Do you want to know where to eat in Playa del Carmen? This fun-loving town is more than just beaches and bars. It’s also a food lovers paradise with an overwhelming selection of eateries. But how do you weed out the mediocre tourist traps from the best restaurants in Playa del Carmen?
Well, after spending months tasting our way around town we’ve come up with a list of our personal best places to eat in Playa del Carmen, Mexico. We cover breakfast, lunch and dinner options for every type of local and international food at every price point, both on 5th Ave and in more local neighborhoods.
Are you looking for a traditional Mexican breakfast? Maybe a taco lunch near the beach? Perhaps a special romantic seafood dinner? Whatever you desire, in the way of food, we’ve got it covered with our list of Playa del Carmen restaurants. We’ve even listed our favorite dishes if you need help deciding what to order.
Note: Dining in Cancun used to be the place to go for a great choice of restaurants but Playa is now a serious rival.
Best Playa del Carmen Restuarants for Breakfast
The Mexican people tend to eat breakfast a bit later than you may be used to, almost more of a brunch. Maybe this is why you will often see locals at taco stands around the time you’re venturing out in search of bacon and eggs. When they do sit down to breakfast it’s more likely to be scrambled eggs with refried beans and tortillas or chiliquiles.
Whatever your preference in the morning you won’t have to worry about going hungry in Playa del Carmen. Local and international food can be found at any time of day.
Note: Chiliquiles are a traditional Mexican breakfast dish consisting of fried tortillas covered in red or green salsa, sour cream, cheese, onion and avocado. They are often served topped with shredded chicken and a side of refired beans and eggs.
La Ceiba de la 30
Location: 30th Avenue, between Constituyentes and Avenida 20 (see on map)
The restaurant is part of the DAC market, an upscale farmers market selling fresh produce, local, imported and specialty products. Our favorite breakfast here is the Chiliquilas with both red and green sauce. They also serve fresh juices and American style breakfast.
Location: 30th Ave Nte near Constituyentes (see on map)
Our favorite place for fresh fruit smoothies any time of day but also a great choice for all types of breakfast. If you want to start the day with a healthy meal, aside from smoothies, El Nativo also serves fresh fruit plates and juices. Want something more substantial? Order up an American style bacon and eggs or omelette or the local favorite of Chiliquiles.
Choux Choux Cafe
Location: 20th Ave Nte near Calle 24 (see on map)
The setting at Choux Choux Cafe is very zen with lots of greenery and colorful murals. Food is varied and includes healthy smoothies, lighter dishes and flaky baked goods as well as heavier breakfast plates like benedicts and omelettes. It’s also a great place for that in between snack of a pastry and specialty coffee plus with good WiFi you can linger for a while and work or catch up on your emails.
Le P’tit Shoux
Location: 5th Ave between Calle 54 & 56 (see on map)
Baby sister to Choux Choux Cafe offering the same menu in a similar jungle-theme setting but a quieter location away from the crowds and traffic. The food and drinks are all very good and freshly made to order and the service is great. There are also electircal outlets everywhere if you’re looking for a quiet spot to work. The El Gringo and the salmon bendict are our favorites. Also, take a sweet treat to go from the assortment in the glass display. The mini lemon meringue tarts are amazing!
Best Seafood in Playa del Carmen
As you would expect of an ocean-side town the seafood is abundant and usually fresh and delicious. I say usually because as with any high tourist destination some places care more about the mighty dollar than serving up the best food.
But don’t worry, we’ve found the following restaurants to be consistently good quality seafood at fair prices.
La Bamba Jarocha
Location: 30th Ave Nte near Calle 34 (see on map)
This seafood restaurant serving traditional Mexican food is far from 5th Ave and is very popular with locals so you know it’s going to be good. You’ll recognize it by the bamboo beaded curtains along the front of the restaurant. They serve every kind of seafood dish you can imagine from ceviche to cocktails to fried fish.
In our opinion though you really can’t go there without trying the Cazuela Camerones con Queso, a heavenly casserole overflowing with big shrimp and gooey cheese. Be sure to ask for a side of bread to mop up the delicious broth. This dish is honestly on our list for some of the best food in Playa del Carmen.
