15+ Yucatán food items to try in Mérida, Mexico (& where to get them!)

In this guide we’re sharing 15+ Yucatán food items that you should try while in Mérida, plus where to find them!

One of our favorite ways to experience a new culture when traveling is through its food. Trying local foods not only gives your taste buds an exciting, new experience, but it is also the chance to learn about local ingredients and cooking methods, which often date back many years, providing a history lesson along the way.

And if we had to pick a favorite country to eat in, it’s probably Mexico! Mexican food is one of our favorite cuisines and we even visited Mexico City back in 2019 solely to go eat tacos (we did more than that, don’t worry!). But even if you think you’ve tried Mexican food before, each region of Mexico specializes in different dishes, providing a huge amount of variety in cuisine all across the country. And Mérida is no exception! 

Watch us try 12+ Yucatán food items while in Mérida, Mexico, including many that we are sharing in this guide!

Mérida and the Yucatán Peninsula as a whole are home to so many dishes that are unlike anything we have ever tried. And one of our big focuses when spending two weeks in Mérida was trying as many Yucatán food items as we could. Some of which we loved so much we had many times! 

And in this guide we’re sharing 15+ Yucatán food items that we loved while in Mérida, plus some of their origins and where you can find them. We hope you enjoy eating your way through the city as much as we did!

Looking for more things to do in Mexico? Check out our Mexico guides and vlogs!

Note: this guide contains affiliate links, which means that if you use the links provided and make a purchase, we get a small commission at no extra cost to you. We will only ever recommend products we truly love, actually use during our adventures, and think you can benefit from too!

What is Yucatán food like?

The phrase Yucatán refers to both the state of Yucatán, which is where Mérida is, as well as the Yucatán Peninsula, which includes the states of Yucatán, Quintana Roo, and Campeche, plus small parts of Belize and Guatemala. 

Yucatán cuisine is influenced by Mayan culture, as well as Lebanese, North African, Spanish, Dutch, and Caribbean cuisines. From our time in Mérida trying a bunch of Yucatán food items, some common ingredients you’ll come across are:

  • Turkey, which is one of the main meat options, along with pork
  • Eggs, especially hard boiled
  • Citrus, including lima agria (a sour lime found in the region) and naranja agria (sour orange)
  • Habanero
  • Chaya, which is a Yucatecan spinach
  • Queso de bola, which is Edam cheese from the Netherlands

Yucatán food is flavorful and has a good mix of spicy and sour (from the citrus), as well as a heartiness from tender meat that has been slow cooked, eggs, and cheese. But the flavor profiles are very different from most of the Mexican food we have tried before.

There are interesting ingredient combinations that you wouldn’t necessarily think to put together, like hard boiled eggs in a pumpkin seed type sauce, but they work so well together. At times, we struggled to explain what our taste buds experienced because it was so unique, but we left every meal extremely happy, even if we weren’t sure how to describe what we just ate.

15+ must try Yucatán food items in Mérida, Mexico

Below are 15+ Yucatán food items that we highly suggest trying in Mérida, Mexico, plus where to try them, including the spots we enjoyed them at, plus other options. One thing you’ll find in Mérida is that many restaurants specialize in Yucatán cuisine, so you can easily visit one or two restaurants and try most of these dishes, but we would recommend going to as many spots as you can!

Note: We are mostly focusing on places close to the main tourist area of town, near Plaza Grande and Paseo de Montejo, which are all easy to get to if staying in or near Centro.


Salbutes (sahl-BOO-tehs) are thick corn tortillas that are dropped in hot oil. Once it puffs up, it is taken out and the top is crushed down and filled with toppings. The outside is still a bit crispy, while the inside is nice and soft, making them still pliable and easy to hold and eat. 

We really enjoyed eating these with more saucy or heartier meat options, as they are much thicker than standard corn tortillas and stay together better when loaded up with juicy, meaty goodness.

Where to try it

You can find salbutes at tons of restaurants, taco stands, and markets all over Mérida, but we especially enjoyed them at Taqueria La Lupita! Some other places that offer them are:


Panuchos (pah-NOO-chohs) may have been our favorite tortilla based Yucatán food item we tried! These are tortillas that are cooked on the comal and then split open and filled with beans, before going into some oil to crisp it up a bit and then being topped with meat and other toppings.

