If it’s your first time visiting, Playa Del Carmen can seem like a sensory overload.
5th Ave is the main strip where tourists hang out and here you’ll find restaurants and bars side by side blasting out all different styles of music, touts trying to sell you tours to Chichen Itza (chicken pizza they say), trying to get you to eat at their restaurant, to buy their souvenirs, hire a taxi to the cenotes….you have people calling out at you from all directions. Also with so many food, bar and hotel options to choose from it’s hard to know where to go to actually find a good deal.
That’s what we’re here for! We took the time to source out the best places in town by visiting ourselves, asking locals and asking other travel bloggers that frequent or live in Playa Del Carmen. It can be easy to find yourself with an average meal and very out of pocket in Playa Del Carmen but don’t worry, follow our tips and we will make sure you spend your vacation with happy bellies and happy memories.
11 Awesome Places to eat & Drink In Playa Del Carmen
Watch our highlights video OR read the full article below
What can we say – El Fogon is famous in Playa Del Carmen. Not only has it been a favourite of tourists and locals for years, but it was even recently mentioned in the TV Series Master Of None as a ‘must try’ taco place in Playa Del Carmen. And we agree – you must try it, especially the al pastor tacos and the alambre mix which is like a tasting plate of some of their best dishes on offer. We honestly haven’t had a disappointing meal here and we have eaten there a few times, plus the margaritas are HUGE! Win-Win I’d say….
Just a heads up El Fogon is no well-kept secret and they can get really busy, but there are a few different locations around town that you can try if you don’t want to wait in line.
If you are a lover of seafood then you will love this place. Firstly let’s explain what a tostada is (just in case you don’t know). Tostada is the Spanish word for toasted and it’s literally a tortilla (usually corn) that has been toasted until crispy. There are many toppings that can go on tostadas but I think fresh raw seafood is the best! They make amazing ceviche in the Riviera Maya region of Mexico – you just have to try it!
This is the place to grab yourself a nice cold local craft beer and some fish tacos. While fish tacos didn’t originate on this particular coastline of Mexico – they still know how to make some mouthwatering fish tacos that you are sure to love. This restaurant is called Los Aguachiles so make sure you try their aquachilie as well. If you haven’t tried aquachilie before – it’s delish! Aguachile is made of prawns that are served in a liquid that’s seasoned with chili, lime juice, salt, coriander (cilantro) and slices of onion. Yum!
La Finísima Caguamería de Esquina
This is a new find for us and we are so glad that we did. This stylish bar offers terrace dining that is lovely on a warm Mexican night. Grab yourself a beer or a cocktail and sit back and enjoy the surroundings. We also tried their tacos and were very pleasantly surprised at the flavours. We recommend trying the Los Golosos tacos – pictured. They also had a pizza oven there but we didn’t get a chance to try their pizzas.
We will forgive you if you don’t want to just eat tacos while staying in Mexico, it can become a bit too much sometimes – even for us. As a taco time out we like to go for our one true foodie love – pizza! And in Playa Del Carmen you can find yourself a tasty Chicago style deep dish pizza at the restaurant Don Chendo. If you’re not in the mood for pizza there are plenty of other Italian specialties to choose from that are equally delish.
La Brocherie – a fusion of French, Mexican, and Argentine flavours.
Another option if you are looking for something tasty but with a little less taco, La Brocherie is a place you might want to consider making a reservation for. Not because it’s fancy, but because it’s popular and it’s not the biggest place in town. Here they are known for their roasted chicken which you can get as a whole (which is perfect to share with friends or family) or a half portion which works for 2 people.
This place was recommended to us by Juanita from the Guest Relations department at Bric Vacation Rentals. This was a fantastic find that is away from the insanity of 5th Avenue in Playa Del Carmen. You’ll find PapaCharly within an easy walking distance from downtown, but it feels like it’s in another world.
This funky little restaurant offers the escape you need every now and then. Plus they are crazy affordable and even offer a ‘Menu Del Dia’ or Menu of the Day. For 119 Mexican Pesos ($6 USD) you get a starter which is soup, salad or pasta, a main dish and a drink which is usually whatever juice they have made up that day, often jamaica or something similar.
If you want to go vegetarian only it’s 109 Pesos which is about $5.50 USD. We were so impressed with the quality, the serving sizes and the service, we couldn’t believe that we hadn’t heard of this place before!
Another place that was recommended to us by some fellow foodie travel bloggers and condo owners in Playa Del Carmen (so they know where to find the tasty food). La Bomba Jarocha is also well away from the tourist strip and is mostly full of locals out to grab some tasty seafood.
The specialty in our opinion is their cheesy seafood soup which is called cazuela de camarones which translates to shrimp casserole. Sounds weird right – well it works! It works in the best possible way! Firstly this dish was pretty big, you’d want to share it. But I saw a few locals polish off one on their own…the real seafood eating pros. Secondly, it was loaded with so many prawns, topped with melted cheese and avocado, the flavours are something we still drool over today. You gotta try this dish it’s a local classic!
