Isla Mujeres 2024 Restaurant Features-Xaman


If you are looking to dive deeper into Mexican culture, may I suggest a visit to Xaman (pronounced Sha-man) Restaurant Bar. Located above Carribean Brisas on Perimetral Oriente just south of Mango Cafe, this unique establishment opened in February 2023. 

Even before you ascend the stairs you can feel you are about to experience a tribute to Mayan culture. The atmosphere is decidedly indigenous, with beautiful murals and art pieces throughout. There is even a shaman in residence who often visits the restaurant as well as leading ceremony at Punta Sur. 

Over the last number of years I have been on a personal quest to better understand my own indigenous roots and chatting with owners Guillermozo and Yadi, I was surprised by the overwhelming similarities of our cultures. Like the Cree and Ojibwe nations of Canada, from which my ancestors descend, the Mayans build sacred fires, hold sweat lodges, and smudge as part of their ceremonies.  Even the Mayan beading looks very similar to the Metis beading we are learning at home.

Guillermo, who moved to Isla from Mexico City in 2015, met Yadi, who grew up in Texas but is actually a member of a large Isla family, and the two have been inseparable ever since. They both shared a vision of opening a restaurant that would bring something different to the people who visit Isla Mujeres, introducing them to a wider variety of Mexican cuisine. They dreamed of helping people explore the culture more deeply. Their menu is a celebration of the ingredients native to the Yucatan and Quintana Roo. So I was very excited to meet them and experience Xaman with their guidance. 

We started with amazing cocktails. They were absolute works of art.  You can tell that as much time and effort has gone into creating and preparing them as has gone into the food. We had a Margarita pachita made with tequila, pineapple juice, muddled cilantro and Serrano chili with a salted rim. The first sip was spicy and potent but as my taste buds adjusted it was refreshing and delicious. We also tried the Dioses del Mar, meaning the gods of the sea. What a masterpiece! Tequila and blue curaçao are mixed with coconut cream and lime and served in a coconut rimmed glass. It’s the most unique cocktail I have experienced. Both cocktails were garnished with dehydrated citrus and fresh rosemary. 

The food menu has something for everyone but will be especially pleasing to vegans as it has a ton of creative plant based options. They even make vegan chorizo. 

There are also plenty of dishes to please the adventurous eater. We tried the grasshoppers from Chiapas, roasted with chilli and plenty of lime.

My sister, the French fry lover ordered papas Fuego Azteca and we both agreed they were the best fries we’ve have on the island. After we polished off the bowl we were curious about the seasoning that set them apart from other fries, only to discover they were seasoned with paprika and sel de gusano, also known as worm salt. 

Not to worry if bugs aren’t your thing there are a ton of other ingredients that you may not experience elsewhere on the island that are not so scary. Many of the ingredients are pre-Hispanic and have been eaten by the indigenous people for centuries. 

They also have a nice selection of familiar dishes such as nachos, quesadillas, tacos, tamales, breaded chicken, shrimp and mole. 

We made most of our selections from the appetizer section. The Trio Xamanico featured guacamole, Dzikilpak and la Ofrenda. Dzikilpak is hummus like dip made from roasted pumpkin seeds. La Ofrenda, meaning the offering, is seasoned corn ribs that have been charred over fire. 

Next was Pachamama, potato bombs stuffed with chorizo. They were supper flavourful. Crunchy on the outside and soft on the inside with just the right spice level. 

On to the Chile Ixkatiic, a yellow chilli pepper, grown in Yucatan, stuffed with cheese, mushrooms and onions and wrapped in momo leaf. Served on a creamy ixkatiic sauce with chunks of pineapple. 

All of the appetizers we tried are available in vegan versions. 

We decided to share a main and selected the Pescado en salsa guyaba, fresh fish in a guava sauce served with rice and fresh vegetables. It was delicate and delicious. 

I left feeling full of good food and honoured to have met two kindred spirits who share their passion for food and culture so generously. 

If you are interested in viewing the menu and hours of operation, check out the mapchik app. The best money you will ever spend.

Kath’s quote: “Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food.”― Hippocrates

Love never fails.

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