Playa Del Carmen Restaurants

…the ins and outs of Playa cuisine…

Some of my buddies in the States still believe that going out for dinner means tossing a coin and choosing between KFC and Burger King.

My city was one fast food junkyard.

On a Friday night, when half the city’s 14 – 25 year olds were stoned, cars were literally backed up up to the highway as they lined up at the Mcdonald’s drive thru.

Waiting in line for Mcdonalds?

Like people in communist countries waiting in “bread lines” before the fall of the USSR?

That’s hardly progress.

Sometimes it feels like there are not many alternatives back in the States – fast food or……fast food.

But when you come to Playa Del Carmen there is absolutely no need to go to McDonalds, Burger King, TGI Fridays, or any of those stale American corporations who make nuclear weapons seem charitable.

There are hundreds of fantastic Playa Del Carmen restaurants, and your vacation here should be a culinary delight.

The Variety Of Playa Del Carmen Restaurants

Playa Del Carmen is a multicultural and cosmopolitan kind of place.

I doubt there is anywhere in the world that beats Playa Del Carmen when it comes to restaurant diversity per square mile.

I’m sure that in LA or London there are the same variety of restaurants.

However, in Playa Del Carmen you can walk between restaurants offering cuisine from all corners of the globe.

I’ve eaten at hundreds of Playa Del Carmen restaurants, so if you’re looking for the best restaurants in Playa Del Carmen you don’t have to look far.

Heck! You don’t even have to visit the restaurants! You can simply get food delivery service to taste them all!

And as a little secret between you and me, I will spill the beans about the absolute best restaurant in Playa Del Carmen.

If you’re looking for a restaurant guide then I’ve written one of them as well.

The Food At Playa Del Carmen Restaurants Is Authentically Made

Let’s be honest.

Where would you go for the greasiest, fattest, two pound jumbo triple bacon cheese burger?

It would have to be somewhere in mid-west America where they measure waist size in yards.

Likewise, if you want authentic Italian food, then you’re going to want it prepared by an Italian.

Because of the diversity in Playa Del Carmen, you can eat cuisine prepared by chefs who actually know everything about what they are making.

So, when you eat at an Argentinian steak house, an Argentinian will be preparing the steak.

All this adds up to authentic and realistic international cuisine.

But please don’t be one of those people that goes into McDonalds and starts comparing whether it’s the same in Mexico.

McDonalds is the same everywhere.

And you’re in Mexico, so try something different.

Competition Between Playa Del Carmen Restaurants

The number of visitors to Playa Del Carmen is increasing at an unstoppable rate.

And so is the number of restaurants.

On 5th Ave there are already over 150 restaurants.

Across the town there must be several hundred more – especially if you include the street vendors who sell authentic Mexican street food like tacitos, tortas, and gorditas.

If you don’t know what these are, you will need to find a Mexican food glossary to help you.

Who knows?

I’d rather lie on the beach than count restaurants, but rest assured that there is lots of competition.

Competition keeps prices low.

And it means every restaurant owner has to try and do something unique.

Some offer ridiculously cheap chef’s special cocktails.

Others have great three course meal offers.

Then there are those that don’t advertise but are packed every night because of their reputation.

Incredible Service

Mexicans don’t get paid much – especially in the service industry.

No wonder Burger King wanted to open here.

They can change US prices and pay tiny Mexican salaries!

Hosts, hostesses, bartenders, waiters, and servers get paid very little from the restaurant.

They make their money on tips.

Customers pay for service based on its quality.

So if they give terrible service then there’s not much point in them being at work.

But that’s rare.

Normally you will be “killed by kindness” by all the special attention you receive.

The Great Atmosphere In Playa Del Carmen Restaurants

Imagine the scene.

Everyone’s on their third cocktail, you’re sharing a starter of authentic Mexican nachos, the outdoor restaurant terrace is a hub of chatter, and it’s the perfect evening temperature to sit in shorts and t-shirt.

Alfresco dining, cheap alcohol and drinks, happy people on vacation; everything about Playa Del Carmen restaurants is made for creating a great atmosphere.

Go to a restaurant back home, and the first half of the meal is spent chatting about mundane bullshit like work, social media, and gossip.

However, the most stressful part of a Playa Del Carmen restaurant is discussing whether to spend tomorrow on the beach or at Chichen Itza.

