Best Restaurants in Playa Del Carmen

…places you should definitely try to visit…

A few years ago I was sitting in TGI Fridays in my hometown with my ex-girlfriend.

I looked around.

Everybody looked the same.

The whole restaurant was full of silent couples who were ordering the same things they ordered the week before.

At the time I was a pretty unoriginal American dude.

So I thought, “Well, at least it’s better than taking your girlfriend to McDonalds.”

Since moving to Playa Del Carmen, I’ve learned a lot of things about food.

For example, every meal doesn’t have to come with a fizzy drink bigger than your head.

Okay, so I wasn’t that uncultured before.

But Playa Del Carmen has taught me a lot, and I’ve got a few unique restaurants to thank.

After a few years living in Playa Del Carmen, here are my absolute best restaurants in Playa Del Carmen.

The List

How To Choose The Best Restaurants In Playa Del Carmen

People think that Playa Del Carmen is a Mexican city.

But it’s not (thankfully).

True Mexican cities are exceptionally boring if you’ve lived in them for more than a few years.

Most importantly, they completely lack any sort of diversity – it’s soft-shelled tacos, gorditas, or tamales EVERY DAY.

One thing that makes this city great is its exceptional diversity.

Playa Del Carmen’s true character is an amalgamation of many cultural influences.

That magnifies itself when it comes to food.

I’ve only been to Italy for a few short weeks.

Frankly, the food there – unless you were eating at very expensive restaurants – was not as exceptional as I expected.

However, I’ve eaten at so many Italian-owned restaurants in Playa Del Carmen that I feel I could be an extra in The Godfather.

(I guess it helps that my father is Italian.)

Because of this city’s diverse options, I didn’t want to stick to Mexican food on this list of the best restaurants.

So here are my top picks for different cuisines here.

I’ve based this list mostly on taste.

But I’m not one of those hideous food critics who likes to criticize everything so much that no food is good enough.

Taste and flavor is most important.

Service, atmosphere, price, and location, are also part of the experience, so I’ve considered these in this list as well.

Finally, this list of the best restaurants in Playa Del Carmen is not definitive.

It’s just my opinion – but every restaurant listed here is very unique!

Best Mexican Restaurant – Carboncitos

You can find authentic Mexican food all over Playa Del Carmen.

This is Mexico after all.

Just walk down 5th Ave or 10th Ave and you’ll find plenty of fried Mexican street food.

However, a lot of Mexican restaurants tend to sacrifice quality for quantity.

They get you hideously full and drunk.

Which is good.

But to be on my list, a restaurant has to be truly unique.

Carboncitos isn’t the cheapest Mexican restaurant, but it’s still outstanding value.

Main dishes cost $5 – $15 USD.

Try the steak and tell me that it’s not better than anything you’ve had before.

They have a wide ranging menu that covers everything that’s good about Mexican food: powerful flavors, fresh fish and meat, and great sauces.

Plus the waiters here carry drinks on their heads.

If that’s not worth a tip, I don’t know what is.

Carboncito’s Phone Number and Contact Info:

Carboncito’s Phone Number:

  • DIRECT TO RESTAURANT: (+52) (984) 873-1382 (CLICK TO CALL ON MOBILE)
    • NOTE: Sometimes there are no English speakers answering the phone here
  • THROUGH HOTEL (MXN Number): (+52) (984) 873-1227 (CLICK TO CALL ON MOBILE)
    • NOTE: English speakers ALWAYS AVAILABLE
  • THROUGH HOTEL (USA Number): (+1) (718) 710-4773 (CLICK TO CALL ON MOBILE)
    • NOTE: English speakers ALWAYS AVAILABLE

Carboncito’s Website/Email/Facebook:

Best Mayan Restaurants – Yaxche Maya cuisine

Mayan cuisine has a long history.

Forget fancy restaurant kitchens, these Mayan chefs learned how to cook on roaring fires in the jungle.

Now they’ve taken this skill and combined with influences from European and South American cuisine.

