7 Great Eats in Playa del Carmen, Mexico.

During our holiday in Mexico, we stayed in Playa del Carmen in a service apartment, so we had the daily pleasure to go out at least twice to three times a day (when we were not away on some fun adventures in other towns) and look for new restaurants to eat at. We are travelers, yes, but we are foodies too. We love visiting places, but we love even more eating at places. Some days, for us tourism is even more about sightseeing and visiting sites of interest along the way from one restaurant to the next! As I’ve already said many times before, food is such a big part of a country’s culture that rejoicing over a  meal is a wonderful way and a fantastic mean of understanding it better, through what local people eat, where they eat, when they eat, and how they cook what best. Generally speaking, the Mexicans eat about 4 times a day, therefore there are plenty of choices when it comes to restaurants, whether they serve breakfasts, brunches, light lunches, snacks, la comida (aka real lunch), or dinners. I’ve made a selection of the places that I really enjoyed eating at, that range in crescent order from super cheap to higher budget capacity.

 

Don Sirloin Beef Tacos

DON SIRLOIN TACOS (located on 10th Avenue between 12th and 14th Street) 

This is definitely the place to get a great deal of tasty tacos on the cheap without giving up on quality. The sirloin beef and pork meats are prepared on a spit, kebab-style, while chicken is barbecued. Each taco costs between 13 and 19 Mexican pesos, which is about 70 to 99 Euro cents each! They come with either corn or flour tortilla, and you can add by yourself the amount you like of pickled salsa fresca (aka pico de gallo in Mexico) made of onion and tomato with cilantro and lime, plus the famous Mexican salsa picante (hot pepper sauce) if you can handle the heat. Although tacos are Don Sirloin’s main hot sales items, but they offer a wide range of typical Mexican food that can too be eaten with or without cutlery, including vegetarian options.

 

 

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CHEZ CELINE (on 5th Avenue near 34th Street) 

Do not think this is just a simple croissant topped with sunny-side eggs on a large plate. This is one of the many Chez Céline’s supra delicious breakfast-brunch-lunch items. When my husband and I travel abroad, we usually never go out to French-owned places but we try to only go to locally owned eateries. However, we read so many nice reviews about this café-restaurant that we felt we had to go and figure out by ourselves how good it really was. And OMG, it was amazing!!! Céline brought from France what we call Excellence, she respects the products as much as her food respects the customers’ greed, all items are fresh and homemade, and prices are incredibly low, which gives this restaurant daily opportunities to feed large crowds and probably make its earnings on volumes. And it’s been successfull for 15 years already. But back to the food. With a more than pleasant surprise, we found out that this crispy croissant was generously filled with a Provence-style ratatouille with a twist as it was indeed enriched with fresh goat cheese and dried tomatoes. Having the eggs run down on the croissant was pure Heaven. Another day (no, we didn’t go just once), we’ve also enjoyed great tartines of guacamole and smoked salmon, a nice homemade granola with yogurt and fresh fruits, excellent cappuccino, and extra yummy five-grain wholewheat bread served with butter and organic Mayan honey. Everything to get a great start in the morning, but then do not expect to be hungry before the comida around mid-afternoon!

 

 

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LA TARRAYA (on the Beachfront at the left side corner of 2nd Street)

The Caribbean Sea has so much to offer when it comes to fish. When going on holidays in the Yucatan and Quintana Roo states, it would be a pity not to enjoy what the sea is putting on the plate. The restaurant La Tarraya has been an institution in Playa del Carmen since 1968. Its success comes from the quality of the fishes they serve, and their steady pricing all these years until today, unlike other places that have not turned down the multiple opportunities to abuse foreigners’s money. The specialties at the Tarraya restaurant are the whole fried fish (which I had), the ceviche, the seafood tacos and the fish filet with rice and salad. Customers feet digging down into the sand while sitting on plastic chairs really gives this feeling of being on a great vacation, and though the furniture is simple the food quality is of high standard. After a great feast that cost us no more than 7 euros per whole fish (and I still can’t believe it), we walked out from the beach restaurant to go thirty meters further on Avenue Benito Juarez and admire the daily traditional show of the flying Paplanta performers in the center of the Parque Los Fundadores.

