Chef-Owner Cory McKay left behind his native Canada to start his burrito-making business in Cancun, Mexico. Head to this 24-hour spot and you’ll find McKay and his team churning out massive, tortilla-wrapped creations bursting with a blend of fillings and sauces. “That’s real deal,” Guy said after taking a bite of the Mahi Shrimp Burrito. This beauty comes stuffed with succulent morsels of fresh shrimp and marinated cubes of mahi-mahi, along with onions, tomatoes, green peppers and corn. Before folding the tortilla around the fillings, McKay douses his creation with a blend of different sauces.
Chef-Owner Terron Henry delivers an authentic taste of his native Jamaica with spice-laden dishes that sing with traditional island flavors. Guy said the curried goat will make a convert out of anyone. “That is some of the most tender, flavorful and balanced curried goat I’ve ever had,” Guy declared after tucking into the meat. Henry marinates the goat with a heat-packed blend of housemade wet jerk and Madras curry powder, then cooks the meat in a seasoned curry sauce studded with carrots, onions and potatoes. A trio of sides (rice, cabbage and plantains) round out the plate. The exquisitely seasoned oxtails are another popular pick.
Husband-and-wife team Marcello and Pelusa Marini have perfected the art of the fried pastries that are a staple of their home country. They opened their first restaurant back in 1971 after immigrating to the United States from Argentina, and continue to draw the crowds today with their homemade empanadas. The menu is crowded with dozens of options stuffed with fillings both sweet and savory, but for a taste of an Argentinean classic, Guy recommends the beef gaucho empanada. The ground beef is artfully seasoned, layered with olives and then enveloped in a light and airy dough before being plunged into the deep fryer.
This spot caters to craft beer aficionados who are particular about both their brews and their bites. In addition to its carefully curated selection of suds that extends beyond Heist’s own brews, the spot also serves not-so-basic burgers and other elevated takes on pub grub (Duck Confit Flatbread, anyone?). “That’s legit,” said Guy after sampling the sliders that feature miniature patties made from a blend of chuck, porter and brisket. These bite-sized beauties are packed with flavor, thanks to layers of herb goat cheese, beer-laced bacon jam, roasted tomatoes, fresh arugula and a house-made barbecue sauce.
With so many taco spots vying for customers in Cancun, this spot has set itself apart with creative flavor combinations. “This taco is out of bounds!” exclaimed Guy after biting into the restaurant’s signature creation. The Pinchez Taco comes piled with chopped pork and chorizo bursting with smoky flavors, along with a layer of crisp pork rinds and grilled onions that have been drenched in honey and mustard. Another popular pick is the Pio Pio Taco, which comes heaped with grilled chicken and a vibrant mango salsa.
At this waterfront restaurant, both the views and the dishes dazzle. Fresh catches are the specialty here, such as a hogfish that’s prepared in a style known as tikin xic. Served whole, the fish is rubbed with a distinctive red paste made from achiato seeds, layered with tomatoes, onions and peppers, then grilled until lightly charred. “That’s dynamite,” Guy declared. Also popular are the pescadillas (aka fried tortillas), which come stuffed with a well-seasoned mixture of shark meat, tomatoes and onions.
Chef-Owner Raymond Aker combines two seemingly disparate cuisines — sushi and barbecue — to make distinctive dishes that sing with bold, bright flavors. Take the surf-and-turf roll, for instance. The rice-wrapped roll is stuffed with snow crab, tempura-battered shrimp and avocado, then topped with a hefty slice of smoked brisket and spicy jalapeno slivers. The dish comes drenched in a wasabi-laced dressing that Guy says balances out the flavors. Also try the crisp, golden fries that come heaped with two Korean classics: bulgogi and kimchi.
