Travelling as a vegetarian in Merida? The biggest city in Mexico’s Yucatan peninsula is brimming with vegan and vegetarian-friendly restaurants and street food.
After some less than impressive vegetarian food when we were backpacking in Valladolid, we were relieved to arrive in the city of Merida in Mexico. Travelling vegetarian in Merida was an absolute pleasure. Merida is full of excellent vegan, vegetarian and veg-friendly restaurants, as well as vegetarian street food.
From vegan tacos and vegetarian empanadas at the local markets, to brown rice and artisan sandwiches in the veg-friendly cafes, there’s plenty of vegetarian options and new places to try in the city. You can also buy fresh produce at the food markets to cook vegetarian for yourself.
Map of Vegetarian Restaurants in Merida, Mexico
This is the ultimate guide to travelling vegetarian in Merida, Mexico. We scoured the city for the best veggie-friendly restaurants, cafes, street food and markets. You can find all of our vegan, vegetarian and veg-friendly discoveries in Merida on this map:
Eating Out as a Vegetarian in Merida
Eating out as a vegetarian in Merida is lots of fun! There are a huge amount of budget vegetarian options costing around 80 pesos (£3) and under. These include street food and cocina economicas (budget eateries). A mid-range meal will set you back around 100-200 pesos (£4-8) and if you want to go higher end then you can. Don’t be put off by the idea of veg-friendly restaurants as these were where we found the best vegetarian food in Merida.
Vegan Restaurants in Merida
There are a handful of vegan restaurants in Merida. They’re all of varying quality and price-range. We loved the vegan lunch at Savia Comida Rica y Nutrivida, but had a terrible dinner experience at Avocado.
Savia Comida Rica y Nutrivida
Savia Comida Rica y Nutrivida is a 100% vegan restaurant in Merida. If you’re after a healthy, light lunch and really good value for money, then you’ll want to check out this place. When we walked in, the owner immediately welcomed us. The menu changes daily and there’s a picture board so that you can see what options are available. There are usually around four or five different lunch options. A soup, main plate and a drink cost 70 pesos (£3.30).
Lo Que Hay Cafe at Hotel Medio Mundo (we didn’t try)
Situated inside Hotel Medio Mundo is the all-vegan restaurant called Lo Que Hay Cafe. The door was always closed and the place looked so quiet when we walked by that we never went in. They apparently have a different style of food each night of the week, but Tuesdays are for Yucatecan food. This place is a little more high-end with a set meal costing 180 pesos (£7.50). If you go, let us know what it’s like in the comments on this blog post!
Avocado (one to miss)
Possibly our worst meal in Mexico. The food here was terrible and we’re sad to say that this is the kind of place that gives vegetarian food a bad name. Our food wasn’t fresh, the bread and tortillas were more than a day old, we had some really sour aubergine, and the guacamole was processed from a bottle (crazy in a country where avocados are cheap and plentiful!) There are too many good places to eat vegetarian in Merida, so give this place a miss.
Vegetarian Restaurants in Merida
There seem to be less specifically vegetarian restaurants in Merida, and more veg-friendly restaurants where the majority of the menu catered for vegetarians. If you’re a vegetarian in Merida though, don’t be put off trying veg-friendly restaurants as many of them have a specific daily set menu specially for vegetarian eaters.
El Arbol was a very local’s style place but unfortunately the food wasn’t all that good. Simple pre-made plates of food and a sugary drink to wash it down with. It wasn’t worth the trek to get there.
Vegetarian Cafes in Merida
Located at the Slow Food Market, this cafe-come-shop is a great place to stop for coffee and stock up on any specialist health foods you need. It’s one of the few places in Merida where you can buy brown rice, quinoa and plant milk. There’s also a small menu of light snacks, including a tofu burger and a selection of sweets.
Vegetarian-Friendly Restaurants in Merida
We actually found that it was the vegetarian-friendly restaurants in Merida that served up the best vegetarian food overall. Many of the veg-friendly places cater specifically to vegetarians and have a set vegetarian lunch menu that changes daily – including Maiz, Canela y Cilantro and El Origin.
Maiz, Canela y Cilantro
My favourite place to eat vegetarian in Merida was definitely Maiz, Canela y Cilantro. This beautiful little lunch place is tucked away towards barrio de Santiago. All of the food is homemade with love. There are two or three vegetarian specials which change daily. We ate delicious tacos, vegetarian stew, and courgettes stuffed with squash. A set lunch menu includes tortilla chips and dips, a soup, a main plate and a drink. A set lunch costs 80 pesos (£2.90).
We found El Origin while walking up the busy Calle 72. The restaurant is only open for breakfast and lunch. The breakfast menu heavily features eggs. There’s a set vegetarian lunch menu which includes a soup, a main and a drink. We served a whole bean soup, carrot fritters with rice, salad and tortillas, and jamaica (hibiscus) juice. A set lunch costs 70 pesos (£3.30).
Sukra Cafe is a popular Sunday brunch and lunch spot on Paseo de Montejo. Most weeks they have live music on Sundays when the bici-ruta (bike route) is taking place. We found the food was a bit hit and miss, but loved the cheese, avocado and spinach sandwich. You can sit outside the front under the trees and watch the world go by quite happily here. About 90% of the menu is vegetarian, though there are a few options that include jamon (ham).
Los Platos Rotos
On the corner of the slow food market, Los Platos Rotos is a great Mexican lunch place. The restaurant is open-walled, so you can watch the market bustle while enjoying freshly made corn tortillas and fresh fruit juice. The vegetarian options include handmade corn tortillas filled with cheese and corn truffles, and chilli peppers stuffed with cheese. Definitely try the spiced coffee if you’re there for brunch. A plate of food and a coffee costs around 70 pesos (£2.90).
