A Magical Night under La Ceiba Tree

On our second to last night at Rosewood Mayakoba in Playa del Carmen, Mexico, we had what I believe to be our most special and memorable dinner.

Two years ago when the hotel was clearing a wooded area in order to make room for a new restaurant, they came across “La Ceiba” Tree which is known to be very sacred in the Mayan Tradition. The Ceiba tree was crucial to the Mayan’s survival because the tree would hold water anytime it rained, and then release it to the surrounding plants and wildlife whenever there was a drought. So, the management decided that they could not tear down the tree, and instead agreed to build a garden and restaurant around the tree, and pay homage to the Mayans, who once lived on the land.

At “La Ceiba,” as the restaurant came to be called, guests are seated at one long table underneath the magnificent tree, which is lit with beautiful lantern. The philosophy of the restaurant is that everyone who comes to eat underneath the tree is family, including the staff and chefs, so everyone eats together and is able to get to know one another.

When we first arrived at the garden where the restaurant is located, we were greeted with lemongrass margaritas, and the sound of a mariachi band playing in the background. Friends and families mingled and we all got to know one another before we were called to the table for dinner. I was seated next to a couple from Chicago who had traveled to Rosewood for a long weekend to celebrate their 9th Wedding anniversary. They were so fun and kind and I really enjoyed getting to know them!

The food is served family style, and wine glasses were constantly being topped off by waiters who later sat down to join us for the delicious meal which consisted of 3 courses! Everything that we ate was either caught fresh that day, or grown in the garden that surrounded us.

My favorite dishes that I ate were the Market Salad, The Pacific Zarandeado Style Caribbean Lobster, and the fresh pork that they cooked underground for 8 hours! The dessert cobbler was also to die for!

Here is a complete list of what we ate that night:

Course 1:

  • Achiote Grilled Octopus Salad Tossed with Mexican Greens, and Burnt Lime Vinaigrette
  • Pickled Beet Salad, Colored Carrots, Tomatillos, “Our Back Yard Radishes,” Tulum Sprouts, Burrata and Horseradish Vinaigrette
  • Market Salad, Jicama, Carrot, Onion, Pumpkin Seed and Jalapeno Vinaigrette

Course 2:

  • Pacific Zarandeado Style Caribbean Lobster
  • Catch of the Day with Crusted “Chilmole”
  • Pib Roasted “Cochinita Pibil”
  • Lamb Chops Glazed with Agave Honey and Spices
  • Wood Oven Roasted Plantains
  • Sweet Potatoes with Fennel
  • Chaya Salpicon with Chayote and Citrus

Course 3:

  • La Ceiba Cobbler
  • Wood Oven Roasted Guava, Apple and Mango, Funnel Crumbs with Mango-Passion Fruit Sorbet

I think that this was my favorite dinner because it was so centered on family and community. Those are two things that are very important to me in my life, and I love to see a resort include these qualities in their values as well.

If you are ever in Playa del Carmen, eating at La Ceiba is a definite must!


Rachael Claire