Six weeks in Playa del Carmen soaking up the sun and eating at the best Playa del Carmen restaurants. Here are our winners!
Although dabbling in Playa del Carmen adventure and exploration, we spent much of our time enjoying the beautiful beaches and taking full advantage of Playa’s wealth of amazing seafood, taco, and ceviche joints. Here’s our list for must-visit beach clubs, authentic tacos, and best Playa del Carmen restaurants.
Best Playa del Carmen Restaurants: Tacos
An argument could be made that one should visit Mexico primarily to feast on tacos. Well, there are other reasons (like Tequila!), but while we’re on the subject, here’s a couple must-try places for tacos in Playa:
Avenida Constituyentes LB | Playa del Carmen
Although situated directly across from the new, ultra-modern shopping mall in the center of Playa del Carmen, TaconTenedor manages to pull off a super chilled-out beach taco stand vibe. Cool music, liquor sold by the liter with fresh juice mixers, beer by the 40oz, an amazing salsa bar, AND some of the best tacos in all of Playa. You can get all of the taco standards of course, but the menu includes lobster, stingray, octopus and fresh tuna for about $1.50-$2 each. Also, make sure to try their huge ceviches and unbelievable stingray soup!
Taquería Billy The Kid
Calle 4 and Avenida 15 | Playa del Carmen
Billy the Kid’s is the real-deal, no-frills, Mexican taco joint. No English is spoken here, but if Spanish is a distant second language, just point to the large menu on the wall for your choice of tripe, head, chorizo, or steak tacos and tortas. Coke product or water to drink. Corn tortillas with your meat of choice served up masterfully on a plastic-covered plate with a sprinkle of chopped onions and cilantro. For restaurants, it’s sometimes better to offer a limited menu that’s completely amazing, and if the steady stream of local clientele is any indication, these guys have absolutely nailed it. Oh, and did we mention, the tacos are just 70 cents a piece!?
Best Playa del Carmen Restaurants: Seafood
Believe it or not, we didn’t eat tacos for EVERY meal. When visiting a beach town, amazingly fresh seafood is an assumed amenity, and Playa del Carmen definitely did their best to oblige.
Calle 34, entre 5nta y 10av. | Playa del Carmen
Our meal at Muelle was quite possibly our BEST culinary experience while visiting Playa del Carmen. We sat down, and I was shocked when the waiter asked us if we were from St. Louis, MO. I looked at Krissy, then realized she was wearing her red STL Cardinals hat. Ha! Very perceptive, Mr. Waiter. We chose the cocktail of the day, a tequila/mint concoction, and the waiter was so proud of the tequila’s quality, he brought us an extra shot to sample. We selected octopus and red snapper from the fresh catch display and chose how we wanted them prepared. Moments later they arrived perfectly char-grilled with a side of deliciously prepared cilantro-citrus pinto beans. Each morsel of our meal was utterly amazing at Muelle. Highly recommended!
Calle 22 Norte | Playa del Carmen
La Fisheria is the kind of a funky-trendy place you might expect from a celebrity chef. Owned by Food TV star, Aquiles Chavez, La Fisheria offers modern upscale spins on classic Mexican beach food. The menu was huge, but we kept it light: A mixed seafood cocktail with shrimp, clams, and octopus served in a spicy clamato juice with beer sidecar for starters. An ultra-fresh tuna tartare with avocado on house-made tortilla chips, a chicken quesadilla in a light and puffy wrapper, a giant mixed ceviche, and quite possibly the best roasted beet dish we’ve ever experienced. Make sure to ask for/beware of the incredibly spicy habanero olive oil and the green habanero salsa!
Best Playa del Carmen Restaurants: Beach Clubs
Sometimes a sunny afternoon in Playa del Carmen is best spent getting pampered at the beach. Here are our favorite spots to spend the day:
Calle 10 Norte | Gonzalo Guerrero | Playa del Carmen
Lido was far and away our go-to beach spot while visiting Playa del Carmen. Low-key compared to some of its flashy peers down the beach, Lido was a perfect combination of friendly service, great food, people watching, and bang for the buck. We spent many a long afternoon here on the comfortable lounge chairs, soaking up the sun and ocean breeze while enjoying tasty tacos, ceviches, aguachiles, and ice-cold buckets of Dos Equis, rarely parting with more than $30USD.
Calle 28 Norte Mza 10 Lote 8 | Centro | Playa del Carmen
Mamita’s Beach Club is a completely different animal from chilled-out Lido. Some might say that Mamita’s is THE place to go in Playa. They host giant, daily beach parties, complete with DJ’s and a banging sound system, while Playa’s best-looking people lounge and/or dance in the sun. The facilities are top-notch, the beach is beautiful, and the staff treats each guest like a VIP. As they say, you get what you pay for, so expect to pay quite a bit more for your fun at Mamita’s, but this beach club is definitely worth the experience.
Best Playa del Carmen Restaurants: Authentic Mexican
There’s really only one winner here, and if you’ve visited Playa del Carmen, you probably already know who it is!
Av. Constituyentes S/N | Col. Centro | Playa del Carmen
Charcoal smoke and the smell of grilled meat rolls out of El Fogon’s entrance. The obligatory al pastor on a spit beckons your entry. The adjacent grill is stacked high with meats, onions, and potatoes of varying levels of completion, artfully rotated by the grillmaster. Two ice-cold beers are delivered with tortilla chips, radishes, cucumber salad, red and green salsa.. Get ready to eat because they don’t mess around here. Our favorites? The Alambre con carne al pastor: a huge plate of diced al pastor with bacon, grilled onions and peppers (with or without melted Oaxacan cheese). Or, try the Arrachera Especial: a grilled skirt steak with grilled onions, sliced tomatoes, guacamole, charcoal-cooked potato, and a bowl of melted Oaxacan cheese. Both come with stacks of steaming tortillas (of course!) Get ready to eat!
We’ve teamed up with GPSmyCity and converted this Playa del Carmen restaurant guide into a downloadable application that comes complete with a GPS map of our recommendations and operates offline without any need of data plan or Internet connection. You can check it out here.