On my recent trip to Mexico I was very excited to try the local salsas and hot sauces. I was sure that the variety and heat levels of the Mexican hot sauces would blow my mind. So, I tried every salsa I could find, and would love to share my experiences here with you today. In addition, my plan was to be able to bring some hot sauce home with me, which leads me to the second part of this article; my Mayanik Hot Sauce Review.
How many salsas did I try?
I just sat here and tried to tally up how many different salsas and hot sauces I tried while I was in Mexico. I counted at least twenty. I may be forgetting a couple, so I would say somewhere between 20-30 different recipes between all the places we ate.
How many different places did we eat?
Most days we ate our meals at our all inclusive resort, but we did also eat at four other outside establishments. We ate at 6 different restaurants at our resort. We ate at 2 different restaurants at Xcaret park, and we ate one meal at a little hole in the wall in Cozumel. We also had a delicious meal at the Adventura Maya compound, after visiting the ruins at Tulum; between riding ATV’s through the jungle and swimming in an underground cenote! (I will do a review on that adventure coming up soon)
Altogether, that is 10 different establishments, with 10 different menus, and they pretty much all have their own homemade salsas, and sometimes bottled hot sauces also. I must say, all but the 2 late night places at the resort had a wide variety of salsas. Usually 5 or more options were on display per restaurant.
The Resort Hot Sauce
We stayed at the Occidental at Xcaret Resort in Riviera Maya. Which was awesome by the way. (I am doing a separate review on the resort, which you should totally check out.) As I mentioned earlier, we ate at 6 different places, out of the 10 options, while we were there.
I must have tasted somewhere between 12-17 varieties at the resort alone. Sadly, I wasn’t too impressed with most of them. A few had decent flavor, but in general I found the majority of them to be somewhat bland and not spicy at all. I know this makes the place sound bad, but everything else was so awesome, I can forgive them for this, and there were exceptions, one exception in fact that I would fly 3000 miles for…
I realize they have to please many people with the food they present, and most of the visitors are probably spicy food wimps. But I would assume there has to be quite a few people who, like me, are excited to sample some spicy salsas while in Mexico. I mean, we are in the land where all hot peppers originally came from! But anyways, as I said there were a couple exceptions to the wussy salsas at the resort.
The Beach Club Buffet’s chefs seemed to have a heavier hand with the spice levels than the other restaurants. They had one really good spicy salsa here. One day, it was much hotter than other days. I even had to let my mouth cool down before I could take another bite at one point (which is exactly what I want by the way).
I also found, after 3 days or so, when I couldn’t take it any more, that if you just ask for something spicy the chef will whip something up for you on the spot! This was truly amazing. As always, the lesson here is, if you want something ask for it!
Take me back to Mexico!
One morning at the main buffet, I asked for something extra spicy, so the waiter went back and had a salsa made for me. No joke, this was the best salsa I have ever eaten in my life. I even took it back with me to my room so I could use it at every meal. I asked the waiter what was in it, but he didn’t know. Not knowing if I will ever get to taste a hot sauce as wonderful as this one was, makes me a bit sad. But at least I was blessed enough to have the chance to taste it at least once in my life. I took pictures. I will post them here.
I want to describe this heavenly stuff, but I don’t know that I can. It smelled freaking great. It had a small amount of some kind of oil in it that seemed to have spices baked into it. The constant need to repeatedly inhale the scent of this sauce makes me think there must have also been garlic in it. And on top of the excellent, addicting flavor, it was super spicy. Habaneros I assume. Also, it was savory, not sweet like many freshly made habanero salsas I have tried at restaurants. It was so amazingly good! If I can ever figure out how to make this stuff, I promise I will bottle it up so the whole world can share in the love.
Xcaret Hot Sauce
Xcaret Eco Park was located right next to our resort. They were actually connected. It was the main reason we picked our resort. You can find out more about the Xcaret Eco Park in another post I did. The park was so wonderful it needed its own review. But for now I just need to say that we purchased the Plus package, which includes one meal per day.
We went to the park 2 different days, so we ate at two different buffets. Very impressive buffets. Between these two food adventures I probably tried another 10, or so, salsas, and a couple bottled hot sauces. Both had a spicier options than what I found at most of my meals at the resort. I went back for seconds…maybe thirds.
Cozumel Hot Sauce
One day on our trip we took the ferry from Playa Del Carmen to Cozumel after taking a taxi to Playa del Carmen. I was hoping to hit a few local food carts and try some Yucatan Cuisine. The day didn’t quite go as planned, but it still turned out okay.
The area of Playa del Carmen where we got off to catch the ferry was a bustling shopping area. It is a popular tourist area. Several blocks are closed of to motorized traffic where the streets are paved with old bricks. There were plenty of vendors in mobile carts, like you find in an American shopping mall, but I did not see any food.
