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Sasha Savinov By
Posted 04 Jun, 2019 | No comments
Posted in: Mexico, Travel Blogs

While Playa del Carmen is famous for its beaches and nightlife, there’s also quite the culinary scene here. From taco trucks to fine dining and everything in between, your options are practically endless for eating out here. In this guide, we’ll take a look at the best restaurants in Playa del Carmen, spread out across a few different categories.

When it comes to Playa del Carmen restaurants, there are so many choices that it can be a bit overwhelming. The last thing you want is to end up in an overpriced tourist trap restaurant eating a soggy burrito. There are too many amazing restaurants here to waste your time on these kinds of places!

I just finished up a stint as a digital nomad in Playa del Carmen and I did plenty of research for this guide. And by research I mean I ate a bunch of chilaquiles, tacos, and ceviche. I did my best to focus on local cuisine, as I personally believe one doesn’t travel all the way to Mexico to eat pizza and cheeseburgers.

food in playa del carmen

If you need some comfort food here, though, it’s not hard to find. This is one of the most popular places to visit in Mexico and they’ve got cuisine from all over the world in Playa del Carmen. You can find some pretty solid places for Italian, Japanese, Brazilian, and Thai — if that’s what you want. 

One great thing about going out to eat in Playa del Carmen is that it doesn’t have to break the bank. You can get some of the best tacos in the world for about $1 each. For just $5 or so, you can enjoy a lunch deal with a soup, main course, drink, and dessert. Even a nice dinner in a fancy restaurant can be had for under $50.

In this Playa del Carmen food guide, I’ll give you three options each for breakfast, lunch, dinner, snacks & drinks, tacos, and street food. I went ahead and put an extra one in the dinner section. Just be warned that your mouth may be watering by the time you reach the end!

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Best Restaurants in Playa del Carmen for Breakfast

La Cueva del Chango

  • Hours: Monday-Saturday 8AM-10:30PM, Sunday 8AM-2PM
  • Phone #: 01 984 147 0271
  • Location: Calle 38 between 5th Avenue & the sea, Zazil-Ha (click here for directions)
  • Rating on TripAdvisor: 4.5/5

There’s perhaps no better place to start your day in Playa del Carmen than at La Cueva del Chango. This restaurant has a beautiful garden setting and is a very popular place to go for a leisurely brunch. You may have to wait for a table here, but it’s well worth it. They’ll even take your drink order while you wait.

Their menu is huge here and they actually serve all three meals. It’s definitely one of the best restaurants in Playa del Carmen, regardless of what you go there for. I put it in the guide as a breakfast spot simply because they make the best chilaquiles I’ve ever had here. Pair those with one of their fresh juices and a coffee and you’re good to go. 

where to eat in playa del carmen

Choux Choux Cafe

  • Hours: Sunday-Monday 7AM-3PM, Tuesday-Saturday 7AM-9PM
  • Phone #: 01 984 147 2691
  • Location: 20th Avenue & Calle 24 (click here for directions)
  • Rating on TripAdvisor: 4.5/5 

Choux Choux Cafe always comes up on lists of the top restaurants in Playa del Carmen, especially as a breakfast spot. They’ve got plenty of tasty options here, such as salmon eggs benedict or a healthy vegan bowl. We like to get something filling and something light and split them both, making for a solid breakfast that’s not too heavy.

They also have an extensive coffee menu here, from cortados to their specialty ChiChiCino with ice cream and vanilla. If you’re a digital nomad looking to plug in and work for a while, their strong coffee and WiFi make Choux Choux a solid choice. It’s also a bakery, so you might want to grab something to take home while you’re here.

best playa del carmen restaurants

Nativo

  • Hours: Monday-Sunday 7AM-12AM
  • Phone #: 01 984 873 0758
  • Location: 30th Avenue & Calle 20 (click here for directions)
  • Rating on TripAdvisor: 4.5/5

If you’re too full from all the tacos and cervezas (which can happen very easily in Playa, believe me), then once in a while you just want a light and healthy breakfast. Nativo is the perfect place to come for that thanks to their amazing fresh juices and smoothies. A huge smoothie full of fruit only costs around $3!