Las Hijas de la Tostada
Las Hijas is a trendy, happening place popular with visitors and young locals. It also happens to be one of our favorite Playa del Carmen restaurants on 5th Avenue. Creating a modern, fusion twist on the traditional seafood tostada, Las Hijas is a great choice for a tasty, healthy lunch or dinner.
The menu is pretty much all seafood with hot and cold, raw and cooked options of tuna, shrimp, octopus, marlin and many other options for topping their crispy, tasty tostadas. They also have great fish and chips if you want something a bit more familiar.
Los Aguachiles on Calle 34 between Avenues 25 and 30
Location: Calle 34 Nte near 25th Ave (see on map)
This casual and fun seafood restaurant has been a favorite with locals and tourists for quite a while. There are actually three locations but we prefer the one on Calle 34.
They offer a variety of seafood dishes but in our opinion their best menu items are the seafood tacos and their namesake, aguachiles. Plus they serve a selection of ice cold local craft beer which is a perfect complement to your meal.
Location: Calle 40 between 5th and 10th Ave (see on map)
El Pirata is busy, loud and a favorite of locals. The casual setting of plastic chairs and tables and bright blue paint may not draw you in but the fresh seafood should. It’s been a staple in Playa for years for good reason.
The best things to order here are the whole fried fish and the shrimp ceviche. It’s a great place for lunch but it will be busy so be prepared to get a number and wait for a table. They may slow down later in the day but keep in mind they’re only open until 7 pm.
Chiltepin on Calle 34 and 20th Avenue
Location: Calle 34 near 20th Ave (see on map)
The off the beaten path location means it’s also off the average tourist radar, which to us is a good thing! It’s an outdoor venue with a small pool in the center giving it a quirky, fun feel.
Go here for some of the best fried shrimp tacos in town and pair it with a Michelada. This is a traditional drink of beer, lime juice, tomato juice, seasonings and spices served in a salt and chili rimmed glass.
Portions here are large and well priced compared to many other seafood places in town.
Blue Lobster at 5th Ave and Calle 12
Location: 5th Ave and Calle 12 (see on map)
The location on 5th Ave can make it feel like a tourist trap, and some may argue the Blue Lobster is exactly that. However, our personal experience here was great and we would definitely go back.
With funky Caribbean decor, friendly and efficient service and an open or glass front for people watching it’s the kind of place you’ll enjoy spending some time. Plus the food is great!
We were in the mood for lobster and selected fresh tails from a tray brought to our table. They range in size and are priced accordingly. Many are so big you can share. The lobster risotto and lobster linguine were also delicious.
Note: As of January 2021 Blue Lobster is temporarily closed. We will be checking back to see if it re-opens in the near future
Best Tacos in Playa del Carmen
There are literally hundreds of places to get tacos in Playa del Carmen and rarely have we had a bad one. We could actually write an entire article just on eating tacos…hhmmm maybe we will! For now, though, we’ll just list a few of our favorites spots.
Location: Constituyentes Ave between 25th Ave and 30th Ave (see on map)
El Fogon Playa del Carmen has been a consistent favorite for many years with good reason. The food is well priced, fresh and delicious and the staff are friendly and efficient. However, due to its fame you may have to line up and wait for a table.
We highly recommend the Al Pastor tacos and the chorizo Alhora Los Alambres but honestly anything you order is guaranteed delicious!
Several Locations: We prefer the one on 30th Ave between Calle 32 and 34 (see on map)
Another casual and popular eatery where grilled meat and tacos are the main draw. They have a similar menu and style to El Fogon but with the addition of spit with layered beef as well as the traditional al Pastor.
Note: Al Pastor is marinated slices of pork layered and cooked on a spit similar to the Middle Eastern donair or shwarma.
El Rey de Taco
Location: Mobile food truck often parked outside Mega on 30th Ave
This is a food truck not a sit down restaurant so there’s no tables and you order to go right at the window. There always seems to be plenty of local customers in line which means the food is fresh and good.
Choose from beef, chicken or chorizo tacos but our favorite are the carne asada with cheese and grilled onion. Yum!
One of the best things to do in Mexico is eat tacos and the best tacos are often found at the street stands where locals eat. Look for the food stands that have the most people eating which will tell you the food is good and also fresh. If you’re nervous about eating street food go on a taco tour where you’ll be in good hands with experts who know where to find the top tacos in town!
