Playa Del Carmen 5th Avenue

…where it all begins…

If you’ve ever been to Playa Del Carmen, you know that the entire city’s nightlife, shopping, and dining is focused around Fifth Avenue. (The locals call it Quinta Avenida.)

Fifth Avenue is not only the primary attraction in Playa Del Carmen – it is quite simply a crossroads.

Fifth Avenue is the heart of Playa Del Carmen.

If Playa Del Carmen was a lavish lollipop, Fifth Avenue would be that nice creamy filling that you would find after you sucked your way to the center.

To both the residents and tourists alike, Fifth Avenue is a diverse cesspool that keeps giddy tourists grinning and locals living leisurely.

It is an amalgam of cultures and cuisines. Its spectrum spans the six habitable continents of the world.

At the edge of the Yucatan Peninsula, right on the Caribbean, it’s also a meeting place of influences from Mexican, American, Caribbean, Central American and even South American cultures.

Far from being exclusive or elitist, everyone is accepted here.

Whatever you do, don’t overdress. Not only will you stand out like a disenchanted dork, but you may be uncomfortable to boot.

Remember: Comfort is King in Playa Del Carmen.

Are you looking for an adventure?

PERFECT!

Follow me, and by the way, welcome to Fifth Avenue!!!

FIFTH AVENUE MAP

 

NOTE: Fifth Avenue extends further north than the red line shows. However, this is not part of the “tourist-friendly” zone and becomes non-commercial around 46th Street (also known as CTM Street).

5th Avenue History

As you may know, Playa Del Carmen started out as a small fishing village and artists’ colony.

However, once a ferry service carrying tourists from the mainland to Cozumel discovered this gem, more and more people begin to recognize the paradise they were passing through.

From that time forward, it grew exponentially as a tourist destination.

Since then, it has consistently been ranked as one of the fastest growing cities in Mexico – and even the world.

What many visitors don’t realize is that the government and local community have actually tried to preserve that original character.

That’s probably why it’s not your typical cookie-cutter beach resort.

It still has the charm of a small Mexican beach town.

It is the only centrally-planned city in Mexico (“what? cental planning?” – unheard of in this country).

Moreover, the city does not allow buildings more than four stories tall.

Believe me, it is very rare for Mexicans to plan anything – especially limiting a city’s growth for the sake of charisma when there is cash involved!!!

Personally, that’s one of the things I first loved about Playa Del Carmen–and 5th Avenue in particular.

You don’t have to fight with hotel or apartment high rises for beach views.

Here, both the beach and the Fifth Avenue experience is for all to enjoy. That’s the way it should be.

NOTE: In order to keep the area safe and tourist friendly, vehicles are not allowed on Fifth Avenue; it is only accessible to pedestrians.

Fifth Avenue also runs parallel to the beach.

FIFTH AVENUE VIDEO – FUN VIDEO!!! WATCH IT!!!

 

Dining

From insanely low-priced authentic Mexican food, all the way up to restaurants befitting Hollywood clientele, it is all here: Italian, American, Argentinean, fusion, and of course, Mexican.

FACT: There is intense competition on Fifth Avenue. By extension, most of the restaurants serve at least one delicious dish.

However, not all of it is authentic food from original sources.

The best way to find the most delicious food in this city is to go on a Playa Del Carmen food tour.

Speaking of food tours……

INTRODUCING – Playa Del Carmen Food Tours

If I really think about it, there are only four reasons that I moved to Playa Del Carmen:

  • Cheap beer
  • Exotic women
  • Beautiful beaches
  • Mexican food

To say that there is an over-abundance of these is an understatement!

Playa Del Carmen (and Fifth Avenue in particular) is a mecca of beer, babes, beaches, and food.

  • Fifth Avenue oozes booze from its every pore.
  • The ocean breeze blows from a block away over white-sand beaches that run parallel to Fifth Avenue.
  • The pedestrian-only street abounds with babes clad in bright bikinis. (If you’re a girl, there are plenty of guys here for you as well.)
  • Finally, the omniscient odor of delicacy makes taste buds beg like the wandering eyes of a baby in an over-sized toy store.

