Best Restaurant Near Merida's Zocalo
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.
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.