Wow, this just keeps changing.. But the best ones remain...
The most common wish I hear from visitors to Holbox is that they hope it does not turn into another Playa del Carmen. My thoughts are the best way to do this is to keep the locals in business, happy and prosperous to not sell off their families' land.
So what follows is a list of LOCALLY owned businesses that I find to generally be more consistent (meaning the same chefs and employees- mostly because they are family owned) and in the case of the restaurants, to serve the local food as it has been prepared here for generations.
FRUTERIA LA CAMPECHANA: On the main road in front of the square. Fresh fruit store. The best liter of orange, grapefruit, or mandarin juice in a bag for about $2 USD.
OTHER FRUTERIAS; Man, they come and go! Right now there are tons all over so you will find them. Also, in the mornings great fruit juices and smoothies one street North of the main road between plaza and beach, behind hotel Wayak.
LAS PANCHAS : Directly behind Hotel La Palapa, this family cooks out of their kitchen, providing the best empanadas I have ever had. They also serve tamales, enchiladas, salbutes, etc. Try the empanadas made with cheese (queso) and chaya. For the more adventurous, they should also have Raya (ray) and Cazon (baby shark) empanadas.
PALAPA DEL MAR: Next to Holbox dream Hotel directly on the beach from 8:00- fresh orange juice and simple breakfasts.
LAS PANCHAS : Directly behind Hotel La Palapa, this family cooks out of their kitchen, now making comida corrida, or a typical local dish such as frijol con puerco or choco lomo. Big pots made daily sold at 50 pesos per huge serving. Excelent food at a great deal and a great way to sample true local cuisine.
BUENA VISTA GRILL: Directly behind Hotel Faro Viejo. Holbox’s best ceviche, cold beer, grilled fish and lobster, octopus, conch, etc. Conch is considered to be an extreme aphrodisiac and fertility symbol. Wonderful place to spend the afternoon looking at the ocean. (Note: the view is only blocked by the one wall- not the restaurant in front that is beach front- no longer local).
POLLO MAGO: In front of the square on the west side. Daily specials and mainstays.
PALAPA DEL MAR : On the beach next to Holbox Dream hotel. Fresh fish, ceviche, and fresh coconuts picked by the wonderful family that runs it. (It is believed that if a local offers you a coconut you will return to Holbox- and if you take it with alcohol- well, that;s what I did….)
RASTA PALAPA: On the beach in front of Hotel Casa Sandra. Food changes daily depending on the catch. True local experience with wonderful local fishermen. Grab a hammock and relax…
LAS PALMAS (OR “CON LETY”): From the main road “Tiberon Ballena” up towards the ferry pier take the Paseo KUKA (there is a rentadora on that corner) and go two blocks west. Local seafood and daily specials.
ZARABANDA: One block towards the lagoon from the pizzeria on the square. More seafood, stuffed avocados, Veracruz style whole fsh, and regional favorites such as poc chuc
AFTER LUNCH TREAT: ICE CREAM!!!! Two blocks towards the lagoon from the Pizzeria on the square- WORTH THE SEARCH! Homemade waffle cones and natural coconut ice cream…mmmmmmm
If you cant find that one Helados Meresa is also local and sold almost everywhere, the main house is on the street behind the church. Just ring the doorbell…
WONDERFUL LUNCH TO GO:
LA POLLERIA: On the main road a few blocks towards the lagoon from the square. Daily grilled chicken with a simple pasta soup, rice, and cabbage. Sold by the 1/4, 1/2 or whole chicken.
VIVA ZAPATA: 1/2 block west of the square. Local guys who have spent time cooking in Europe. Wonderful grilled seafood and steaks and pastas. Reopening mid December with original cooks
PIZZERIA EDELYN (CON CHEFO): On the southwest corner of the square. Famous lobster pizza and other menu options. Great place to watch Holbox at night.
BUENA VISTA GRILL: See lunch- sometimes also open for dinner
SIRENITA: One block towards the lagoon from Internet Antonio. Regional food- WONDERFUL sopes, panuchos, salbutes, chalupitas, THE BEST chicken soup, etc.
TAQUERIA TIO NICO: Next to Pollo Mago, lots of salsas to add to your choice of tacos.
MISC: Fresh tortillas in either of the two tortillerias on the main road
HAVANA NIGHT: Main shopping road next to Viva Zapata
DON ANTONIO: One block West of the SW corner of the square. Clean, comfortable, cheap intenet access.
Tony is also the guy to ask about buying land
BABY SHARK: On the road from the hotels to town.
BABY SHARK: On the shopping road
ARTESIANAS LELIA: On the SW corner of the square. Wonderful shells and shell crafts, many made locally by the owner herself at great prices. A must see!
SHELL ART: Next to Willy's supermarket, forgive me on the name, i will have to add it later- it says something about snails (caracol shells)
All of the super/mini marts are locally owned. Remember prices will be a bit higher than mainland Mexico. After having made the trip here from Cancun yourselves, think of the logistics of getting everything here!
O.K., this is a good one. ALL boats leaving from Holbox to see the whalesharks are locally owned. The captains and most guides are locals as well. But, if you reserve through your hotel or another agency they will obviously take a cut. Prices are generally the same but I find it easier to simply reserve once on Island with a local agency (Willy's, Cholecos, Mogels, etc.- some of those also have web sites, your best bet is the worse the English, the more likely they are to be local...) Generally there is room to get on a boat even in the highest of season so no reason to reserve through another agency. This applies to all tours and transport. A huge money maker for the hotels- better to get here and ask the locals.
Hope you Enjoy Real Holbox!!!