This is paradise.

This is Fifth Avenue.

But wait!

WHAT IS REAL IN PLAYA DEL CARMEN AND WHAT IS NOT?

Despite all of the apparent perfection in these four areas, there are those who prey on Fifth Avenue’s success.

I really hate these people, and you should, too.

The only thing that keeps me from going Howard Hughes on these jerks is the fact that some things cannot be faked.

Think about this –

  • Fake Mexican Beer – Corona, Sol, XX, etc. is almost impossible to fake.
  • Fake Hot Women – Other than a few fake boobs, the women are all real.
  • Fake Beaches – Is this some cheap Chinese island? GOD NO! The beaches are all real. F*CK THE CHINESE!!! DOG EATERS!!!
  • Fake Mexican Food – Well, ah, uhm, ah…..let’s talk about that.

THE INVENTION OF THE “FAKE MEXICAN RESTAURANT”

If I wanted to create a “Mexican Restaurant,” what would I need to do?

I would start by constructing a sloppy, Mexican-style building with a smelly bathroom.

Then I would have a foreign graphic designer create a fancy logo with some happy guy in a sombrero.

Finally, I would add “Mexican Food” (in big, bright, colorful letters – and possibly in Spanish) to every menu, sign, and advertisement I could afford to buy.

There you have it – an “authentic” Mexican restaurant, right?

WRONG!!!

Most people are socially conditioned to believe in things like signs. They are authoritative symbols, aren’t they?

Well, not really, and especially not on Fifth Avenue in Playa Del Carmen.

THE FIFTH AVENUE FOOD CYCLE

Today, Fifth Avenue is a barrage of filthy forgers.

Half the food is crap.

90% the souvenirs are made in China.

100% of the salesmen are downright annoying.

If you want to eat authentic Mexican food, you need to stay away from the fraudsters.

They are there to make money – nothing else.

They are safe serving you inauthentic garbage because they know several things:

  1. You’re leaving at the end of this week
  2. The next batch of tourists will come next week
  3. The next batch of tourists (like you) will not be able to tell the difference between authentic and inauthentic Mexican food
  4. The next batch of tourists will buy the same trash (like you did)
  5. The cycle will repeat the following week

Really, there’s no risk for them.

Who are you going to complain to, the police? Yelp? Who?

You won’t come back next year? Playa Del Carmen is the fastest-growing tourist destination in Mexico! Do you think it will hurt them?

For the above reasons, burning bridges means absolutely nothing to the food pirates on Fifth Avenue and beyond.

HELP PROTECT FIFTH AVENUE FROM FAKE MEXICAN FOOD!

With that said, there is a way to protect Playa Del Carmen and Fifth Avenue from food pirates:

Don’t eat at the establishments that serve inauthentic Mexican food.

In essence, boycott them.

However, there is one problem with this – there’s no way for you to know what is fake and what is real.

(NOTE: It was only after 2-3 years of living in Mexico that I began to recognize authentic Mexican food.)

Well, this is exactly where a food tour comes in.

Locals know exactly where to find the best food in the city. Locals live here. They eat, sleep, breathe the culture here. They have a sixth sense that recognizes real spices, savory salsas, and hand-shaped tortillas.

HINT: The most delicious food in Playa Del Carmen is NOT found on Fifth Avenue.

TRUST THE LOCAL PEOPLE’S PALLETTE

If you really want to know the best places to eat, you need to learn this knowledge from a local.

Meeting a local simply to ask them what the best food is around town might be a bit awkward.

Moreover, many of the locals are very limited geographically – they spend almost all of their time in one small neighborhood.

Consequently, the average local may not be able to give you a well-rounded answer to that kind of question.

What you really need is a local food expert – NOT the “average Jose” (Jose actually means Joe in Spanish).

