Isla Burger-Isla Mujeres 2023 Restaurant Feature by Sister #3


Have you been to a Isla Burger?  It’s all the buzz in Isla Mujeres. Let me tell you why.

The vibe is different than many other restaurants you’ll find on the island. Decorated in shades of black and grey with wood tones and the occasional splash of red. Owner Gustavo shared that like so many other aspects of his concept, the feel and atmosphere were created very intentionally. He told us three images represent the three components of the place. The moon, the heart and the sun. The moon represents the bar. A place to celebrate the night and pay homage to Ixchel, the  goddess of the moon.  The heart is the kitchen where they pour their love into the food. And lastly is the sun. The vital force of collaboration is seen in the restaurant where close tables create a sense of community.  There is even a communal cat named Adela that receives plenty of love and attention from patrons and staff alike.

Gustavo, who previously worked in other Isla establishments, saw a niche for tourists that wasn’t being filled. While folks had endless choices for tacos and a wide variety of other cuisines they often craved the food they would eat at home. There are a couple dozen pizza places but few restaurants completely focused on the good ol burger.. The restaurant was supposed to open in December 2020 at the height of the pandemic but the opening was delayed till March of 2021. Gustavo and his team took that time to do some deep dives into market research. They invited people to focus groups to taste their product as they took eight attempts at finding just the right mix of meat for their delicious burgers. Landing on a combo of ground ribeye and brisket from Monterey in the heart of México’s cattle country.

On our visit we tried the Isla Classic topped with lettuce, tomato, house made roasted garlic balsamic mayo on a fluffy toasted potato roll. We added their house smoked bacon.

We also sampled the BBQ burger, a mix of premium beef and Yucatán pork in a sweet southern style sauce, with caramelized onions and crunchy slaw.

One of our party is vegan and gluten free and she was pleased with the vegan burger which the kitchen prepared for her as a lettuce wrap. The vegan burger was tasty and not trying to be a meat replacement but the delicious dish on its own merits.

Gustavo considers it the kitchen’s greatest achievement. The burgers were served with yummy homemade pickles and hand cut potato chips with house made ketchup.   Every item on the menu is made from scratch. Their policy is they serve nothing from a box, bag, or bottle.

We splurged on the carbs and started our meal with truffle Parmesan fries which are a secret item you won’t find on the menu. We ended our meal with bread pudding. This cinnamony treat is a great way to use up extra burger buns and is an example of the restaurant’s commitment to reduce waste.

The night we visited we were impressed with the staff and the casual but attentive service. They were super busy so while you can count on the food being great, be prepared that it won’t be quick. This is not a fast food burger after all. It was great fun watching Gustavo interact with each table of customers.  Originally from Brazil he has traveled extensively and lived in Italy and a number of cities in the US. Isla burger isn’t his only gig. He and his fiancé, a sommelier, both teach at university in Cancun. She in the culinary program and he in the business school. And soon he will be opening a new concept down island. A complex with accommodations, a cafe specializing in brunch, a shared work space with excellent internet connection, a rooftop space, and Isla Bistro, a sea to table restaurant. Once again Gustavo has been listening to visitors to the island and is working on ways to satisfy their needs in his next business venture.

PS Sister #1 here. We visited Isla Burger too and were equally impressed by that communal feel and their commitment to quality. We tried the Classic Burger, Mushroom Burger and Chicken Burger. I was particularly enamored with the latter-greaseless, crunchy, tender and full of juicy flavour. D preferred the umami essence of the Mushroom Burger and R the full meat impact of the Classic. We also sampled all three sides-chips, cole slaw and fries. Once again the latter was my fav and I was really impressed to find they make truffle fries (my international fav enhancement since we discovered them in Italy a number of years ago). The servers were a whole lot of fun.

Kath’s quote: “A burger has lettuce and tomato so…it is basically a salad“.-Author unknown

Love is all.

posted under Isla Mujeres

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