Speaking of local classics……another thing that you should try in Mexico is Pulque
Pulque it the original drink of Mexico. It’s been made here since…well forever. Before there was tequila or mezcal local farmers were taking the agave plants, in particular, the maguey plant, fermenting the sap and making dirty Mexican hooch known as pulque. The drink’s history goes as far back as the Mesoamerican period which began as early as 7000 BC. Back then the drink was considered sacred, and only certain classes were allowed to drink it. Today, however, it’s for everyone to try.
Pulque has a milky look to it but is quite sour in taste. It’s usually better, in our opinion, to try it mixed with another flavour. But if you want to try the real thing go all natural. Let us know what you think in the comments…..
If you are looking for somewhere to grab a drink that is not pulque (which I’m sure you are lol) we recommend hanging out at Kitxen. This Rock N Roll bar is situated right in the heart of Playa on 5th Avenue and is a great place to sit, listen to live music, have a beer or a cocktail and watch the people on 5th pass you by. They have happy hour specials as well so keep an eye on their facebook page or on the boards out front for specials and deals. This isn’t a food place but it is a great place to chill after having dinner elsewhere.
For a place that has a bit of Cuban flare and a great atmosphere, this is where you want to be heading. La Bodeguita del Medio was originally opened in the heart of Old Havana, back in 1942 and today they have franchises all over Mexico and as well in Costa Rica. In Cuba, it’s known as one of Earnest Hemmingway’s favourite drinking spots, but in Mexico, it’s a place to go and listen to some lively salsa music and drink some tasty mojitos. One mojito, in particular, that is their specialty is the Jack Daniels Mojito…if you’re a fan of JD give it a try!
With all of these food options, you’re going to need somewhere to stay to sleep off your food coma…
You are going to want a place that’s in a good location and close to everything, but not so close that you can’t escape the chaos. When we were in Playa we stayed at Bric Hotel and Spa. They have a couple of room options, either a King or Double room or they have 2 bedroom apartments are more suited to families travelling together – this is called “The Loft” and this is where we stayed.
What makes this hotel mention worthy?
1. The Service
We’ve lived in Mexico for a while and we’ve experienced everything that Mexico has to offer when it comes to service, and I can say that the service we received at Bric was among the best. Every staff member welcome you with a massive smile and always went out of their way to make sure that you were enjoying your stay.
2. The Location
Bric hotel is in a great area that is easy walking distance to 5th Avenue and the beach but not so close that you feel like you are surrounded by the hustle and bustle of Playa Del Carmen.
3. The Private Roof Top Pool
Ok admittedly this is not available for guests at Bric Hotel but if you book the 2 bedroom apartment that we had through Bric Rentals it comes with its own private rooftop space and pool. We were actually shocked at the size of the pool and it’s a great place to take a drink and some snacks and watch the people down below. If you choose to stay at the regular hotel there is a lovely pool for guests at Bric Hotel as well.
4. The Complimentary Breakfast
We honestly expected this to be some sort of buffet style deal, but we were pleasantly surprised to find that meals are cooked to order for every single person. You don’t get a choice of whatever you want, there is a breakfast menu of the day, but our point is, rather than cooking up a big batch and letting it get stale, at Bric Hotel you get your breakfast made fresh when you sit down. The breakfast area is located right by the pool in a perfect location to truly make you feel like you are on vacation.
Note: Breakfast is only included for those staying at The Bric Hotel, the apartments come with an equipped kitchen for making breakfast.
5. The Spa
We often book a spa treatment for a day or so into our stay, but as we were short on time this Mexico trip we ended up going pretty much as soon as we had checked in…..and it was the best idea ever! Why have we not thought of this before? You’ve been travelling all day, you’re worn out, tired, maybe a little frazzled. What better way to get into vacay mode than by hitting up the spa straight away?
Tommo and I had the Cacao and Cafe Body Wrap treatment (we can’t resist anything with food involved!) and it was a treat to the senses. The smell of the scrub was intoxicating and we loved the fact that all of the ingredients are locally sourced and all of the scrubs are made right there in the spa. The masseuses obviously knew what they were doing and we both commented that the treatment was one of the most relaxing ones we’ve had…..plus everything smelled amazing, I couldn’t get enough!
Our total stay with Bric hotel was absolutely lovely – they went above and beyond with every aspect of customer service. We wished we had been able to stay longer but alas we had a private transfer booked to Tulum and we had booked some scuba diving in the magical cenotes in that area.
Address: Calle 28 Entre Avenida 5 y 10 Playa del Carmen, Quintana Roo 77710
Phone Toll Free: (800) 519-2486
Local: +52 (984) 803-3191
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Disclaimer: We received a complimentary stay at Bric Hotel, But we provide honest and independent reviews based on our experiences – this is NOT an advertorial piece. Other things listed in this article, we paid for ourselves.
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