Cozumel Feature

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Island Dining

There's no shortage of dining choices on Cozumel, where restaurateurs from Mexico, the U.S. and Europe bring every visitor a taste of home. The narrow streets of San Miguel are filled with the aromas of grilling steaks and smoking shrimp, as waiters deliver platters of enchiladas and pizza to sidewalk tables and passers-by eye the tables full of food, trying to choose where to eat. At rooftop restaurants groups gather over Italian feasts; along the shoreline, lobster and fresh fish are the catch of the day. All over the island, there is a bias toward tourist taste buds, and in fact it can be a challenge to find authentic regional cuisine. Yucatecan dishes such as cochinita pibil (pork with achiote spice), queso relleno (Gouda cheese stuffed with ground meat), and sopa de lima (lime soup) rarely appear on menus aimed at foreign visitors, but an easy hunt will find them at San Miguel's small family-owned eateries, often simply a cluster of wobbly tables in a tiny café.

Although there are a few restaurants serving fine cuisine, even the island's top chefs tend to emphasize natural flavors and simple preparations. The same spirit holds for the dining room, where casual clothes are the rule and a shirt with buttons qualifies as dress-up. (There are a few places where you can let your sartorial excellence shine.) But the most popular dining spots are combination restaurant-bars in the Carlos 'n Charlie's style, where diners fuel up on American-style barbecued ribs and burgers before burning the calories away on the dance floor.

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