You can just order up a drink to go here, or you can sit down upstairs and order off the menu. They have some great breakfast options and they’re also open for lunch and dinner if you want to come back for lunch or dinner another time.

where to eat in playa del carmen

Best Restaurants in Playa del Carmen for Lunch

El Sangha-Rito

  • Hours: Monday-Sunday 8AM-11PM
  • Phone #: 01 984 873 1794
  • Location: CTM Avenue & 10th Avenue  (click here for directions)
  • Rating on TripAdvisor: 4.5/5

There are so many Playa del Carmen restaurants to choose from that it can be a bit overwhelming. One spot that was always my go-to for lunch when we lived in Playa was El Sangha-Rito. It’s one of the best places in town for a filling and reasonably priced lunch thanks to their menu del dia.

This “menu of the day” changes every day and always includes a soup, main course, dessert, and an agua fresca. For just around $5-6, it’s a great bargain. I also really enjoy their trio plate, which consists of chilaquiles, eggs, and a mollete (open-faced sandwich).

La Senda

  • Hours: Monday-Sunday 9AM-11PM
  • Phone #: 01 984 803 0499
  • Location: 10th Avenue between Calle 10 and 12 (click here for directions)
  • Rating on TripAdvisor: 4.5/5

For a fresh & healthy lunch, look no further than La Senda. This is one of the best Playa del Carmen restaurants for tasty vegan food at reasonable prices. Even if you’re not vegan, I highly recommend giving this place a try. 

While they’re open all day, I usually come here for lunch to enjoy their salads, pitas, and bowls. They also make vegan versions of Mexican classics, such as their yummy jackfruit tacos. They have a solid drink menu here as well as some amazing desserts, so be sure to save some room!

where to eat in playa del carmen

Las Hijas de la Tostada

  • Hours: Monday-Sunday 11AM-11PM
  • Phone #: 01 998 803 0232
  • Location: Calle 2 and 5th Avenue (click here for directions); Calle 38 and 5th Avenue (click here for directions)
  • Rating on TripAdvisor: 4.5/5

Not surprisingly, seafood is a popular choice here. One of the best restaurants in Playa del Carmen for some yummy seafood is Las Hijas de la Tostada. As the name would imply, their specialty here is seafood tostadas and they have several options. They’ve got some pretty fantastic tacos here as well.

They have two locations on the bustling 5th Avenue for you to choose from. The one on Calle 2 has seating above the street, so you can enjoy some great people watching. Their other location on Calle 38 has a nice outdoor seating area. Whichever one you go with, your taste buds are in for a treat!

restaurants in playa del carmen

Best Restaurants in Playa del Carmen for Dinner

Zitla

  • Hours: Monday-Sunday 8AM-11PM
  • Phone #: 01 984 873 3315
  • Location: Calle 12 between 15th and 20th (click here for directions)
  • Rating on TripAdvisor: 5/5

If you’re looking to get off the tourist trail a bit and try a more local spot, then Zitla is an excellent choice. It’s especially fun to come here for dinner on the weekend, as they usually have live music. Plus it’s just a nice place to hang out, with some cool murals on the wall and even a swing.

They’ve got a huge menu at Zitla with plenty of choices for tacos, burgers, ceviches, and much more. They also have a full bar here and they whip up some pretty amazing cocktails. All that at a fraction of the price you would pay at touristy spots on 5th Avenue! That easily earns it a spot on this list of the top Playa del Carmen restaurants.

where to eat in playa del carmen

La Perla Pixan

  • Hours: Monday-Sunday 8:30AM-12AM
  • Phone #: 044 984 120 2616
  • Location: Calle 34 & 5th Avenue (click here for directions)
  • Rating on TripAdvisor: 4.5/5

This is definitely one of the coolest Playa del Carmen restaurants. It’s just off 5th Avenue but feels worlds apart from some of the kitschy places you’ll find there. It’s not only a restaurant but also a mezcal store if you want to take home some of Mexico’s famous liquor.

With a palapa roof, a vast menu that’s both traditional and innovative, and an impressive selection of mezcal, this is the perfect place for a nice dinner out. Whatever you order, be sure to save some room for dessert! They have delicious churros here as well as cheesecake with mezcal. 

Zenzi

  • Hours: Monday-Sunday 8AM-2AM
  • Phone #: 01 984 803 5738
  • Location: On the beach at the end of Calle 10 (click here for directions)
  • Rating on TripAdvisor: 5/5

Seeing as how this is Playa del Carmen, I had to include at least one restaurant that’s actually on the beach. My personal favorite definitely goes to Zenzi, especially for dinner as they have some pretty awesome live music every night of the week. There are two different bands each night, one at 5pm and the next at 9pm.

