Moving to Mexico: Expectations vs. Reality (Food)

Source: Q-Roo Paul

Bienvenidos to the second post in the series where I compare our pre-move expectations to what actually happened. Today’s topic is one of my favorites: food.


Prior to moving to Mexico, we had vacationed in Mexico over 20 times but we usually stayed at all-inclusive resorts and rarely ate off of the property.

The resorts always had either a Mexican themed restaurant or a Mexican night where they feature local dishes. I tried several things but I found very few things that I liked. I started steering clear of Mexican food altogether during subsequent trips.

Linda and I talked about the fact that we would have to eat at smaller local restaurants once we moved to Mexico in order to save money. For me that meant that I would have to get used to eating food that I didn’t really care for.

The bright side is that I figured that I would lose some weight. That isn’t necessarily a bad thing when you spend most of your time in your bathing suit.


All of those expectations were destroyed shortly after arriving in Mexico. Our new neighbors started introducing us to a wide range of restaurants — including Mexican ones — that were absolutely amazing! We quickly realized that the food at the resorts was not an accurate representation of what Mexico had to offer.

If I wrote about all of the wonderful places we have eaten in Mexico, this blog post would quickly become a novel. So I’m just going to hit some of the highlights and share a few pictures we took.

Steak and Hamburgers

One of the biggest surprises was that we found the most delicious, mouth-watering, tender, cooked to perfection steaks that we have ever had in our lives. I actually didn’t know that beef could taste that good until we found this place.

The restaurant was called El Pequeño Buenos Aires and was located along the main road through Tulum. It didn’t look fancy, but this little restaurant consistently made food that could rival anything that came out of the kitchen at the Four Seasons in New York City (and yes, I have eaten there too).


Steak (Vacío) at El Pequeño Buenos Aires in Tulum

We actually started eating there 2-3 times a week because the prices were so reasonable for such an amazing meal. I loved taking tourists there just to see their reactions when they tasted this masterpiece for the first time. Many of them proclaimed it to be the best steak they ever had in their lives.

Before you start making travel plans to Tulum to try this amazing place, I have bad news for you – it closed a few months ago.

The restaurant was located in a prime location and the owners sold it to someone else who promptly closed it without warning. It is currently being renovated and word on the street is that it will reopen as a Mexican restaurant. I guess technically they are all “Mexican” restaurants since they are in Mexico, but you know what I mean.

The picture below was taken the day that we went there to eat and found it out it was gone for good.


The best hamburger that either of us have had so far in Mexico has been at La Lunita in Akumal.


Absolutely delicious angus hamburger at La Lunita in Akumal


If you are a seafood fan, then you will never be unhappy in this area. The seafood is fresh, well-prepared and very affordable.

The best breaded fish fillet I have ever tasted in my life is found right here in Akumal. Don’t worry, this place is still open. I routinely eat there and I have probably had the fish more than 60 times. It is consistently delicious, perfectly cooked, and never “fishy”.

The restaurant is called Gilly’s Tequilaville and I dedicated an entire post to it in June. You can read it by clicking HERE.


The amazing breaded fish fillet at Gilly’s Tequilaville in Akumal

Although Tequilaville has the best breaded fish fillet (pescado empanizado) anywhere around, there are quite a few restaurants that serve great seafood along the coast.


Fresh grilled lobster and fries at the National Beach Club in Mahahual



Fresh fried fish at Chamico’s in Tulum

Pizza and Pasta

You can get fresh made pasta and pizzas at very affordable prices throughout the area.


Handmade brick oven pizza made at Manglar Pizzeria in Tulum



BBQ chicken flat bread pizza at Turtle Bay Bakery in Akumal

If you like the Chicago style deep dish pizza, you can find that too.


Deep dish Chicago style pizza at Don Chendo in Playa del Carmen



Handmade spinach ravioli at Casa Sofia in Playa del Carmen



Fresh spaghetti carbonara at Trattoria Romana in Tulum


As I mentioned under the expectations section, neither of us were really crazy about the authentic Mexican food that we had tried in the past during our many trips to Mexico. Well, that is because we just weren’t going to the right places. Nowadays, we both love authentic Mexican food and we eat it several times a week.


Cochinita pibil at El Atrio in Valladolid (I ate this dish twice in one day)



Chicken fajitas at La Playa at Xpu-Ha Beach Club (they have some of the best)

Let’s Wrap This Up

Once again our reality has far exceeded our expectations. The only bad part is that keeping the weight off can be a challenge when surrounded by so many tempting culinary delights. People always warned us that living in Mexico could be dangerous, perhaps this is what they meant.

