Nestled under a palm frond canopy, just a short walk from Isla Mujeres’ North Beach is Chef Lori Dumm’s newest restaurant on Isla Mujeres, Mexico–Chaya & Cacao. Chaya & Cacao redefines and refines island fare. Chef Dumm began her island restaurateur life with the opening of Mango Cafe, now one of the island’s most popular dining destinations (under different ownership, but still featuring much of her menu), followed by Lola’s and Lolita’s where she contributed creatively to the menu development. She has always focused on fresh, innovative fare reflecting a fusion of Latin American and Caribbean flavors, taking favorites such as eggs benedict and adding spices and toppings that evoke the tropical sun and heat. Her current iteration of island fresh, farm-to-table cuisine is unparalleled. Chaya & Cacao’s menu reflects a culinary finesse that Chef Dumm delivers in partnership with the talented Head Chef Arturo Lopez (formerly of Mayan Beach Club). Chef Dumm has refined her style, offering tantalizing, healthy fare that is at the same time satisfying and refreshing, reflecting the seasonal and sustainable offerings of the island.
Here are my top five favorite dishes at Chaya & Cacao.
Coconut milk, chai tea with espresso ice cubes and a sprinkle of cinnamon. Not too sweet, perfect for non-coffee drinkers, or just an afternoon pick me up.
What can be better than an almond butter, cacao nib and banana smoothie? One that adds the superfood benefits of maca and still tastes delicious!!
I am not vegan. Let’s be clear. And I generally steer clear of vegan desserts. But the baked goods made from scratch are amazing!!! Try the banana bread – perfectly moist, with a delightful crunch of nuts leavened with flax seed. It’s amazing.
Avocado Toast two ways
Don’t just try one, try both! One option features fresh spring vegetables such as asparagus, topped with a sunny side up egg and pesto, while the other version highlights the Island’s tropical vibe, the diced mango playing eloquently with pickled onion atop the egg. Both are serves on gluten-free toast smeared with roasted beet hummus (see below for recipe).
When you eat lionfish, not only are you doing good for your body, but also for the environment. It is one of the only sustainably caught fish on the island, and is an invasive species. It is not available every day, but when it is, you might find lionfish tostadas with chipotle aioli & mango pico de gallo or it’s served with yucca, passion fruit, crispy leeks & purslane on the menu tonight. Caribbean flavors at their best!
Roasted Beet hummus
This is a totally amazing addition to your breakfast or lunch!
1 small roasted beet
1 3/4 cup cooked chickpeas, mostly drained
zest of 1 large lemon
juice of 1/2 a lemon
pinch salt and black pepper
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 Tbsp tahini
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp chipotle in adobo – optional
Cool and peel the beet, then dice it and place it in your food processor.
Blend until only small bits remain.
Add remaining ingredients except for olive oil and blend until smooth.
Add in olive oil as the hummus is mixing.
Taste and adjust seasonings as needed, adding more salt, lemon juice, or olive oil if needed.
Add a bit of water if needed.