Eat here: Lola Valentina, Isla Mujeres, Mexico

Lola Valentina
Hidalgo Norte, Isla Mujeres, Mexico

Let’s keep the international sunshine eats going for a bit longer and head over now from Thailand to Mexico 🙂 Lola Valentina couldn’t have been more different to everything else on Isla Mujeres…


Going back to Isla Mujeres in January was so exciting for me, because although my last visit had only been for a day, I had the fondest memories of the place. One of my main regrets in not having longer there the first time around was missing the opportunity to try more of the food on offer; not this time!

While we stuck mostly with the dodgy looking but outstandingly delicious, mom-and-pop style corner stores and mobile eateries (read: tacos served off the back of motorbikes), Lola Valentina caught my eye and stopped me in my tracks. It looked way too nice, too hipster even, for this little Mexican Island. The menu was incredible – at first glance, it struck me as something like a Mexican Californian fusion kinda thing… anyway, it got my attention. We visited a few times over our Mexican sojourn, with the first visit being dinner:


We have the chorizo manchego bombas on the left (perfect little starters that packed the biggest flavour punch), some sort of chili cheese stuffed chicken on a bed of mashed potato (husband’s) on the top right, and the piña colada chicken salad (mine) on the bottom right – highly recommend this one if, like me, you’ve spent a month and a half eating your way around cities like Chicago and New Orleans where deep fried, heavy, fatty foods are king! It was massive, fresh, and the coconut pineapple dressing was insane!!


We went back again two days later for breakfast, because the breakfast menu looked every bit as good as the dinner one. Husband’s breaky in the top photo below was a slightly spicy chorizo avocado taquito dish in refried beans – really, really tasty, but a bit much for me for breakfast! I had the very delicious and perfect on-a-hot-Mexican-morning yoghurt, granola & fruit bowl (bottom left) – some of the best granola I’ve ever had! And bottom right was THE THING to order – PB&J empañadas. Seriously. Inspired by a request from the owner’s daughter, Zoe, this is pure magic – creamy peanut butter, punchy jam and perfectly crispy deep-fried empañada shells. Best end to a breakfast and a 6 week international adventure ever!!


Also highly recommended – the cocktails! Particularly the pineapple and ginger one – super refreshing for those hot afternoons, and it’s clearly healthy, too!

Honestly, looks can be deceiving – this place didn’t look like it really belonged from the first quick glance, but it quickly became a favourite. Incredible and creative food, the friendliest service, and only a few steps away from the beach; the beach which you should make your way to after you’ve eaten, for a nice, digestive relax in the sunshine…



Treat yourself Tuesday – tacos of Isla Mujeres, Mexico!

Over sized sombreros.
Colourful ponchos.
Beautiful beaches.
Multiple cocktails.
And delicious tacos.

Would I be right to assume that some, if not all of the above come to mind when we think about Mexico? I’m going to focus on that last list item today, because
a) it’s cold in Melbourne and I’m dreaming about sitting in the sunshine in Mexico right now with tacos, and so are some of you judging from how much love last week’s Colours of Isla Mujeres post/Instagram shot got,
b) I’m a huge advocate for experiencing a new place properly by getting involved in street food culture when travelling,
c) gallivanting around a little Mexican island on a golf buggy taking in the sights and hunting for tacos was a new and very fun experience that I highly recommend, and
d) what better way to treat yourself than with tacos?! So, as part of the OUR GROWING EDGE monthly link up party (see bottom of the post for more info!), here are three of the best taco stands worth hitting up on Isla Mujeres!


