Playa del Carmen is a tourist city, so finding proper, local fare that isn’t a tourist trap can be challenging. Here are my favourite places in Playa del Carmen for quality, authentic Mexican food on any budget.
For more things to do in Playa del Carmen, see our itinerary for 3 days in Playa del Carmen.
Originally published in June 2017. Updated in February 2023.
1. La Perla Pixan
Location: Calle 38 between 5th Avenue and the beach
When we’re in Playa, we usually go to La Perla once a day. Easily top of my list for best restaurants in Playa del Carmen. It was originally a tiny restaurant on Calle 34 between 5th and 10th Avenues, it has partnered with La Carbonería in an expanded location on Calle 38 between 5th Avenue and the beach.
They’re open from breakfast through late night, and offer a broad range of traditional cuisine from various regions in Mexico.
We started coming here for the pulque, one of the few places to find pulque in Playa (at least back in 2017). The pulque comes in either 500 mL or 1 L servings, and they offer plain/natural pulque or various fruit-flavoured options. We always do natural. Get an order of guacamole (with chapulines for protein and crunch) and it’s the perfect way to enjoy an afternoon.
Their ceviche mixto with fish, shrimp and octopus is very generous and will definitely serve as a meal for a single person or can be shared between 2-3 people. They also have a tuna ceviche that’s equally delicious.
They also offer a few “pre-hispanic” platters, including a platter of tacos with grasshoppers, some sort of fried grub (actually tasty and crunchy) and insect eggs (?). Something worth trying for adventurous eaters. We finished the plate.
2. El Fogon
Locations: Constituyentes between 25th and 30th Avenue; 30th Avenue at Calle 32; and 30th Avenue at Calle 6
El Fogon is a taco institution in Playa, as evidenced by the size of their pastor. We stick to the classic tacos al pastor, sometimes con queso (with cheese) when we’re extra hungry. Two people can get tacos and beer for 200-300 pesos total. Great food at an unbeatable price.
They have a few locations; the most central location on Constituyentes between 25th and 30th Avenues can get busy so you may have to line up for a table. The location on 30th Avenue at Calle 32 is larger so it’s sometimes easier to get a table immediately (or if there’s a line, it goes more quickly). Alternatively, think about getting your tacos to go; they package everything nicely with all the condiments.
3. Los Aguachiles
Locations: Constituyentes between 1st and 5th Avenue; Calle 34 between 25th and 30th Avenue; also a location in Tulum
If you’re hungry for seafood, then Los Aguachiles easily ranks among the best restaurants in Playa del Carmen. Also a place you can visit a few times and explore the menu. The roasted whole octopus (pulpo asoleado) is a must. The namesake aguachiles (similar to a ceviche) are also delicious.
They also have a location in central Tulum.
4. Tacos Birria
Location: 30th Avenue between Calle 36 and 38
Tacos Birria is a small taco shop is off the beaten track and no English is spoken (or understood). But the tacos are delicious, made with mouth-watering birria, a stewed goat or lamb. Don’t worry if you don’t speak Spanish; they only make 1 type of taco, so you just need to know your numbers and order 3 or 4 tacos (they’re a tad small by Mexican standards, so order 1 more than you’d usually order) and a traditional Coca (Coca-Cola). Very inexpensive.
5. Ah Cacao
Location: Various locations: 5th Avenue and Constituyentes; 5th Avenue and Calle 30; 5th Avenue between Calle 38 and 40, 5th Avenue and Calle 2
Ah Cacao is a chain of chocolate-centric coffee shops. They have a variety of hot chocolates on the menu, including a Mayan chocolate drink flavoured with cinnamon.
Chocolate originated in Mesoamerica (central Mexico down to Central America) and the Aztec and Mayan cultures made chocolate beverages.
But the real gem at Ah Cacao is the sipping chocolate. It’s an espresso-sized hot chocolate drink that is essentially melted chocolate, slightly diluted with water and sweetened just enough to make it delicious. (They actually publish the recipe here.)
When in Playa del Carmen, we always start with a sipping chocolate from Ah Cacao, followed by a delicious mocha.
Have you tried any of these places to eat in Playa del Carmen? What do you think is the best restaurant in Playa del Carmen? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below!