An unfortunate misconception about Mexico and many other tropical vacation destinations is that great restaurants are few and far between. In Playa del Carmen, Mexico, this is far from the case.
Many of the best restaurants in Playa del Carmen are located off the beaten path somewhat. The city is famed for its 5th Avenue which is closed to vehicular traffic and lined with restaurants and shopping for tourists. There are plenty of great places to eat on 5th Avenue, but due to the high rent prices in the buildings, the restaurants tend to be rather pricey.
Here are some great restaurant suggestions in Playa del Carmen that are not only delicious but also will go light on the wallet:
Location: 18th Street (Constitution) and 10th Avenue
A Venezuelan family recently came to Playa del Carmen and opened a fantastic little restaurant where they share recipes from their homeland. It’s difficult to decide which is better: the food or the low prices at Kaxapa Factory. It’s a win-win combination that has helped them quickly rise through the ranks on TripAdvisor to become one of the most touted restaurants in Playa del Carmen.
Try one of their patacon dishes that feature a bed of greens beneath two fried plantains surrounding a delicious meat or vegetarian selection. And although they are not featured on their menu, ask for the quesadillas and be blown away. Topping things off with a little brownies and ice cream isn’t a bad idea either. After all, you’re on vacation!
Location: 2nd Street at the beach
A Playa del Carmen landmark is the beach seafood restaurant La Tarraya (Spanish for “fishing net”). This restaurant has been in Playa del Carmen for over 15 years back when there was little else in the city. Today, it remains a picturesque spot for a great meal on the cheap. Try their fish filet with “Tarraya special sauce”, only 50 pesos (that’s about $4 to a gringo). So good you’ll start to have second thoughts about going back home.
Location: 34th street and 25th avenue
You may want to cab it to this trendy seafood spot for a late lunch or early dinner (they close each night by 7). Whatever time you decide to go, you can bet the place will be packed. Agua Chilies attracts pretty locals from all around Playa who are privy to the restaurant’s secret: amazing chic seafood dishes. Try the fresh tuna tostadas and the smoked tuna figurines (like a taco with a bed of lettuce in place of a tortilla). Don’t be afraid to go back and order another tiny plate. This is where you become a true pro and differentiate yourself from the tourist crowd.
Location: 6th street and 40th avenue
Bring your appetite in the taxi ride to Cheester’s and plan to make the 15 minute walk back to the beach when dinner is over. This place challenges any appetite with massive portions of salad and pasta at a jaw-dropping affordable price. Four people can share one salad (get the Thai chicken!) and a pasta entre for a whole 240 pesos (that’s about $20). Try one of their delicious fruit smoothies with your savings.
Location: 14th street and 10th avenue
You’re in Mexico so understandably you’ll be wanting some Mexican food. It’s hard to go wrong with Taqueria Arandas where you can go crazy trying any one of their several different authentic Mexican tacos. They each cost about $1 so don’t hold back from trying several. If you’re feeling a little adventurous, the beef stomach taco will give you a little story to share with your less traveled friends when you return home. A little slimy, but quite tasty!
Location: 6th street and 30th avenue or 18th street and 30th avenue
El Fogon is a Mexican food enthusiasts’ fantasy. You won’t find many tourists in either of these two locations and the ones who are there get points for their advanced traveling game. To find your way to this place, you have to be seeking out a gluttonous Mexican food experience. Ignore your diet and health for a moment. Order a margarita and a taco loco and just embrace the fact that you won’t be able to move for a few hours. This is as pleasurable as food gets!