Confession — one of my favorite things about Mancora was the endless array of restaurant options boasting cuisine from all corners of the globe. While my food budget skyrocketed during our ten days here, so did my tummy’s approval rating. I get plenty of thumbs up from readers on my Where to Eat in Koh Tao and Where to eat in Reykjavik posts, so I figure ya’ll appreciate some decent food porn every now and then.
The restaurant I sought out in Cusco that claimed to serve “Thai-inspired cuisine” was a massive disappointment, meaning I had gone without in months and was practically ravenous for some curry by the time I arrived in Mancora. Tao saved the day.
Cocktails such as mango-inspired concoctions range from 15-20 soles (around $5-7), while the yellow curry rice dish that’s pictured will set you back 23 soles (around $8). I’ve often lamented the lack of healthy options in South America but this meal was heavy on both vegetables and protein. We ate here three times in our ten days in Mancora.
Papa Mo’s / Green Eggs and Ham / Surf n Turf
This candy-colored collection of wooden beachfront cottages was Mancora’s version of a strip mall — it housed a beach shop, a soon-to-open massage joint and a small collection of restaurants. The breakfast option of the group was , where everything on the menu was 15 soles (around $5). Menu items include omelets and pancakes and all come with fresh juice, a fruit salad, and killer ocean views.
In the afternoon, Papa Mo’s Milk Bar was my go-to for fresh juices and smoothies with a sense of humor. My favorite was the Anchor, a mango and coconut milk concoction for 5 soles (around $1.75).
Surf & Turf quickly became our default lunch destination, where twelve soles (around $4) will buy you an appetizer, a main meal and a drink. Taquenos with guacamole followed by a chicken burrito washed down with passion-fruit juice? Yes please!
The blatantly-named serves up expertly-seasoned steaks with sides like perfectly sauteed vegetables and garlic mashed potatoes that were so good I almost cried. Portions here were enormous, so though it was pricey we were able to split an appetizer, an entrée, and an extra side of vegetables and both walk away stuffed. I paid 35 soles (around $12.50) for my half of the meal a mojito.
By far Mancora’s most popular and swank option, La Sirena brings high-end dining to a laid-back beach town. I was head over heels for the place as soon as I spotted the bohemian and playful interiors, and even more so after we splurged on dinner here. While the menu is heavily seafood-focused, Anders found a ravioli dish he raved about for 3o soles (around $10.50) and when my first order wasn’t available I was happy with my chicken skewers for 25 soles (around $9). Original cocktails like fresh mango sours — highly recommended — run 20 soles (around $7).
I was lured to by the promise of homemade banana yogurt. While I didn’t love the thin and sticky consistency of the dish I’d been craving, I do give this place points for being a healthy, vegetarian and vegan-friendly option. Anders and I split a 9 sole (around $3) fruit salad which was fantastic and a 6 sole (around $2) homemade-bread-and-yogurt combo, of which I was not a fan.
is a small Peruvian chain we already knew we loved after eating in Lima’s Barranco outpost. Their Mancora version features a second floor balcony overlooking the main drag, perfect for people watching while munching your thin-crust pizza. Sadly, my enthusiasm did not extend to the nutella-covered dessert pizza.
El Aji would have won me over with their tasty and creative Tex Mex alone. But then they threw in the most personal, friendly service we received in Mancora, which ensured we came back a second time. The “special” quesadillas were stuffed with all kinds of bacon, veggie and cheese goodness and set me back 32 soles (around $11). Good thing I split with Anders — portions were generous. The appetizer we also shared, the “special” beef nachos for 23 soles (around $8), could have also easily been a full meal.