A Chef’s Cozumel Food Tour

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Cozumel, Mexico

While on this press trip the only place I had not been was Cozumel, a short ferry ride from Playa del Carmen.

But don’t think I was taking a break from reading, I joined the group to take a food tour of Cozumel with a professional chef.

I adore food tours and I had stretched my stomach from eating so much I was ready.

To be honest, when you land in Cozumel you are bombarded with a tourist monstrosity that looks like Disney’s version of Mexico – except on Spring Break.

It’s weird. I don’t like it.

But I’ve learned there is a give in take in the Yucatan. Some party-till-you-puke tourism that I detest but also people who I adore.  

And like Playa del Carmen, Cozumel has both – people live on this island I learned when you walk past all the Spring Break junk Cozumel is pretty interesting.

Emily runs Cozumel Chef, she is a classically trained French chef from the States who has discovered all the best haunts on Cozumel, things I would have never discovered on my own.

mexican empanadas

I love Mexican antojitos. These are amazing empanadas served on red plastic tables with matching chairs.

Who knew shrimp and cheese would be so good – not the Italians who won’t pair seafood and cheese.

cozumel restaurant

El Sazon de Camaron for shrimp tacos, with refried beans as a base to keep the shrimp on top and cute waiters to keep us amused as they are made to order.

cozumel market

And there’s no food tour complete without a visit to the market.

This was only some of what Emily offers but if you’re interested in getting off the weird strip where people wear balloon hats?? then she’s a good one to take you to the other side of Cozumel.

After taking the tour I’m actually interested in going back to the island to see what else it has to offer besides the obvious.


Join the Conversation

  1. I always want to go to Cozumel but it gets such conflicting reviews. Would you feel comfortable going outside a group? What about taking my kids? Or should we stick to Playa as I know that’s wonderful and safe.

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      I was only there for an afternoon but I find it hard to believe that Cozumel gets any kind of negative review safety wise. I don’t know what there is to do for kids as we skipped the touristy things and headed straight for the food but I can’t imagine people have said its dangerous as it’s pretty stable for tourism.

  2. Great memories of Cozumel, that was some amazing food. It makes me want to return.

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      Really wonderful food, you just have to know where to get it!

  3. Christine Martin says:

    Great food shots.
    I like your description. Though I’ve not been, there are other places in the world that feel like that and it takes perspective to find the gems of genuineness that remain. Have there been other places you felt like that? Recently, for me, parts of Boracay were like that.

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      I spent quite a bit of time in the Philippines in 1999, I can understand why Boracay would feel that way.

  4. I’m a bit sad to admit that Cozumel is the only place I’ve visited in Mexico – and I only got to spend a day there because it was a cruise. I do remember some very fresh, nice food though. This looks amazing – if I had to pick a culinary course to take, I’d definitely choose Mexican.

  5. Seafood always appeals to me, in all shapes, colors and flavors. I didn’t realise Italians don’t pair cheese and seafood, I’ll have to research this a bit further.

  6. It’s unfortunate that the most many people see of Mexico is Cozumel. It can be a nice place if you look carefully, but most are there for a day on a cruise ship and just see the touristy stuff. Personally I think if you are going to spend any amount of time in Mexico,Riviera Maya is the best choice. It has gorgeous beaches, interesting sightseeing and some wonderful resorts. I have stayed several places there but I think my favorite is Zoetry Paraiso de la Bonita. An incredible place. (not an ad – I just love it there!)

  7. Jennifer Lewis says:

    Thanks for visiting our little island, Ayngelina! Both my husband and I live here full time. We avoid the cruise ship culture that dominates the waterfront and love the out of the way spots like Bucannos and Playa Palancar as well as the entire east beach that is nearly untouched by development. Just need to ask around and you will find the gems. Love those empanadas! And safety is not an issue here. I hate how the US media has brainwashed people into thinking that this part of Mexico is unsafe. They just want you to keep your money within the US borders. Let us know if you com back this way and we will take you to have some lion fish lightly breaded with coconut that is to die for! 😉

  8. A Cook Not Mad (Nat) says:

    I love your pictures but that last one, I just can’t stop looking at it. It’s so full of character, really, really good.

  9. John of Travel Rinse Repeat says:

    Cozumel used to be an absolute gem – a sleepy dive town with amazing, friendly locals. This still exists to some extent, but definitely away from the cruise ship piers.

  10. funny, the last time I was in Cozumel was on a jeep tour and it was POURING! I never would’ve thought of cozumel as a food destination.

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      Well I think Mexico as a whole has great food, I guess you just have to look harder in some areas.

