La Coronela is a simple, friendly restaurant with affordable 2-for-1 beer offers and a street vendor vibe, located in central Playa del Carmen. Enjoy their authentic cuisine, far removed from the often Americanized nature of dining options in this beachside town; with a well-sized burrito or a tortilla soup and a side of guacamole. You can always expect a warm welcome from owner Gricelda, but make sure to visit before it becomes a popularized tourist haunt.
Address & telephone number: Calle 1ra Sur between Avenidas 5 and 10, Playa del Carmen, Mexico, +52 984 169 7513
Vegetarians and vegans searching for delicious and affordable food need look no further, but even meat-eaters will be satisfied after a Chic Pea lunch. The diverse range of options available is extraordinary, with falafel (naturally) featuring heavily. Anyone craving some Mexican influence in their Greek snack should give the falafel burrito a go, accompanied by any combination of the six equally delicious different sauces. Watch the world go by with your falafel, washed down with a thirst-quenching lemonade, and dine in the attractive, plant-filled patio area.
Address & telephone number: Calle 38 between La Quinta and Avenida 1, Playa del Carmen, Mexico, +52 984 803 1142
Run by native New Yorker Russell, Don Chendo is a taste of home for any Chicagoan craving the deep dish pizza for which their city is famed. Other Italian-American dishes are offered alongside the extensive menu of Chicago-style deep dishes, but they take second place to the undoubted stars of the show. As stated by the menu, “regular pizzas serve 2-3 normal humans”, so don’t be surprised if you leave with leftovers. Keep it simple and try the classic margherita deep dish.
Address & telephone number: Avenida 30 between Calle 24 and 26, Playa del Carmen, Mexico, +52 984 803 5950
For attentive service and delicious takes on quintessentially Mexican recipes in a vibrant, contemporary location, Pik Nik is the place to be. The unmissable chiles en nogada (stuffed green chilies bathed in a walnut-based sauce and topped with pomegranate seeds) which feature all three colors of the Mexican flag, is a stand-out dish.
Address & telephone number: Avenida 10 between Calle 24 and 26, Playa del Carmen, Mexico, +52 998 147 7049
Since 1999, El Fogón has been a Playa del Carmen classic, frequented just as often by the locals as the tourists. There’s a reason why taquerías typically stay open til late; they’re the perfect post-night-out snack. Take it back to basics and indulge in some tacos al pastor (kebab-style, spit-roasted pork, cooked with pineapple) on your way back to the hotel. Don’t expect fine dining, but do expect some great tacos and a buzzing atmosphere. There’s a reason people queue out of the door to eat here, and it isn’t the plastic chairs.
Address & telephone number: Calle 6 Norte Bis, corner with Avenida 30 Norte, Playa del Carmen, Mexico, +52 984 803 0885
If intimate restaurants and exquisitely prepared, international-inspired food are your things, then Oh Lala is the place for you. Whatever you order, with options ranging from tuna steaks and lobster to spicy madras curries, every dish is as beautifully presented as you would expect and can be paired with a variety of wines to ensure you have a really top-quality dining experience. Booking in advance is essential, as the restaurant itself has a limited capacity.
Address & telephone number: Calle 14 North Bis 147 between 10th and 15th, Playa del Carmen, Mexico, +52 984 127 4844
Pop by for breakfast and a gigantic, freshly-made juice or milkshake. El Nativo offers simple but well-executed meals from dawn ‘til dusk every day, with the ever-dependable chilaquiles coming highly recommended. Order with eggs or chicken and start your day the Mexican way. However, the real selling point here, looking beyond the enticing brightly painted interior and palapa-style, thatched roof exterior, are the freshly made smoothies.
Address & telephone number: Avenida 30 between Constituyentes and Calle 20, Playa del Carmen, Mexico, +52 984 873 0758
Falafel Nessya completely destroys the myth that hole-in-the-wall dining is a lesser dining experience, or one completely dominated by pizzas and tacos. Chow down on perfectly cooked, crispy on the outside, yet soft on the inside falafel on the pavement outside or one of the few tables inside. A limited menu does not take away from the excellence of Falafel Nessya, in fact the simplicity and vibrancy is its strongest selling point. Just don’t walk past this tucked away restaurant by mistake!
Address & telephone number: Calle 4 between Avenidas 10 y 15, Playa del Carmen, Mexico, +52 984 184 7162
La Perla is a wonderfully atmospheric, friendly restaurant located just off the famed La Quinta avenue. And it offers so much more than it’s fantastic Oaxacan-inspired, experimental menu, it is also an outstanding mezcal and pulque bar/store and live music venue. For the more adventurous diner, you must try the grasshopper quesadillas accompanied by a smoky, flavorful glass of mezcal. Those who plan to go in a big group must be sure to book, as this hidden gem is gaining popularity.
Address & telephone number: Calle 34 between Avenidas 5 and 10, Playa del Carmen, Mexico, +52 984120 2616