All Inclusive Resort Foods Then and Now

Times have changed!

Diana Spechler from Food & Wine wants travelers to know that the food at all inclusive Mexican resorts is as exciting as the luxurious surroundings.

She recalls the 1990’s all inclusive resort offerings of “sneeze-guarded buffets and ice cream sundae bars to watered down-down liquor”.

Todays visitors to Mexican all inclusive resorts demand more. “Especially high-end clients,” said Arleta Cosby, owner of Cosby Travel Consultants in Washington, D.C. “They want top-caliber cuisine. They want gourmet dining. They prefer a la carte over buffets. They don’t want to wear wristbands. They want fine wine and top-shelf liquor.”

Consequently, in the past five years, quality has triumphed over quantity at Mexican all-inclusive resorts: Diluted Smirnoff has given way to Grey Goose; chef hats have replaced hairnets and plastic gloves; and wilted salad bars have morphed into sushi bars with the freshest fish and vegetables.

At Pueblo Bonito Pacifica Resort in Cabo San Lucas, executive chef Octavio Hernandez Dario, an expert in Mediterranean cuisine “with a Mexican touch,” said he was hired in early 2016 to create a more elegant dining program.

The resort’s flagship restaurant, Siempre, offers unusual fusion dishes, including chocolate fettucine (homemade pasta with Oaxaca chocolate, pear, grilled asparagus, and roasted garlic sauce) and risotto cooked in beet broth with white wine, blue cheese, and truffle oil.

Even Siempre’s steaks are served with unexpected ingredients, including amaranth crunchy toffee and Canadian sweet potato flakes.

But the coolest “included” perk at Pacifica is Hook & Cook, the chance to go fishing with the chef on the beach. Once you’ve caught your dinner, the chef will make you ceviche.

At Le Blanc Spa Resort in Cancun, you can book a cabana on the beach for a private dinner, but the resort also has six restaurants, including Lumiere, a French-International fusion restaurant that offers a seven-course tasting menu with wine pairings.

Think escargot ravioli with a Sauvignon Blanc from Chile and beef tenderloin with an Italian Syrah. Throughout the resort, the restaurants are all about mixing and matching different cuisines.

For example, Le Blanc’s new pan-Asian restaurant (complete with a Zen garden) includes Latin American influences: There’s green tea shrimp with spicy mango chutney, salmon tartar with crispy avocado tostada, and Chilean sea bass with miso-teriyaki and jalapeno strips.

But nothing tops Grand Velas Riviera Maya, an all-inclusive resort on the Gulf of Mexico. Everything is perfect – most of all the food.

Grand Velas’s most interesting offering is a picnic on the beach. All you have to do is make your appointment with the concierge, apprise him of any dietary restrictions, and then drag yourself out of the warm ocean when the time comes.

French executive chef, Michel Mustiere, opens a wicker picnic basket. “Muy sencillo,” he says. Very simple. Well, maybe for him: smoked salmon sandwiches on baguette, along with grapes, strawberries, and glass jars of coleslaw and pickles.

There were desserts prepared by the pastry chef, a choice of red or white wine, and a cheese plate. The Grand Velas picnic is an emblem of what all-inclusive resorts have become.

Gone is the era of yellow wristbands and cheap chandeliers. The best all-inclusive resorts in Mexico are bastions of mezcal cocktails and scallop ceviches.

More and more the resorts are sourcing fresh ingredients locally. That is a great way to bolster the local economy and a benefit to travelers.

Meanwhile, be adventureous with food. Try new wines and entrees. Sample some chapulines.

Yeah, sure, they’re grasshoppers, but this is Mexico.

About Jake Johnson 178 Articles
Jake Johnson is a full-time travel bum, who prefers warm climates where the women wear less clothing. We've tried to teach him things like manners and diplomacy, but we've given up and simply rely on our editors to remove the most offensive bits from his articles. We take no responsibility for his inane ramblings opinions - they are his own.

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