Punta Cana, Dominican Republic

If you are like us, we love to visit resorts and base our choice of where to stay on the location and the quality of the food. The location of course, needs to be on the beach. If we are flying from Denver, we do not want to have to drive to the beach, we want the beach to be in front of our room or within a short walk. When researching an all-inclusive resort, we base the food options on three categories including, the quality of the food, when it is available and the variety offered. I did a previous blog on our week at the RIU Palace Bavaro including the beach, the rooms, and activities available, however I love to give a better description of the food, especially for those families with picky eaters.

The easiest type of restaurant for a large all-inclusive resort is, the all you can eat buffet. The Montecristo is the large buffet, located near the main lobby and it is also the only restaurant that has indoor and outdoor dining. The Taino buffet is the smaller buffet, located near the main pool, with grill options including hamburgers, hot dogs, and fries. Taino is only open for lunch and becomes the Steakhouse restaurant at night. The main buffet, The Montecristo, is open for all meals and in between meals as well. If you are coming for breakfast you will be blown away by the amazing fresh fruit bar and fresh fruit juices available. Breakfast also includes an omelet bar, and fresh pancakes and waffles made to order. If you are stopping by for lunch, be sure to stop at the make your own pasta bar, as well as the fresh sushi station. After your meal, be sure to head towards the dessert bar for cotton candy and the ice cream sundae station. They leave the dessert station open throughout the day, so if you need to stop by for an afternoon ice cream cone, make sure you come back. There are many live cooking stations at all meals, but the dinner buffet really is extraordinary. There are several meat carving stations, a fresh salad bar, and so many amazing side options.

 My favorite part of the buffet was the fresh fruit and veggie juice bar, there are so many options such as watermelon, carrot, orange, or even mango juice. The juice barista will also make you a custom juice, with many options available. The host will seat you at a table within 5 minutes even with a large party. Lastly, I would love to mention that three times a week the resort creates themed buffets and these are definitely worth checking out.

If you are still hungry after and in between the buffet meals there are several options available. The first being the coffee shop. This is a fun little place to stop in for ice cream, Frappuccino’s, and lattes. As mentioned, it is directly across from the lobby bar, so if the adults would like a cocktail, while the kids have an ice cream, this is the place. Our only drawback was that it does not open until mid-morning. This was a bummer for all those mornings that we would have liked a fresh brewed coffee. The way around this is to visit the Montecristo Buffet for a cup to go, however this is not very convenient. There is a sports bar, open most of the day and at night. The atmosphere is fun and there are sports jerseys and memorabilia decorating the walls. The drinks were cold and perfect on a hot day; however, we were hoping for bar food as an afternoon snack. Unfortunately, when we walked in and saw the snack bar, we were greatly disappointed.

We stopped by around 3 and there was a nacho bar with cold Velveeta cheese to top them with and hot dogs in a steamer. We decided to skip this and wait for dinner. The last option for a mid-meal snack is room service. There are fruit plates, appetizers, burgers and sandwiches all available. Be sure to order the meal roughly 30 min to an hour prior to when you wanted to eat, as the room service can take a bit of time. So now you know where to get your snacks, coffee, and many drinks, however I have not yet mentioned the specialty restaurants, only available for dinner.


There are five specialty restaurants at the resorts besides the buffet. Our family had two favorite restaurants. These were the Geisha Japanese Restaurant and the Steakhouse Restaurant. The other three restaurants at the resort that were the Krystal Fusion Restaurant, La Bambola Italian Restaurant, and the Kulinarium Restaurant, with the latter being the only exclusive adult only restaurant at the resort. We traveled with 6 kiddos and really love to experience vacations with them; therefore, we did not try the adults only restaurant.

We were so impressed with the Geisha Japanese Restaurant so much that we ate here twice. The starters include spring rolls, sashimi, and fresh sushi. Our oldest even tried the salmon roll and loved it. We easily could have eaten all starters and been fine for the night. However, the main entrée options include teriyaki chicken, grilled salmon and other Asian favorites such as tempura seafood and fresh vegetables. We definitely recommend Sake with your meal.

The Steakhouse was tied for our favorite restaurant. As mentioned, The Taino Buffet becomes the Steakhouse at night. The quality of the food here definitely sets the bar for the entire resort, with options ranging from lobster and shrimp skewers to steak and chicken skewers all served with steakhouse potatoes. The starters at this restaurant are geared more towards adults as they include cold seafood salad or ceviche. However, our kiddos loved the breads available. There is a fun dessert buffet bar filled with cookies, cakes, and cream puffs.

La Bambola is the Italian Restaurant. This restaurant is set up differently as it serves their starters at a small buffet. We were able to find a little something for all our children here, as it included bruschetta, minestrone soup, spaghetti, cheeses and a salad bar. The main entrees include braised lamb, calamari, and my favorite the mushroom lasagna. There is no way to go wrong with a nice Italian specialty dessert. The desserts here were actually our favorite, as they included a Nutella crepe, a limoncello tart, and finally a tiramisu that came with an after dinner shot.  As with all the resorts specialty meals, we would advise to ask for wine pairing suggestions with this meal.

The last specialty restaurant, that we tried, was the Krystal Fusion Restaurant, serving a French cuisine. This meal starts with tapas to share. These are served in very small portions; however, the taste and quality are both remarkable. Our family preferred the marinated salmon starter, however there is foie gras available, if that is to your liking. The main entrees include lobster risotto, curried lamb, and grilled duck. Our favorite was by far the beef tenderloin, served with a smoking presentation. The desserts included the cinnamon coffee crème anglaise with chocolate and pineapple served three ways. The coolest part about the restaurant was the amazing presentation, that will definitely leave an impression.

I would like to add two things that we did not like about the food options at this resort. The first was that we did not like that our party was not able to make reservations for dinner prior to going to the restaurant that night. On this trip, we traveled with a party of 13 and that can be hard to all sit together. One of us would have to go to the specialty restaurant, wait in a line, as they took our name, and gave us a beeper. The beeper could go off 20 min to 90 min later. As adults, we could wait and not break down into fits, however the 7 children under 8 who we travel with, could not promise the same. We have stayed at several resorts and the majority of resorts allow you to reserve a table the morning of or allow you to book all your restaurant reservations for the week, at check-in. This reservation process allows for a stress-free day for all. I also thought that snacks in between meals could be improved. I touched on this above, but we would have loved poolside snack service or higher quality bar food options.

Overall, we would give the food at RIU Palace Bavaro 3/5 Perfect Stars for their food and service. The best part of the resort is the amazing staff, including all the servers and bartenders. They truly made our stay memorable. We enjoyed the specialty restaurants and the buffets as well. We would love if the resort was able to provide an easier way to make restaurant reservations and allowed for a larger variety of quality snack options. We always welcome questions and comments about this resort or any other resort that we have reviewed. If you would like a better picture of this resort’s restaurants, please check out our YouTube channel and look for our video on the RIU Palace Bavaro in Punta Cana. Happy Travels.