OUR FAVORITE LOCAL RESTAURANTS IN PLAYA DEL CARMEN
After living in Playa Del Carmen for the last year, I can say we’ve had some delicious food. We’ve stepped outside of the box and eaten octopus, squid, and even worms.
We’ve composed this list of the 11 best local restaurants in Playa Del Carmen, based on our last year living here as expats.
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Honestly, besides Asia, I think Mexico has some of my favorite food. Everything tastes so fresh, and you can feel the love they put into their dishes.
For tourists visiting Playa Del Carmen, as a general rule, do not eat on 5th avenue. The food is overpriced, and quite frankly, not that good. Of course, there are a few exceptions, so we’ve put together a list of the best local restaurants in Playa Del Carmen.
- Location: 10 Avenida Nte. & Calle 2 Nte, Playa del Carmen, Quintana Roo 77710
- Website: Marley’s Coffee
I’m not sure if this is considered a local restaurant, but Marley’s Cafe is one of our favorite places to work and has one of the best chai lattes in the world.
This chill coffee shop was opened by the legendary Bob Marley’s son, Rohan Marley. If you want to enjoy this bold coffee at home, they sell their beans by the bag.
They offer some of the best coffee, especially if you like your coffee with almost milk.
My wife and I stop at Marley’s Cafe at least once a week to talk, work, play cards, or relax after dropping off our son at preschool.
I tend to be a creature of habit, so I order the same thing if I eat breakfast here. The menu isn’t extensive since it’s a coffee shop, but I like the ham sandwich.
I recommend getting there early in the morning, before 8 o’clock because, it can get busy quickly. There is usually only one person working until around 9 o’clock, so it may take a little time to get your drink and food.
- Location: 1a Avenida entre Calle 26 y 28, MZA 77, Lote 2, Centro, 77710 Playa del Carmen
- Website: Rockas Website
If you what some of the best and most authentic Jamaican food outside of Jamaica, Rockas is the place to go.
The owners (Marvin & Stephanie) are amazing. We try not to eat here too much, but we come once or sometimes twice a month.
Our little one loves the bread, garlic shrimp, and french fries here. This is where we had his 2nd birthday dinner with friends, and the owner played Coco Melon while everyone sang happy birthday to him.
My favorite is the brown stew, and my wife always gets the rasta pasta. I don’t think that’s the actual name of the dish, but we’ve been calling it that for nearly a year.
If you like seafood, the fish is delicious. I am not a fan of fish, but I wanted to try something new, and it was unbelievable. It was my first time eating a whole fish, but it certainly won’t be my last.
Honestly, if there was one local restaurant you have to try in Playa Del Carmen, this is it. Everything on the menu is phenomenal.
Note: You cannot order delivery or take-out here. You have to eat in, but you can take your unfinished food home.
- Location: Av. 25 entre calle 26 y calle 28 (1,471.56 mi)Playa del Carmen, Quintana Roo, Mexico, 77710
- Website: Basic Foodie Website
We stumbled onto Basic Foodie one day when we were visiting a potential daycare for our son. It’s not on 5th avenue, so most tourists miss it. This restaurant is a local hang-out for digital nomads in Playa Del Carmen.
As an expat family, it is nearly impossible to get good cheese in Playa Del Carmen. Basic Foodie is one of the few restaurants in the city that has exceptional cheese.
If you are a vegetarian, this is the place for you. Everything on the menu is vegetarian, plus there are several vegan options.
The ower is really sweet and quite shy. We’ve even met his wife and kids a few times. Our son stopped attending the school down the street, so we do not go here as much.
We stop by every once and a while when we are on that side of town playing at our favorite park to have breakfast.
- Location: Calle 30 Entre 25 y, 30 Av. Sur, Gonzalo Guerrero, 77710 Playa del Carmen
- Website: Orange Cafe Website
The Orange Cafe is our son’s favorite local restaurant in Playa Del Carmen to get breakfast. The owner loves him and usually gives him a brownie (that he never shares) with his breakfast.
There are a few off-menu items that they make just for our little one, which makes him happy. He’s always excited to go here because he knows he’s in for a treat after eating his breakfast.
This is my wife’s favorite place to take him for a mommy/son date on the weekend. They go at least once a month because they have delicious ice cream.
Tiny Tiki Hut
- Location: Avenida 20 entre calle 6 y calle 4 Playa del Carmen
- Website: Tiny Tiki Hut Website
Tiny Tiki Hut was a recommendation from one of the expat Facebook groups, and it did not disappoint. This is one of the best local restaurants in Playa Del Carmen. Whenever we get a chance for date night, we go here.
The drinks are great, there is live entertainment, plus the food is phenomenal. Our favorite item on the menu is the pork belly tacos. Honestly, these are the best pork tacos I’ve ever eaten.
