When you think of Playa Del Carmen, I’m sure you’re painting a picture of the iconic white sand beaches, turquoise waters, and luxurious beachfront resorts. There’s also endless water sports, exploring jungles and eco-parks, swimming in iconic cenotes, shopping on one of the most iconic streets in all of Mexico, and much more.
So, when you need to take a break from all that adventuring, where should you grab a meal to refuel?
This post will reveal some of our favorite places to eat in Playa Del Carmen so you can get your feast on and enjoy the most delicious Mexican food this region has to offer!
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MOST POPULAR EXCURSIONS IN PLAYA DEL CARMEN
Xcaret Eco Park – The ultimate must-do day trip in Riviera Maya! This eco-park boasts more than 40 attractions including underground rivers, an immersive aviary, a coral reef aquarium, aquatic activities, live cultural shows, a Mayan village, and more.
Xplor Adventure Park – Another massive eco-park that features ziplining, driving amphibious vehicles in the jungle, and paddling through underground rivers through stalactite caves.
Riviera Maya Jungle Half-Day Tour: ATV, Ziplines, Cenote Swim, Rappel – combines off-roading, ziplining, rappelling, and snorkeling in a cenote. Gear and snacks are included in this 4-hour tour.
Tulum Ruins Cenote and Swimming with Turtles from Playa del Carmen – a great family-friendly activity spent in the water.
WHERE TO EAT BREAKFAST IN PLAYA DEL CARMEN
LA CUEVA DEL CHANGO
La Cueva Del Chango is easily one of our favorite places to eat in Playa Del Carmen. Not only do they serve up quality regional dishes using super fresh ingredients, but getting to dine in their quaint jungle setting is also a real treat!
All their juices are made with fresh fruit and you really can’t go wrong with any of the breakfast dishes. We love their guava/orange juice as well as their special juice consisting of papaya, orange, and passion fruit. In terms of breakfast foods, we recommend the chilaquiles with green salsa.
From the lunch menu, we recommend ordering the dobladas (with shrimp and refried beans) or the mole enchiladas. This spot seriously has one of the most delicious tasting tortillas in all of Playa Del Carmen!
And because I’m a pastry lover, I love the fact that the waiters pass by the tables and offer carrot loaf cake or banana bread! Do note that if you say yes, this does cost extra.
If you look up to the trees while waiting for your food, you might even catch a glimpse of Alfredo, the resident monkey climbing around!
WHERE TO EAT LUNCH/DINNER IN PLAYA DEL CARMEN
LA PERLA PIXAN AND MEZCAL STORE
According to multiple sources, La Perla Pixan & Mezcal Store is one of the only places off the tourist strip that serves up authentic Mexican food and mezcal with a great atmosphere. Naturally, we had to try it for ourselves!
This place did not disappoint–it was an unforgettable meal, to say the least! We ordered the mixed seafood plate as well as the melted cheese with grasshoppers. These were both amazing and super flavorful.
They also have really creative mezcal drinks. We were lucky enough to make happy hour, which meant buy-one-get-one-free on the cocktails! We both ordered the Dona Lupe and it was such a treat–they were served in enclosed paper bags and came out smoking!
If you’re looking for other recommendations, another must-try is also the tlayuda–not a lot of restaurants make these so try it while you can. Feeling adventurous? Order any of the dishes featuring grasshoppers! They’re not at scary as they look (they really just taste like salty crispies).
LAS HIJAS DE LA TOSTADA
If you are trying to eat all of the seafood under the sun during your time in Playa Del Carmen, you cannot miss the casual outdoor eatery, Las Hijas De La Tostada.
Las Hijas De La Tostada is a jack-of-all-trades type of restaurant despite being known for specializing in seafood. They offer ceviche, hot tostadas, and raw tostadas, but also tacos, grilled meats (steaks and burgers), and vegetarian options too.
If you’re a seafood lover, definitely don’t miss any of the raw tostadas. We really enjoyed their special tostada, the Copan, made with raw mahi-mahi and tuna, cooked octopus, guacamole, cucumber, caramelized onion, and fried leek.
They are also known for their Mezcal Octopus Tacos, so don’t miss those either!
Undeniably the most well-known taqueria in Playa del Carmen, El Fogon needs no introduction. The location on Avenida Constituyentes is the place to go to get authentic and unforgettable Mexican food!
There really is no better place to get tacos that are this affordable and this flavor-packed! Make sure you get at least 4-6 because you’ll eat these little babies up in the blink of an eye. We love the al pastor and the horchata is also a must-try.
If you don’t know what to get, you really can’t go wrong with the al pastor tacos. The star of the show here is definitely the al pastor.
Be sure to get here early because there will be a dinner rush line to even get a seat at a table. Yes, it’s that yummy.
For all things seafood (which we can never get enough of), pay a visit to the local favorite restaurant, El Pirata.
So where do you start? Well for one, you should definitely get a plate of fried fish. You can choose your choice of fish and have it fried whole right in front of you. Don’t know what to pick? Just opt for the catch of the day.
If fried fish is not your thing, they also serve shrimp cocktails, aguachiles, and ceviches that are to die for. Another super popular dish is the fish filet plate with garlic butter. Do bring cash in case they are still cash only!
Foodie pro tip: This food joint is Anthony Bourdain approved!
If you’re looking for a full-on gastronomic experience (meaning you care about it all–the food, the presentation, the service, the drinks, and the atmosphere), you need to dine at Porfirio’s. You’re going to get handcrafted cocktails, great food, and even better service!
Aside from the food, you’re truly going to be entertained during your meal. There could very well be mariachis performing throughout the restaurant, as well as street entertainment just outside on the sidewalk (Mayan dancers, singers, breakdancers, you name it).
