In March, I embarked on a crazy adventure to Tulum, Mexico and was invited to participate in The Dining Experience. Not only does this jungle beach paradise have all the ingredients for a perfect sun vacation, its local food is sure to enlighten your tastebuds as well. Cancun? Pfttttt forget Cancun! Tulum is the new Cancun now. And if you’re looking for where to eat in Tulum, definitely check out this new culinary experience that’s not to be missed!
What is The Dining Experience?
Located at the Manglex Hotel, The Dining Experience is a brand new 7-course dinner party that takes you on a gastronomic journey through unique hispanic flavors of the Yucatan. It is meant for adults only (ahem, open bar, wink, wink) and is a great way to meet new friends in a foreign country.
What to Expect
Lol first drink of the evening and I already can’t hold my hand still enough for a photo. I swear I wasn’t tipsy… yet!
The evening begins with a cocktail welcome as guests mingle at the hotel’s outdoor terrace with gorgeous starry night sky views. Once everyone has arrived, you are then seated at a long dining table (with capacity up to 21 guests) – which is, again, outdoors so be sure to put on bug spray (or you won’t be the only one getting a delicious meal that night).
Although The Dining Experience is not a cooking class, it is pretty hands-on. Before any food is served, the host, Luis, teaches how to make three unique tropical cocktails using ingredients like Mexico’s classic Mezcal.
As the evening progresses, you are served several different dishes to try. The whole experience supposedly takes around 3 hours, but we were there for 4 at least. Time flies when you’re having fun!
Starters: prawn & pineapple al pastor skewer, potato-chorizo sope, esquites with garlic aioli and queso fresco.
Chaya tostada with huitlacoche, smoked sea salt seasoned chaya salad, avocado, and crunchy leek.
Calabaza criolla with tomatillo pipián.
Handmade salsas: tomato, tomatillo, onion, ajo macho, xoconostle, chile morita (red); tomatillo, avocado, serrano, garlic, onion, cilantro (green). Pico de gallo: roasted bell pepper, green tomato, lemon juice, ginger, serrano.
Tacos: cauliflower/shredded chicken with guajillo oil.
Mole: smoked turkey with poblano mole.
Cacao mousse with mezcal-infused caramel.
Apologies for the lack of a better photo, but this right here is raw cacao. It has 40x more antioxidants than blueberries, more calcium than milk, and is the highest plant-based source of iron. It also produces the same phenethylamine effect as having an orgasm 😉
As someone who grew up in Canada, my idea of Mexican food is tacos, burritos, guac and chips, quesadilla, what have you. And yes, we did have tacos, we did have guac, we did have salsa, BUT I was introduced to so many new flavors and ingredients I’d never heard about.
Chaya, for example, was a personal fave. It’s like the Mexican version of spinach, but it provides way more protein, calcium, iron, vitamin C, and carotenes. Basically spinach on steroids. The lionfish ceviche was another dish I thoroughly enjoyed. I’m a huge fan of ceviche and the tangy sauce paired with the fish was absolutely phenomenal. Lionfish are actually predators and a threat to coral reefs so the best way to save the underwater ecosystem is to eat them. (More ceviche for everyone!) Oh and don’t even get me started on the cauliflower tacos. Cauliflower anything – you have my attention.
Most of the dishes were vegetarian-friendly. If you’re vegan or have any other dietary restrictions, worry not because the staff are extremely extremely accommodating.
Pricing – Is it worth it?
With tax included, the dinner comes down to $99 USD per person. This includes all the food and drinks consumed on the evening and again, it is open bar.
I know it’s common thinking to equate Mexico with cheap eats, but Tulum is actually pretty expensive. (After all, it is a resort town.) Most places on the beach strip will charge you an arm or a leg if you wanna leave the restaurant feeling full. That being said, $99 for seven courses and unlimited drinks… I personally think it’s worth it!
More importantly, as the name suggests, it is an experience. You learn so much about the country’s food and culture that you’re walking away with not only your stomach satisfied but your mind filled with local knowledge. And you make new friends too! It was actually my first time meeting up with two other travel bloggers (Cathy from For Two, Please & Monica from FromHeretoSunday) and the dinner helped connect us and get to know one another better. By the end of the night, it honestly felt like we’d known each other for ages!
If you’re still on the fence about the price, they are currently hosting a spring sale for $79/person. That’s super reasonable for what they’re offering so be sure to hit them up for your visit this season.
Would I Recommend It?
As mentioned above, I was invited as a guest. However, all opinions are my own and you guys know that I never recommend anything I do not truly enjoy. That said, I definitely thought this was a unique experience.
One thing my friends and I would’ve liked better though was if the food could’ve came faster. It was nice chatting in between the dishes and the wait, but we were famished! I’d recommend munching on something small prior to dinner – especially since you’ll be drinking on an empty stomach. Obviously don’t go crazy and have a huge snack because 7 courses is quite a lot and we were stuffed at the end of the evening.
All in all, The Dining Experience is for sure worth a try if you’re looking for where to eat in Tulum. I know there isn’t much information on the Internet when you google The Dining Experience Tulum reviews so hopefully this will give you a better understanding of what the event is about in addition to what to expect. For more of what to do in Tulum, check out my itinerary guide “25 Things to Do in Tulum that Will Make You Fall Seriously in Love with Riviera Maya“.