With that said, what you really need to do is participate in a food tour with a true food guru.

INTRODUCING PLAYA DEL CARMEN FOOD TOURS

When I first heard of food tours in Playa Del Carmen, I was exceptionally curious.

Where would they take me? What would we eat? How much would it cost? Would it be fun?…..blah blah blah….questions, questions, questions….

All of my questions were answered when I actually participated in the tour itself:

  • Where? – To the most amazing restaurants in the city, of course.
  • What? – Food that makes my tongue erect every time the thought of it crosses my mind.
  • How much? – Depends on the tour. See prices below.
  • Fun? – More fun than you could have with a box of beers buried in the sandy beach bolstered by two bronze babes in bikinis! (Or if you’re a girl, more fantastic than two handsome and well-hung hunks hanging out and holding hands with you on a high-spirited honeymoon.)

Well, you get the picture.

The point is that they’re worth it.

Moreover, they should really be done at the beginning of your trip so that you know EXACTLY which restaurants to hang out at during the rest of your vacation.

So, here’s the breakdown of what to expect:

  • WHERE: You and the other people on the tour will meet your food tour guide at a designated location which will be emailed to you upon making reservations.
  • WHEN: Tour times vary by season. You will receive the exact times available by filling out the form below.
  • WHO: You and your food tour guide (of course) – and anyone else who booked for that day/time. Private group tours are also available. Please inquire about groups/private tours/etc using the contact form below.
  • WHAT RESTAURANTS: Restaurants change a lot here. Moreover, with 350+ restaurants in the city, it’s difficult to know them all. Your guide knows EXACTLY where to go and what to order, so relax and have fun.
  • HOW MUCH: Prices range from $65-85 USD/per person. There are several food tours available, so you will receive an email with information about all the available tours after filling out the form below.

That’s all you need!

FILL OUT THE FORM BELOW TO GET STARTED ON YOUR FOOD TOUR IN PARADISE!

NOTE: ALL INFORMATION PROVIDED IN THIS FORM WILL BE AUTOMATICALLY FORWARDED TO THE BEST AND ONLY FOOD TOUR COMPANY IN PLAYA DEL CARMEN

If You Don’t Go On a Food Tour, Start Here

A conundrum…. And a solution!

There is one thing that I can promise: You will be overwhelmed by the amount of restaurants on Fifth Avenue.

Watch some videos on YouTube about Fifth Avenue. You will see what I mean.

Unless you are staying here for several months, there is no way that you will have time to visit them all.

In order to save you as much time as possible, I have put together a list of the best restaurants in Playa Del Carmen.

Not all of them are located on Fifth Avenue. However, any exceptions are very close.

If you are going to eat out only 10 times throughout your trip, I would recommend eating at these places before considering anywhere else.

Their food is so delicious. You won’t want to miss them.

For convenience, I have relisted them here:

This list is neither comprehensive nor complete. There are no rules when it comes to eating – only guidelines and suggestions.

Trust me. You will absolutely love the restaurants above!

Also, remember that tipping in Mexico is different than in the United States and other parts of the world! (HINTS: You shouldn’t ever tip more than 10% at any restaurant! Also exchange your money for pesos before visiting ANY restaurant in Playa! You will get ripped off if you don’t!)

Shopping

In addition to the amazing food, Fifth Avenue represents a great place for both tourists and locals to shop. You can find almost anything here.

A diamond ring for the betrothal on the beach? Easy!.

Souvenirs for all your second cousins? No problem!

Hundreds of varieties of tequila from Tampica? Covered!

On Fifth Avenue, you can also shop at upscale outlets like Louis Vuitton and Hugo Boss, or you can choose to visit department stores with all the services from home.

Don’t forget to stop at the kiosks selling handmade crafts from local artisans. (There’s no shortage of Mexicans selling authentic wares as souvenirs.)

NOTE: I would recommend buying at least one souvenir with the words “Playa Del Carmen” on it–just in case you consume too many Coronas the night before and forget where you are. (KIDDING.)

