Tag Archives: apoala

The Casual Restaurant Critic at Tatemar, Cabo Norte

Tatemar, the latest restaurant from the masters that created the uber-popular Apoala, is in the new La Isla Mall, inside another upscale area known as Cabo Norte. There is a dearth of marine references lately that was only hinted at with the arrival of wind-themed Altabrisa . You have La Isla (the island) and now The Harbour or Via Montejo. All with artificial lakes and a definite Miami look. Very aspirational, to put it nicely.

But the Critic, as he so often does, digresses and spouts commentary on things not related to the restaurant in question.

When you arrive at Tatemar you may recognize a few faces from Apoala among the wait-staff, which will indicate to you that you’re in the right place, and not accidentally in the Brazilian rodizio next door which is always packed by the way.

The restaurant is of course, beautiful and situated in front of the ‘lake’ with what will soon be a condominium background, the setting is very pretty. One thing the developers of this mall and it’s water feature perhaps didn’t contemplate was that water attracts flies. There were some fruit flies buzzing around inside the restaurant to remind one that one was in the tropics – something to think about for both future water-themed mega projects and present-day restaurants where the last thing you want is for your diners to have to be swatting insects away from their pricey entree.

The Critic and his always charming Better Half arrived as a staff meeting was taking place so there was a momentary lull during which no one arrived at the table for any reason, least of all to take drink orders. No one minds sitting out a staff meeting, but throw a few peanuts and a drink to those waiting in the restaurant, would be the Critics suggestion.

Drinks to start: Mayahuel, a Critic favorite from Apoala and BH had the Mezcal Mule. Both were deliciously amazing and pretty to look at.

A selection of tostadas; tuna, shrimp and fish, to start and for the main dish, a pescado zarandeado, split open and cooked on the grill, the robalo (sea bass) was terrific and too big (sizes vary) to finish after the fishy tostadas.

While it’s not cheap, Tatemar is a great place for a fancy night out dinner away from El Centro.

The room (staff meeting underway)

Mezcal collection

Mezcal Mule (that’s a bit of real honeycomb)

The Mayahuel cocktail, with its signature smoking rosemary

Mezcal Mule close-up

Home made salsas verde y roja

Pescado zarandeado

The Casual Restaurant Critic at Apoala

The Apoala Oaxacan fusion restaurant in Santa Lucia’s newly revamped square has only been around for about 2-3 months but the Casual Restaurant Critic has heard the name come up again and again and so yesterday, after a meeting downtown, decided to check it out. Better Half being away, this was a lunch for one but you, dear reader, can be sure that the Critic will be back with Better Half sooner rather than later, as this restaurant is true gem.


As mentioned, the Santa Lucia plaza has been spruced up and the most obvious addition there as it is most visible from calle 60 as you drive by, is the Tratto restaurant, run by the Trotter family who are very good at what they do here in Merida and offer some great upscale dining options that have raised the bar for restaurants in the formerly white city. But once again, the Critic digresses. You can park behind the Santa Lucia square, turning left off 60 into a modern and very pretty parking lot. Yes, you just saw “pretty” and “parking lot” in the same sentence; go check it out, you’ll see what the Critic means.

Approaching the restaurant, located under the arches next to the Ki Xocolatl store and chocolateria, the Critic was greeted not by an indifferent and bored individual but a smiling young man who offered a greeting and seated the Critic inside. There are tables outside but on this occasion the Critic wanted to both see the interior and check out the air conditioning.

So far, so good. A very pleasant waiter then approached the table and asked if the Critic would like a cocktail or beverage. “What do you recommend?” asked the Critic. Now normally this question is answered either with a question or a blanket “everything is great” statement that is both not true and just plain lazy. No, this waiter responded immediately and said that the house speciality was the Mayahuel cocktail. “Fine,” the Critic responded “I’ll have one of those”.

Mayahuel signature cocktail

Mayahuel signature cocktail

In a few moments, the drink, which features mezcal, sour orange juice and agave syrup among other exotic things was brought to the table and the Critic suddenly smelled something burning and quickly checked his pockets to see if he had put a still-lit cigarette butt away. But no, it was the drink! A small twig of what looked like fir from a Christmas tree was the garnish and it smoked aromatically as the drink was placed on the table.

OK, now the Critic is impressed.

The menu is a mixture of traditional Oaxacan food and modern preparations and ingredients with a nod to the Yucatan in passing as well, as exemplified by the cochinita on the menu which, the waiter claims, is organic.

When you order, you are presented with a tray of Oaxacan tostadas (hot) and two salsas, mildy spicy and home made. Deliciosas.


The Critic decided on the arracheras which sounded very interesting what with the ajillo chiles and Oaxacan cheese au gratin and a salad of arugula. It was not disappointing in the least. The salad was perfect and the meat exquisite, cooked to perfection and tender without achieving that horrible hammy, dissolve in your mouth texture that some local restaurants have the nerve to call arrachera steak and that would be better suited for a meal at a mental institution for toothless lunatics.

The arrachera plate

Afterwards, dessert was offered and the Critic, completely intrigued by now and with an urge to try as much as is possible for one person to try, ordered the mostachon which is a cake with pecans, features a banana cream frosting as well as raspberries, strawberries and nestled beside the cake, a dollop of homemade nieve de canela ie cinnamon sherbet.

Mostachon Mostachon

The cake seemed a little on the hard side but the sherbet was delectable.

After asking for the bill, the Critic wandered around a little in the restaurant, exploring the fabulous bathroom (you MUST go wash your hands here!!) and at the bar, looking at the bottles and beautiful backdrop made of antique doors, a manager offered the Critic a sample of mezcal, cortesia de la casa.


Someone will undoubtedly ask about the price so it is the Critic’s obligation to let you know that Apoala is not the cheapest place to have lunch in the world. The lunch as described was $400 pesos, mas o menos, with tip. And while you can certainly fill up elsewhere for 40 pesos and enjoy a unique, “charming” location while lounging in plastic red Coca Cola chairs, what this restaurant offers is of a quality that is truly world-class.

All in all the amazing and beautifully presented food, the sublime decor, and most importantly the impeccable and gracious SERVICE, makes Apoala a serious contender for the top restaurant in Merida spot, in the Critic’s never humble opinion.