Guests step into another world when they sit down at Riviera Maya Bar & Grill. The dining room shrouds guests in reincarnated ancient decor, as the food acts as a time-travel device that can be swallowed, like a photo of the '88 family reunion. In this winsome space, the staff serves tender strips of steak sizzling on a heaping fajita plate, loaded with grilled onions, tomatoes, and peppers. A variety of seafood adds a maritime flavor, such as camarones a la diabla, or shrimp possessed by the demon of spiciness. The kitchen team's dedication to authentic recipes is evident in modern creations such as Armando’s pizza, a mexican pizza that swaps in flour tortillas as the crust and supports toppings of beans, steak, and tomatoes.
Like the rooster that graces Sunrise Cafe’s logo, owners Scott and Jenny Horsfield rise with the sun. They spend the early hours of each morning overseeing the café’s kitchen, where cooks crack eggs, sizzle bacon, and whip up housemade jam starting at 6 a.m. Come lunchtime, the staff shifts gears, sandwiching corned beef between slices of bread and tossing spinach with strawberries and housemade dressing. Though Sunrise Cafe has been around for 24 years, it continues to modernize with the times, blanketing its booths and tables with free WiFi and forbidding the use of phonographs.
Mazatlan is a family restaurant that specializes in traditional recipes presented within a warmly welcoming environment free of rogue cannon fire or aluminum space bats. Spicy and mild-minded palates alike can mull over a full menu of savory standards such as custom-cooked steak or chicken fajitas ($11.75), as well as off-the-beaten-path treats such as seafood enchiladas with fish, crabmeat, and shrimp atop a bed of rice, guacamole, and pico de gallo ($8.99). Mazatlan's more straight-up specialties include the pineapple chicken grill topped with tomatoes, red onions, pineapple slices, and avocado ($10.75). And for anyone who has ever been tempted to order a taco that contained only more tacos, the fajita burrito ($8.99) might be the closest thing to living out the dream of foods wrapped within foods wrapped within foods. Once you've built up a solid mouth-fire, put it out with a signature 27-ounce Mazatlan Margarita (Tequila Cazadores, triple sec, sweet and sour mix, Red Bull, and Grand Marnier, $9.15) and some fried ice cream ($4.25).
A fireplace flickers and a fountain babbles at Mexico City Grill, where textured murals line the walls and booths. Seated at those colorful booths, diners savor entrees, such as Mexico City–style chimichangas and burritos stuffed with grilled steak, slow-roasted lamb, or pork marinated with guajillo chilies and pineapple juice. For a taste of the sea, try the Gulf de Mexico Feast—a spread of steamed clams, petite lobster tails, and other seafood. Bartenders mix cocktails and pour cold beer to pair with meals.
The ornate Asian tapestries that line the walls and tables of Thai Kitchen Restaurant reflect the authenticity and precision with which the eatery’s chefs craft signature curries and noodle dishes. The family recipes were tested and perfected over multiple generations, notable as much for their colorful presentation as they are for their piquant spices—though some entrees arrive on hot plates, others rest on beds of noodles and vegetables in the same clay pots used for baking. Though the house specials tend to evoke an air of the exotic, they share a menu with the dishes familiar to the first-time Thai-food eater, including the pad thai and pad kee mao dishes that have made Thai cuisine famous around the world. The soft glow of hanging lamps illuminates steam rising from the fragrant noodles and lends drama to chopstick duels over coveted spring rolls.
Since human mouth sizes are as diverse as human nationalities, El Bodegon caters to food-holes large and small with a rich menu of small-plate tapas and large-plate feasts. Provoke your bullish appetite by waving a starting round of bite-sized, veggie-friendly Spanish potato omelet slices ($2.50 each); rice-filled blood sausages served on rustic bread ($2.50 per slice); and petite servings of seafood paella with rice, shrimp, mussels, scallops, baby octopus, and saffron calamari ($2.95 per small plate) in front of it. Once you've packed the tabletop with a few empty plates, fill up the remaining space with robust entrees like a dozen steamed mussels in vinaigrette ($9.95), Venezuelan King's Arepas packed with shredded beef and avocado ($5.45), and rustic bocatas (Spanish for "sandwich" and German for "the vague suspicion that your roommate is mooching your shampoo") with Manchego cheese on crusty bread infused with tomatoes and olive oil ($4.95). To keep it properly Spanish without resorting to castanets or artificially heating up the blood with microwaves, pair your repast with some South American wine or homemade Sangria El Bodegon ($5 per glass, $18 pitcher).