My wife and I are going to Cancun later this month and I'm looking for restaurant suggestions. This isn't our normal type of vacation, but when you can get a warm vacation in the middle of winter for almost free you pretty much cant refuse! We're staying in the Hotel Zone but are looking for something outside of the chains and absolutely don't want to eat in our hotel. Looking for suggestions that are relatively close by (ie not too deep in Cancun proper), are safe, yet have good food. Any suggestions?
I prefer downtown Cancun by far - it's not unsafe, it's just off the tourist track (very easy to get to by hopping on a bus - they run all the time... or a taxi would work as well). For an upscale type place with atmosphere, there is one restaurant I've had good luck with that has both a Hotel Zone and downtown location - La Habichuela. I can vouch for the downtown location. If you like softshell crab, they absolutely had the best softshell crab appetizer.
http://www.lahabichuela.com/sunset/ (Hotel Zone)
Pik Nik also has great food - it's much more laid back, down-to-earth atmosphere, and better priced than La Habichuela. It is downtown, but as I said, downtown is where the locals are (and definitely some tourists too) so it has a more authentic vibe.