Over and above the saturation of sombreros and souvenirs always on sale, you can also find unexpected offerings.

Was your iPod stolen the moment you stepped off the plane? (Note: Take care with expensive belongings. This is Mexico, after all.)

No worries: There’s an Apple Store right on 5th Avenue.

Did you decide last minute to climb the pyramid at Coba, but didn’t bring climbing shoes?

Problem solved: There’s an REI on 5TH Avenue. It has all the exploring accessories you might imagine.

With its hodgepodge of offerings, 5th Avenue is truly a meeting place of touristy comforts and local flavors.

CAUTION: Just make sure you don’t go flashing your money around–or the stuff you buy with it. Locals have a tendency to think all foreigners deliver dollars like Bill Gates. Many of them would be all too happy to help you unload that mountain of money.

Drinking

As most of you already know, I like to drink. Fortunately, I found the perfect place to do it!

If you’re looking to party in Playa, Fifth Avenue is a fine place to be.

Although Playa Del Carmen is not as “in-your-face” as Cancun, to be sure, there are plenty of places to besiege your sobriety and pay homage to the all-forgiving and formidable deity, Dionysus.

Unlike eating at a restaurant (which you can only do up to three times a day), there is no limitation on how many bars and clubs you can visit.

For your convenience, I have created several lists that will help you make the right decisions about which places to patronize:

I would like to tell you that you have to be careful in Playa Del Carmen, that you have to maintain a conservative composure, and that you shouldn’t drink yourself into oblivion…….I would like to tell you that…..I really would.

However, it would only be vicious and venomous verbiage.

Playa Del Carmen is a very safe place.

Because of the many other tourists–and a broad base of diversity–you will feel comfortable no matter what your blood alcohol level is at.

Don’t get into any fights, though – it is not worth it, and you don’t want to end up in a Mexican jail!

Conclusion

For a guy who likes to kick back like me, 5th Avenue is the place to be seen.

It’s close enough to the beach to make your way over after a satisfying day in the sun.

It’s upscale enough to buy diamond rings, souvenirs, and fashionable attire.

Finally, it has food to die for, and the partygoers don’t retire until the sun rises.

You won’t regret time spent on Fifth Avenue.

The year-round beach weather makes it an eternal destination that can be difficult to divert yourself from.

And if you happen to fall in love with one of the local lovelies, or bed one of the bountiful bellas, it’s certainly not the most hellacious place to hail as home.

Worst case scenario: There are plenty of beach bars where you could make some bucks–a la Tom Cruise in Cocktail.

I hope to see you all on Fifth Avenue soon!!!

Lots of love,

Rufus

Rufus signature

It’s your turn. Do you have any comments, questions, or suggestions for visitors about Fifth Avenue? Leave them in the comments section below!

6 comments on “Playa Del Carmen 5th Avenue

  1. Hola. I was shopping on Fifth Ave while on my honeymoon May 6th. I purchased a few silver jewelry items at a store Lahuella Del Oso, this is how it appears on my credit card statement. I’m trying to find the store because I am missing an item I purchased and I have no receipt. Can you please get me a telephone number for this store? The owner’s name is CHINO. I have already called the Resort, Secrets Akumal where I stayed, just to make certain my jewelry item wasn’t there. I knew it wasn’t because, I checked everything before we checked out. I would greatly appreciate your help in this matter. I spent $274.00 in that store. And, over $10,000 while in your country. Everyone in Mexico was more than perfect to us. Thank you.

    • Devastated Denise,

      I am happy to hear that you went on your honeymoon here! I hope that you and your new husband had an incredible vacation.

      I found the store that you were looking for, Lahuella Del Oso. Lucky for you, it was very close to my apartment! I talked directly with Chino. I sent a picture of him to your email.