As far as their menu goes, Zenzi has some great sharing bites like their “muchos nachos” or fried calamari. Seafood is definitely the star of the show here, especially their sesame crusted tuna filet. Dig your toes into the sand and dig into a delicious meal here before tearing it up on the dance floor.

best restaurants in playa del carmen

Porfirio’s

  • Hours: Monday-Sunday 1PM-1AM
  • Phone #: 01 984 110 7805
  • Location: Calle 12 and 5th Avenue (click here for directions)
  • Rating on TripAdvisor: 5/5

The people have spoken, and they have chosen Porfirio’s to top the list of the best restaurants in Playa del Carmen. It’s more than just a restaurant, actually — it’s a full gastronomic experience! People rave about their service, drinks, atmosphere, music, and of course, the food.

If you’re a fan of surf & turf, then you’re going to love this place. Appetizers include tuna carnitas and crunchy chicharron, while mains range from lobster tamales to green enchiladas with chicken. Whatever you choose, you’ll surely enjoy your dinner here as you watch the crowds on 5th Avenue pass by.

SEE ALSO: Exploring The Culinary Side of Guanajuato — A Food Tour

Best Playa del Carmen Bars For Snacks and Drinks 

Cerveceria Chapultepec

  • Hours: Monday-Sunday 1PM-2AM
  • Phone #: 01 984 321 9756
  • Location: Calle 20 & 1st Avenue (click here for directions), Calle 14 & 10th Avenue (click here for directions)
  • Rating on TripAdvisor: 3.5/5

When you’re just looking for a drink and some simple bar food, this popular chain is the place to go. Most items on the menu are only 21 pesos (about $1.25), so you can have a few drinks and snacks here without burning a hole in your wallet. 

They’ve got two locations in the central part of Playa and both are bumping every night of the week. Surprise, surprise – everyone likes cheap beers and tacos! I prefer the one on 1st Avenue because they’ve got a cool rooftop that feels like a treehouse. 

La Taberna

  • Hours: Monday-Sunday 10AM-2AM
  • Phone #: 01 984 803 0448
  • Location: Calle 4 & 10th Avenue (click here for directions)
  • Rating on TripAdvisor: 4/5

La Taberna is a no-frills sports bar that’s popular with locals. They have a full bar and a solid menu of Tex-Mex and traditional Mexican dishes. Their nachos are huge and perfect for sharing with friends. 

They have 2-for-1 draft beer specials from 6-8PM, but you’ll need to order a snack to take advantage of the deal. This is a good place to come watch the game or just shoot some pool, making it one of the top Playa del Carmen bars.

Club de la Cervesa

  • Hours: Monday-Sunday 4:30PM-2AM
  • Phone #: 01 984 147 0635
  • Location: 5th Avenue between Calle 34 & 38 (click here for directions)
  • Rating on TripAdvisor: 4.5/5

Corona and Pacifico are fine, but once in a while you just need something a bit more interesting. Cue Club de la Cervesa, which has the most impressive selection of craft beer in all of Playa del Carmen.

Here you can sample craft brews from Mexico, the US, Belgium, England, and more. They also have some solid bar food to go along with the beers, including a fantastic blue cheese burger.

SEE ALSO: Culinary Mayhem: A Street Food Tour in Mexico City

Best Places for Tacos in Playa del Carmen

El Fogon

  • Hours: Monday-Sunday 1-11PM
  • Phone #: 01 984 803 0885
  • Location: Constituyentes Avenue & 30th Avenue (click here for directions)
  • Rating on TripAdvisor: 4.5/5

When you bring up the topic of “best tacos in Playa del Carmen,” El Fogon always comes up. This place is so popular that there’s almost always a line here, but it moves fast and it’s well worth the wait.

The star of the show here is definitely their tacos al pastor. Having tried tacos al pastor all over the country, I can honestly say these are some of the best around. They’ve got a huge menu with plenty of other choices as well and everything is very reasonably priced. I recommend the queso fundido dip with chorizo. My mouth is watering just thinking about this one!

Chac Pel Tacos de Mariscos

  • Hours: Monday-Saturday 8AM-8PM
  • Phone #: N/A
  • Location: 10th Avenue between Calle 1 & Benito Juarez (click here for directions)
  • Rating on TripAdvisor: N/A

While tacos al pastor are always great, you’ve also got to feast on seafood tacos when in Playa del Carmen. Chac Pel Tacos de Mariscos cooks up some pretty amazing fish tacos and they also have some really good ceviche.

