Holidays for me reach beyond the grounds and facilities of a hotel, even those offering the very best of everything. I love to escape and see what's going on locally and in one of the Caribbean's most popular destinations, Cancun, there's plenty going on. Restaurants and bars compete with sumptuous offerings from the luxury hotels, and provide culinary delights to enjoy, beyond the hotel complex.
Where better to start than one of my favourite restaurants, Labna, an authentic local restaurant serving delicious Yucatecan cuisine. It's in the "Area Centro", and you can't miss it – Labna, which means ‘Old House' is designed to resemble the arch to a Mayan site. I love the music, the ambiance and the low lights, all complemented by excellent service and great food. I always feel as if I'm touching base with the real Cancun.
My perfect evening starts with a large Margarita, my husband always opts for a local beer- he's a worldwide expert on beer, and those of you who have a passion for beer, will appreciate his membership of CAMRA, and his long fight to retain real beer in the UK.
Back to Labna, where there's plenty to tempt the palate. Starters range from Lime Soup, Papadzules (corn tortillas stuffed with boiled eggs and pumpkin seed sauce) to Beef Chowder with vegetables, Shrimp Cocktail, Mexican Cactus Salad and more …
Mains include my husband's favourite Domestic Duck Mayahuel, where the duck is baked in green peanuts and basted in just enough chilli for the right kick! I have too many to mention but if pushed, I have to recommend Pibil Pork, where the pork is seasoned with achiote and local spices then wrapped in banana leaves and slow cooked.
I always finish off with either coconut custard or guave mousse, or for something really special try the butterscotch and walnut crepes, they are heaven.
For a romantic treat, try the Thai Lounge, an amazing restaurant on the edge of the Nichupte Lagoon, where you can watch sunset with a cocktail, then dine in the privacy of your own designated palapas on stilts over the water. As there are only 17 tables, book in advance and enjoy an evening of traditional Thai specialities. I love the roasted duck in coconut red curry, and the deep fried fish. I try not to miss this restaurant when I'm in Cancun, it's the best of the Far East and a unique dining experience in the heart of Cancun's hotel zone, so it's not far to go.
Navios is another restaurant that's worth a visit, specialising in Mexican fusion seafood. It's again perched by the lagoon and a great venue for lunch or dinner (go before sunset and be wowed!). The atmosphere is relaxed and low key. I adore the range of seafood and the wonderful creations that appear on your plate. It's not just about the presentation, the amazing range of seafood makes it difficult to choose and as such I have too many favourites to recommend, other than - go try it!
Eating on a budget in Cancun
If you are eating on a budget or just want to eat as a local, head for Mercado 28, Cancun's biggest market - it's worth a visit with or without food. Here you will find an array of food stalls and tiny restaurants. My favourite is Los Jarochos, an open kitchen where you can watch your food being cooked. Also worth a mention is the Cancun Bull Ring, where you'll find local business people and tourists alike enjoying delightful local foods at very reasonable prices.
Cancun-Riviera Maya hosts an amazing Food and Wine Festival each year – this year it runs from 13th – 16th March so why not book a trip to coincide, and taste the delights of world famous chefs. There will be a tribute to France's cuisine in the theme, Europe meets the Americas, so should be good!