New Restaurant Ku’uk Muscles in on the High End of Merida’s Restaurant Scene

Picture this: A cool, subdued and yet warmly lit environment, sparsely furnished and discretely lit. Innovative, creative, strikingly beautiful dishes presented before you in a dazzling succession of colors and flavors (and sensory experiences) that amaze, tantalize and delight your senses. Three and a half hours of celebrating food, glorious food, in ways you could not have imagined, enjoying a chef’s menu where each magical creation leaves you gasping and wondering “what can possibly be next?” or “how did they do that!”

A newcomer to the Merida restaurant scene, definitely at the higher end of the spectrum and not for the quantity-conscious (the “es mucho, so it must be good” crowd) has arrived in the form of Ku’uk and this may just be a valid a reason to come to Merida as the city’s colonial mansions and Mayan relics.

Ku’uk is not an abomination of the English ‘cook’ but rather the Mayan term for sprouts or shoots, as in all things organic that start with a sprout from a seed, and the concept is all molecular gastronomy featuring local ingredients presented to you in ways your abuela never dreamed of (more on molecular gastronomy here). In addition to the restaurant itself, Ku’uk will feature a market where one can purchase delicacies and also a culinary workshop featuring classes for food aficionados. There is an herb garden out back and the entire place is visitable, so do make sure you get the full tour. The kitchen is equipped with the usual grills, ovens and mixers, but also with equipment straight out of a mad scientists laboratory, from nitrogen-based fast-freezing to humidity extractors that remove all water from foods leaving only intensely flavored concentrated flakes to other strange (and most definitely expensive) pieces of equipment that help chef Mario Espinosa and his team perform their magic. The wine “cellar” is a spectacular room that can be reserved for a special dinner and must be seen to be appreciated.

The Critic won’t go into the hows, whys, or pros and cons of molecular cooking and will instead stick to a short review of the experience:

Breathtakingly sublime.

There, that was it.

Better Half and the Critic enjoyed 3 and a half hours of culinary bliss, enjoying the chef’s menu which featured a total of 14 dishes, each more spectacular than its predecessor. The idea was to go through the different dishes but the Critic thinks you will be better served trying them yourself and coming to your own conclusions. Besides the full tasting menu, there is a shorter menu of about 7-8 dishes and there are also some items available a la carte. The photos (below) will speak for themselves.

Service is formal, a little stiff and there is some confidence lacking when presenting dishes but if you are as enthusiastic about the food as Better Half and the Critic were, they warm right up and the experience from the service perspective becomes more fluid and relaxed and one can even elicit a smile from some of the servers, who are mostly young foodie students.

The restaurant is currently in “soft opening” mode, so you can go, and avoid any semblance of a crowd and help them get on their feet before the official presentation to society at the end of the month.

Definitely put Ku’uk on your restaurant “to-die-and-go-to-foodie-heaven-at” list!

The Ku’uk website is here for more info on reservations and location. Or call  999-315-5825

Enjoy the photos!

11 thoughts on “New Restaurant Ku’uk Muscles in on the High End of Merida’s Restaurant Scene

  1. Hi Cheryl – when we were there, that was not an option as it was during their soft opening phase but I am sure that they will offer wine pairing at some point. Maybe if you give them a call they can tell you?

  2. Hi there WL, a friend and I went to Ku”uk yesterday for lunch. (based on your recommendation) We both thought we had died and gone to foodie heaven, not to mention the wine which we had was like nectar of the Gods! It was three hours of an incredible taste sensation. I love their concept.
    Every other meal will now be rather lack luster. I have truly been spoiled.

    When the better half and the familia entira arrive at Christmas, we are going to”do” Ku’uk for sure.

  3. Hi Bonnie! So glad to be useful with my neurotic ramblings. Also feel free to check out the new menu items and new chef at Xcanatun. Review w photos coming soon as soon as I can get some time to write!

  4. Greetings William, this was such a wonderful article to read and on behalf of K’u’uk I would like to share with you our new face book page with information and updates, as well as our upcoming winter menu.


    Samantha Michell
    public relations of k’u’uk Restaurant

  5. We ate at K’u’uc a couple of nights ago and were knocked out! Some of the most delicious, creative and stimulating food we’ve had anywhere, ever! Right up to the level of our previous best, the cooking of Fabio Trabocchi at the now ex-Maestro just outside Washington DC. Chef Espinosa has a marvelous sense of taste and imagination and the subtlety of some of the combinations of ingredients was exquisite. We had the seafood menu but will be back soon to try the meat.

    Two suggestions: get rid of that totally scary yard-long wine decanter!

    Some of the dishes on the 7 course menu were so incredibly good that I’d like the opportunity of something like a three course menu with thus larger portions so one could experience the courses in greater depth.

  6. On behalf of K’u’uk we appreciate all your suggestions and thank you for your visit.

    Samantha Michell

    Reservations for K’u’uk at 9993 15 58 25

  7. We ate there last night and thought the food was amazing. They now offer an a la carte menu as well as the tasting menu, but I wholeheartedly vote for the tasting menu (a choice of 2 different 8-course menus for 490 pesos each). This is the only way to really understand the true creativity of the chef and his amazing team. Ask for a tour: the “huerto” (herb and veggie garden) and the cava (which doubles as a private dining room) are stunning, as are the open main kitchen and smaller food prep area. Incredibly, every one of our party of five felt perfectly satisfied with the amount of food, neither too stuffed nor still wanting more.

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