If you go beyond the areas of Playa del Carmen that are heaving with tourists, there are some great local restaurants serving the very best in Mexican gastronomy. Take a look at our top 10 traditional Mexican restaurants where you can enjoy delicious local food in this beautiful coastal resort.
Restaurant, Diner, Mexican
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If you’re looking for something traditional, delicious and local, Los Machacados is the place for you. It’s a traditional Mexican restaurant that serves antojitos yucatecos (snacks from Yucatan), such as the popular salbutes, a puffed fried tortilla topped with avocado, lettuce, tomato, and shredded chicken. Try a machacado, which is a frozen drink with fruit, sweet milk, and cinnamon. If you have kids, they can make some new Mexican friends in the small playground while you enjoy a delicious dinner.
La Floresta is one of the most traditional restaurants in Playa del Carmen. Here you will find delicious tacos, not just the typical ones, but original ones with different ingredients. Try exotic tacos: choose from canary, crab, marlin, or shrimp – they’re not on the menu, but if you ask for them, they will prepare them. If you’re feeling brave, try the salsa habanera, a really spicy but delicious sauce made of habanero chillies. They have a wide menu, which includes agua chile, ceviche, and seafood cocktails. This food is ideal if you need a little help recovering from a hangover, or if you want to get the party started in the afternoon.
This restaurant is run by a Mexican chef called Aquiles Chávez, one of the best ambassadors of Mexican food in the world. La Fisheria is a fancy place, suitable for the most demanding palates. The quality is high, as are the prices; service is excellent. The menu is varied; some of the typical dishes you should try are mejillones, tacos de huachinango rebosado,empanadas de camarón, and agua chile. Pair them with a mezcal, a strong traditional Mexican drink.
Located one block from 5th Avenue, Axiote offers Mexican contemporary gastronomy together with excellent presentation. Here, traditional food is fused with exotic and modern presentation. Examples are the tacos de lengua entomatada, or tacos made of beef tongue, and the classic huarache, a thick corn tortilla topped with delicious rib eye steak. You can pair the food with Mexican wine or sip a Mexican craft beer and try a shot of mezcal.
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Restaurant, Mexican, $$$
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Aldea Corazón is an idyllic restaurant with a tropical atmosphere. We recommend the terrace, which is surrounded by plants, vegetation, and a small cenote (natural pool); it’s especially romantic at night, when it’s lit by candlelight. The menu is totally Mexican: you’ll find traditional dishes, such as pastel azteca de pollo (a sort of lasagna made of tortilla, salsa, and chicken); queso quemado (burnt white cheese); and chile poblano (a special sort of chilli made of meat, banana, and salsa); and black tortillas. The cocktails are served in a big glass cup; try the classic piña colada and relax into this little oasis.
At La Cueva del Chango you can have fresh, natural Mexican food for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, served in an atmospheric natural garden. They have handmade tortillas and a wide menu of traditional Mexican food that includes enchiladas verdes de pollo (tacos with green tomato salsa, chicken, and cream), Mexican chicken soup. and the delicious crepas con chile poblano (crepes with poblano chilli sauce). You can have your food served in traditional Mexican plates made of barro (clay). They also have a vegetarian menu.
At La Mission, you can enjoy the best of traditional gastronomy in a pleasant tropical atmosphere, and, as their slogan says, “If you don’t like it, you don’t pay for it.” Here you will find a varied menu of steaks and seafood, served in generous portions and with creative presentation. Try the coconut shrimp served inside a coconut, or the fresh lobster served in its shell. The restaurant is open daily from 2:00 p.m. to 11:00 p.m.
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Some steps from the Cozumel Ferry, near to Parque Fundadores, there’s a small pink restaurant decorated with black and white pictures of empowered women in Mexican history, called La Coronela. La Coronela offers typical Mexican food cooked with a homemade touch. The food is fresh and served in generous portions, and the atmosphere is relaxed. We recommend the classic ceviche de camarón (shrimp ceviche), which is prepared in an original way, with pieces of mango. Enjoy authentic Mexican food with excellent service at a good price.
Try real Mexican food where the locals eat it: at El Fogon, which serves the famous tacos al pastor (tacos made with spit-grilled meat) and other delicious varieties of tacos. Try each of the traditional sauces (just be careful, some are very spicy) and order the typical guacamole – the authentic version is very different to the guacamole you may have tried before. There are always people waiting for a table, because it’s a very popular place, but the service is fast and you won’t have to wait long. The portions are generous and the prices reasonable.
Enjoy tostadas, tacos, and seafood at Los Aguachiles, a local restaurant with a relaxed atmosphere, away from the busy 5th Avenue. The tostadas are delightful; they are fried tortillas topped with a variety of ingredients of your choice (such as meat, tomato, lettuce, cream, and cheese). Tacos de pulpo (tacos with octopus and schrimp) or tacos with steamed fish and cheese are good choices, and at the end of the meal we recommend a tasty coconut ice cream served in a coconut shell.