Compared to salbutes, these are much thinner and crispier, but what we loved about them is the beans in the middle, which adds a bit of a creaminess and heartiness.

Where to try it

Panuchos can also be found in most places where you’ll find salbutes and once again, we really enjoyed them at Taqueria La Lupita. We also loved them at Taquería de la Unión too! These restaurants also offer them:


Polcanes (pole-khan-ess) are made of corn dough mixed with toksel, which is ground pumpkin seeds, plus lima beans and chives, before being fried. On menus you can find these cut in half and stuffed with your choice of a protein and other toppings.

The name polcan comes from the Mayan words pol and can, meaning “head” and “snake”. They used to be more oval in shape, like the head of a snake, but nowadays, they’re typically round and resemble gorditas. 

Where to try it

We tried polcanes at Taquería de la Unión and they were crispy and flaky with a tender inside. Taqueria La Lupita also has them, although we didn’t try them there, as will most taco stands in town!

Lechón al Horno

Lechon Al Horno | 15+ Yucatán food items to try in Mérida, Mexico (& where to get them!)

One of the best toppings for tacos, panuchos, salbutes, and tortas is lechón al horno! This is roasted, suckling pig and it usually comes with a piece of chicharron (fried pork skin) gently placed on top! It is juicy, tender, and moist meat with a crunchy bite that makes a perfect flavor and texture combo!

Where to try it

Once again, the best lechón al Horno we had in Mérida was from Taqueria La Lupita. We promise we will share some different spots soon! We also did have it at Taquería de la Unión, but it didn’t come with the chicharron on top, which in our opinion, takes it to the next level. 

La Terraza Amarilla Todo Esquisito looks to have amazing lechón al Horno too!

Relleno Negro

Salbutes with Relleno Negro | 15+ Yucatán food items to try in Mérida, Mexico (& where to get them!)

This Yucatecan food item has roots all the way back to the Mayans. Relleno Negro is turkey that is in a thick black sauce that is made from roasted chilies and other spices. And it is served with hard boiled eggs on top and also with but (“boot”), which is a meatball.

It is such a unique dish because for one, it’s black, which beyond squid ink dishes, is a pretty uncommon color for food. It’s also the first time we have ever seen hard boiled eggs on a taco, which is such a unique addition, but only adds an extra richness and creaminess with the egg yolk.

Where to try it

If you want to try it in taco form, Taqueria La Lupita was our go to! But you can also try it by itself at La Chaya Maya and Museo de la Gastronomia Yucateca – MUGY.

Cochinita Pibil

Cochinita Pibil is quite possibly the most iconic dish in the Yucatán. It is pork that is marinated in citrus, seasoned with achiote paste, and wrapped in a banana leaf, before being slow cooked in a fire pit underground, called a piib. 

It is served with pickled onions and a habanero salsa, which adds the perfect kick, and is usually eaten as tacos. 

We LOVED this dish! It is extremely flavorful, with tons of citrus notes, as well as spiciness (not necessarily in heat, but more so in flavor) from the achiote and other spices in it. It is also very juicy, keeping the pork nice and moist.

Where to try it

You can find Cochinita Pibil almost anywhere in Mérida and we hear many locals like to grab it from markets, but if you want to try it at a restaurant Manjar Blanco is where we went and it was delicious! They were actually featured on Netflix’s Taco Chronicles specifically for their Cochinita Pibil.

La Chaya Maya and Museo de la Gastronomia Yucateca – MUGY serve it as well and we will say, the Cochinita Pibil taco from Taqueria La Lupita was insanely delicious!


Vaporcitos are another Yucatán food item that has roots from the pre-Columbian Mayans. These are Yucatecan style tamales and can be cooked in different ways such as baked, steamed, or cooked in an underground oven, like Cochinita Pibil. 

But what makes these different are that they are wrapped in different leaves, like banana, as opposed to corn husks, and the dough on these tamales is much thinner than a regular tamale. These are especially popular for Candlemas Day, which is a religious holiday celebrated in many areas of Mexico. 

Where to try it

We unfortunately didn’t have time to try these, but we did see some at the Lucas De Galvez Market and La Familia (Tamales Horneados y Vaporcitos) sells them too!