Everyone’s in a relaxed mood, and it helps create a great vibe in the restaurant.

Different Playa Del Carmen Restaurant Styles – The Cheapies

There are many restaurant styles in Playa Del Carmen, so dining in Playa Del Carmen should be an amazing experience for you.

Here’s a quick lowdown of the different styles you can choose from.

I’ve ordered them from the cheapest to the more expensive.



Spent all your money on lap dancers?

There is street food throughout Playa Del Carmen– and it’s good.

It’s normally one or two guys frying up snacks (or full meals) on demand.

If you wake up with a load of napkins in your pocket, then you know that last night involved plenty of street food – and probably lots of Mexican beer as well.

You can also sit in a restaurant and only spend $2-3 USD.

Brochetas, Mama Mia Pizzeria, and La Exquisita de la 38 are all filling and cheap.

But why not combine drinking with food.

There are lots of bar-style restaurants that serve simple food and appetizers.

Try Kartabar during the day, although it’s busy at night.

Or Zenzi and Fusion.

They both offer some sharing dishes which are good when you’re a bit hungry, but don’t want to slow the night down with a huge meal.

Different Playa Del Carmen Restaurant Styles – Outdoor Dining

There’s little better than sitting on an outdoor terrace and dining.

It’s so much more relaxed this way.

Many restaurants have their own terrace, although the best are the ones with tables that spill over into the street.

It makes for great people watching and entertainment during the meal.

Blue Lobster, Madre Tierra (Mother Earth in English), and Karen’s are all good for this and come with my seal of approval.

Okay, so perhaps there is something better.

How about eating dinner with your feet in pristine white sand?

Dining at a restaurant with tables on the beach is an iconic Playa Del Carmen experience.

Places like Wicky’s then turn into full-on bars and clubs later in the night.

Other popular ones on the sand are Indigo Beach Club and Mosquito Beach Club.

Splurging In Fancy Playa Del Carmen Restaurants

In Playa Del Carmen, you don’t need to own a private yacht in order to eat at the most expensive restaurants.

There are some that cost lots of $$$$.

But for the quality, that’s still cheaper than anywhere in the US.

Many of the fanciest restaurants are in the upscale resorts, like La Marea in the Viceroy Hotel and Resort.

The Royale Resorts are famed for their unique food and the Asiana is always worth the money.

Especially given the cute ambience there.

Fairmont Mayankoba is another good choice.

I sometimes go here if I’m trying to impress a girl (actually, when I say sometimes, I mean I once went here and it worked a charm…)

If money is no object, then visit somewhere like The Glass Bar or Sur Steakhouse.

What Else Do You Need To Know About Playa Del Carmen Restaurants

Playa Del Carmen restaurants are diverse, cheap, and tasty.

So stay clear of Burger King.

Most of all they’re a great experience and really add something to your vacation.

Bon appétit!

Lots of love,


Rufus signature

Do you have any tips or suggestions about restaurants here? Please leave them in the comments section below!

2 comments on “Playa Del Carmen Restaurants

  1. Rufus,
    Again, excellent brass tacks info here!
    I am here right now and loving it. I am doing my best to follow your sage advice. Tell me please….where can I get camarones cocos (coconut shrimp) at the best price? I don’t need to be near 5th ave.

    • Brett,

      Thanks so much for the comment. I’m glad you’re finding the information useful. I made this site for people like yourself.

      In regard to the question about where to get coconut shrimp, I’m not sure. The reason I don’t know is because the last 2 times that I ate shrimp, I broke out in hives!!!

      I have always been a shrimp lover – all my life. I’ve eaten it maybe 100 previous times and never had any problems. In fact, there was a restaurant near my hometown that had All-You-Can-Eat Shrimp nights. I used to fill my belly full of them. Never had a problem. NOTE: The hive incident mentioned above was from shrimp that I ate in another city in Mexico (Zacatecase, MX). Ever since I had these two episodes, I have refused to eat any shrimp.

      Consequently, I can’t help you with this precise question.

      Nevertheless, there are a whole bunch of seafood restaurants here that likely serve it. Try the following first:
      Blue Lobster
      Los Aguachiles (TWO LOCATIONS IN PLAYA)
      La Fisheria

      I hope this helps, Brett, and I hope you find the coconut shrimp that you’re looking for.


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