 

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MARISQUERÍA LAS BRISAS (on 4th Street at the corner of 10th Avenue)

That is where I had my first mixed seafood tacos, and they were delicious, made of the perfect balance of shrimps, fish, lime, avocado and pico de gallo over a flour tortilla. My eyes can’t stop rolling of pleasure when I think about it, really. My husband did not feel the same level of excitement though, so I guess it really depends on each and everyone’s taste, but hey it is my blog here, so I can rank this restaurant in my Top Seven if I want to do so! The other dish we tried was the big shrimps skewer. Simply served with a bit of rice and lettuce (as often on the peninsula), it makes for a healthy light lunch and is perfect to hang on until dinner. It is located near the street where the colectivos are (read about it here if you haven’t yet), so I’d say it’s a convenient restaurant to eat at when you come back from anywhere in the region and feel like you can’t wait till dinner to grab some nice and tasty food.

 

 

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LAS CAMELIAS (on 5th Avenue between 12th and 14th street) 

Mexican Ceviche Mixto is one of the new foods I’ve tried that made me the happiest during my holiday. I love raw fish (remember I had a blast in Japan last year!), and I found that this version of Ceviche totally fulfilled my appetite for it. Originally, ceviche is a Peruvian dish, but I think the Mexicans took it up to a whole new level. In Mexico, it is popular to order the Ceviche Mixto, composed of fish, shrimps and octopus. It is marinated in a mix of lime, coriander, hot pepper and red onion. When served, it is topped with ripe avocado, and here in Las Camelias restaurant they even added dices of fresh mango to go a bit further. Along with our meal, we drank mojitos as they had a special offer for all cocktails at 90 pesos (4.5 euros) + a buy 1 get 1 free offer. Do not expect too much alcohol though, but our mojitos were still tasty.

 

 

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LA PARRILLA , MEXICAN GRILL (at the corner of Constituyentes and 5th Avenue)

La Parrilla is a very festive 2-story restaurant where Mariachis wearing their traditional costume play all night long Mexican traditional music. Like the band, everything in the restaurant is kind of participative for the customers. Indeed, the cooks pre-prepare all the food inside the kitchen, but then the waiters come to your table to finish preparing the dishes in front of you, or leave a small table-BBQ set on your table. If you like grilled meat, this is one of the places to go to in Playa del Carmen, it’s rather unusual to eat your grilled meat directly from the “stove” set on your own table, a bit like the Koreans would do with their hot stone but here it is a small grill over burning charcoal. Our waiter came to our table to prepare in front of us our entrée, a magnificent (and massive) bowl of guacamole, served with nacho chips and pico de gallo, and the green hot sauce of course. Portions of all dishes were very generous (we took the “Mixed Grill for Two”), and although the guacamole was the best we had in PDC, we could not finish everything that was on our table. And obviously we were too ful for dessert – maybe the fault of the huge flavored frozen margaritas we’ve been served!

 

 

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THE BLUE LOBSTER (on 12th Street near 5th Avenue) 

This is definitely one of the most delicious meals we had in Playa del Carmen. The quality of that lobster tail was excellent, and compared to European prices it was a truly good bargain. And look at this plating of lobster over its original tail, with crunchy yet tender veggies on a rosemary stick and melted garlic butter to brush the lobster meat with! The Blue Lobster is an outstanding restaurant, service was impeccable, the atmosphere was somewhat classy but not posh, and they had pretty good white wines to pair with the lobsters. I also love the tables setting, simple striped cloth in red and blue colors, exactly how I imagine typical chic yet casual lobster eateries in the Hamptons, or Maine or Connecticut, where lobster is popular and sold in profusion. There is high competition on the Quinta Avenida – 5th Avenue of PDC when it comes to lobster tails, and a true traveler (unlike a regular tourist) will know how to recognize a truly good restaurant there, especially when he/she takes the time to read various good travelers blogs.

Created and Written by Sophie Rebibo-Halimi. © 2017 All Rights Reserved. 

5 comments

  1. I am sitting here Sophie having a manicure and reading this fabulous post. How well you have described each restaurant. I loved seeing a photo of Jerome and you both make a very handsome couple. I think for me I liked Chez Celine and the thought of that huge bowl of guacamole in the other restaurant makes me want to have it now as I didn’t have breakfast before taking a walk and going straight to have my nails done (silly me) You definitely sound like you loved your holiday which is wonderful. Xx

    Like

    • Yeah, silly you!! But I can see you are making good use of your free time during the weekend, so why not indulge in good food as well after your nails are done! Have a wonderful time :)

      Liked by 1 person

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