Xcalak ’s hoteliers and travelers alike heap praise on the Leaky Palapa (north end of town, no phone, www.leakypalaparestaurant.com , 5–10 p.m. Sat.–Tues., US$13–20), a gourmet restaurant with boho flair and a menu that changes according to the day’s catch and what the Canadian owners bought at the market that week (a five-hour round-trip drive!). It is invariably delicious, though, including such dishes as crab stuffed grouper with Veracruz salsa and jalapeño aioli, and squash flower soup. Open November–May only. Reservations highly recommended.
Xcalak Caribe (aka Yamira’s Place, noon–8:30 p.m. Wed.–Sat., US$5–9) serves seaside standards like shrimp quesadillas and garlic grilled fish, plus an ever-changing selection of specials. Restaurant options are slim in Xcalak, but the tasty dishes, friendly service, and casual atmosphere would make this a popular eatery anywhere. Look for the palapa-roofed building just south of the lighthouse, facing the beach.
The Maya Grill (Tierra Maya Hotel, 2.1 kilometers/1.3 miles north of town, toll-free U.S. tel. 800/216-1902, www.tierramaya.net , 6 a.m.–9 p.m. daily, US$4–18) is a beachside hotel restaurant offering fresh ingredients in its Mexican-inspired meals. Seafood is the focus, but chicken and meat dishes edge their way onto the menu, too. Dinners are pricey but hearty.
The restaurant at Costa de Cocos (3 kilometers/2 miles north of town, no phone, www.costadecocos.com , 7 a.m.–10 p.m. daily, US$3–25) serves up burgers, steak, pizza, and all manner of tall tales—though with fishing as good as it is, many just happen to be true. The service is seriously lacking, but the schedule, reservations policy (none required), and full bar make it a reliable option.
A popular culinary event is the weekly chicken BBQ at Maya Campground (north end of town, across bridge, no phone, US$5), held every Wednesday afternoon. Come early to get the best of the bird, which is served with coleslaw and beans. Also a great place to meet expats and other travelers.
If you are cooking for yourself, a grocery truck passes through town and down the coastal road several times per week—ask at your hotel for the current schedule. It comes stocked with eggs, yogurt, grains, basic produce, fresh meats, and canned food. You also can buy a broom or two. In town, try the no-name minimart (1.5 blocks south of the elementary school, 9 a.m.–9 p.m. daily), which sells basic canned and dried foods.