Sopa de Lima

Sopa de Lima | 15+ Yucatán food items to try in Mérida, Mexico (& where to get them!)

One of our favorite Yucatán food items we tried in Mérida was Sopa de lima. This is similar to tortilla soup, with some of the same ingredients and topped with crispy tortilla strips. However, what makes it different is the lima, or lime. This isn’t just any lime, this is a Yucatecan lime called lima agria which are sour limes grown in this area.

The taste is similar to tortilla soup, but with a much more tangy kick from the lime. Even on a 90 degree day in Mérida, it was delicious!

Where to try it

La Chaya Maya, Manjar Blanco, and Museo de la Gastronomia Yucateca – MUGY are all great spots to try it. But we will say, the best Sopa de Lima that we tried in Mérida was during our cenotes tour, where we ate at a local’s house!

Queso Relleno

Queso Relleno | 15+ Yucatán food items to try in Mérida, Mexico (& where to get them!)

Queso Relleno is edam cheese, which is a type of cheese from the Netherlands, that is stuffed with ground meat, raisins, olives, capers, hard boiled eggs, and spices. It is then covered in a tomato based sauce and surrounded by a white sauce called K’ool, which is made with flour, lard, and chicken broth.

It’s a very interesting combination with some ingredients we normally don’t care for, like raisins for Kathryn and olives for both of us, but thankfully they were all ground up well and the flavors all work so well together!

The cheese itself is a semi-hard cheese, so it is somewhat melted from being cooked, but still maintains some firmness. The mix of the cheese and the tomato based sauce reminded us a bit of an Italian dish, which was very different from the other Yucatán food items we tried!

Where to try it

We tried our queso relleno at Manjar Blanco, but La Chaya Maya offers it as well. And for a unique twist, try it in taco form at La Terraza Amarilla Todo Esquisito


Kibis | 15+ Yucatán food items to try in Mérida, Mexico (& where to get them!)

Along with our favorite taco ever, tacos al pastor, kibis came with the arrival of the Lebanese immigrants during the 19th and 20th centuries. This food item is very similar to kibbeh, the national dish of Lebanon, and is a fried oval made from wheat and ground meat. They are often cut open and filled with red onion and chopped cabbage.

They are dense and have an interesting texture, as the wheat used is typically cracked wheat, which is more coarse. And to be honest, we didn’t love them, but we also aren’t 100% sure if we tried the best that Mérida has to offer. We didn’t find them to be overly flavorful, they kind of just tasted like bread, and it could’ve used a sauce potentially to moisten it up a bit. The cabbage did help add some freshness and crispiness though! 

Despite us not loving them, we’d still suggest trying them, as they are cheap. Ours were $15 MXN, which is around $0.80.

Where to try it

These can be found all over town from little carts with clear glass containers. We found ours right here, just outside of the Lucas de Galvez Market. We also saw some stands along Paseo de Montejo and at some of the plazas in the afternoons and evenings.


One of our favorite kinds of meat is pork belly and the Yucatán has its own version of this delicious cut of meat called castacan.

We read it is best with cheese, which is basically our life rule anyways so we tried castacan with cheese (and onions for Adam) on tacos and tortas and they were ridiculously good! The fatty, tender meat with the gooey cheese was a very rich, but ridiculously good combo!

Where to try it

Wayan’e is known for their amazing castacan tacos, which were in the top 3 best things we ate in Mexico! But we also tried the castacan at Taquería de la Unión and it was also delicious!


Papadzules (Papad-zoolez) are thought to be one of the oldest traditional Yucatán dishes. They are corn tortillas dipped in a sauce made of ground pumpkin seeds, broth, and epazote, which is an herb with notes of oregano, anise, citrus, and mint. 

The tortillas are then stuffed with boiled eggs, rolled up, and draped in more sauce, with some habanero salsa and even more eggs on top. They are basically egg enchiladas!

It’s a super rich dish, with lots of egg yolk and a creamy sauce. You can taste the notes of the epazote in the sauce, but it’s not overpowering and the best way we could describe it was delicate. It was a tad addicting as well…I wanted to just spoon feed myself the sauce!

Where to try it

We had papadzules at La Chaya Maya and would highly recommend it from there! Manjar Blanco and Museo de la Gastronomia Yucateca – MUGY La Tradición also serve papadzules.