Despite being right in the heart of Centro, this place remains a hidden gem. It’s not even on Trip Advisor yet! If you’re looking for some quality seafood tacos at a great price, be sure to add Chac Pel to your list of Playa del Carmen restaurants to try.

Don Sirloin

  • Hours: Monday-Sunday 2PM-6AM
  • Phone #: 01 984 148 0424
  • Location: 10th Avenue between Calle 12 & 14 (click here for directions)
  • Rating on TripAdvisor: 4/5

Don Sirloin is definitely one of the top restaurants in Playa del Carmen for tacos. It’s so popular that they’ve got four different locations in the city. I listed the one on 10th Avenue as it’s the most central, but you can check their website for the others.

They usually have two spits going at once here — one for al pastor and one for sirloin. You can also get arrachera, chicken, or chorizo tacos here. With tacos costing around $1 each, why not try them all? This is the perfect spot to come after a big night out in Playa del Carmen as they stay open until 6AM.

SEE ALSO: Tasting The Town in Puerto Vallarta — A Day With Vallarta Food Tours

Best Street Food Vendors in Playa del Carmen

Taqueria El Gato

  • Hours: Open 24/7
  • Phone #: N/A
  • Location: CTM Avenue & 10th Avenue (click here for directions)
  • Rating on TripAdvisor: N/A

If you’re looking for some authentic Mexican street food, Taqueria El Gato is the place to be. This classic street food stand is located just a few blocks from the beach but it is very much a local joint. They even stay open 24/7 so you can come here any time you like.

I’m a bit biased to this place as we lived around the corner from it. They make delicious tacos, quesadillas, tortas, and more here, and everything is super cheap. You can easily fill up for less than $5 here, leaving you more pesos for important things like margaritas on the beach.

Vendors in the Park

  • Hours: All day
  • Phone #: N/A
  • Location: In the park between Benito Juarez & Calle 2 on 15th Avenue (click here for directions)
  • Rating on TripAdvisor: N/A

One of the best places to sample street food in Playa del Carmen is in the park on 15th Avenue. There are a wide variety of options here, including tortas and burritos as well as Yucatan classics like salbutes and panuchos.

This is also a great place to try the popular local snack known as marquesitas. These are crispy crepes that are rolled up and filled with shredded cheese and other toppings of your choice. These include Nutella, jam, chocolate sauce, or caramel. I’m not big into sweets but these things are delicious.

Taco Trucks Near Mega

  • Hours: Daytime (around 8AM-3PM)
  • Phone #: N/A
  • Location: Calle 14 North/30th Avenue
  • Rating on TripAdvisor: N/A

If you’re looking for some cheap and tasty tacos, just head to the parking lot of the Mega supermarket. It’s never good to go grocery shopping hungry, so smash a few tacos out here before you head into the store. During the day, there are usually several trucks cooking up some mouth-watering tacos here. 

To be honest, of all the times I ate here, I never even noticed a name on a truck. My strategy is to just walk up to whichever one smells good and see what they’re making. After doing a bit of research, though, one name that comes up is El Rey del Taco (the King of Tacos). With a name like that, you’d better be making some pretty awesome tacos to back it up!

Ready to Enjoy the Best Playa del Carmen Restaurants?

¿Tienes hambre? (Are you hungry?) I’m sure after reading this guide you’re ready to drop whatever you’re doing, book a flight down to Mexico, and stuff your face with tacos. You’re already equipped with a solid list of some of the top restaurants in Playa del Carmen to get you started.

If you’re planning a trip down there, be sure to check out this jam-packed guide on the best things to do in Playa del Carmen. It’s much more than just sitting on the beach here, as you can explore Mayan ruins, swim in cenotes, hit rooftop pool parties, and so much more. Playa del Carmen is the perfect base to explore all that the Riviera Maya offers.

Have you been to Playa del Carmen? If you have an excellent restaurant you’d like to recommend, please leave a comment below and let us know about it! 

Some images in this article are courtesy of Shutterstock.com.

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Sasha Savinov

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Sasha is regular contributor to Goats On The Road. He’s also an English teacher, language student, blogger, and video producer. He and his wife run Grateful Gypsies, where they write about life abroad, long term travel, and live music. Follow Sasha on his website, social media accounts below and on YouTube.

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