There’s a fantastic mixture of tradition fused with modern at the Yaxche.

This place on 5th Ave is very popular and justifiably so.

Some of the dishes are truly table-sized.

Very few people are able to finish their plates.

Yaxche is delicious, has a great atmosphere, reasonable prices, and is my absolute best restaurant in Playa Del Carmen.

This Playa Del Carmen restaurant has probably the most unique menu you’ll ever find.

Make sure you to take the opportunity to try cactus.

Be careful if you order a margarita.

One will almost certainly become two.

And three. Or more.

Yaxche Phone Number and Contact Info

Phone Number:

Website/Email/Facebook:

Best Italian Restaurant In Playa Del Carmen – Como Como

There are plenty of Italian restaurants to choose from, and if you want a quick and tasty pizza, then Mama Mia’s Pizzeria is always good.

Italian food isn’t just about pizza though.

It’s a delicate journey through hundreds of different flavors (stop sounding like a food critic, Rufus!).

Como Como is unbeatable.

Great service and an ambience that almost makes you feel like you’re in Italy.

Some personal favorites on the menu are the beef capaccio, octopus, or chocolate fondue dessert.

There is so much to choose from on the menu – pasta varieties, lots of seafood, and outstanding beef.

Phone Number/Contact Info:

Como Como Phone Number:

Como Como Website/Email/Facebook:

Best Argentinian Restaurant – El Diez

Argentinians know how to make steak.

My image of Argentina is of children learning how to fry a a slab of beef before they can even walk.

So if you want to eat authentic steak, then it should be cooked by an Argentinian.

At El Diez the chefs are from the promised land of great steak.

It’s pricey, but the diversity of the menu is superb.

It’s easy to tailor your meal dependent on your budget and stomach size.

It is hard to go to an Argentinian steak house and not order steak.

But there are other things on the menu.

Some of the fried seafood is also excellent.

Then there is an extensive wine menu for anyone who is over drinking tequila and mescal.

El Diez Phone Number/Contact Info:

Phone Number:

El Diez Website/Email/Facebook:

Best Inexpensive Restaurant – Manne’s Biergarten

Most people gorge themselves on cheap Mexican food when they’re in Playa Del Carmen.

You can’t go splurging every night, and on many nights, alcohol seems to overtake food on the scale of priorities.

So where do you get good cheap food, and combine it with a few beers?

Look no further than Manne’s Biergarten.

It’s German, not a country that’s known for its culinary excellence.

So they’ve gone for an eclectic menu to pick from.

There’s the traditional sauerkraut and, of course, umpteen different sausages to choose from.

That’s combined with a kind of British style pub experience.

Manne’s Biergarten is cheap. I mean crazy cheap.

The beer, the cocktails, the food, just about everything is among the lowest prices in Playa Del Carmen.

This place will likely not win an award for fine dining experiences.

Nonetheless, they play great music, you can have great conversations with interesting strangers, and you always leave full.

Manne’s Biergarten Phone Number/Contact Info:

Phone Number:

Manne’s Biergarten Website/Email/Facebook:

Other Great Restaurants In Playa Del Carmen

The above is just a collection of my favorites in Playa Del Carmen.

Head to one of them and there’s a good chance I’ll be somewhere near by.

There are over 350 restaurants in Playa Del Carmen, so you won’t be short on choice.

Which means there’s absolutely no need to be an ignorant idiot and spend half your vacation in Burger King.

Just quickly, here are a few more that are worth trying out:

  • Make a reservation for the tiny but incredible Oh Lala.  It’s home cooked Mayan and Mexican cuisine.
  • Chic Pea has a great vegetarian menu.  If half a cow isn’t on the plate, then it’s not really my kind of thing.  But all my vegetarian girlfriends rave about Chic Pea.
  • Save space for dessert and stop at La Crepacabana or Ah Cacao Chocolate Cafe.
  • Mixing Mexican and Indian cuisine is a recipe for burning your mouth.  Which is what happens at Curry Omm.  But it’s so worth it!
  • For something a little intimate and down to earth then La Vaganunda and Violet’s Cafe are excellent.  They’re also light on the wallet.