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About the Author

Qroo Paul
Paul Kurtzweil (Q-Roo Paul) was a deputy sheriff in Florida for 25 years before retiring at the rank of lieutenant in 2015. He and his wife moved to Mexico looking to maximize their retirement income. They later started a blog called Two Expats Mexico ( to share their experiences as well as information about the logistical and legal aspects of retiring south of the border.

17 Comments on "Moving to Mexico: Expectations vs. Reality (Food)"

  1. It all looks amazing!

  2. Well, that was just cruel. All those mouth-watering photos, and I won’t get to eat in Mexico for a couple months 🙂

  3. Best deep fried fish ever was in Telchac Puerto at La Picuda. 4 grouper dinners with a couple drinks each and out the door for $25 + tip, which was sizable! All the seafood Paul mentions is outstanding. We are off to Cozumel on Sunday and we never eat anywhere near the main drag.

  4. Me encanta la comida de Mexico!!!! y tu blog! Gracias!

  5. These 2 expats have found the same to be true on the west coast! From Punta de Mita to Bucerias to Puerto Vallarta, many (too many) great affordable places to dine! No weight loss here.

  6. The food you get at all inclusive resorts is in no way indicative of the delicious and inexpensive food to be had all over Mexico. My wife and I have taken nine trips to Mexico and traveled to different places. We’re both good cooks who appreciate good food. With a little homework on the internet, I’d always check out the restaurants online before we went to wherever we planned to travel. I’ve lost count of the incredible meals we’ve eaten in Mexico, especially in Mexico City where you can eat in three and four star restaurants for a fraction of what you’d pay in the U.S.. My wife and I are seriously considering moving to Mexico for retirement. We have our paradise picked out on the West coast of Mexico, opposite where you are. No one knows about this place, and we like that very much. It’s a place that would bore the cruise ship/drunken frozen margarita crowd. We really enjoy your blog. Glad to hear you’ve come to love Mexico so much. From our travels there, it’s easy to see the reasons for developing a huge love of the people and their country.

  7. Can’t wait to move there in 2017. Your blog posts are really helpful!

  8. Interesting and yummy looking. My question is whether you have gotten sick from any of the food there especially food such as salads that are washed in water that us non Mexican digestive systems react to. I wondered because we are so careful when we visit there.

    • We have never gotten sick eating here but we do avoid salads for that reason. Of course it’s hard to resist the pico de gallo and guacamole, so we take our chances with those.

      Many of the restaurants will sanitize raw vegetables and fruits in Microdyn.

  9. Cynthia Tucker | January 16, 2017 at 9:31 am |

    Have you traveled to Isla Mujeres?

  10. we moved from az to nm last year after doing much research on mexico… we LOVEmexico. didn’t figure we could afford to move to area we love (cabo) and researched ajijic, lake Chapala, way too expensive for us (home wise) since we lost our butts in the stock market and housing crash 2008-2009. now looking online at cabo and that coast, we can afford to get something really small there. Iam very curious about the cost of medical ins and was told we couldn[‘t get any after age 65. is this true. my husband just had cancer surgery and is going thru chemo and our copays are going to wipe us out. I saw there is a new cancer center in cabo. chcking how much those treatments will cost us there. l am really not happy with the cost of everything here. we are existing, not living.

  11. Frank DeStasio | March 30, 2017 at 7:28 am |

    Hello Paul thank you for this amazing blog. My wife and I are hoping to follow you and your wife’s path and your insights are very educational. My question is about the quality of the water where you live and what to watch out for in other parts of the country??

    • The water quality can vary so it’s always advisable to rinse fruits and vegetables with a solution of Microdyn and to use bottled water to make coffee, brush your teeth etc. Better safe than sorry 🙂

  12. Tracy and Glenn McDougall | October 24, 2017 at 4:31 pm |

    Thanks Paul and Linda for the great blog on “where to eat” when in Akumal/Tulum area. We have been going to Akumal/Tulum annually for the last 12 years and we can attest to a couple of the restaurants you recommended. Yes, La Lunita does make an amazing burger. Tequilaville, one of our very favorite spots in Akumal is GREAT! We love the ribs ~ you have to try them. Going to have to try the pizza at the Turtle Bay Bakery, my mouth is watering! See you guys in February!

  13. Great blog thanks, I would recommend the lunch counter at Akumal gate has the best Mole sauce!

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