My next favorite item has to be the Korean chicken wings. They are so delicious. My wife enjoys the Korean tacos, but we agree there is nothing better than the pork belly tacos.
This is a place to go without the kids if you get a chance to sneak away. The drinks are great, and they are not stingy with the alcohol.
Note: It’s best to make a reservation; this place tends to get packed quickly.
- Location: Avenida 10 y Calle 6
To have a little mama and son time, we head to my favorite smoothie stand once a week. It’s only a five-minute bike ride from our apartment or a 10-15 minute walk.
What I love about this smoothie stand are the fresh ingredients. Everything is made right in front of you, and it’s all real. At this stand, you have the option of an orange juice (fresh squeezed) or coconut water-based smoothie/fruit juice.
The fruit is cut up in front of you and blended right there. On the weekend, this is my favorite thing to do with my little guy.
After getting a drink, we head to the beach to hang out and play in the sand. It’s the perfect mama/son date.
Choux Choux Cafe
- Location: Av. 20, C. 24 Nte con, Centro, 77710 Playa del Carmen, Q.R., Mexico
- Website: Choux Choux Cafe Website
Choux-Choux Cafe is another local restaurant in Playa Del Carmen that’s popular amongst expats that work online. We ate here frequently when our son attended the daycare down the street.
This local restaurant gets busy quickly, so we always avoid going on the weekend. We like the staff here. They’re always delightful and patient when we come to the restaurant with our son.
We’ve tried a few different things on the menu, but my wife loves the waffle sandwich. I enjoy the croissant sandwich with the side salad. The dressing is unique but tastes good.
My favorite thing here is the drinks. I usually order the banana protein shake with peanut butter; it’s so delicious.
- Location: Avenida 5 N, Av Luis Donaldo Colosio mz 258-L1, 77710 Playa del Carmen
- Website: Captain Sandwich Website
Captain Sandwich is one of the exceptions to the rule of not eating on 5th ave. This breakfast restaurant is a good mix of Mexican and American breakfast.
We’ve eaten here two or three times, and each time has been amazing. My wife loves to talk about the strawberry almond smoothie. I’ve tried a few different smoothies, and they’ve all been great.
I love pancakes, so I usually order the hotcakes. These aren’t the usual hotcakes, they are three thick fluffy pancakes with a different flavor between the layers.
I don’t want to ruin the experience, so I’ll let you experience this delicious dish in person.
La Ceiba De La 30
- Location: 30 Avenida entre Constituyentes, Calle 20 Nte y, Gonzalo Guerrero, 77710 Playa del Carmen
- Website: La Ceiba De La 30 Menu
La Ceiba De La 30 is next to our favorite fruit and vegetable stand. It has some of the freshest ingredients, with the most amazing fresh juice. We stop here to get the fresh juice on the weekend on our way to our favorite park.
The breakfast is good, but I am more partial to the juice. I like to get the Nutella hotcakes, while my wife enjoys the omelets.
If you plan on stopping here for a bite to eat, I highly recommend skipping the weekend. La Ceiba De La 30 is one of the local favorites in Playa Del Carmen, so it’ll be hard to get a table on a Sunday morning. Plus, the space is small. There are only five or six tables, so if you plan on eating here, get there early.
LOCAL RESTARAUNTS IN PLAYA DEL CARMEN THAT EXPATS LOVE
The restaurants in this section are famous among expats and tourists. Although they aren’t one of our favorites, I wanted to include them in our list of the best local restaurants in Playa Del Carmen.
- Location: Calle 6 Norte Bis. y 30 Avenida N Playa del Carmen
- Website: El Fogon Menu
El Fogon is one of the most popular places for tourists, expats, and digital nomads in Playa Del Carmen. This Mexican restaurant has everything you can think of for a dirt-cheap price. You can get almost anything here.
What most expats love about this restaurant are the cheap drinks. The drinks taste good but aren’t light on alcohol.
The food quality is good, but there are other restaurants on this list that have better options.
If you are looking for something cheap or traveling with a large family, this is a great local restaurant in Playa Del Carmen.
I will say our son loves the quesadillas, and to our surprise, he ate two of them. He finished both his quesadillas and proceeded to eat the carne asada out of my wife’s taco.
He’s in the picky stage of being a two-year-old. When he refuses to eat anything at home, we walk to El Fogon and get a chicken quesadilla for him.
Las Hijas de la Tostada
- Location: Quinta Avenida Nte. 5, Zazil-ha, 77720 Playa del Carmen
- Website: Las Hijas de la Tostada
Las Hijas de la Tostada is a Mexican chain restaurant that many expats love. My wife and I have ordered it a few times, and I love the shrimp burger with potato wedges.
We rarely eat from here because it is expensive. A meal from here usually costs more than $30, which is a lot in Mexico. We’re used to eating out for less than $20, including the tip.
If you want some good shrimp, I recommend this local restaurant in Playa Del Carmen.