1. Poc Chuc
Av. Juarez con Abasolo

2015/01/img_6313.jpgThis place was great because they gave you the option to eat in if you didn’t want to grab your tacos and run. We visited twice during our recent visit a few months ago in January, and the photos above were our favourites – the chicken empanadas up top, and the chorizo tacos below. It makes me a little sick to think that we’re paying something like AUD$5.00 or $6.00 PER TACO in Melbourne, when the chorizo tacos here only cost the equivalent of AUD$1.25 each. Yup. And they were much, much better than the expensive hipster ones…


2. El Burrito Feliz Tacos y Tortas
Calle Abasolo #5 Col. Centro


These were probably close to my favourite tacos – this little lady was firing them out like a one woman restaurant. She was really something to see! She also spoke not a single word of English, so luckily my Spanish was good enough to order “dos tacos carnita por favor,” and they were incredible. We found her tucked away on a street not far from Playa Norte Beach, but if you don’t stumble upon her, just ask your friendly hotel staff if they know where to locate her!


3. Las Comadras
Av. Miguel Hidalgo


Another amazing spot, with the added bonus of having the taco stand set up in a shop front, with a few stools and tables scattered around if you’re lucky enough to snag one! Chicken and chorizo tacos, for which we paid about AUD$1.00 each, and were absolute perfection – the tortillas were grilled up to order, filled with your chosen protein, and handed over for you to top with lettuce, pico de gallo, sour cream, chilli and herbs. They also have a brother restaurant, Compadres, next door, should you want a slightly more upmarket dining experience; but with tacos this good at that price though, I couldn’t imagine why you’d want to!



This post is part of the our growing edge monthly link up party over at Bunnyeatsdesign, which aims to inspire bloggers to not only try but also discover new things 🙂 This month’s theme is “treat yourself” and is hosted by Caroline from Shrinking Single, who does delicious recipes for one – mainly skinny with a pinch of chocolate 😉
our growing edge

Colours of Isla Mujeres, Mexico

Tuesday morning. Melbourne. Middle of winter. Bloody cold. I like the cold, for the most part, but yesterday I was thinking how nice it’d be to just go back to Mexico for a quick winter break, cruising around in a golf buggy, eating tacos, and being around sunshine and pretty colours. But I can’t, so I’m gonna have a take-me-back-Tuesday session instead… enjoy 🙂








Punta Sur, Isla Mujeres, Mexico

Good morning world! We’re just kicking off another weekend in Melbourne, where the weather is starting to get a little greyer and colder, so here’s some sunshine from the other side of the world, where it never really gets cold…


Punta Sur is the name given to the cliff on the southern most tip of the Garrafon Reef Park on Isla Mujeres, Mexico. At 20 metres above sea level, it’s actually the highest elevation point in the Yucatan, and the first part of Mexico to see the sun rise.

Oh, and the water is the most absurdly, unnaturally, perfect blue I’ve ever seen. There’s a path carved into the area, too, so make sure you spend a bit of time walking around and enjoying the peace and quiet on Punta Sur – it’s actually heaven 🙂



Eat here: La Catrina, Isla Mujeres, Mexico

La Catrina
corner of Madero and Av. Hidalgo, Isla Mujeres, Mexico


Finding this place again was fate. I first ate tacos and drank strawberry daiquiris here a few years ago on a trip I took with my work colleagues, and it was my mission to find it again in January when I returned to Isla Mujeres. I had no idea how I was going to find it – my sense of direction is useless at the best of times, and I’d paid absolutely no attention to street or restaurant signs the first time around. We arrived on the island and took the same route to walk to our hotel as I took with the girls when we visited together – I recognised the Senor Frogs shop and pretty much ran towards it! The plan was to dump the bags, then look for this place; we didn’t need to – turns out it was on the same street as the hotel and we walked past it on the way!! I could not believe my luck!

Anyway, we dumped the bags and turned around to head back for lunch. We proceeded to visit daily, for the incredible food, crazy happy hour deals that lasted all day long (2 pina coladas for under AUD$6.00? Yes, thanks!), and the wonderful service.

The tacos above may look familiar – I ordered the same thing for our first meal here as I ordered on my last visit, and they were every single bit as good as I remembered! Another visit saw us order the tasting plate (below) which did have a bit of everything on it! Their pico de gallo was magnificent, and a little bowl of it came with everything you ordered there.


