Noma Mexico's Santiago Lastra, who's now revolutionising Mexican food in London, shares his favourite dining destinations in Tulum.
Santiago Lastra, the chef behind the launch of Noma Mexico described as René Redzepi's right-hand man, recently opened his own Mexican restaurant, Kol, in London's Marylebone. Here the 30-year-old describes his favourite spots to eat, from restaurants to beach bars to taco joints, in his erstwhile home of Tulum.
Arca - Av. Boca Paila
Headed up by chef Jose Luis Hinostrosa, Arca is fun, cool and relaxed as well as being a very interesting dining experience from the moment you sit down. Everything gets cooked over the fire in an open kitchen. Expect a type of progressive and very fresh Mexican cuisine with a fine-dining and international approach. I recommend you to try the Mandarin and sea urchin, scallop ceviche and octopus’ tostada to start with, and then try anything you like from the menu. There is also a very interesting selection of Mexican spirits, cocktails and natural wines that are all worth trying.
Atila - Tulum Beach
Another one from Chef Jose Luis which is the only bio/natural wine bar in the Peninsula and in the whole country in fact. The concept is mostly European dishes but using Mexican ingredients. Highlights include the wood coconut flat bread, the charcuterie and the pork belly Sando. I recommend you go there for a light, chilled dinner or before dinner to have some small dishes and amazing wines. You really must try orange wine selection.
La Zebra - Tulum Beach
Chef Eleazar Bonilla has a very special focus on understanding heritage corn. He sources corn from different indigenous communities in Mexico and puts together a mixture of traditional everyday Mexican food with contemporary ideas in a very approachable and tasty way. I recommend you to go to La Zebra for lunch and try the fideo seco and the octopus, the ceviche on the beach and my favorite the vegetarian tacos of Poblano chili. La Zebra also has a chefs table experience that is bookable online a couple of nights per week, and showcases a slightly more ambitious fine-dining menu.
Honorio -Satélite Sur Sm10 lote 3, Centro
Honorio is an institution, a great example of genius traditional Mexican traditional cooking. It’s unpretentious, cheap, fast and extremely delicious. Honorio is a Yucatecan eatery, which mainly specialises in Cochinita (suckling pig marinated in achiote and sour orange and cooked in an underground oven wrapped in banana leaf). Because the cochinita is cooked overnight I recommend you to go there for breakfast first thing in the morning so the pork is perfectly tender and fresh out of the oven. You must also try the Cochinita tacos and the torta with all sauces and condiments, and maybe a hibiscus water or a cold beer.
La Chiapaneca - Calle Acuario Nte. 3
Imagine two huge trompos of juicy pastor and then loads of cooks making delicious stuff in an open kitchen, with all sorts of things going on in the back, in a corner of the main road of Tulum. The food is genius, simple and they have some healthier and lighter options than your typical taqueria, making it perfect for a light lunch or dinner. The food is primarily Yucatecan but it also has hints of what you might find in Mexico city and other parts of Mexico including Pastor as we know it. Recommendations include the chicken or Pastor salbute, cheese empanadas and the tacos.
Working in professional kitchens from the age of 15 and coming up through global institutions such as San Sebastian’s Mugaritz before embarking on traveling the globe - accepting guest chef invitations at high profile establishments including London’s Tate Modern and Hija de Sanchez in Copenhagen. Santiago returned to his homeland and launch NOMA Mexico in 2017 as Rene Redzepi’s right-hand man. He has recently opened his long-awaited debut restaurant Kol in London, where he recreates Mexican flavours using British ingredients.