Acapulco + Zihuatanejo Restaurants
22 Av. Escénica
Tel: 52 744 446 6845
Though it's been around a few years, the cliff-top Baikal has a continually hip vibe as well as a consistently excellent menu. Just getting to the dining room—it requires a trip down a special spiral staircase set into the hillside—makes you feel like a VIP. Once you arrive, the heavy bossa nova beats and dreamy underwater videos projected on wall screens evoke a chichi Manhattan nightclub. Diners tend to linger a long time here, sharing abalone with chipotle vinaigrette and crab legs with angel hair salad for starters, then gradually moving on to lobster tail with goat cheese and mushrooms, glazed duck leg, and the house specialty, steamed red snapper with lobster butter. Beautiful types make the indoor views almost as good as the outdoor ones.—Maribeth Mellin
Open Tuesdays through Sundays 10 pm to midnight.
1 Pasaje Agustín Ramírez
Tel: 52 755 554 2518
Ask around: Everyone in Zihua will tell you to come to this restaurant. It's housed in the city's oldest building, the Inguaran family's 1865 hacienda, which was the center of the then-thriving coconut industry. The palm-shaded garden, fairy-lit at night, is bucolic and romantic; the food is neither pretentious nor expensive. Locals rave about the coconut-crusted snapper and the shrimp baked in a coconut shell—but you can actually dine coconut-free here, and well. Start out with the heart-of-palm salad, then move on to charcoal-broiled pork chops, fresh-grilled fish, or the house special: chiles rellenos, potato-and-shrimp-stuffed Poblano chiles on tomato salsa. If, for some mad reason, you're feeling homesick for North American junk food, there's also a bar menu of burgers, fries, and chicken wings.
Open daily 11:30 am to 4 pm and 6 to 11 pm.
Playa Caleta Lado Oriente
Tel: 52 744 482 5007
Sandy feet and wet swimsuits are de rigueur at the Alvarez family's restaurant on jam-packed Playa Caleta. This is old, old Acapulco, where Mexican families descend en masse for Sunday gatherings. La Cabaña has been a Caleta landmark since the '50s, when composer Augustín Lara and film siren María Félix danced barefoot in the sand. Settle in at a white plastic table and order a pitcher of sangria and the seafood combo platter—piled high with fried and grilled fish, shrimp, lobster, octopus, and whatever else the fishermen happened upon that day. Lockers are available if you want to go for a swim to work up an appetite—you'll need it.—Maribeth Mellin
Open daily 9 am to 9 pm.
90 Paseo del Pescador
Tel: 52 755 554 2687
A jolly fat mermaid (sirena gorda) watches over barefoot beer drinkers from paintings decorating the walls at this casual café—on Zihua's seaside walkway. The tacos pescado al pastor (fish tacos with savory sauces) are legendary, as are the seafood stews and grilled fish. Some travelers have been known to begin the day with the mermaid's fragrant coffee and French toast and end it with cheladas (beer with lime and salt) at the same wooden table, watching fishermen mend their nets and display the catch of the day on the sand.
Open Thursdays through Tuesdays 8 am to 10:30 pm.