The food scene in this Riviera Maya resort town serves up everything from gourmet Yucatán and Mayan-influenced dishes to simple but satisfying fried fish tacos.
Without high-rise hotels or busy roads, Playa del Carmen is the Riviera Maya’s relaxed alternative to Cancún. The beach is just as white and fluffy, it’s shaded with swaying palms and lapped by a glassy clear turquoise Caribbean Sea, with the Cancún airport only a little over an hour’s drive away. Playa, as locals call it, has a lively social scene, with plenty of bars and clubs and a slew of restaurants, many of them with a sea view.
With wooden tables set in tranquil tropical gardens dotted with elfin cottages and romantically hanging lambent lights in the evening, La Cueva feels a world away from Playa’s heat and hustle. Dining is from breakfast until dinner, with a menu of reinvented Mexican standards and plenty of veggie options: huevos rancheros come with twin fried eggs, avocado and crispy tortilla, and bell peppers are stuffed with pistachios, sautéed shrimp and cream cheese, served in tomato sauce and accompanied by fresh mango.
Award-winning resort chef Xavier Pérez Stone’s solo venture has served Yucatecán Maya dishes with a gourmet touch (and concessionary Mexican favorites) to loyal locals for well over a decade. Food is dished out in an airy palm-roofed al fresco dining area with an open-plan kitchen, a short walk from Mamita’s Beach. There’s ribeye and tacos on the menu, but the kitchen’s specialities are all local – like pork with spicy Yucatán sauce, guacamole with field grasshoppers and Mexican rabbit with guajillo chili.
You don’t have to pay a premium to eat on the beach. La Tarraya has been serving food with the same simple formula since backpackers first arrived here in the 1970s. The no-frills laminated menu offers the breaded catch of the day with tomato, onion and avocado salad as well as tacos and lobster in season, accompanied by ice-cold Dos Equis beer served at simple wooden tables with plastic chairs on the best stretch of sand in Playa.
Looking for somewhere to stay? Book into one of the top resorts in Playa del Carmen, or opt instead for one of the best hotels for every traveler. Don’t miss the top things to see and do in, including the most beautiful beaches. Make sure you try the top bars in Playa del Carmen, too.