Restaurants in Cozumel

Cozumel restaurants vary from expensive, atmospheric eateries to homey, cheap places. As a general rule, the closer to the seafront you get, the more expensive the restaurants tend to be; you're paying for the privilege of watching the sun go down over the ocean as you eat. But remember that although the coast attracts swanky restaurants, it doesn't have to cost a lot to eat by the sea. If you grab a snack from one of the palapas, or beachside huts, you will pay only a few dollars.

Beachside restaurants tend to have good seafood. For example, Chen Rio has a beach to itself and specialises in seafood (including excellent ceviches). A three-course meal there costs around $20. If lobster is your favourite, try Cabana del Pescador on the north coast. There's a thatched roof, a maritime theme and romantically lit dining rooms. To say the place specialises in lobster would be an understatement - it serves nothing else as a main course, and it's done superbly. Expect to pay between $20 and $30 depending on the size of the lobster. The price includes side dishes of rice and vegetables.

A few blocks from the seafront, quality restaurants tend to be less expensive. Las Palmas, on Avenida 25, is a favourite with locals as well as visitors, and you will get an inexpensive lunch there. On Avenida 5, Tony Rome's is a good place to enjoy karaoke, but the food is nothing special. Also on Avenida 5 is Prima. This restaurant is unashamedly Italian rather than authentically Mexican, but is still one of the most popular restaurants in Cozumel. Prices vary between $6 and $20 for a main course, depending on whether you're having pizza, seafood or steak. Comida Casera Tonita, between Avenidas 10 and 15, is another good place to go; it serves up authentic regional food, and the lack of pretentiousness is clear when you realise it's actually a converted dining room in the owner's house. Main courses cost between $4 and $7.

Another highly regarded option in town is La Veranda, between Avenidas 5 and 10. This is a Caribbean-style house offering a fusion between West Indian and European cuisines. It costs between $14 and $20 for a main course, and regulars rave about the jerk chicken and shrimp curry.

As for nightlife, the zócalo (square) downtown is an atmospheric place to be. The area around the Punta Langosta shopping centre and Punta Langosta pier is where you will find most Cozumel nightlife, including La Pura Vida, a salsa club with live music and dance lessons. The zócalo's food stalls and live music attract many people in search of a good night out, but the restaurants tend to be overpriced and aimed at tourists. Go just for the music and grab a snack from a stall.

The other popular area for music and dancing in Cozumel is just north of the main plaza on Rafael Melgar. On Sunday evenings, though, head to the main square, because free concerts are often held there.

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