Travel writer Ryan Gargiulo of the blog Pause the Moment just spent an entire year living as an expat in Playa del Carmen, Mexico, and upon leaving has shared some of his favorite experiences with the rest of the world – including the best places to dine in and around Playa in Mexico’s famed Riviera Maya.
“With an average of 240 days of sunshine per year, its proximity to Cancun International Airport (CUN) and the fact that it’s directly on the edge of the turquoise blue waters of the Caribbean, Playa del Carmen is truly a destination that can’t be missed when traveling to the Riviera Maya,” writes Gargiulo.
Here are our top picks from his list of the best places to eat in Playa, with options for every budget:
With two locations that set up daily near the Mega parking lot at Constituyentes and 30th Ave., one of which is open from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. and the other from 4 p.m. to midnight, El Rey del Taco (which translates to mean “King of the Taco”) is a small street vendor offering fabulous tacos with fresh toppings for around 12 pesos apiece ($0.92 USD). Call +52 984-156-6818 for more information.
Restaurant Style Burritos
The Mayan Bistro restaurant offers an intimate environment and enormous burritos. Choose between vegetarian, chicken beef or shrimp – regardless,they come bursting with rice, beans, lettuce and cheese, with a generous helping of guacamole on the side. The restaurant is connected to the fabulous Aventuras Mexicanas boutique hotel and also offers a wide variety of other Mexican and international cuisine,including breakfast, lunch and light snacks throughout the day. Open from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily.
Offering some of the most delicious and authentically Mexican cuisine in the city, La Coronela boasts an unassuming atmosphere that Gargiulo calls “one of Playa’s best kept secrets.” Favorite menu items include the tortilla soup,fresh guacamole,fajitas and house salad. Open daily from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Call +52 984 169-7513 for more information.
If a menu that is chock full of healthy and organic options is what you crave,look no farther than Bio Natural, which offers a wide variety of fresh salads, falafel, quinoa, cous cous, tofu, vegan fare, veggie pitas and more. After dining, be sure to check out the all-natural and organic grocery located right next door. Open 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday-Saturday and 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Sunday.
Believe it or not, Ferron’s Jerk Chicken is consistently one of the highest rated restaurants in Playa, offering guests the choice between a full, half or quarter chicken and a slew of sides, including corn on the cob, coleslaw, bread, white butter rice, mac and cheese and the House special jerk sauce, which is a rich flavor combination of sweet and spicy. The secret to the restaurant’s success may lie in the fact that the owner and chef is a native Jamaican cook. Open Tuesday-Saturday Noon-6 p.m. Call +52 984-206-1941 for more information.
As one of the top restaurants in Playa del Carmen, Oh Lala! serves up fabulous food in an amazing atmosphere that is ideal for couples who wish to celebrate a special romantic evening. Offerings include a laid back sampling of hors d’oeuvres and wines, a full menu with options changing seasonally and always very highly personalized service. Oh Lala! has only nine tables available nightly for a limited number of 24 guests, which helps ensure that every visit is unique. Open Monday-Saturday from 6:30-11 p.m. Call +52 984 127-4844 for more information.