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What: This regional dish puts turkey, a native Yucatecan protein, in the spotlight. The meat is cooked with broth and a rich, dark paste called recado negro (a fresh spice/herb blend essential to the cuisine, in the same class as the recado rojo used for dishes like tikinxic and the recado blanco in escabeche de pavo), also called chilmole—typically composed of achiote, charred chiles, cloves, allspice, peppercorns, cumin, and other spices—until very tender, then it’s served with hard-boiled eggs and fresh tortillas. The finished product, a high-contrast dish of jet-black-sauced turkey with speckled white globes of egg, isn’t pretty, but it is one of the best things we ate in this region.
Where: In Tulum pueblo, a local crowd descends upon Taqueria Honorio (Sol & Av. Satelite Sur, map) every morning for its insanely good lechon, cochinita pibil, carne asada, and relleno negro. You might not be used to meat-filled tacos and tortas for breakfast, but you’ll get used to it quick, we promise.
When: Daily, 6am-1pm (closed one Monday every 15 days)
Order: We recommend the tacos here (12p), since the handmade tortillas are so delicious on their own—hot, a little thick, with just the right amount of salt. The pavo en relleno negro, served with a quartered egg, is deeply flavorful, spicy and rich—the best we tried on our travels. Do not leave here without trying some of the other meats, too (particularly the lechon, topped with perfectly crispy chicharrón), and get a jugo, maybe tamarindo or jamaica (hibiscus), to drink.
Alternatively: Also in Tulum, we like El Paisa, across the street from Honorio, for pollo (chicken) en relleno negro and cochinita pibil, and Taqueria Don Beto (985-101-0163; Av. Tulum, map), a great little spot opposite the road to the ruins (just east of downtown). On Isla Mujeres, we’re fans of Loncheria Nic-Teha (inside Mercado Municipal Javier Rojo Gómez Centro, map), which usually has pollo cooked this way (pic here). Look for this dish at taquerias or, for a full-size portion of the stuff, try a good Yucatecan restaurant in the area, like El Faisan y El Venado (Carretera Federal at Calle 2 Norte, map) or Yaxche (5th Ave. & 22nd St., map) in Playa del Carmen, or Labná (998-892-3056; Margaritas 29, map) in downtown Cancún.
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