #4 which has a ‘returno’ just opposite it making it easy to drive right in. Once in, you’ll  get out of the cab (about a $12 ride for 2), you’ll be greeted by staff. Just tell them you want to go to the jazz  brunch. They will direct you through a parking lot, up to the pool, and into the building. For $40 USD per  person, you will have options to have eggs made for you (any style), a full hot and cold buffet, salads, and all  the sparkling wine mimosas and/or bloody Mary’s you can drink! (Note, they also have champagne mimosas  for a higher cost, so for us sparkling wine is just fine!) Of course, there will be a jazz band playing for your  listening pleasure, too. Our friend, Cynthia Morningstar Davis, sings along with a three-piece Cuban band.  Cynthia is originally from Virginia and speaks perfect English and now lives in Cancun. Tell her we sent you!  Currently, Cynthia is alternating weekends at Terra Nostra. Let me know if you are interested in going and I  can find out for you if she will be performing. Open from 11 am – 3 pm. You may also use their pool! Lastly,  the Nizuc is a new hotel (only open about 4 years), and is very upscale. Room rates here start at $585 USD  per night. And you are only 5 minutes away! 

Fred’s Fish HouseJust down the street on the lagoon side. Have eaten here and it is very upscale fish and  steak. Excellent. 

Crab House – Newly redecorated in 2015, we recently ate there and had a seafood platter (lobster, crab,  shrimp, etc.) which was good but pricey. We enjoyed the seafood platter at Fred’s better. They do have a  lovely outdoor patio with a big bar. It overlooks the lagoon and has a nice vibe.  

Porfirio – KM 14.2 Kukulcan – This is a brand new restaurant that just opened in the last year. They serve  Mexican food in an upscale setting. Try the gourmet tacos. 

Just had some guests try Bubba Gump in town. We did not recommend them because of bad service on  previous visits, but maybe it’s time to try them again. The Bubba Gump at the airport is good. There is also a  Margaritaville at the airport so you can eat something before getting on the plane (or take it onboard with you!). 

Outback Steakhouse – I know what you’re thinking! Why is she sending us to a US chain restaurant? This is  a great place to go to watch sporting events! We find them to be more affordable than the Champions sports  bar at the Marriott down the street. My father raves about the ribs here. Yes, they have the bloomin’ onion! 

Tipping (or Propina, in Spanish): Customary tip in Mexico is 10% in restaurants. They know  Americans/Canadians usually tip 15% at home, but please don’t feel pressured to do so in Mexico. (Always  check your bill, too, to ensure they did not automatically add 15% even when you said 10%!) Taxi drivers do 

not expect a tip at all. (Be sure to clarify the fare before you get in the taxi, and DO bargain the fare if you  think it is not appropriate.) Taxis should be able to show you their rate sheet. 

Check, please! It is Mexican custom not to drop off the check until asked, so if you want to pay the bill, you  will have to call them over. To say this in Spanish is, “La cuenta, por favor,” (pronounced ‘la quenta’) or just  ask in English or make the ‘writing’ gesture. They’ll understand. You will never be rushed out of a restaurant. 

One thing is for sure, and that is that we have never had a bad meal in Cancun! Have never gotten sick from  the food and have always enjoyed ourselves. So many choices!