Best Burgers in Playa del Carmen
Although we love burgers, for some reason we rarely eat them in Playa del Carmen. Probably because the Mexican food and seafood is so good and we can always get great burgers back in the Pacific Northwest.
3XL Comida Grande
Location: Calle 8 Nte between 24th and 30th Ave (see on map)
When we do want a burger we head to 3XL. All they do is burgers here which may explain why they’re the best in town (in our opinion anyway) First you choose your protein (beef, chicken, pork or veggie), then you choose your cooked additions (various cheeses, mushrooms, onions etc) then finally you go to the fresh toppings bar and load up on whatever other toppings and sauces you like.
Location: 40th Ave Nte between Calle 4 and 6 (see on map)
Mu Burgerhouse is usually the first name you’ll hear when asking anyone about the best burgers in Palya del Carmen. The menu is extensive, the ingredients fresh and the atmosphere is cool and casual verging on romantic but also a great place to gather with friends.
All the makings of a perfect burger joint. They even have “Burger Kits” on the menu where you get everything you need to make your own burger.
Best Pizza & Italian Restaurants in Playa del Carmen
Wherever we travel in the world we can always seem to find a good Italian restaurant. Playa del Carmen is no exception. As much as we love Mexican food sometimes we crave pizza or pasta and so we’ve tried quite a few Italian restaurants in Playa del Carmen. Here are a few of our favorites.
Location: 30th Ave between Calle 24 & 26 (see on map)
This cozy little spot on busy 30th Ave is run by ex New Yorker, Russel. He is well loved in the community and he’s passionate about serving authentic Italian home cooking.
Don Chendo is casual but charming complete with red and white checkered tablecloths and friendly service. If you like Chicago style pizza we know you will not be disappointed.
Osteria de Roma
Location: Calle 6 Nte between 20 and 25 (see on map)
Osteria de Roma is a charming mostly open air Italian restaurant away from busy 5th Ave. The ambiance, food and service is all fabulous which is why there’s a constant stream of regulars dining here.
There’s a beautiful mural in the little courtyard, rustic-chic wood chairs and tables and at nightn the place is lit with twinkle lights. The antipasto platter is an absolute must!
Location: Calle 30 between 25 and 30 Ave (see on map)
This open air restaurant is colorful and welcoming and make you feel like you’ve stumbled across a hidden gem with its location off the beaten tourist path.
Papa Charly is open for breakfast lunch and dinner but lunch time is when you get the great deals. Between 12:30 pm and 4:30 pm they have a combo deal where for just over 100 pesos you get a drink, a salad or pasta, a main and dessert. What a deal!
We went for dinner and had the cannelloni and the chicken parmesan and both were delicious.
Location: 40th Ave near Calle 4 (see on map)
A world away, yet still walkable, from 5th Ave is the locals and ex-pats favorite pasta joint. The garden setting is cozy and romantic yet everyone is treated like family.
The menu consists of salads and pastas of such large portions that they’re meant to be shared, family style. They have a huge selection of pastas and sauces from classic Italian to specialty and even Mexican style.
It was just the two of us and as the portion sizes are so large we only ordered one pasta and it was really difficult to choose. In the end we went with Rigatoni Boscaiolo, a delicious and decandent sauce of bacon, ham, portobello mushrooms, onion, garlic and cream.
Note: They do not serve alcohol here but you can bring your own
Tratorria del Centro
Location: Calle 26 between Ave 5 and 10 (see on map)
Trattoria del Centro is a just off busy 5th Ave. There’s a lovely romantic courtyard and the food and service is very good but the prices are a little higher than the other Italian restaurants we’ve listed here. So, if you’re looking to impress on date night this is a good option.
The mushroom and tartufo risoto is perfection but it’s not very photogenic so we’ve displayed the yummy pizza instead.
Location: 10th Ave between Calle 10 and 12 (see on map)
Just like the name says this is a family run Italian restaurant with a great atmosphere and hearty, home-cooked comfort food. It’s just a block from 5th Ave but it’s far from the busy street in feel.