We kept moving at a pretty steady pace towards the ferry area, because every time you slow down for one second people approach you trying to sell you something. It gets a bit frustrating and makes it hard to leisurely shop or take in the sites.
After arriving in Cozumel (it’s about a 40 minute boat ride) I was hoping to have better luck finding some local cuisine. Again, we mostly just found lots of shops and vendors. We headed a bit past the initial tourist area and finally found a tiny little food spot.
In anticipation of finding more cool places to eat we just ordered two different tacos to sample, so we wouldn’t be too full to eat something later. They ended up not understanding our order and we got 2 of the same taco. Then when they realized that wasn’t right, they brought two more of the same taco again…still not right, oh well lol. They were only 13 pesos a piece, which was less than 1 US dollar (approx 18 pesos = 1 US Dollar at our time of travel).
The tortillas were awesome, and there were 3 different kinds of salsa on the table. Two of the salsas had pretty good flavor, but again, none of them were very spicy. All in all, it was a pleasant experience though. After we finished our tacos, we headed back out and down back towards the main drag.
All we found were big, tourist targeted bar/restaurants with price tags to match. I wonder where these elusive food carts are that I read about before our trip? We sure didn’t see any. Not even one. So, we just did some souvenir shopping and then headed back to the main land.
Buying Hot Sauce to Bring Home
Throughout my trip, I was not too impressed with any of the Mexican bottled hot sauces I tried at the various restaurants. But I still wanted to find some I could bring home with me to sample later. While in Cozumel, hitting all the gift shops, my main goal was to get some souvenirs for the family, find a stuffed manatee toy I saw when I was there 8 years ago, and of course buy some hot sauce to bring home.
Since we were staying at a resort, we hadn’t had much of an opportunity to shop until then. Our resort did have some shops, but all the hot sauces were in bottles too big to take on the plane (all liquids have to be under 3.4 ounces and fit in a quart sized zip lock bag). I thought it was crazy that these shops weren’t selling anything smaller for people to take home with them.
Finally, while in Cozumel, after going to several shops, I found some smaller bottles of hot sauce. The brand of hot sauce is called Mayanik. They wouldn’t have been my first choice based on the labels, but I didn’t seem to have the option of being picky. I was so happy to find something small enough I could take back on the plane, I went ahead and picked up a gift pack of up three little bottles of the 3 different flavors. Success!
Mayanik Hot Sauce Review
The 3 pack of hot sauces I ended up bring home with me are the Mayanik Habanero Hot Sauces. There is Green, Orange, and Red flavors. Surprisingly, they each have their own unique flavor. I know, from previous research, that as a pepper ripens the capsaicin levels get higher and therefore the get spicier as the age prior to picking.
So, just as one would suspect, the green is the mildest, red a bit spicier, and the fully ripened orange habanero is the hottest. In the case of these Mayanik hot sauces, the orange also happens to taste the best to me. I like the green version a lot, but didn’t care much for the red. The flavor of the red sauce just doesn’t really do it for me.
I am super glad I was able to find these. Especially the orange. I have been trying it on everything. I am going to run out pretty fast, but luckily I was happy to find that they are also available on amazon. I will put the link to the amazon page here so you can check them out for yourself. So, if you can’t make it to Mexico to get some for yourself, you can still bring home the flavor of Mexico.
This link is for a four pack instead of a 3 pack, like I bought. Also these are full size bottles instead of the tiny ones that I have…I’m feeling like I didn’t get that great of a deal in Cozumel now lol…they also sell the single bottles if you just want to try one of the flavors. So, go ahead and click on the picture of the four bottles right below and it will take you to the amazon page with more reviews and current pricing. It will open in a separate page, so you can come right back to this article also.
Mexican Hot Sauces in Retrospect
Although I did get to enjoy the best salsa I have ever tasted while in Mexico, overall I was not super impressed with my Mexican salsa experience. Granted, I did not venture out and away from my resort much, so I can’t really be too judgmental. I did eat some awesome food, and have the time of my life on the trip. My somewhat weak salsa and hot sauce exposure just makes me excited to go back and go new places.
I will probably do a little more research on what establishments claim to have the best salsas next time. I honestly thought it was gonna just be a gimmie. That everywhere I went I would find the best, spiciest salsas ever. That, obviously, was not the case. But that is ok, next time I will make sure to find the right spots to leave a lasting burn on my tongue!
I had the best time ever in Riviera Maya, Quintano Roo, Mexico, and I highly recommend it! I will be posting detailed reviews on the resort I stayed at, and the Xcaret Eco Park very soon! So, keep checking back for more helpful information. Thanks for reading! If you have any questions, comments, or suggestions I would love to hear from you. Feel free to leave a comment below and I will get back to you asap.
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