With its sprawling strip of American chain restaurants, all-inclusive hotels and hard-partying spring breakers, Cancún hasn't earned a reputation for culinary greatness. Dig a little deeper, though, and you'll find that the food scene in this coastal city is growing up.
"There is a generation of daring young chefs here in Cancún," says chef Bladimir García of Ramona, the year-old restaurant at luxury property NIZUC.
García leads that group with his simple and stunning contemporary riffs on traditional Mexican cuisine. Born just outside of Mexico City, García arrive in Cancún in 2003, having learned classic technique from French chef Fabrice Guisset and Spanish chef Daniel Bauzå.
"Mexican food is influenced by the markets and street food," says García. "At Ramona, you can experience [those same flavors] in a differeny way."
Highlights of García's menu include a creamy, Papantla vanilla-infused green bean soup and lechón de Tizimín—suckling pig cooked on low heat for five hours, pressed into a perfect rectangle, topped with chicharrón and accompanied by a mix of pineapple, coriander, onion, serrano chili, cilantro and achiote salsa. Sweet, salty and deeply flavorful, it epitomizes the region's colorful and varied cuisine.