  11. Hello Angelina,

    Found your blog via someone else’s. you write and take photographs much better than I will ever do (I try though ; my own blog is only a “family-and-friends” one right now), but strangely, your life and my life relate in many ways. I left 2 years ago to find myself and found much much more on the road than I ever imagined. Will be living in Mexico soon (for a while, following my heart this time, but following my travel whims as well) ; love Cozumel, will be back diving as soon as possible but would definitely love to have a food tour like the one you just talked about.
    Shall we meet up some time?
    Enjoy yourself, always!

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      Wow Julie you blog in three languages, that is far more difficult than photography. I’m back in Canada but heading to Loreto, Mexico in May (a secret up until now) if you’re in that area we should definitely meet up.

      1. Look me up when you get back, I’ll be in Mérida, Yucatán. We’ll go for a taco or 2! Safe travels!

  12. I’m all about the food tours as well, especially if they involve shrimp tacos!

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      Can you believe these were my first?

  13. Glad you enjoyed the island. We love living and working here. I believe I saw a statistic for 2010 that there were fewer drug-related murders in the ENTIRE state of Quintana Roo than in Wichita, Kansas, USA.

    So, I wouldn’t consider Cozumel to be unsafe, unless you rent a scooter! Then you’re really putting yourself in danger.

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      Glad you piped in Michael, I wasn’t sure but Cozumel seemed pretty tame – except at that weird ballon hat bar.

  14. As always the food shots look amazing. I could really go for a great empanada right now. Never been to this part of the world strangely…well never really been south of the US in the Americas, and I know it’s something I really should change.

  15. Jen Laceda says:

    i can’t resist a good food tour! you know me [i’m the opp – hehe], i love food!

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      Food tours are my favourite. I tried to convince people in Ecuador to do market tours and they could not understand why tourists would want to go to the market or need a tour of it.

  16. Yeah, seafood with cheese is a surprising one but I’d be willing to give it a go 🙂

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      Robin do you ever see that in Spain?

  17. Emily in Chile says:

    Shrimp and cheese empanadas are one of my favorites – I actually had one for lunch. Silly Italians!

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      I know Europeans can be so stuffy 😉

  18. The Time-Crunched Traveler (Ellen) says:

    Well, for food like this, I might be willing to brave the tourist monstrocity of Cozumel. Looks delicious! We’re hoping to make it to Playa del Carmen sometime soon. Well, now that I’m good and hungry … off to bed! 😉

  19. Nick Williams says:

    Wow! A very interesting place. The empanadas looks really delish! Hope I can make it there too! Will absolutely watch out for your other destinations. 🙂

  20. Your last posts really made me want to eat Mexican food, I really should try to find out if there is any good restaurant over here!! But I can’t believe how you can eat three plates… Most of the time I’m not able to finish one plate… (that’s where friends come in handy to try their dishes)

    By the way, in Belgium shrimp croquettes (garnaalkroketten) are common, combining shrimps and cheese 😉
    I’m not really sure, but I think it’s actually ‘belgian cuisine’, in any case, it’s a typical starter plate here!.

  21. I had to admit thatr Cozumel is one of the spot I didn’t visited on my road trip to Mexico! I had been told that it wasn’t worth visiting it and so didn’t stopped! So bad trusting people and thinking their wright!

  22. I am so excited to see a post on food in Cozumel! My husband and I love it there (as long as you get away from the cruise ship piers!), and we will definitely be visiting the restaurants you mentioned next time. Also, Emily’s websites has a bunch of great recs too!

  23. That menu at “La Sazon del Camaron” looks fabulous. Pulpo, caracol and chile relleno tacos? Oh my!!! I will take that ferry to Cozumel just to eat at that place. And the prices are so cheap.

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      I was so disappointed that I could only eat one shrimp taco, I would have liked to try much more.

  24. I’ve taken a few cooking classes on the road, but not a food tour. This looks really interesting, definitely something I’d like to try.

  25. Dropping by and catching up on your site never fails to make my mouth water at least once! I should really look into some awesome restaurants and cooking classes around here.

  26. Annie - FootTracker says:

    I love your first photo!

    Food tours are more interesting to me because they show some local flavors that larger tour groups don’t get.

  27. I always regretted not visiting Cozumel for the day. Sounds like really delicious eats. 🙂

  28. Really cool to learn more about Cozumel’s more real and true side!

  29. Getting Ex Girlfriend Back says:

    Wow that looks like an amazing trip – you really made the most of every minute and squeezed shop much in!

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