Bistro Ave del Paraíso
A little more mid-range than the restaurants that we usually go for, but when you have cravings for Thai food you have to give in! Bistro Ave del Paraíso is set in a really beautiful building on a quiet street and is perfect for a romantic evening out. There are three vegetarian Thai curry options: red, yellow and green. The yellow Thai curry is super delicious, but the green Thai curry was a bit on the sour side. Staff are really friendly. A meal will cost around 100 pesos (£4.10).
This pizzeria is popular with locals and tourists alike. Don’t be put off by the reviews about the fiery owner (we never saw him!) because the pizza is really good. Vegetarian pizza options include spinach, mushroom and cherry tomato, and Mexican cheese and sweet red peppers. You can take-away, but it’s not a bad place to eat either. A pizza costs around 100-140 pesos (£4-6).
Vegetarian-Friendly Street Food in Merida
Mexican street food isn’t the most vegetarian-friendly. Eating street food here isn’t like eating delicious vegetarian street food in Vietnam or Thailand, but you can always get something cheap to fill the hole when you’re out and about. You can find street food stalls in Plaza Grande on Sundays and many of the local parques. For vegetarians, we found the street food stalls in Parque de Santiago and Parque de Santa Ana were the best.
Vegan Tacos – Most street food stalls in the parques will sell you “tacos vegetariano” if you ask for them. These are soft corn tortillas served with shredded salad, onion and avocado – which means they’re actually vegan. We found Parque de Santiago was the best place to get these.
Vegetarian Tostadas – Tostadas are “toasted” tacos – which is what Mexicans say when they mean fried. Vegetarian tostadas are usually filled with cheese, black beans and salad. They’re yummy but can also be quite greasy, so you need to be in the mood for fried food. We were served these at Parque de Santa Ana.
Vegetarian Quesadillas – Quesadillas are two tortillas sandwiched together with cheese in the middle and lightly fried. They’re drier and less greasy than many of the other vegetarian options around.
Vegetarian Empanadas – An empanada in Mexico is a deep fried corn pastry filled with cheese. Empanadas are sometimes greasy, sometimes not, but are usually quite salty. They’re a good on-the-go snack.
Marquesitas – Marquesitas are crunchy crepe-like rolls cooked on a round, flat hot press. They come stuffed with fillings like cheese and Nutella (or both together!). I personally preferred marquesitas just stuffed with banana, although the marquesita sellers thought that was the most boring choice of filling ever. Marquesitas are a great, on-the-go snack food. A marquesita will usually cost 20-30 pesos (about £1).
Ice Cream in Merida
Pola is the best ice cream shop is Merida! It’s only a small place but their ice cream selection is huge. All the ice cream is homemade with locally sourced ingredients. There are loads of exciting flavours. We super loved limon y hierbabuena (lemon and the good herb) sorbet and espresso and cardamom ice cream.
Local Food Markets in Merida
If you fancy cooking your own food with local produce then you’re in luck. Merida is full of food markets selling local fruits and veggies. They’re absolutely heaven if you’re a vegetarian in Merida who loves to cook.
Mercado Lucas De Galvéz
When locals need to stock up on fresh fruit and veggies, they head straight to Mercado Lucas De Galvéz. This is Merida’s central food market. The stalls are stacked high with whatever is in season. Right now that’s mangoes, rambutans, radishes and corn. The produce here is cheap. When selecting fruits and veg, watch which stalls the locals buy from and check how ripe things are before buying. There are usually deals on, so ask the vendors before purchasing.
Mercado Santa Ana
I absolutely loved Mercado Santa Ana, and would go there over Mercado Lucas De Galvéz any day. It’s much smaller with only three or four stalls open, but this makes shopping easier and much quicker. There’s a little old lady there selling really great produce. A big bag full of every kind of fruit and veggies cost me 100 pesos (£4) – a dream for any vegetarian in Merida. You can also buy freshly made corn tortillas. These cost around 5 pesos for 20 tortillas (20p), although locals usually buy tortillas per kg. The market is tucked in the undercover area behind the food stalls with red umbrellas, just walk straight through.
Slow Food Market
The Slow Food Market is the market for organic produce. It’s located on Calle Reforma on Saturday mornings from 9am-1pm and on Wednesday nights from 6pm-9pm. The vendors here are all growing and making their own food. You can get hold of freshly blended juices, cacao, cheese wheels, artisan bread, and the juiciest and plumpest dragon fruits you’ve ever seen. We also bought some tortillas stuffed with what the guy told us was frijoles magico which translates to “magic beans.” We raised an eyebrow at him and he laughed saying that’s just what they’re called. Turns out magic beans are actually fava beans.
Mercado 60 isn’t a food market but rather an area with gourmet food stalls. The market is more of a high-end hang-out. It’s open in the evenings for drinks and nibbles. You can get lots of snacks and smoothies, so it’s a cool place to spend the evening if you’re a vegetarian in Merida.
Travelling Vegetarian in Merida
Travelling as a vegetarian in Merida has been awesome. It seems like you discover a new vegetarian place every couple of blocks. We came across so many restaurants and eateries with vegetarian signs just by chance. Many of them haven’t been listed online so keep an eye out when you’re out exploring.
Eat in One of the Places We Didn’t?
Are you travelling or living as a vegetarian in Merida? If you ate in one of the vegetarian places that we didn’t or discovered more veg-friendly restaurants in Merida, then we’d love to hear about them! Share your reviews and vegetarian finds in the comments below and I’ll update this blog post to include them too.