Poc Chuc

La Chaya Maya Casona | 20 FUN things to do in Mérida, Mexico | Yucatán Food | Mérida Food

Another pork dish with Mayan roots is poc chuc (poke-chook). Poc means “to toast” and chuc means “charcoal” and poc chuc is wood fired grilled pork cutlets that have been marinated in citrus! It’s usually served with black bean soup, cooked onions, chiltomate (a habanero and tomato salsa), avocado and a sour orange to squeeze over it. 

As big fans of grilled meat, we LOVED this dish! It is so simple, yet super flavorful. The meat not only has a great grill flavor, but you can really taste the tang of the citrus. It’s a thin cut of meat (at least the one we had was), so the flavors really go all the way through it. 

Where to try it

We had poc chuc at La Chaya Maya and it was so good! It was a dish that we really wanted to go back and try again. Similar to many of the dishes above, Manjar Blanco and Museo de la Gastronomia Yucateca – MUGY also have poc chuc on the menu.

Huevos Motuleños

This dish is named after the Yucatecan city of Motul and consists of over-easy eggs, refried black beans, ham, peas, cheese, and a habanero salsa, all on top of a tostada. It often comes with fried plantains too!

This was another dish that was pretty unique to us. We don’t eat peas often, especially for breakfast, but once again, it all just worked together so well! You get a bit of saltiness and savoriness from the ham, sweetness from the plantains, spiciness from the salsa, and creaminess of the cheese.

Where to try it

Many restaurants in town have this dish for breakfast, but if you can, you must go to Maiz, Canela y Cilantro, which has a beautiful back patio area and you can even see into the kitchen, which looks just like the kitchen in a house. You really feel like you’re just eating in someone’s backyard! It’s only open on the weekends though, so if you need another option, Huevos Motuleños y Mas is another good choice!


Marquesitas are like crunchy crepes that taste similar to a waffle cone and are a very popular sweet treat on the Yucatán Peninsula! Marquesita are said to have originated in Mérida in the 1900s when an ice cream vendor’s sales were down in the winter, so he created the marquesita to use the waffle cone in a different way. 

The batter, which tastes similar to a waffle cone, is poured onto a grill, and traditionally is filled with shredded queso de bola, which is edam cheese (the same as the queso relleno), and then is rolled up once crispy!

You can put other toppings in it too, with nutella, cajeta (caramel), and lechera (condensed milk) being some popular options. We tried a nutella and cheese and a cajeta, lechera, and cheese and both were super good. Cheese sounds a bit strange with a waffle cone, but combined with the sweetness of nutella or caramel it kind of reminded us of cheesecake, just in shredded form. The sweet and salty flavors play well together!

Where to try it

These can be found all over Mérida from little stands that pop up at night. What’s cool about them is many of the stands are driven around by an attached motorcycle! We tried two stands and our favorite was this marquesita stand because he really loaded up the ingredients!

Sikil Pac

Sikil Pak | 15+ Yucatán food items to try in Mérida, Mexico (& where to get them!)

We first tried this at La Chaya Maya and thought it was a bean dip (oops!), but have since learned that it was sikil pac, which is a dip made of ground pumpkin seeds and other ingredients. 

We went on a guided cenotes tour with a local guide and we ate lunch afterward at a local’s home (amazing experience, btw!) and our guide told us what the dip was and a light bulb went off in our head, “wait…this is what we had a La Chaya Maya!”

It kind of reminded us of hummus, as it was creamy, but also had some texture to it. We really loved it and wished we could’ve had it more while in Mérida.

Where to try it

We didn’t see it listed on any restaurant menus, but it was served as a free appetizer at La Chaya Maya!

Agua de chaya con piña or lima

Chaya con Piña | 15+ Yucatán food items to try in Mérida, Mexico (& where to get them!)

Chaya is known as the Yucatecan spinach and can be found in several Yucatán food items, including in drinks! 

When we were at Wayan’e, someone else dining there told us to try the agua de chaya con piña (pineapple), and it was SO good that we then had to order it everywhere we went for the rest of the trip. Many places offer it with lima instead of piña, but both versions are so refreshing!

And if you’re worried about a strong earthy, spinach taste, don’t be! We found it to be super mild and fruity!

