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La Buena Vida

Akumal, Quintana Roo

Sand beneath your feet, sweeping ocean vistas, 80s music, swings by the bar, $2 drinks at happy hour, and all the tacos, nachos, and quesadillas you can imagine, a few with some thoughtful flavor combinations. Because what are you going to Mexico for if not for this?
If it's not immediately apparent from walking into La Buena Vida and seeing the sandy floors and large swings hanging in front of the bar, and then turning to watch someone still in swim trunks climbing up a ladder into a tree house with a handful of margaritas, this is not a place where locals eat. But that doesn't mean that La Buena Vida isn't an exciting, perpetually fun place for touists to enjoy a good dinner.
So much of Mexican food is about the quality and freshness of ingredients used, and as such the fish and tortillas at La Buena Vida stand out as particularly excellent. The fish tacos, best prepared ajillo or in a crisp tempura batter, are finished simply with a touch of creamy aioli and a purple onion- and cabbage-heavy pico de gallo.
Non-seafood lovers should explore the Pollo Maya, a traditional recipe of spicy marinated chicken wrapped and baked in banana leaves and served with fried plantains, purple onions, and black beans. For those more inclined to stick to the Mexican food they know, the Chicken Quesadillas are much better than average, with cheese and tomato sauce adding a little extra moisture to the seared, crispy tortillas.
Because this is a Mexican menu that is aimed at accessibility and recognition by large groups of tourists, guacamole is of course present in vast quantities. Fresh, local avocados here are combined with tomatoes, onions, cilantro, lots of lime juice, and topped with crumbled queso fresco that adds a bite of balance to the sometimes acidic creaminess of the guacamole.
Again catering to its pleasure-seeking clientele, La Buena Vida offers incredible happy hour deals until 7 PM. The frozen drinks are a bit more successful than the others, particularly the Pink Panther, a strawberry banana concoction that goes down like a smoothie, but the house specialty, aptly named the La Buena Vida, comes with Baileys, Kahlua, coconut cream, and Grand Marnier for a silky finish.
Simply put, La Buena Vida is Mexican food the way Americans want it, but the results are still worth traveling great distances for.
Akumal, Quintana Roo
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