Housed in a beer shop, this little spot churns out imaginative eats that are just as inventive as the craft brews on the shelves. The “wild waffle sandwiches,” as Guy called them, are a particular standout. Listed as Waffle-Wiches on the menu, these golden, fluffy creations come stuffed with a delectable array of fillings. Guy opted for a sweet variation inspired by s’mores. Two Belgian waffles made from a meringue-laced batter are sandwiched with graham cracker crumbs, chocolate sauce and a massive housemade marshmallow that’s caramelized with a torch before serving.
The crowds pack in to Guy’s Playa del Carmen joint to sample his comforting (and creative) bites that bring together Mexican and American flavors. The towering Trash Can Nachos are a menu mainstay. Layer upon layer of crisp tortilla chips are smothered in a silky cheese sauce and black beans, then heaped with cheddar cheese and smoky, succulent pulled pork. A flavorful flourish of salsa, sour cream, Cotija cheese, pickled red onions, jalapeno slices and cilantro leaves complete this sky-high, shareable snack.
This hip, semi-hidden spot exudes a creative vibe, from the colorful murals that plaster the walls to the vibrant fusion cuisine turned out by Chef-Owner Christian Rodriguez Fuentes. A reservation is needed to get into this casual joint that Guy said is the place to go “if you’re looking for an adventure and want to try eclectic food.” The menu rotates semi-regularly, but one standout that had Guy raving is the pork belly burger. A pork-and-beef patty comes smothered in cheese and piled high with toppings that include caramelized onions, pork belly and bacon. Another must-try is the Tartar de Kamajiis , which sings with bright flavors, thanks to a mixture of fresh tuna, ginger, hot pepper and tomato.
When Guy wants to satisfy his appetite for Mexico City-style specialties in Cancun, he heads to this cozy restaurant with the clever name (it means “the corner of cravings” in Spanish). Three generations of women serve satisfying, spice-laden dishes, such as a chile relleno that’s a local favorite. “That’s the bite,” said Guy, after tucking into the grilled and fried poblano pepper, which comes stuffed with a creamy Panela cheese, coated in an airy crust and drenched in a bright, tomato-based sauce. Another crowd-pleaser is the chicharron gordita, a savory fried pastry bursting with crackly pork rinds and a homemade, heat-packed salsa.
The Improper Pig is not your standard Southern barbecue joint. Here, classic Carolina ‘cue shares the menu with new-school creations shot through with Asian flavors. “There is nothing that I do not love about this,” exclaimed Guy when he tucked into the Chaobao Taco. Opt for this dish and you’ll get a steamed bun stuffed with succulent pulled pork that’s slathered with hoisin sauce and topped with a housemade coleslaw.
The crowds pack in for the impeccable patties that Chef-Owner Joseph Huang turns out at his burger joint. Huang makes all his patties with Black Angus beef sourced from renowned butcher Pat LaFrieda, then dresses them up with a dazzling array of toppings. One popular pick is a Southern-tinged burger featuring a simply seasoned patty smothered with a housemade pimento cheese and topped with fried pickles (which Guy Fieri deemed “the kicker,” when he stopped in for a bite).
This Louisville spot evokes the flavors of Ireland with its hearty dishes inspired by owner Michael Reidy’s homeland. “Righteous,” Guy declared after tucking into cabbage rolls stuffed with a wine-and-whiskey-laced mixture of ground lamb, vegetables and seasonings. Another standout is the Cottage Pie, which starts with a comforting stew composed of beef, potatoes, vegetables and Guinness. Once ready, the stew is ladled into a sourdough bread bowl, then topped with potatoes and shredded Cheddar cheese.
Locals track down this roaming food truck for a taste of the gourmet grilled cheese sandwiches turned out by owner Brian Stockholm. “You're a small food truck, but you’re getting all cheffy on it,” Guy declared after stepping inside. He raved about the Pig Mac sandwich composed of cheddar cheese slices layered between bechamel mac and cheese, caramelized bourbon onions and pulled pork that’s been rubbed with a slew of spices. A squirt of espresso barbecue sauce completes the creation.