This post is for you food-lovers!
The Riviera Maya is located in the state of Quintana Roo, and, like in the rest of Mexico, the cuisine is super-important. Mexican cuisine is special because of its creativity and the mix of its condiments. In the Rivera Maya, the traditional cuisine originated with a mix of Mayan and Spanish cuisines, although most of the names are in Mayan. Here I recommend the best dishes and local restaurants.
Chilmole or Relleno negro: You might feel suspicious about this dish when you see it for the first time, since it is kind of a black soup. But it is actually one of the most traditional dished in the region and certainly one of the best. It has a pre-Hispanic origin and usually every family has its own recipe. Chilmole is a thick sauce made with chilli peppers and spices. It is usually eaten with boiled eggs and meat or chicken.
Pipián: it is a sauce made out of pumpkin seeds and chilli peppers. It is usually eaten with chicken and cheese, but during Lent you can find a special variation: you can eat it with nopales (prickly pear) and shrimp pancakes. This last one is really tasty.
Papatz tzul: Egg tacos covered with a pastry made out of pumpkin seeds, and tomato and onion sauce. Papatz tzules are usually eaten as a starter, since they are not too big or heavy.
Panucho: This is another starter. It is a stew carefully inserted in a corn tortilla. The panucho is fried and it is topped with lettuce, turkey or chicken, tomato and onion previously seasoned with orange, carrot and avocado. The story says that in mid XIX century there was a man called Don Hucho and he had an inn in the Camino Real (the Royal Road). One day, a traveler asked for food and Don Hucho said he had none. The traveler insisted and Don Hucho started to mix whatever he had. Then the experiment was known and named “El pan de Don Hucho” (Don Hucho's bread), which latter was transformed into Panucho.
If you really want to try local food, you should go to the markets and eat whatever you see. There are, though, very good traditional restaurants, such as Los Arcos (the best) and Va Q’ Va (seafood) in downtown Cancun, and Yaxche and Aldea Corazón in Playa del Carmen.
Buen provecho! (Enjoy your meal!)