As two of the best new restaurants in Tulum, Arca and Nu are both making waves among international foodies by serving up contemporary Mayan fare that’s inspired by Mexico’s storied food history. Both situated on the jungle side of the Tulum beach road, these two new restaurants drill deep into the wonders of fire, smoke and Yucatecan food, offering two very unique dining experiences in one of the world’s most incredible vacation destinations.
Perhaps the current trend can be traced directly back to when major bucket-list Danish eatery Noma opened a seven-week pop-up restaurant in Tulum a few years ago, selling out at $600 per plate in mere hours. Jose Luis Hinostroza - who is now a partner at Arca in Tulum - was one of Noma’s chefs at the time, and he worked with local Maya communities to grow long-lost produce and cook with fire in earthen pits (pibil)
Best Places to Eat in Tulum 2019
Born in San Diego, growing up Hinostroza traveled between California and Tijuana and previously worked at Alinea in Chicago and at El Cellar de Can Roca in Spain, which are both at the top of radar for international culinary fanatics.
“You grow up around the magic, but I was blindsided by all that it holds”, he shared on chefsroll.com. “Being a part of the Noma test kitchen allowed me to do what so many chefs dream of doing - the opportunity to discover my own culture and roots through cooking”.
After the pop-up closed, Hinostroza returned to Tulum as a partner at Arca, which is a restaurant that is firmly rooted in traditional Mexican and Mayan fare with a modernist spin. Like most everything along the beach and jungle sides of the Hotel Zone in Tulum, the restaurant is off-grid and the dining room makes the most of its lush jungle environment.
“The exquisite meal was branded with char marks, perfumed with smoke and rustic”, wrote food critic Mia Stainsby for the Vancouver Sun “The clean, pure flavors of this dinner took us all the way back to the ancient Maya table”.
Not far away, Nu is another relatively new restaurant in Tulum serving up contemporary Mexican fare inspired by the country’s rich cultural connections with food. All about cooking with fire, guests can expect to see flames leaping into wild shapes from wood-fired grilles as the wood-fired oven glows like a second sunset into the evening.
“Charred xcatic pepper taco with pork belly and tomato puree was paired with dzikilpack (which I learned is pumpkin seed sauce) and chiltomate, a habanero and tomato sauce”, wrote Stainsby of the dining experience at Nu in Tulum.
Both of these new eateries in Tulum seem to make the most of Earth, Wind and Fire, plating up mouthwatering feasts that are picked and made fresh each day, yet still thousands of years old.
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