      Unfortunately, he does not have anything that belongs to you at the store. However, he did show me a record of you being there in his notebook. He said he that he thought you were from New Jersey. Is this correct? Also, he seemed like a pretty reasonable and honest person – unlike some of the other people here.

      The phone number for Lahuella Del Oso is the following: +52 (984) 803-1489.

      Good luck to you, and send me some of your honeymoon pictures when you get a chance!!!!

      Lots of love,

      Rufus

      P.S. For the record, I should mention that I’m not Mexican. You said in your post that, “I spent over $10,000 in your country.” I am American, born and raised. This is a site I created for tourist from a tourist’s perspective (specifically from an American tourist’s perspective). Although I understand most aspects of Mexican culture, I will never understand everything as I will always be an “extranjero” or foreigner. Neither of my parents are Latino; both are of European ancestry.

      Chino and his assistant looking at the sales records

      • Thank you so much Rufus for your quick response. Yes, I am from New Jersey. I knew Chino would remember us, we spent a long time and spent a,large sum of money in his store. We chatted a long time with him. He also walked us to a restaurant to eat, he knew someone that worked at the restaurant, so he was kind and walked us over.

        Now, as far as me missing an item I purchased from Chino, I do not have the earrings I bought from him. I purchased a silver ring, the earrings I’m missing and a blue Opal pendant and earrings which Chino put in a box for me. I told him these were a gift for my mother. I wore the ring, so the box and the earrings, which I’m missing should have been in the bag. It was a very small bag, which I placed in my pocketbook so I wouldn’t misplace it. I left very early the next morning to come home and I have everything I purchased there for 7 days except those earrings. Is that strange to you?

        I called the store but Chino was not there. I suppose there is no way to resolve this. It’s my word against his word. I will never purchase anything there again, that’s all. One more thing, I do not have a receipt either. Very strange. I have every receipt for all I purchased in Mexico except that one.it makes me think Chino didn’t put the receipt in the bag and didn’t put the earrings in the bag.

        I do not like to think that way but I have no choice. They are missing and everything else is here.

        Please let me know if there’s anything else I can do.

        Thanks
        Denise

        • Degraded Denise,

          Sounds fishy, Denise! Well, maybe we’ll never know the truth. Nonetheless, this comment thread is now visible, so I’m sure others will read this message (and see the picture that I’ve posted of him here) before spending much time on Fifth Avenue. I wish we knew for surely what happened. Maybe we never will.

          Also, “Chino” (the owner of the jewelry store) was not simply being kind or doing you a favor by walking you over to the restaurant you mentioned. Fifth Avenue is a very competitive place. Restaurants along 5th avenue will tip (usually ~40 pesos/per person in restaurant credit) if someone brings customers to their establishment. Thus, he was certainly getting some sort of kickback for bringing you there. I’m not saying that’s a bad thing, but this sort of practice is common here. My point is that “kindness” is not always the motivation.

  2. Hi rufus david here from ireland iam thinking of going to playa in october for a month i like to party but dont want to drink every night , i like to play poker texas hold em just wondering what the story is over there is there casinos with poker

    • Devilish David,

      There is a casino here, but it is small. I actually stopped by there for the first time today in order to take some pictures and check it out for you (and for myself as well). It is only a few blocks away from my apartment, so it only took a few minutes.

      The place is small. Nobody there speaks English. They don’t even have business cards or a website. Their FB page is outdated with wrong hours (it says they open at 4:PM, but I was there at 11:30 AM today).

      Nonetheless, they DO have Texas Hold Em’ games. You’ll have to check the times, but I think it starts at 4:PM. (No English speakers there; annoying).

      It is located on 10th street between 15th and 20th Avenues.

      Here are a few pics from my visit.

      Hope this helps, David!!!

      Rufus

      Playa Del Carmen Casino Facebook Page

      Riviera Grand Casino in Playa Del Carmen

      Texas Hold Em' Tables at the Playa Del Carmen Casino

      Blackjack tables, bar, and slot machines at the Playa Del Carmen Casino.

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