The service was fantastic – everything came with a smile, it just felt like pulling up to your Mexican grandmother’s house for a feed. The prices were also phenomenally good considering the quality of the food – three tacos and two beers for AUD$7.20, are you kidding?! You can rarely even just get the one beer for that price in Australia! When you visit Isla Mujeres, make this your first stop, too 🙂


Through my eyes: Skeletons on the streets of Isla Mujeres, Mexico

But is she not the most magnificent skeleton you’ve ever seen?! This was one of the first things we saw on our arrival to Isla Mujeres a few weeks ago, which pretty much sums the island up for you – colourful, friendly, and a little crazy!


Real tacos. In Mexico.

For someone who hates spicy food, I actually really love Mexican food. I’m still a sook and don’t put any hot sauce or anything on my meals, but I do very much love the flavours and freshness of a properly prepared, legitimate Mexican meal. You can’t get many of those in Melbourne, where sugary fish bowl margaritas at Mexican-by-numbers restaurants seeming to be what most people think of when you mention Mexican food.

I was lucky enough to spend a weekend in Mexico through a work thing last year when I was still working in the travel industry. Mexico is a really freakin long way to go for only a weekend when you’re travelling from Melbourne – the flight from here to LA alone is around 14 hours! But we eventually landed in Cancun at around 6am, and after checking into our hotel, were granted a free day before the non-stop official obligations and conferences started later that evening. So a group of the girls I worked with hopped on a boat and headed off to Isla Mujeres, one of the most stunning places I’ve ever visited. You can see some of the photos I took that day right here, but this post is about the food. After a morning of traipsing around this precious little island, we naturally got pretty hungry. An A-frame sign advertising 3 tacos and a beer for 85 pesos seemed like a pretty decent lunch venue (for those of you playing along at home, 85 peso is around AUD$7.00 – that’s amazing for those of us who usually pay $7.00 for a beer, or around $5 per designer, hipster taco at home!).


In we piled, a pack of Aussie girls delirious after 26 hours on a chartered flight full of other travel bunnies, which was the equivalent to a flying party bus. We’d boarded the flight after working a full day, had a few (or more) drinks and chocolate chip cookies on the flight, no sleep, and nothing but a mango margarita on arrival for breakfast. We were handed menus by a bemused Mexican, who probably wasn’t sure whether to call his mates around for a laugh at us, or the cops to get rid of us at that stage. Shenanigans ensued, laughs (by both parties) were had, and food was somehow ordered.

Best tacos of my life.


The tortillas were soft and fresh and tasted like nothing I’ve ever had called a corn tortilla. The fillings were so ridiculously simple and at the same time so full of flavour. Everything seemed to just work magically. Including the brown slop on the side – re-fried beans. Make friends with this stuff when you’re in Mexico. It’s not like the crap you get out of a tin at home. This stuff is unbelievably good.

It’s a real pity that so many people conjure up images of cheap, shitty food and bad tequila experiences when you mention Mexican food, because it’s not all like that. It’s also funny that so much Mexican food you get in Australia is smothered with greasy melted cheese, because over a table full of tacos ordered by us 8 ladies, not one taco had cheese on it! I blame the Americans (sorry!) and their Tex-Mex for this generalisation. Real Mexican food is fresh and light, it shouldn’t make you feel sick and heavy and greasy and disgusting! If it does, you’re doing it wrong!


It was a big weekend and we didn’t really get a chance to stop and breathe after this meal and the quick visit to the beach that followed. But it’s stayed with me as one of my best food experiences while travelling, because it really changed the way I looked at Mexican food.

My challenge now is going to be to find it again when I go back in January with husband! I’m very much looking forward to my few days on this little island slice of heaven after 6 weeks of non-stop travel, and plan to eat my weight in tacos in that time!