The restaurants in Yelapa don’t seem fancy on the outside, or even that noticeable, but most of them have a surprisingly beautiful garden tucked away inside for lovely al fresco dining. We couldn’t ask for better ambiance. The food is also a pleasant surprise. The seafood are cooked and seasoned to perfection, the tacos are fresh and innovative, and even wholesome, healthy breakfasts that make us feel like we’re back in Berkeley can be found in Yelapa. Below are the places that we’ve frequented during our six days there.
This was probably our favorite restaurant, not particularly for Mexican food, but just for generally great food. I would wake up every morning looking forward to my breakfast there. They have great omelettes, Mexican-styled eggs, homemade passion fruit jam, homemade granola with the tastiest selection of tropical fruits, a green juice that my toddler loves, and the best french toast I’ve had almost anywhere. Whether you’re in the mood for healthy or decadent this place always hits the spot. The owner, Susan, is a wonderful lady who has actually worked at Chez Panisse in Berkeley many years ago.
This restaurant was also one of the low points of our trip. Our last night in Yelapa, we woke up in the middle of the night to loud banging noises like logs hitting against the wall and loud wailing and shouting. I thought they were late night drunks still singing along to corridos, but when I looked out at the bay, the boats were strangely aglow. I quickly put on my glasses and what came into focus was horrifying. A huge orange blaze was coming from the spot where Cafe Bahia sits. Our house was on a cliff that’s only about two tennis courts length away and I’ve never seen a fire this huge this close. I can see people running along the dock and water pouring from the balconies. There were no firefighters, no sirens, just townspeople coming together with buckets.
The next morning, we met a distraught Susan who was still in total shock, as were we. The anguished wails that I heard last night were hers. The entire building of Cafe Bahia lay in ashes. The only thing that still stood was her garden and a few charred umbrellas and tables. It was tough to explain to Ellie what happened to the “restaurant with the blocks”. Susan always made sure Ellie had lego blocks or coloring books to play with while we waited and Ellie had come to love the “restaurant with the blocks”. It was unbelievable that a restaurant that had been part of our happy memories in Yelapa was gone within a night. If you would like to help this business that was such a bright part of the Yelapa community get back on its feet, please check out their fundraiser: https://www.gofundme.com/cafebahia
I’ve never been enthusiastic about chicken, but this place is an exception. The ribs are melt-off-the-bones good, too. Get the BBQ combo to try it all. My husband said their fish was the best that he’s had in Mexico this trip. Also, save room for their cheese flan.
Probably the best tacos I’ve had yet! The pulpo (octopus) is so juicy and seasoned to perfection. They have a big selection of taco fillings including vegetarian. You can always see this little Mexican lady who I like to think is their abuela making blue corn tortillas in the kitchen. Authentic, non-fussy, Mexican cuisine at its best.
Tacos Y Mas!
This restaurant serves up another slightly different style of tacos that are just as delicious. There patio is a relaxing jungle retreat.
We ducked into this restaurant on a whim and was surprised by how great the food was. Their flan is absolutely amazing, and I’ve tried a lot of flans. They have live music some nights.
Christina’s River Cafe
This restaurant is pretty far from town, but it’s a great place to stop for lunch if you’re hiking to the Catedral waterfall. Christina is this a friendly American lady with a slight Southern accent who basically cooks up delicious vegetarian meals out of her house. She has the most lovely garden patio of all, tucked away among the big river boulders and under the shade of giant trees. The sounds of the river and the birds are so peaceful. Her falafels and brownies are bomb!
World Famous Pies by the Yelapa Pie Lady
I couldn’t have planned it any more perfectly, but it turns out that Yelapa is famous for its pies. There is a lady who bakes pies and hawks them on the beach. Apparently her son sells them for her now and we bought from him almost every time we were at the beach. Every pie is delicious but our favorites were the lemon and the coconut.
I have the biggest sweet tooth so every time I pass the candy stand I have to pick up some Mexican candy. I already buy tamarindo candy from Mexican markets here in the US, but I was so happy to discover the variety they had at that candy stand. My favorites were these tamarind balls, especially the watermelon and mango flavors.