Hopefully these recommendations have been helpful.

These are my best restaurants in Playa Del Carmen.

I hope you find yours!

Lots of love,

Rufus

Rufus signature

You have any suggestions, advice, or tips about the best restaurants in the city? Please leave them in the comments section below!

8 comments on “Best Restaurants In Playa Del Carmen

  1. Your website is great, thanks! Going to be in Playa del Carmen in late November and will definitly check out your restaurant recommendations. Which one would you say has the best seafood? Thanks so much for your reply.

    • Dazzling Dee,

      I didn’t include much information about seafood on the page for a few reasons.

      First, I haven’t eaten at many of the seafood restaurants. I have always loved seafood. However, several years ago I had a shrimp cocktail and got a bad case of hives! Luckily it only lasted for a few hours, but it was pretty scary. I thought it was an anomaly until I tried the same shrimp cocktail again and had the same reaction. Since that time I’ve stayed away from seafood. BUT, that was in the center of Mexico – and not in Playa Del Carmen.

      Second, so many of the regular restaurants here – whether they serve beef, pork, or whatever – also serve seafood. Usually places that make great beef-based dishes (for example) have good chefs that can also make great seafood dishes. So if you go to an upscale restaurant, you’re likely to find the seafood quite delicious even if seafood is not the specialty there.

      With all of the above being said and taken into consideration, there is a relatively new restaurant in Playa del Carmen that I would visit tomorrow if I was taking an important person out for a birthday, anniversary, or special occasion. It is called NAU. I’ve included the contact details below as well.

      In the short time that they’ve been open, they’ve developed a strong reputation as the go-to restaurant for seafood as a specialty (no small feat considering the competition here). It just smells good when I walk by there, as well!

      For a final reason, it’s slightly off the beaten path (by one block) and directly across from the publicly accessible, “Municipal Palace” and courtyard, which is an ever-so-slightly cool place to stroll during both day and night.

      That is my BEST suggestion for you, Dee.

      Hope this helps, and don’t forget to send me a message during your trip to let me know how it’s going!

      Take care,

      Rufus

      NAU CONTACT INFO:
      Website: http://www.nau.mx
      Phone: +52 (984) 197-4121
      (NOTE: YOU MAY NEED TO DIAL A “1” BETWEEN “52” & “984.” I DIDN’T CALL THEM, SO NOT SURE; IT MAY BE A CELL PHONE. MX DIALING PROTOCOLS ARE COMPLETELY IDIOTIC.)

      • Thanks Rufus, I really appreciate your time to reply. There will be six people in the group, I am the only one who has been there before. Your website is so very helpful, and especially the new activity calendar, thanks so much for being there and doing what you do! I can’t wait to see beautiful Playa Del Carmen again! Will only be there for one week but planning to make the most of it and your website will definitly help me show the others the best of your beautiful home.
        Dee

        • Smooth-talking Stephen,

          For volleyball, there are a few places on the beach where people play regularly. You can walk up and down the busiest beaches to see if anyone is playing. I’ve never heard of any organizations that get together and play, but they could exist.

          The most lively place that I’ve seen for games is right next to the ferry dock – specifically, the south side of the dock close to the part of Señor Frog’s that faces the sea. It seems like there’s always a volleyball game going there on the weekends. Ask them about meetings, and they may be able to help you.

          Here’s a map that shows where they play. Keep in mind it’s more common on weekends.

          https://goo.gl/maps/Mr7A3KaxJTz

          In regard to basketball, there are several courts here. However, unless you know Spanish quite fluently, you may have a problem. I know there are people who play consistently, but I’m not sure if there is a specific group that you could contact in order to play.

          I would simply go to a basketball court and talk to some people. Here’s a link to a map that shows the location of the best basketball courts I’ve seen in town.

          https://goo.gl/maps/XAxoa1s9zyT2

          Hope this helps!

          Take care,

          Rufus

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