Since the weather is still pretty chilly, and I’m dreaming of warm-weather vacations, I assumed the rest of the population/all of you readers are doing the same. So in this edition of “fantasy vacation,” I’ll take you back to Tulum, which I visited last summer.
A few friends have asked me recently about my trip, hoping for travel advice and tips, and my first reaction was, “wtf, didn’t you read my blog?!” but then I calmed down and started to reflect on my favorite parts of that vacation. One of the best moments of the entire trip was our dinner at Hartwood.
To celebrate that memory, my mom got me the stunning hardbound Hartwood Cookbook, featuring the beautiful dishes we ate, and all the wonderful flavors and meals that come out of that kitchen.
I’ve mentioned before that my first reaction to hearing about Hartwood was apprehension. “Oh reallyyyyy two New Yorker expats and their hipster pretentious kitchen and it’s all natural in this resort town in the jungle on the beach??” A bunch of bloggers raved about it, the New York Times raved about it. Fear set in as I realized my dream destination of Tulum was becoming saturated with self-righteousness and ostentatious wealth. As it turns out, I was being a cynical susie of epic proportions.You’d be remiss to not visit Hartwood on a trip to Tulum. With a fresh menu daily, the food coming from the local jungle and sea, and combinations of flavors completely unique to this locale, Hartwood is so much more than special.First of all, the location is a dream. Nestled under tall, lush green trees in a serene jungle, along the Caribbean coastline of the Yucatan, you’ll find white rocks and wood, with strings of pineapples and the soft scent of incense. And if you’re lucky, the scent of marinating costillas al agave (16-hour oven roasted pork ribs that MELT. IN. YOUR. MOUTH.).Are you planning a trip to Tulum this year? Make sure this place is part of your itinerary, at least once. Here’s how to do it:
Make a Reservation
Arrive at 2:45pm (AT THE LATEST) the day you want to make a reservation. Get in line. It will be long by 2:45, depending on the day. This is extremely important, because if you don’t have a reservation, you won’t get in. And if you don’t get in, you don’t get in. They only do reservations in person, not over the phone or online. This may seem like a hassle at first, but it is SO worth it. [This is the most important tip besides the cash one]
Don’t miss your spot! Because they operate on a very limited seating per night, you’ll be treated to an incredibly intimate, calm and quiet dining experience, with an attentive server and well-timed made-to-order dishes. I’m salivating at present. If you get there early, order a drink at the bar.
Order as Much as Possible
With the exception of costillas (which are a MUST ORDER), many of these items are seasonal/unique to the daily menu. Try them now or you may not have a chance to try them again! I recommend going with a group, ordering multiple dishes, and trying a bit of everything. You cannot go wrong. I personally loved the filet of coronado, jicama salad, costillas, and piña habañero margarita.
It’s cash only. Pesos will save you a decent percentage – so just do yourself a favor and bring a grip of Pesos. Make sure you tip your server!
Wear Bug Spray
Remember, it’s a beautiful, 5-star status restaurant, but you’re also in the jungle. The incense stuff they use is to ward off bugs, but it can only do so much. Also, in terms of what to wear, think resort casual – I wore a crocheted white dress with tassels. V Mexico vibes.Now I’m thinking of ways to get back to Tulum this year for round two of dinner. Until then, I will make an attempt to roast pork ribs for 16 hours – wish me luck.