How to get the flavor of Isla Holbox

Meagan Drillinger

Isla Holbox has long been on the radar of intrepid travelers looking to get off the beaten paths of Cancun, Playa del Carmen and Tulum. Flecked off the northeastern coast of the Yucatan Peninsula, this thumbnail sliver of a tropical island is about as idyllic as it gets — white, sun-bleached beaches, thick groves of palm trees and mangroves, unbelievably clear water and far less foot traffic than other more easily accessible parts of the Mexican Caribbean.

But for Kasie Dobbs, a long-time resident of Isla Holbox, her slice of paradise had something missing: access to healthful food. That’s not to say the island does not have its share of restaurants. It certainly does. But for Dobbs, something was missing. So in 2021 she opened Kuxtal Market & Cafe, and Holbox’s La Ruta del Sabor was born.

“Kuxtal is more than just a restaurant; it’s a testament to the power of personal transformation and the pursuit of a healthier, more fulfilling life,” Dobbs said. “We believe that everyone deserves access to nourishing, delicious food that supports their well-being.”

Dobbs and Francisco Castillejos, the driving force behind Holbox’s vegan restaurant Arte Sano, created a route across the island highlighting the restaurants that are helping to pioneer the foodie scene on the island. The two also created Turismo Holbox as a way of bringing more tourism to the island, and La Ruta del Sabor is one of their most important projects.

“As Holbox grew in popularity, we saw the demographic change and we started to attract tourists who were no longer enjoying the hype and chaos that is Tulum. Holbox provides that happy medium of slow vibes, fine dining and local treats. There really is something for everyone,” she said. “We invited what we think to be the best and most creative restaurants on the island.” 

The restaurants included on La Ruta del Sabor include:

\0x25CFKuxtal Market & Cafe
\0x25CFRestaurante La Playa De Nana
\0x25CFBig Fish
\0x25CFTemoc Tacos & Mezcal
\0x25CFSantos Fuegos
\0x25CFMr. Happy Breakfast & Brunch
\0x25CFBasico Holbox
\0x25CFViva Zapata Restaurant
\0x25CFArte Sano Mexican Vegan Food
\0x25CFEl Ma. Carmita

The restaurants offer a mix in styles and cuisines, from seafood caught daily and traditional tacos to wood-fired dishes and vegan cuisine.

“The route is definitely best spread over three days,” Dobbs said. “You could fit in one to three restaurants a day, spread over three to five days. Of course, there are more restaurants on the island to enjoy, so you could really extend it to a week to fit everything in.”

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