My early trips to Cozumel were 100% for diving. Once I moved here, my city foodie roots took hold and I had to go beyond the guidebook listings and find Cozumel’s best restaurants, for myself.
Good news: The food scene is way better than I even imagined, and getting better every day.
Cozumel’s best restaurants include high-quality Italian, modern Mexican fusion, beach-front surf-and-turfs, Brazilian grill houses, and a few special new spots for bao, Indian food, and sushi. The island is also home to a wide range of excellent traditional Mexican restaurants, from established fine dining to drool-worthy street tacos and sweets.
Cozumel has an impressively diverse foodie scene, now including hip outdoor food courts, diet-specialty services (think vegan, keto, and paleo), and a wide variety of international cuisines, including Indonesian, Indian, Brazilian, Chinese, pizza, burgers, seafood, bao, vegetarian, French pastries, artisan ice cream, fine chocolates, and more.
This overview of Cozumel’s best restaurants will give you a quick taste and some top picks of what and where to eat while you’re visiting.
And like several other features of our island life, you can enjoy lots of these suggestions on a budget, while others are more elevated sit-down establishments, very worthy of serious special occasions.
But all of them are delicious and charming.
Don’t miss our other specific posts on Cozumel’s best restaurants, including:
- Our favorite pizza places on the island – read here
- Best local tacos to order – read here
- Cool coffee spots – read here
- Cozumel’s Mouthwatering Mexican Food
- Best Italian Restaurants in Cozumel
- Cozumel’s Best Pizza
- Best International Restaurants in Cozumel
- Popular Cozumel Favorites: Buccanos and Shi Fu Restaurants
- Best Burgers in Cozumel
- Cozumel’s Best Sweet Desserts
Cozumel’s Mouthwatering Mexican Food
You just can’t include every great Mexican restaurant in Cozumel. There are just too many!
Cozumel’s Mexican Street Food
Turn down any street and follow your nose, and you’ll likely find a small kitchen turning out delicious tacos and tortas, huaraches, gorditas, empanadas, or fire-roasted meats.
You might prefer a super-fresh chilled ceviche made from today’s fresh catch and local limes.
Or maybe a freshly squeezed tropical juice, mango ice cream, carefully sourced cold-brew coffee, or hundreds of other tasty local favorites for a quick snack or something to pack up for the dive boat or your sunset picnic.
A trip to Cozumel’s central Mercado Municipal will also prove to be an explosion of delicious homemade Mexican foods, as well as some more exotic favorites.
Fruit stands and spice shops rub elbows with butchers, fishmongers, tortilla makers, and deft cooks, quickly turning out lots of the food Cozumel is well-known for, like cochinita pibil, huevos divorciados, tamales, tostadas, pozole stew with pork and hominy, empanadas, hand-rolled tortillas, and lots more.
Vendors and purveyors are busy from early morning to mid-afternoon, serving locals and ex-pats who’ve come to get their fill.
Everyone also wants to know “where do the locals go for the best tacos”?! Well, see below for some quick picks, and read this related post on ordering Cozumel’s best tacos).
Moving up the fancy chain from tacos, there are loads of sit-down restaurants serving some fine plates of Yucatan Specialties from the region.
Top Mexican Restaurant Picks in Cozumel:
Best Italian Restaurants in Cozumel
Coming from New York City, and New Haven before that, it’s easy to be an Italian food snob.
I was a pessimist at first about what I would find living in Cozumel. Turns out, I was way wrong to doubt, and I’m so happy I was!
So first off, can we agree that Italian food is THE most universally loved cuisine? I mean, world-wide. No matter where you go, you can find a place for pasta and pizza. Maybe not the best ever, but…it’s usually there.
Well, it’s definitely here in Cozumel, and it is definitely NOT just average. Precisely the opposite.
The shortlist of good Italian food in Cozumel has to start with the leader of the pack, Guido’s.
Guido’s has been around since 1978 and has some of the most refined food and service on the island.
Often the choice for special occasions, Guido’s is the place. (reservations recommended)
Rolandi’s is a similarly classy joint with professional service and stellar pasta and pizza dishes. They also delight by having several show-stopping flaming desserts (think: bananas foster), so Roland’s is an excellent choice when you have a special birthday or another celebration you want to light up.
Choose the lovely waterside dining section outside, and you’ve got some solid romance (but still reasonable prices) for any day of the week.
New and noteworthy! A newcomer that is fast taking Cozumel’s restaurant scene by storm is K’ooben Laab. This charmer is a small and modest place, that opened with only a few seats.
