Skip to Content

Grand Velas Riviera Maya Restaurants: aka the 9-step Foodie Un-diet

“Molecular cuisine”?

No menu?

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.

grand velas riviera maya restaurants

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

Grand Velas Riviera Maya food at Cocina de Autour

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.

Grand Velas Riviera Maya, Mexico

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 :-).

Grand Velas Riviera Maya food: Picnic on the beach!

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?

grand velas riviera maya food - breakfast at bistro

Step 2 – Azul

What time is it? Time for lunch?

Which of the Grand Velas Riviera Maya restaurants shall we head to?

grand velas riviera maya restaurants - lunch

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?

grand velas riviera maya food - drinks by the pool

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.

Piaf Grand Velas

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.

Piaf grand Velas

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.

grand velas riviera maya food

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 restaurants - cocina de autor

Grand Velas Riviera Maya review: Last step?

Plan to diet when you get home!

Things to know about the Riviera Maya Grand Velas


Be sure to make dinner reservations for Piaf, Cocina de Autor and Frida in advance (seating is limited).

Check the wine list

Wines are included in the rates.

If you ask for a glass of white, you’ll typically be offered a Pinot Grigio or a Chardonnay. But there’s a whole list of more than 20 complimentary wines from around the world, including New Zealand, Washington, France, Italy and Argentina.

So ask for the wine cart or the wine menu to see all your choices.


Among the awesome things to do in the Riviera Maya, snorkeling or swimming in one of the area’s unique and magical cenotes is a highlight. It may be hard tearing yourself away from the resort, but the cenotes are really special – and something you must experience.

Good for both couples and families

We enjoyed the resort as a couple, staying in one of the popular Grand Class suites with a head-on ocean view and pool on our balcony. The Grand Class building is adults-only and has its own adults-only pool.

But the resort also appeals to families (the Ambassador Class building with 195 suites is totally family-friendly).

In fact, the Grand Velas Riviera Maya would be perfect for a multi-generational vacation.

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.”

See other Grand Velas Riviera Maya reviews and check availability here

Our top travel tips and resources

Hotels: is great for scoring a “wow” hotel – or at least a decent one. (We especially like their flexible cancellation policy!)

Vacation homes, condos and rentals: We prefer and use Vrbo (Vacation Rentals by Owner).

Tours: For the best local food, walking and other guided tours, plus skip-the-line tickets to attractions, check out Viator (a TripAdvisor company) and GetYourGuide.

Car rental: Renting a car is often one of the best ways to explore off the beaten path. Discover Cars searches car rental companies so you get the best rates.

Travel insurance: SafetyWing is designed for frequent travelers, long-term adventurers and digital nomads. It covers medical expenses, lost checked luggage, trip interruption and more. We also have and recommend Medjet for global air medical transportation and travel security.

Travel gear: See our travel shop to find the best luggage, accessories and other travel gear. (We suggest these comfy travel sandals for city walking, the beach and kicking about.)

Need more help planning your trip? Check out our travel tips and resources guide for airline booking tips, ways to save money, how to find great hotels and other crazy useful trip planning info.

Pssst! If you make a booking or purchase through our site, we may earn a small commission (at no cost to you). Thanks!

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!)

About the authors

Luxury travel journalists and SATW, NATJA and TMAC “Best Travel Blog” award winners, Janice and George Mucalov are the publishers of Sand In My Suitcase. Between them, they’ve traveled to all 7 continents. See About.

Find destination guides, global food-and-wine stories, luxury hotel reviews, articles on cultural explorations and soft adventure trips, cruise reviews, insanely useful travel tips and more!

Beth Cooper

Monday 21st of March 2016

The Grand Velas Riviera Maya is THE PLACE - and the food is great, really liked the atmosphere there. I will go again for sure!


Sunday 20th of March 2016

I stayed in an all-inclusive resort in Mexico before just to discover it's not working for me at all. I am one of those people who feels the 'pressure' of tasting everything that's on display in the buffet, so the repercussions were terrible. The Grand Velas Riviera Maya looks quite exquisite!

Janice and George

Sunday 20th of March 2016

We understand. Every time we went to eat, we'd say to ourselves, "Now we're just here to taste!" But sometimes it's hard to resist - especially when the food is sooo good.


Saturday 19th of March 2016

The standard of food looks very high and I love the decor at Piaf - I'd no doubt end up eating loads in this resort!

Janice and George

Saturday 19th of March 2016

That's the only risk here - eating too much!

Alison Abbott

Friday 18th of March 2016

Wow-this gives new meaning to an all inclusive, and looks a lot easier than Weight Watchers : ) I love pretty food and Grand Velas is a feast for all the senses. Thanks for opening my eyes about the term!

Janice and George

Friday 18th of March 2016

Yes, "all-inclusive" has taken on new meaning for us now :-).

Megan Sterritt

Wednesday 16th of March 2016

Love this piece! Thank you so much for coming! Glad you enjoyed!

Janice and George

Thursday 17th of March 2016

We loved visiting the Grand Velas! And stuffing our faces on the food :-).