Food Tales

Vegan Delights Abound at Mayakoba on the Riviera Maya

by Leora Novick
Mayakoba The makings of a good meal. Photo courtesy of Mayakoba.

While finding a restaurant to delight a vegan or plant-based eater gets easier every day, finding one on vacation can be challenging. Not at Makayoba, the jungle-lagoon-meets-beach resort in the Riviera Maya. With four hotels (Andaz, Banyan Tree, Fairmont, and Rosewood) and more than twenty dining options and bars, even the pickiest eater will find options a-plenty, as well as boat tours and cooking classes. And it’s all an easy bike ride away.

Breakfast is served on the eco boat. Photo by Philippe Tremblay-Berberi.

Breakfast on an Eco Boat

Start your day the right way with a breakfast spread aboard an eco boat: fresh-brewed coffee made from Mexican beans, fresh fruits, and avocado toast. Each of the four hotels at Mayakoba feature their own fleet of electric boats and provide a full vegan breakfast option to enjoy on the water. Sail through the lagoon, spotting native birds, as the guide and captain shares the fascinating history of the area and insight into how the lagoon’s biodiversity is painstakingly preserved.

VB at Andaz. Photo courtesy of Mayakoba.

Lunch at VB, Andaz

Among the five dining options at Andaz Mayakoba, one is fully dedicated to vegan dining. At VB (as in “vegan bar”), locally inspired highlights include Veggie Kibis, a nod to the local Lebanese population, a namesake wrap with chaya leaf, and corn caesar salad with vegan cheese. Enjoy your meal at the restaurant or enjoy it on the beach just a few steps away.

Fresh as can be at Banyan Tree. Photo courtesy of Mayakoba.

Dinner at Saffron, Banyan Tree

Although not a dedicated vegan restaurant, Saffron, the marquee restaurant at Banyan Tree Mayakoba, has no dairy on their menu. Service here is superb: The staff go to great lengths to ensure guests are happy. A dedicated vegetarian menu is available, and servers will detail the many (many!) options available in vegan form, such as refreshing tom kha phak, a Galangal-Coconut broth soup with vegetables, mushrooms, and kaffir lime leaf and gaeng kiew wan phak, a deliciously filling green curry with eggplant tofu and basil. Cap your meal with a classic dessert of mango and sticky rice and a pot of lemongrass tea before catching the resort boat back to your room. The meal is smooth sailing from start to finish.

Chef Sandy de la Mora teaches at El Pueblito. Photo by Philippe Tremblay-Berberi.

Cooking Class at El Pueblito

It’s one thing to enjoy a great meal on holiday; it’s another to pick up new skills you can bring home. Ride your bike to El Pueblito, a recreation of a traditional Mexican village, for a cooking class with chef Sandy de la Mora. A self-described “happy person,” chef Sandy’s lessons are a joy in cooking, history, and culinary gatherings. Sandy leans toward a plant-based diet, and her vegan cooking classes are a fantastic way to learn traditional Mexican recipes and techniques for classics like guacamole, fried tortillas, and beans, as well as more complex dishes from flautas to sopas.

Sotavento at Andaz. Photo courtesy of Mayakoba.

Beachfront Dinner at Sotavento, Andaz

As your feet hit the sandy beachfront of Sotavento at Andaz, the scent of fire and grilled foods permeate the air. At first glance, you might mistake the setting for one of Francis Mallmann’s iconic firepits and, yes, there is plenty of meat served here. But the culinary team will go the extra mile to prepare full vegan and vegetarian meals that don’t skimp on taste. Grilled vegetables reign in every form with sweet and savory sauces, mango-topped hummus, and an inventive vegetable tartare.

Drinks at Cielo Rooftop Bar, Maykana Beach Club, Fairmont

The newly opened Cielo at Maykana rooftop bar — the only one in Mayakoba — is at Maykana Beach Club at Fairmont Mayakoba. The rooftop, decorated sunken pods, firepits, and small pools, catches the evening breeze, silhouetted by firelight. Come in time to catch the sunset and traditional Mayan rituals as the sun goes down — sundowner in hand and peaceful view on the horizon.

Photo courtesy of Rosewood Mayakoba.

Coffee and Sweet Treats at Rosewood’s Pan Dulce

Operated by Rosewood Mayakoba but located in El Pueblito and available to all guests of Mayakoba, Pan Dulce bakery is the perfect spot to fuel up after cycling the grounds. Hot coffees and teas are on offer, as are vegan desserts like a coconut and lemon pudding and coconut and avocado meringue with ginger and rosemary.

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