While it’s not the most affordable restaurant by any means, you are going to have a spectacular meal and an unforgettable time here.
Don’t feel like a meal? That’s totally okay. Lots of people stop in for drinks only. Regardless of which you choose, do try to make reservations ahead of time because this spot is popular.
WHERE TO EAT DESSERTS IN PLAYA DEL CARMEN
If you’re looking for another type of post-dinner snack to soothe your sweet cravings, look no further than Aldo’s Gelato! Sure it’s gelato, but the best part is that they feature some super authentic Mexican flavors like mandarina, guayaba (guava), mango, maracuya (passion fruit), and tropical rose. If you’re looking to elevate your gelato experience, get one of the waffles or bubble cone creations!
On a hot day, Aldo’s Gelato really hits the spot. Their prices are reasonable, and portions are big. It’s a must-try in Playa Del Carmen!
There are several Aldo’s along 5th Avenue so you are never too far away from gelato.
A marquesita is a type of dessert native to the Yucatán Peninsula. As you walk around Playa Del Carmen, you’re sure to see a bunch of these marquesita carts.
These delightful treats are like a rolled-up crepe. The main difference is that the shell is crispy and wafer-like in consistency. Fill it with anything you like such as Nutella, condensed milk, strawberries, banana, Kinder Bueno, Oreo cookies, kiwi, queso de bola (Edam cheese), and more!
We always get ones that skew on the sweeter side, with Nutella, strawberries, and banana. However, a popular choice is one with Nutella and queso de bola, which is shaved right into the crepe. This results in the perfect mix of sweet, salty, and crunchy!
WHERE TO STAY IN PLAYA DEL CARMEN, MEXICO
Lodging accommodations in Playa Del Carmen are nearly endless, with tons of affordable hotel options as well as super luxurious ones. Of course, you could stay at one of the many “name-brand” hotels you’re familiar with, but if you want to try something new, consider these design hotels and boutique options below:
For a luxurious stay at budget travel prices: Meliora By Bunik
Meliora By Bunik is a hotel in Downtown Playa del Carmen, walk distance to Quinta Avenida near it all. The hotel boasts spacious, modern rooms and has an outdoor pool with lounging hammocks to enjoy, spa services, and concierge services available. WiFi in public areas is free.
For a moderately priced design hotel: Hotel La Semilla
This is where we stayed on our last trip to Playa; amazing ambiance, free breakfast, and attention to detail in the design of the entire property! The hotel itself is completely breathtaking, with a beautiful outdoor garden and dining area where we enjoyed our homemade breakfast each morning. I mean, look at it, it’s charming as heck and drop-dead gorgeous!
Hotel La Semilla B&B has a very tranquil, laid-back atmosphere. The organic and simple design reflects a sense of Mexican history, heritage, style and simplicity. The property is located in the middle of the trendiest part of town and surrounded by jungle. The best of both worlds.
For a moderately priced design hotel farther away from the crowds: Petit Lafitte Hotel
Petit Lafitte is our second pick when it comes to affordable yet stylish lodging in Playa Del Carmen. This is a tranquil beachfront hotel a 15-minute drive from Playa del Carmen city center. It’s a great choice if you want to be based in a more quiet and serene area of Playa Del Carmen.
Aside from the beautiful tropical grounds, it offers air-conditioned rooms, 2 restaurants, and an outdoor pool. There are on-site massage services as well.
For a more luxurious stay: Excellence Riviera Cancun All-Inclusive
My absolute favorite adults-only all-inclusive resort! I’m a huge fan of the Excellence properties. I don’t do all-inclusive often, but when I do, you better believe I’m getting a good deal on price!
Excellence Resorts all feature peaceful beaches with fine, white sands, several outdoor pools, the most relaxing spa and hydrotherapy area you’ll ever find in this budget range, and ample spaces for relaxation. The all-inclusive rate covers food and beverages at 9+ international restaurants and 10+ bars.
You’ll get to stay in huge, modern rooms, all featuring big bathing tubs and furnished balconies–plus some have ocean views, private hammocks, swim-up access to pools, and private plunge pools.
On top of that, they have tons of scheduled activities throughout the day, so even if you do nothing else around Cancun, you’re sure to have a lot to do at the resort. Some examples include group aquatic Zumba, bike rides around the property, poker and casino night, Mexican fiesta buffets, workout classes, ‘free’ SUP and kayak usage, and nightly shows.
If you’re going to go all-inclusive, you gotta do it right! The sheer amount of bars, restaurants, and activities offered at their resorts make them worth every dollar spent.
Mexico Travel Insurance
This is a no-brainer. When traveling internationally, be sure to get yourself some travel insurance.
I’ve heard of too many unfortunate experiences where friends and family have had baggage lost/stolen, hotels canceled, or have had unexpected medical emergencies while traveling where they’ve had to cut their trips short.
True story alert — in 2022, my partner even had his shoulder completely dislocated while surfing in Mexico, resulting in a $950 USD emergency room bill that we had to pay out of pocket for! Not fun and not cheap.
Without travel insurance, you would have to pay out of pocket for these mishaps. This is why I get travel insurance for all my international trips now!
One of the best budget-friendly travel insurances for those traveling outside their home country is SafetyWing.
SafetyWing Insurance provides coverage for unexpected illness or injury, including eligible expenses for hospital, doctor or prescription drugs. This means that if you get ill or injured, they will cover the medical expenses.
In addition, it provides emergency travel-related benefits such as emergency medical evacuation (much needed if you like to go hiking / trekking in the wild), travel delay, and lost checked luggage.
And that concludes our list of where to eat in Playa Del Carmen! We hope that this post has inspired you to try something new! If you have any questions about the destination or have your own travel tips to share, please don’t hesitate to leave them in the comments below.