But there is nothing modest about the skill and quality of this homemade pasta and Italian food – it’s just incredible.
You have to try this place – if only to take out one of their signature sourdough bread. But do yourself a favor, and stay for a plate of pasta or other special of the day. You won’t regret it! (find more info on K’ooben Laab here).
Cozumel’s Best Pizza
The pizza game in Cozumel has also really improved in the last several years.
If you’re a pizza fanatic, check out our full post on the top 11+ best and most interesting pizza picks in Cozumel – here on the site.
Or simply choose from this shortlist of favorites, below, and you’ll be off to a great start.
Our Top Cozumel Pizza Picks:
Best International Restaurants in Cozumel
Moving on from Mexican and Italian, the choices keep going.
Diverse Cultural Food Picks in Cozumel:
Lebanese – Arabian Taco
Sushi – Cozumel Dreaming
Indian – Hindu Food Service (opened new dine-in spot in July 2021!)
Vegan/Vegetarian – La Cuisine Cozumel
Argentinian – Del Sur Parrilla Argentina
Lobster Sandwich – no other than the BEST one at Le Chef
Popular Cozumel Favorites: Buccanos and Shi Fu Restaurants
I came to the conclusion that these two unique restaurants just need their own mini-section.
Buccanos is a lovely beach club, by day. It’s a great choice for some swimming and sunbathing, all with a nice, fun menu, good drinks, and especially nice service, grounds, pool, and bathrooms, etc.
But at night?! Buccanos – and now its newer sister restaurant Shi Fu – are serious fine dining destinations.
Buccanos has a great menu featuring lots of steak, shrimp, and lobster dishes.
Shi Fu, meanwhile, has a really sophisticated Asian-fusion menu, really allowing some brand new tastes and sensory experiences that are also delicious.
Definitely try these two places if you can – they are two of the most popular restaurants in Cozumel.
Best Burgers in Cozumel
As you can imagine, like ‘best pizza’ on the island, the argument rages over Cozumel’s best burger.
This burger lover still finds herself disappointed here quite a bit…that said, here are the crowd-sourced favorites. Lately! This could all change by next year…stay tuned for updates!
Our Best Cozumel Burger Picks (as of 2021):
Cozumel’s Best Sweet Desserts
No matter where I’ve gone in Cozumel, I seem to always have to get dessert once I see their selections. Key lime pie at the Key Lime Pie Factory (north end), flaming banana splits at Rolandi’s, hot fresh churros at Kondesa, the incredible chocolate cake at K’ooben Laab, and I better stop because my mouth is watering.
As if regular, homemade ice creams, gelatos, and fresh mango smoothies were not enough!
Mexico is also the land of homemade pastries and bread – pick up a tray and tongs in the grocery store like Mega or Chedraui – and select a number of freshly baked treats to sample (for incredibly low prices).
Or visit one or two of the beautiful cake shops all over town.
Each holiday has its own traditional treats, so take a look when you’re doing your shopping in Mega or Chedraui – that’s sometimes the best way to get an insider’s look at the local culture.
Pan del Muerto (Bread of the Dead, around Day of the Dead celebrations Nov. 1-2), or a Rosca de Reyes (Cake of the Kings, for Three Kings Day on January 6) – these and many others are some of the special tastes of Mexico. Try them!
Honestly? Just try whatever looks good to you. You can’t lose.
There are so many great choices. For one, read our related post on our favorite coffee bars in town – many of those have delicious sweet treats that go perfectly with coffee.
And my next favorite – always – is ice cream.
I’ve had some of the best ice cream after dinner at the Hotel Casa del Mar restaurant. They buy fresh, homemade ice cream almost daily from a woman in town. Get the coconut before it runs out!
But coconut ice cream is also a favorite at a little shop in the town square, at the wonderful El Moro restaurant, and at many places around town. Cozumel is coconut ice cream country!
Another of those only-in-Cozumel experiences the island is known for can be found handmade and hand-delivered by the man we affectionately call the Churro Man, Javier.
The Churro Man can be seen nearly every day riding his bike up and down the main drags of town with his signature blue container. That blue bucket of love is full of some of the most freshly baked, warm and delicious churros you’re likely to find! And they’re usually stuffed with either sweet cream, raspberry jam, or chocolate.
He is one of the many spontaneous highlights during a stay on the island, so if you see him – don’t hesitate to wave him over, try a fresh churro, and chat a while!
That’s how real traveling memories are made. Cozumel, style.