They serve all the traditional Italian fare, including maybe the best pizza in Playa del Carmen, and we’ve heard great things about their gnocchi and cheese sauce. We love wood fired oven pizzas and this one did not disappoint with the perfect amount of crispiness, tangy sauce and golden, gooey cheese.
Location: Ave CTM near Calle 1a Nte (see on map)
Only a short walk from busy 5th Ave but feels miles away from the crowds, Salento is an Italian haven. They have a fabulous selection of traditional Italian fare including classic pasta, pizza, and starters.
We highly recommend the lasagna and the Entrada de la Casa which is a platter of delicious appetizers. However, everything we’ve had has been great.
Location: Calle 42 Nte between 5th and 10th Ave (see on map)
Da Enzo just opened while we were living in Playa in late 2020 and was just a block from us so we were one of their first customers. Trying a restaurant this new can be risky but this was definitely not the case for our experience.
We shared a pizza and a pasta and both were delicious and we’ve been back since to try other items and have never been disappointed. Highly recommend the pasta Boscaiola with sausage and mushroom as well as the decadent starter of meatballs and mashed potatoes!
Good Food & Fun Atmosphere
Tiny Tiki Hut
Location: 20th Ave Nte and Calle 6 (see on map)
It’s small rather than tiny but it’s most definitely a Tiki Hut complete with tiki-themed decor and cocktails. Away from the tourist area but very popular with ex-pats this fun restaurant and bar provides great service and fabulous food and drinks as well as live music. Ex-pat places sometimes get a bad rap but in our experience, the places that cater to regulars often care more about their customers as they rely on repeat business.
The food is Asian fusion and plates are made for sharing. Everything we’ve tried has been great but some of our favorites are the sliders, crispy beef, and fried rice as well as the Tiki Paloma cocktail. This is a great place to enjoy the fun Mexico party scene without going to a nightclub.
Fusion Beach Bar Cuisine
Location: On the beach at the end of Calle 6 Nte (see on map)
Playa del Carmen is lacking in casual beach bars and restaurants as most of the beach front is taken up with expensive resorts and beach clubs. Thankfully there is now Fusion Beach Bar Cuisine! It’s a funky, casual, open front venue with a surfer vibe, in fact they rent boards as well. There is a bit of seating on the wooden deck but most people sit at the low chairs and tables directly on the sand.
The menu is varied and extensive and though we’ve never been for breakfast we’ve been told it’s great. All of our visits have been late afternoon but we plan to return soon in the evening when they have live music. So far our favorite food is the aracherra burrito, which is big enough to share, and the very saucy chicken wings.
Playa del Carmen Restaurants Off the Beaten Tourist Path
If you’re in Playa for a while and you like to venture off the beaten tourist path here are some restaurants well away from 5th Ave that are worth then taxi ride.
Location: 15th Ave between Calle 4 and 6 (see on map)
Rotisserie chicken is a staple in Mexico and you can find dozens of places selling this delectable dish around town. Most of them are nothing more than a small kitchen with a window to order from where you can see the chicken roasted golden on spits in the background. All the ones we have tried have been good but we’ve only found one that has a lovely sit down restaurant.
This charming little restaurant is owned by Parisienne Fabian and his lovely Mexican wife and they serve the most delicious roast chicken with rice and tortillas. Also once a week they make a special beef bourguignon but you have to reserve ahead for this meal.
Ferrons Jerk Chicken
Location: Avenida Constituyentes and 105 Nte (see on map)
This is a casual dining spot far from the tourist area but if you like jerk chicken or fried chicken you will want to add this to your list. There’s a huge outdoor grill where jerk chicken is expertly cooked after being seasoned to perfection.
Sides include grilled cor, coleslaw, fries and the most delicious melt-in-your-mouth buns smothered in garlic butter.
Wine O Clock
Location: Avenida Constituyentes and 90 Nte (see on map)
As you’d expect from the name this restaurant has an amazing wine selection and they’re especially proud of the variety of Mexican wines. They also have a wine club with tastings every month. The decor is eclectic…picture red curtains with steam punk accents.
We’ve only eaten here once so far but were really impressed with the flatbread and will definitely be returning soon!
Did you know that Mexico produces some excellent wine? Well they do! You should be able to find a selection of local wines at many of the restaurants and we suggest you give them a try. Another way to get to know Mexican wine is with a tour and tasting like the one you’ll find here.
