Simple decoration, the food is what really matters
El Hechizo es the best and most sophisticated restaurant in Tulum. Its chef and owner, Stefan Schober is a highly professional chef, with a long experience as chef of the Ritz Carlton hotel chain. From Austrian parents, the mexican Schober met her wife when she was in charge of the Ritz Carlton Singapore patisserie. Ying-Hui Thai Low (Hui) now is the pastry chef of El Hechizo, and the responsible of the best dessert I ever had (not having sweet teeth): Dark Chocolate Fondant Torte with Coconut IceCream and Passion Fruit Coulis.
After going through the menu, we were too tempted by what we found in the upper section, we had two appetizers and a main. The home made tagliatelli with black truffle oil was just perfect. The truffle flavor densely but finely integrated in a creamy sauce. The sea scallops with prosciutto envoltini were also great, specially the scallops, really fresh and with the right texture (the tricky part of cooking scallops).
Our pick of main was the lobster tail on potato gnocchi, another great dish. Amazingly, we ended up fighting for the perfect gnocchi instead of the lobster mini-chops.
The wine list was disappointing, just 6-7 reds, four of them Chilean. As Stefan explained (he presents and explains the menu to every table), it is really tough to have and properly maintain wines in Tulum. It is very usually to find rotten wines even at the best restaurants, because of the heat. So Stefan’s decision to stick to the very few rotating wines he knows are well preserved may seem the right one. Maybe you should bring your own grand vin (there is a good La Europea wine store at Playa del Carmen, 40 miles away) to try to match the quality of the perfect food.
The Hartwood maintains its quality and unique atmosphere after its first years of operations. In my last visit 3 weeks ago, despite heavy tropical rains, the restaurant was open and its staff as smiley as ever.
And the crowd was always the same, locals from the hotel industry, tourists from Coqui Coqui hotel across the beach road and Newyorkers following Eric Werner’s trail from Brooklyn.
I had the usual watermelon & rum refreshing cocktail, that opened my carnivorous appetite to enjoy one of the best pork racks I’ve ever had. The pork is cooked in the wood oven for many hours, with the heat of the ashes left when the oven is turned off in the evenings. It is slowly cooked the whole night, and then served the following day. The meat is coated with agave pencas (the plant of which tequila is made) to prevent it from burning too much, giving it a unique flavor. Married the pork with a powerful and price balanced LA Cetto Nebbiolo, one of the best mexican wines in the mid-priced range.
I’ll be back again this week, I’m lucky enough to be in Tulum again…
Zamas Restaurant (in reality it is called “Que fresco!”, meaning”how fresh!” in Spanish) is a good option for the Tulum evenings. Located at a great spot on the beach, it offers tasty pizzas and some seafood dishes with a fun atmosphere of live music (tropical, drums, other). Tourists and some local mingle to spend a good time and occasional dancing under the thatched roof of the main place or on the beach seats.
Pizzas are by far the best option. Couple them with beer or a tropical drink as the wine list is too short. Leave your table and interact with the lively crowd, take a look at the waves in the beach with a mojito in your hand, and you will have a Tulum magic moment.
Zamas was of the first hotels and restaurants in Tulum. It dates back from December 1993. It is owned by a San Franciso couple: Daniel Vallejo McGettigan and Susan Bohlken. The kitchen is run by Paul Bentley.
The Zamas is one of the first hotels/restaurants on the Tulum – Boca Paila road in south direction, located at the km 5.0, in the most densely populated of the Tulum coastal road. Credit cards are not accepted. It opens daily for lunch and dinner (dinner is more fun). Check below the videos of live music parties at the Zamas Tulum.