Whether you’re grabbing Mexican-style fast food to eat on the run or whipping up a quick snack in your rental villa or condo, you’ll find a treasure trove of fresh, high-quality ingredients here for making quick, luscious pick-up meals.
In this section you’ll find tips for where to purchase prepared foods to go as well as some information on the island’s groceries and produce markets.
Best Take Out Food for Picnics or Quiet Meals in Your ‘Home Away from Home’
An entire BBQ chicken generally runs about 100 pesos and comes with a small stack of fresh corn tortillas (and usually also chopped, raw cabbage and a side of hot sauce.)
Our favorite place is hard to miss. You can see the big, open-pit BBQ with the chickens turning on the spits from half a block away. Corner of Calle 4 and Avenida 30.
There are other good places, too. This is just our favorite so far. Spanish only is spoken at both these places so bone up on the phrase “Un pollo entero, por favor.” (Ewn POY oh ehn TEAR oh) for a whole chicken and “Un medio pollo” for, you guessed it–1/2 chick. Prices are posted.
If you just gotta have the burger and fries, there’s a McDonalds in-land by Sam’s Club. There’s also Burger King & Carl’s Junior. But I’d like to think that most people reading this have had enough of THAT kind of fast food.
For bigger, better, tastier sandwiches, try a torta at several of the Taquerias. A good place for tortas to go is The Super Hit (corner of Av 30 and Calle 1), Super Hit II corner of Av 30 y Calle 15), Los Seras (corner of Av 30 y Calle 7), Los Otates (Av 15), etc. . Big, luscious sandwiches are the thing here. Try the Pork Pibil with all the fixin’s. You can eat in or take out (“para llevar”-PAH-rah Yey VAR). The menus and prices are typically painted on the wall.
If you’re in the mood to do it yourself , stop by the deli counter and bakery area in the back left hand corner of the giant Chedraui grocery store. Large selection of ham and turkey breast sliced to order.
Tons of sliced cheese. Grab a few tomatoes, some lettuce and the delicious Hellman’s Mayo they sell here that tastes better than in the states because it has added lime, and you’ve got it made in the shade for a tasty lunch.
But no chips for you, uh uh. The brands they have down here are so tasty that if you’re a chips fan you may gain 5 pounds before you can stop yourself.
TIP: Only buy the cheese that’s currently being cut up — not the stuff in packages. Just point to the pile of cheese the girl is cutting and say: Medio kilo, por favor. (MAY-dee-oh KEY-low, pour-fah-BORE.) Which will get you about 1 lb. You can also just hold your fingers up to show how thick a stack you want. Turkey ham is a biggie down here (Jamon de Pavo) and it tends to be lean and good. And they usually have pierna de pavo (pee-AIR-no day PAH-vo) turkey breast.
There are bakeries all over Cozumel offering freshly baked French rolls (bollios), sweet breads (pan dulces) and plenty of pastry treats with whimsical names like orejas (ears), cuernos (horns) and conchas (shell). We love the thin, crunchy heart-shaped and honey-coated orejas. And we’ll have to admit a special addiction to the boletos de queso (cheese balls). We’ll warn you up front–it’s hard to eat just one.
The way it works in all the bakeries–pick up a big round metal tray and a set of tongs when you walk in the door. Tong up your choices from the trays of goodies you’ll see laid out on shelves around the room. Then take them to the counter for bagging and payment
Wonderful desserts, freshly baked bread and home made pizza by the slice in the afternoon. Reasonable prices — especially considering he’s right downtown within one block of the waterfront and a block north of the downtown, pedestrian-only plaza.
Tip: Remember that Mexican breads are not made with preservatives so be sure and eat them within 2 days at the most
Our other favorite bakery is the oldest on the island. Worth the trip back to Avenida 30 in the middle of the block between Calle 5 and Calle 7 just to try the best flan in Cozumel. The St. Martin panenderia sometimes also has really REALLY luscious home-made tamales still in the banana leaves in which they were steamed. Stop in between 4 and 6 PM if you want to check on this. They’ll be in a couple of flat baskets in the middle of the small store.
Ice Cream Parlors (Nevarias, Heladerias & Paleterias)
Another great place to stop in if you’re walking around town and want a snack is an ice cream (helado) shop. Here you can get milk or water-based ice cream on a stick or in a cone and in flavors as common as chocolate or as exotic as pistachio, corn (elote), coconut or walnut. (You’ll see choices and prices on a board behind the counter.)
These ice creams tend to be delicious and refreshing-all made with bottled water, of course-and a definite don’t miss. One of our favorite places for helados is on the corner of Juarez and Avenida 20. You can also get wonderful aqua frescas here in an assortment of fruit flavors. A favorite iced fruit drink is the aqua fresca de sandia (sahn DEE ah)–icy watermelon juice mixed with sugar and water. Exquisitely refreshing.