Location: Avenida 115 near Plaza las Americas (see on map)
There are a few sushi places in Playa but this is the only one we’ve tried and really enjoyed. The decor a fun and casual with walls covered in animae. It’s also one of the few places we’ve found with sushi rolls on the menu without cream cheese (that’s a big thing here).
We really love then spicy tuna crispy roll and then yakisoba.
Location: Delivery only
Viking Smoke Master is so far off the beaten path there’s no location to give you. The truth is it’s delivery only and they’re so popular you’ll want to plan ahead and order by for dinner delivery. They slow smoke their own meat fresh daily so once they run out that’s it.
The ribs are melt-in-your-mouth perfection and the cornbread is definitely not from a package.
Best Steak in Playa del Carmen
Location: Plaza San Pedro off 5th Ave near Calle 34 (see on map)
There are plenty of restaurants to get a decent steak in Playa but we really like 500 Gramos for their simple, unpretentious but charming setting and style. Plus of course their delicious steaks!
Josie and Maury are a husband and wife team that take immense pride in serving the best steaks in Playa del Carmen paired with perfectly roasted vegetables and rosemary potatoes. Josie is a chef from Italy so she knows her food and will often leave the kitchen to personally check that customers steaks are cooked to their liking.
Best Food Experience
The Traveler’s Table
The Traveler’s Table is so much more than a meal, although the food is amazing, it’s a full sensory experience! You are picked up at your hotel and driven to a secret location at a private beach club where you are served sparkling wine while you watch the sun set.
What follows is an educational but fun-filled night of socializing, drinking and eating some of the best Yucatan food you will find anywhere near Playa del Carmen.
We will be writing a full review on this magical dining experience soon but for now we’ll just say it’s something not to be missed when visiting Playa del Carmen. It was one of our favorite Mayan Riviera excursions.
Note: This dining experience must be booked in advance.
Best Restaurant With a View in Playa del Carmen
Catch on 5th Ave on the Thompson Hotel Rooftop
Location: 5th Ave near Calle 12 on Thompson Hotel Rooftop (see on map)
Not only is Catch Restaurant, Playa del Carmen a great choice for a gourmet meal but it’s also a swanky, trendy place to be seen with the best view in town. If you don’t want to spring for a full dinner it’s also a perfect place for sunset cocktails!
Most Unique Restaurant in Playa del Carmen
Location: Ave Benito Juarez (see on map)
Alux is a fine-dining restaurant and lounge set in a 10,000 year old cavern. Does it get more unique than that? The space is full of cozy nook and crannies, caves and caverns, all strategically lit to display the beautiful natural rock formations, stalagmites and stalactites.
There is an elegant restaurant with a pricey, impressive looking menu if you’re up for a special meal. However, we chose to go to the bar for cocktails which were as pretty as they were delicious. Either way, take time to look around the impressive space and search fro the cenote and waterfall.
Note: It’s advisable to book in advance.
Best Meal You Cook Yourself
Location: Contact for location and directions
If you like to cook as much as you like to eat then Co Co’s Cooking School is a great way to do both. They offer a variety of classes, from Mexican to Asian to Mediterranean, that will teach you how to create beautiful and delicious dishes.
The class we took involved a full evening of fun while learning about Mexican cuisine, peppers and Mezcal and cooking then eating a delicious 3 course meal. We’ve found that taking a cooking class is a great way to learn about local food and culture while having a good time.
Looking for Accommodations in Playa del Carmen?
For hotels or hostels we always got to Hotels Combined first. This search engine will show you all of the booking sites and their rates so you can get the absolute best price.
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Cancun is one of the top beach destinations in Mexico because of the abundance of beautiful beaches, fun activities, wild nightlife and variety of food. Click through to this article with tips of what to do in Cancun so you don’t miss out on any of it.
Born in England, Sarah developed her wanderlust at a young age as she traveled around Europe with her parents. As a young adult she spent every penny she could on experiences as opposed to possessions. Eventually she found a way to earn a living doing what she loved: traveling, writing and capturing images of the wondrous world we live in. When not on the go Sarah enjoys time in her “sometimes home” of Vancouver.