Where to try it

We saw this on almost every restaurant’s menu, so we’d suggest getting it anywhere you can!

Longaniza de Valladolid  

Longaniza de Valladolid is a sausage originating from the nearby town of Valladolid. It is pork sausage made with ancho chili, garlic, vinegar, and other spices.

At first glance, you may think it is chorizo, but it has a different spice blend from chorizo. Similarly to chorizo, it can be eaten as a sausage link or crumbled up into tacos or other dishes. When we were in Mérida we tried it in queso fundido at Taquería de la Unión and it was the perfect addition!

Where to try it

Besides just as a queso fundido addition, Taquería de la Unión also has Longaniza de Valladolid tacos! You can also find this meat option at Museo de la Gastronomia Yucateca – MUGY, La Chaya Maya, and Manjar Blanco.

Want another way to experience Yucatán food? 

Mercado Santiago | 20 FUN things to do in Mérida, Mexico

If trying these Yucatán food items on your own seems daunting or you just want a different way to experience them, book a tour!

You can book market tours in Mérida, where you’ll have a local take you around the markets and have you try different food items. These two tours look great!

You can also book a cooking class! This sounds like a ton of fun, as you’ll not only get to visit a market to get ingredients, but you’ll then get to make some items yourself, learning the history and cooking methods along the way. Here are two cooking class options!

Tips for trying local foods in Mérida

Taqueria La Lupita | 20 FUN things to do in Mérida, Mexico | Yucatán Food | Mérida Food

Know some Spanish 

Although many places you’ll visit in and around Mérida will have people who can speak at least some English, Spanish is the official language of Mexico and it’s always helpful to know a few common phrases to show respect and get your needs across clearly. 

Some helpful phrases for ordering and paying include:

  • I would like – Me gustaria un/a taco
  • I want a ___- quiero un/a ____
  • Sin – without
  • Con – with
  • The check, please – la cuenta, por favor
  • Propina – tip
  • Por ciento – percent
  • Learning numbers will be helpful for ordering and paying

Some other helpful Spanish phrases while eating out:

  • Where is the bathroom? – ¿Dónde está el baño?
  • Good morning – Buenos días
  • Good afternoon – Buenas tardes
  • Thank you – gracias
  • Please – por favor
  • How are you? – Cómo está?
  • Good – bien
  • Excuse me – disculpe
  • I’m sorry – lo siento
  • Busco un… – I’m looking for…
  • Learn more phrases here

We love practicing our Spanish with the Duolingo app. If you spend a couple weeks learning Spanish it will be very helpful for your trip! 

ATM Mexico

Carry cash 

You’ll definitely want to carry some cash in Mexico. Many restaurants and other businesses will only accept cash and you’ll soon find out that you have to pay a small fee (usually $5-10 pesos) to use public bathrooms. To read some tips on using ATMs in Mérida, check out our detailed guide to visiting Mérida.

You may seat yourself

At many restaurants, including both taco shops and more formal restaurants, we found that you aren’t always seated and you are expected to seat yourself. We personally liked this, as it allowed us to pick the table that we wanted the most!

You might have to flag your waiter down

In the US it’s expected that your waiter will check on you often, but in Mérida, that didn’t seem to be the norm. Most waiters only came by if we flagged them down, so be prepared to do so!

You will likely need to ask for the bill

Unlike in the US, where waiters will automatically bring you the bill, we always had to ask for the bill in Mérida. Similar to above, you may need to waive them down to ask and saying “la cuenta, por favor,” does the trick!


Make sure to tip your waiter! We always tipped at least 20%, just like we do back in the US. If the place accepts cards, make sure to tell them you want to tip on the card. Most of our waiters used a handheld credit card reader, so you won’t leave the tip on the receipt. 

Ready to try these Yucatán foods in Mérida?

Pin this blog with Yucatán food items to help plan your meals in Mérida!

15+ Yucatán food items to try in Mérida, Mexico (& where to get them!)

about us

Hi y’all! We’re Adam, Kathryn, and Kona, an adventurous married couple (+ pup!) living on the road in our self-converted sprinter van! You can often find us driving all around the US and Canada, scoping out the best coffee shops, eating tacos and ice cream (we’re a 5+ taco and 2+ scoop household), and enjoying nature.


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