Spring break is just a day away, and for some that means working more or going home. For a lucky few in these trying times, it means getting drunk and possibly hooking up with some mysterious hottie (who will probably be of questionable hotness the next morning). While surf and sun may be enough to satisfy students wanting to get away from lousy, pre-spring 11-degree weather, there are many surprises that can emerge from travel. In particular, food.
No one wants to end up spending a bunch of money at an overpriced resort restaurant to end up with dysentery or an empty wallet of woe. In this week’s Gastronomic Leap, I’m going to look at good places to eat at our campus’s top four resort locations, relayed to me by Lindsay Juley, travel advisor extraordinaire from STA Travel.
A practical approach requires a few qualifications for restaurants to satisfy before making the list. Different venues with varying menus can result in culinary hi-jinks. Obviously, a cheap place with authenticity should be included so the early morning, mid-day and late night drunken fiends in your group (including yourself) can be satiated.
A moderately priced venue with a good selection for lunch and/or dinner is also a nice ace to have in the hole, especially when traveling with larger groups.
Finally, for those who are loaded enough to be outrageously ballin’, I’ll seek out some fine dining establishments that can also be also be patronized by the marginally less fortunate for a one-last-night-out engagement.
This Caribbean island is home to some of the best resorts, but I’ll be looking at restaurants in Negril to satisfy travelers that haven’t bought completely in.
Sweet Spice is the place to go for an intimate and friendly atmosphere that is also affordable and plentiful in serving. Set in a clapboard house with a vibrant blue painting, this is one of Negril’s oldest and most awesome hangout spots.
Rick’s Cafe is a trendy party spot with an excellent view of the sunset. It’s a bit expensive, but the atmosphere and scenery are worth paying for. Everything at Rick’s is geared toward a fun crowd, and there is a cliff diving spot near the restaurant — though there are some danger warnings as well.
Otaheite is a more intimate, couple-oriented fine dining establishment, but that doesn’t mean the college student can’t enjoy a meal of jerk-seasoned salmon. It’s also not as expensive as most venues of elegant cuisine, so diners get a little more bang and jerk for their buck.
Acapulco’s resorts have been patronized for years, and the resulting tourist economy boasts many excellent places to eat.
Tarascos is one of the most popular chain restaurants in Acapulco, and is both consistent and convenient, so there should be no trouble finding and enjoying it. Tarascos is open late and offers a variety of tacos with a large number of accoutrements to accompany.
La Tortuga boasts excellent service and large portions of quality food without breaking the bank. Its special is a salad of fresh avocados and tomatoes that can feed two diners. Expect authentic Mexican cuisine at this gem.
Baikal restaurant is considered to be one of the best (and trendiest) restaurants in Acapulco. Set into a cliff right on Acapulco Bay, the street entrance leads to a spiral staircase, which descends climactically into a huge dining room with stunning views of the bay. Baikal serves international fusion cuisine with Mexican influence.
Although many staying in this ultra-popular spring break destination may be eating at all-inclusive restaurants, there are several restaurants worth going off the beaten path (read: outside the hotel zone) for.
Xtabentun is a bit like the Tarascos mentioned above. It’s great for late night taco bingeing and will be able to satisfy the latecomer at a reasonable price. This is also in downtown Cancun, which is slightly unfortunate, as some resort patrons will not find themselves in this area at the right time to enjoy it.
La Habichuela is one of the most famous restaurants in downtown Cancun. With an atmosphere of a bygone Mayan past and an excellent menu that is moderately priced, a day of recovery from the relentless partying should include a trip to La Habichuela.
El Puerto is an upscale and elegantly decorated seafood restaurant with great views of its resort’s canals. Be sure to dress up a bit more and expect some of the best service in Mexico at El Puerto.
South Beach’s club scene has a lot to offer, but finding a place to eat in the chaotic jam of Lincoln Road can be difficult.
Big Pink is an American diner open late into the night to serve families earlier and club goers later. The breakfast menu is available at all times, and the place is perfect for a safe meal that will keep the booze down without stopping the party.
Puerto Sagua is a Cuban restaurant built before the clubbing scene took off in South Beach. Puerto Sagua comes complete with authentic Cuban waiters, and a menu brimming with roasted pork, rice and beans. Fair prices make this venue a good lunch or early dinner choice.
The Forge Restaurant and Glass Lounge is an elegant and stunning establishment of fine dining that should not be missed by those that can afford to go. The Forge offers classic surf and turf and is home to an excellent wine cellar. This is the place to wear the suit or dress for an excellent meal with top-notch service.
Hopefully this short-list of hot spots will help you travelers out there who have been too busy with midterms and looking forward to nice weather and partying to read up on good places to eat. Of course, good judgment is always a plus, and it can mean the difference between an unforgettable meal during a getaway rather than ending up eating at a charming little hole-in-the-wall place where the most famous dish is a plate of fried gastrointestinal parasites.
Alex Truong is a junior majoring in economics and history. This spring break he’ll be dining at an all-inclusive 4 by 3 cell, located in a stunning area somewhere outside Tijuana city limits. For any advice, e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.