We’re in Mexico, about to have dinner at Cocina de Autor – one of eight Grand Velas Riviera Maya restaurants.
And we can tell this meal is going to be different.
We gaze around the chic restaurant with its hanging white teardrop lamps, then take our seats at a green glass-topped table, decorated with a single anthurium.
The minimalist décor subtly hints “Don’t look at me, focus on the food!”
And as fans of beautiful food, we do that – happily.
Grand Velas Riviera Maya restaurants: Cocina de Autor
Using science to deconstruct and create unusual dishes (which is what molecular cuisine is all about) turns out to be positively yummy here at Cocina de Autor.
Grilled scallops on a slice of beet in hibiscus raspberry sauce. Lamb chops with bacon powder. Vegetable foams and jellies. Even chocolate mushrooms.
Our taste buds are tickled!
Actually, pretty well all the food – scratch that, cuisine – is delish.
Grand Velas Riviera Maya food
Cocina is the most cutting-edge of the Grand Velas Riviera Maya restaurants.
The luxury Grand Velas resort in Mexico gets top reviews for its huge suites and dining.
And Cocina has won an AAA Five-Diamond rating – the only restaurant in an all-inclusive ever to receive an AAA Five-Diamond award.
We remember the bountiful buffets at all-inclusive resorts like the Club Meds we vacationed at years ago. We thought they were wonderful then, especially the salads.
But those buffets don’t come anywhere close to what’s served up today at great hotels for food lovers.
And they certainly can’t compare with what you get at the Grand Velas, where “all-inclusive” dining really has been elevated to a culinary art.
So if you’re seeking the best all-inclusive resort in Riviera Maya – at least the one with the best food – bookmark this resort.
The only potential problem with staying here is that you’ll be following a 9-step foodie “un-diet” plan :-).
Step 1 – The Bistro
Where to eat breakfast? Room service? Maybe on our ocean-view balcony by our little pool?
Nah, let’s venture out. How about the Bistro for French toast and eggs?
Step 2 – Azul
What time is it? Time for lunch?
Which of the Grand Velas Riviera Maya restaurants shall we head to?
Let’s sit in the shade on the huge open-air terrace at Azul. You can’t beat the ocean views.
We want a proper lunch, with real china, silverware and chilled wine glasses for our New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc (no plastic ware).
We can order à la carte.
But let’s hit the buffet.
There are so many tempting choices, and we can try a little bit of everything, from sushi and tempura to pasta and pizza to Greek salad and big shrimps. The Mexican fruit (like the mangos and papaya) is so fresh too.
Step 3 – Drinks by the pool
We’d conceived of this as an 8-step un-diet to match the eight restaurants.
But, silly us, we forgot about the drinks by the pool. You know, those colorful concoctions you sip while telling yourself the strawberry margarita is really just a fruit serving for the day.
(Pssst! See these 15 delicious Mexican margarita recipes you can make at home.)
Maybe we should have a little pool snack too?
Step 4 – Piaf
Foie gras, escargot, lamb chops, duck confit and fluffy pillowy soufflés are on the menu at French-themed Piaf. (Yes, unlike Cocina de Autor, you get a menu here.)
Be sure to book Piaf at least one night during your stay.
Because if you were to ask us which is our personal favorite restaurant of the Grand Velas Riviera Maya restaurants, we’d say Piaf.
With its curtains of Swarovski crystals, rich ruby-red color scheme and candle-lit tables, it’s très romantic – feels cozier than Cocina.
Steps 5 to 8
When it comes to dinner on other nights, you now have a choice of these other waiter-served restaurants: Sen Lin for Asian, Frida for Mexican food, Lucca for Italian and the Bistro for French.
If you’re in a really casual mood and just want to pick at a bit of this and that, Azul clears out the lunch buffet and puts on a new dinner buffet, starting at about 5:00 pm.
Step 9 – Grand Velas Riviera Maya Restaurant finale at Cocina
Wind up your stay with a multi-course tasting experience at Cocina. After all, it’s the flagship restaurant.
Now remember, there’s no Cocina de Autor menu.
You’re served at least nine mini courses, plus bite-size appetizers and teeny dessert creations.
Just sit back, enjoy your evening, and let the waiters serve you as they explain all the little delicacies they bring.
Bonus: Despite the number of courses, the serving sizes are tiny perfect, so you won’t feel stuffed.
Grand Velas Riviera Maya review: Last step?
Plan to diet when you get home!
How to get Grand Velas Riviera Maya deals?
The serene Zen suites (in the jungle), for couples and families, are about half the cost of the Grand Class suites. Just be sure there’s no conference or group event happening in the Zen building during your stay (groups are often booked into the Zen building) – or you won’t be feeling the “zen.”
The food photos are courtesy of the Grand Velas Riviera Maya restaurants. (We’re not all that adept at taking good indoor food photos. Besides, our attention was focused on eating!)