Tulum Cuisine: The First Restaurant at Aldea Zama

Photos by Andrea Ruiz Perron of BuyPlaya Real Estate Advisors

For several years now, the eco-chic community of Aldea Zama has been offering sleek new condos and villas right between the beach and Tulum town. Here, residents and visitors can find modern jungle style with lush natural areas and upscale amenities. Just last week, the very first retail space opened on what Aldea Zama calls its “5th Avenue” commercial center: a beautiful new restaurant and bar called Chacabar.


Chacabar Tulum RestaurantNot only did we have the opportunity to stop by and see this stunning space, we also interviewed one of the owners of Chacabar, Don Jarred from the United States. Don opened Chacabar with Italian business partner Salvatore Abbruzzese; however, Don doesn’t speak Italian and Salvatore doesn’t speak English! They mostly communicate through gesturing and the occasional help of friends who can translate. In this interview, Don tells us what Tulum can expect from Chacabar:

How did you end up moving to Tulum?  After living all my life in Dallas, Texas, I wanted to write a second chapter somewhere special by the time I turned 50.  Seven years ago, I re-discovered Tulum and the planned community of Aldea Zama.  I love the kindness of the people, the warmth of sun and cultural vibe of Tulum, so it was an easy decision to make it my new home.

What inspired you to open Chacabar?  I love meeting people.  I often tell my friends, “If you want to travel the world, visit Tulum.”  The inspiration of Chacabar came from wanting to serve people in a relaxed yet fun environment while sharing something of ourselves.  Our handmade restaurant, friendly staff and delicious food are the product of that dream.  The name “Chacabar” is derived from the Mayan mythological story of two princes (one good, one bad) who fell in love with the same princess.  They fought for her love, but the conflict was so herculean that they brothers died in each other’s arms.  When they arrived in the afterlife, they begged the Mayan gods to let them see her again.  The evil brother was turned into the Chechen tree, which is very poisonous, and the good brother was turned into the Chaca tree, which is the cure.  If you find one tree, you’ll find the other nearby.  I guess you could say “Chacabar” is the cure.

Chacabar Aldea Zama restaurantWhat kind of cuisine can we expect to see at Chacabar?  Salvatore and I wanted to provide a range of different cuisines that would appeal to everyone.  We almost got fat on all the great tastings our chef, Alex, prepared for us.  In the end, we have samplings from seafood (fish in adobo sauce, chimichurri octopus and sautéed shrimp) to Italian (homemade pastas and sauces and Salvatore’s famous wood-burning oven pizzas) to meat and vegan dishes.  Our appetizers and salads with homemade dressings are pretty special, too.

Tulum cuisineTulum avocado dishRiviera Maya cuisineTulum steak sandwichMexico tiramisuRiviera Maya chef

What is the range of prices for your main courses?  Our main course range between $10-$15 USD.  We wanted to keep our price point like the Pueblo, but provide unique offerings like you would find at the beach restaurants.

Do you have full bar service? We have a full bar with signature cocktails by our restaurant manager, Alex.  Whether it’s an ice-cold beer or a glass of Italian, Chilean, or Mexican wine or premium cocktail, you can find it at Chacabar.

Tulum cocktailsRiviera Maya cocktailsDo customers have to be staying at Aldea Zama to access the restaurant?  Aldea Zama is an open community, so just follow the “Chacabar” signs to find awesome food and a great time.

What else would you like people to know about Chacabar?  Salvatore and I are great friends and business partners in Chacabar.  When I first moved to Tulum, I had the best pizza at Manglar, Salvatore’s restaurant in the Pueblo.  I told him I planned to open the first restaurant in Aldea Zama by the end of 2015.  He wanted to open a second restaurant with a wider menu, and I couldn’t think of a better partner to make both our dreams come true.  The rest is history.

Chacabar Tulum bar

_DSC0361_DSC0459_DSC0510_DSC0538_DSC0560Owners Don and Salvatore

In the future, Chacabar plans to double as a sports bar. They’re wired for US satellite TV that will enable them to show sports and pay per view specials.  They’re also planning to host “Sunday Fundays” at Chacabar, which will be a casual brunch setting with music, mimosas and bloody marys to ease the pain of having to go back to work on Monday.

Chacabar is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner from 8am – 11pm.  They also offer a happy hour from 5-7.  They’re closed on Tuesdays.

To keep up with Chacabar, you can follow them on the Chacabar Facebook page for menus, events, picture and more.

Thank you Don for all the information! Your new restaurant looks absolutely beautiful.

If you’re thinking about moving to paradise, visit us at AkumalRealEstate.net to see the condos we have for sale in the beautiful Aldea Zama community, some starting at just $135,000 USD.