Now that I've been in Playa del Carmen for almost half a year, I've had a lot of opportunity to sample the gastronomic offerings here- and there are many! I certainly haven't tried them all, but I've settled in on a few go-to's and thought I would share them with you here in case you're ever in the area!
Let's go in backwards order, which is always more exciting! Oh, and one more thing- if you don't know exactly where one of these places is, Google it (just in case they move)!
Without further ado, here are my favorite places to eat in Playa del Carmen! Oh, and if your mouth waters at some point while reading this post, make sure to subscribe!
12. La Piola - Some of the best Italian food I’ve found in Playa is served at La Piola. I wasn’t particularly impressed with the gnocchi I tried there once, but their pizzas are great- the Margherita Pizza is especially memorable to me. The atmosphere is awesome- you feel like you’re in a jungle. Great place to bring a date or the family! A bit on the pricey side, but not overly so.
11. Pizza Renzo - Renzo sits one notch above La Piola purely based on the frequency at which I visit for a slice! One of the oldest pizza joints in Playa, they are seemingly always cheap, always ready to sell you a slice, and always delicious. Great whether you’ve had a couple of drinks, or you’re low on Pesos.
10. La Senda - Some good friends of mine own this restaurant, so I know first-hand how much they care about the quality of food offered there. It’s also the only purely vegan restaurant you’ll find in Playa, yet it's always ranked near the top of the restaurant category on TripAdvisor. Astrid always puts out a quality menu, and if you’re looking to stay on the healthy side, this is most certainly one of your best options.
9. Babe’s Noodles & Bar - Every local in town knows about Babe’s. Sounds like a strip-club with food, but actually their specialty is noodles. They are great at pretty much all things Asian. When you need your Asian fix, and you’re not sure if you want Thai or not, head here. Only downfall is they’re a little pricey.
8. Hijos de la Tostada - These guys are new in town, conveniently located next to my apartment, and offer a very unique assortment and twist on classic Mexican food. Some of the items are a bit over-fried for my taste, and the space is pretty tight, but they’ve got the best tuna in town, the tostadas are huge, and therefore the price is right. They're also very busy so far, which is a good sign!
7. Chez Céline - The best place for French food in town, they’re known for their pastries, their bread, and their omelets/crêpes. The atmosphere is pretty good, in a cool spot on 5th, and the prices really aren’t bad for the area!
6. Gluay Maai Thai - If you appreciate Thai food, this place is worth a visit. I spoke with the owner, who is from the north of Thailand, in depth about his history here in Playa. He’s a really good and friendly guy, cares about his food and it’s presentation, and it’s authentically delicious. A little pricey, but worth every Peso.
5. Bio Naturál - I frequent this place because of the wide variety of tasty vegetarian options. The service is better than average (almost all of them know me by name), and their food never disappoints. That Portobello Mushroom Burger is legit!
4. Los Aguachiles Calle 34 - One of the original restaurants in Playa del Carmen, Los Aguachiles takes the cake when it comes to seafood even though Hijos de la Tostada is giving them a run for their money. So far, however, nothing has topped their Tostada de Ceviche de Pescado (Fish Ceviche Tostada). The raw tuna is also very tasty. The prices are very fair, the portions are big, and the atmosphere is spacious and almost always full, which is why they rank a bit higher than Los Hijos to date.
3. Don Chendo - Wow. Don Chendo. Hole in the wall. You wouldn’t know it was there if you were a tourist unless you got lucky and wandered in one day. Most of the locals I talk to don’t even know about it. But the first time I tried it, I was blown away. It’s Italian food and Chicago-style pizza. The pizza is something to write home about. It looks small at first, but it’s filling, and they actually insist on mixing and matching the options on their creative menu. If you are disappointed with a meal there, you simple don’t like food.
2. La Ceiba de la 30 - This is the #1 location to many a local. And it deserves that kind of recognition. Paired up with the small, high-quality market known as DAC, they use all of the fresh ingredients that DAC sells in their menu. They offer authentic Mexican options, vegetarian options, their presentation is on-point, their portions are almost too big, their prices are more than fair, and food is damn good. They also make a killer smoothie, which comes in about 100 different varieties. Go there.
1. Elemento - My favorite. These guys are the best. An extremely talented chef-couple from Mexico City, you will not find a restaurant in Playa with owners who put more love into their gastronomic art than Elemento. Nor will you find a better value.
Their menu, which changes frequently into something increasingly delicious, is guaranteed to impress. Their presentation is second to none, as is their ability to experiment with flavors and excite the taste buds. Every meal comes with freshly-squeezed juice and coffee, and every single time I eat there, I leave happy and satisfied without feeling stuffed.
Their prices are more than fair. I haven’t even mentioned the atmosphere which is uniquely tranquil and always playing a modern and excellent selection of music. Oh, and they have the best coffee in all of Playa, hands down. This is the best-hidden secret in Playa. I love it so much that I almost hesitate writing about it in fear that I won’t be able to find a seat there as often! But they more than deserve it! Keep it coming guys!
There you have it- my top 12. If you've been to Playa del Carmen, and you're partial to any particular restaurant not listed here, by all means share it with the rest of us below! You can never have too many good eating options! Okay, now I'm hungry. Food time! :)