El Faro – Pacifica Resort, Ixtapa, 52-755-553-2090
Boasting beautiful panoramic views of the beach, the Pacific Ocean and the surrounding hotel-zone resorts, this restaurant/bar is a perfect place to eat, dance, and just relax under the stars. The best seats for dining are those outside on the patio or inside, next to the huge windows. There is also a barstool and table area on the side of the restaurant that faces the hotel strip, if you want to just hang out and have appetizers. Great atmosphere, very laid back and casual, with a seafood cuisine (although there are other non-fish items). There was a "gondola ride" available for all guests that went from the beach level up the hillside to the restaurant. Sort of like a cross between a ski-lift and a cable car. It was a quick trip up, free, and an interesting way to start your evening. They have a lobster buffet on Friday evenings, starting at 6pm, which includes a salad bar and a glass of wine for $37/per person. They have a few at-the-table-preparation dinner options, like the Caesar salad and steak for two. Reservations are suggested, but not required. This makes for an enjoyable meal with great views (especially around sunset) and friendly staff. It can be pricey, so don’t be fooled by the casual atmosphere. Recommended.
La Casa Que Canta Restaurant – La Casa Que Canta Hotel, Camino Escenico a Playa la Ropa Beach, Zihuatanejo, 755-555-7000, www.lacasaquecanta.com
Voted the World’s Best Hotel and Restaurant in Mexico and Central America by Leisure Travel magazine, this restaurant serves extremely fresh upscale Mexican food, and their menu changes seasonally (they buy only enough fish for that evening—what does that tell you?). The resort is secluded and romantic and a perfect place for a special evening, with top-of-the-line service and bats that fly overhead after dark (that was an experience). It’s a clifftop restaurant with alfresco-style dining with unbelievable views of the ocean, the waves that crash against the bluffs, and one of the hotel’s many infinity pools. Try to snag a prime oceanview table. The tables are black, wrought-iron, and everything is covered in white linens with lots of candles. There’s a very extensive, international wine list. Overall, it’s an expensive meal with reservations required and appropriate attire: no sandals, shorts, T-shirts, etc. The film When a Man Loves a Woman was shot here. Breakfast and lunch are served only to hotel guests, and no children under 16 are allowed at all. The staff members were falling over themselves to take care of us, and we never wanted for anything. All major credit cards are accepted, and there is free valet parking. Highly Recommended (especially at sunset).
The Restaurant at Villa del Sol – Playa la Ropa, Zihuatanejo, 755-554-2239, www.hotelvilladelsol.com
Depending on whom you speak to, this restaurant serves a) Pacific-Mediterranean, b) International, and/or c) French cuisine. Whatever it is, it’s delicious, and the menu in general emphasizes local seafood. If you get there early enough, you can see the local fishermen catching the fish for the evening (right off the beach). They offer a Mexican fiesta (a large buffet) on Friday nights with live entertainment. The restaurant is all open but covered with a high wooden/thatched roof, lots of lights, and a large bar. I found it interesting that the restaurant was so large and the hotel was boutique-like. There are views of the beach and ocean, but they are far off and sort of blocked by tables, plants, and bushes. Villa del Sol does offer full-beach dining (meaning the same menu and same table setups that you would receive in the actual restaurant). Mariachi bands are available for that, as well. Beach dining here is a romantic choice, depending on the season, due to the fact that this area tends to get buggy during rainy season (which is during the fall in the U.S.). The kitchen will accommodate any special requests, provided they have a day’s notice. The staff was quick, friendly, and knowledgeable. All major credit cards are accepted. They serve all three meals (opens at 8:30am), and the dress is casual. The owner, Helmut Leins, oversees everything at the hotel and the restaurant. Reservations required. Pricey. Highly Recommended.
Kau-Kan – Carretera Escenica, Lote 7 en route to Playa la Ropa, Zihuatanejo, 755-554-8446 or email@example.com.
This restaurant is sort of located off the beaten path, so I suggest taking a cab here. Its food was voted "Best Food in Town" by Bon Appetit magazine. Chef Ricardo Rodriguez has put together a predominantly seafood menu with a few choice selections (my non-seafood-eating husband was happy with the other choices). The menu varies due to the catch of the day, but everything is right out of the water fresh. Their signature dish is stingray in black butter sauce, and it’s excellent. The food was eclectic and imaginative, to say the least, with excellent service (there was a small language barrier) and an elegant atmosphere. There are "compliments of the chef" goodies throughout the meal, which I love. There’s rooftop seating with views of the bay and the city of Zihuatanejo. All tables near the water face that way, so your back is to the rest of the restaurant (this is another great place for sunset dining).
When you first walk in (to the main level), there is a big, open window that faces the bay with a large red "window-seat" in front of it. It’s a nice area to sit with a cocktail or while waiting for your cab. The stucco walls have large oil paintings hanging on them with a very homey Mexican feel. Meals here are pricey, and reservations are required because there is very limited seating (although they will that say reservations are not required—do yourself a favor). All major credit cards are accepted, and they’re open for lunch during high season only. There were no children while we were there, I’m guessing because of the cost of the food and the type of cuisine. The restaurant plays soft music in the background, and it’s a very quiet and relaxing atmosphere. Highly Recommended.