A Solo Traveler’s Guide to Restaurants in Playa del Carmen

by | Jun 6, 2019 | 0 comments

Travel is nothing without the excitement of trying new foods, and there’s a Playa del Carmen best restaurant for every taste and budget. Whether you want authentic Mexican, sushi, Thai food, falafel or a full dinner for under $3, there’s a restaurant in Playa del Carmen for you. I even met two Canadians who ate poutine at a Canada-themed restaurant!

It’s hard to choose the absolute best restaurant in Playa del Carmen, Mexico which is why I made this list all my favorite restaurants in Playa del Carmen. This list gives you amazing dining options in Playa without all the research. ¡Buen provecho!

Parque Los Fundadores, Playa del Carmen, Mexico

Parque Los Fundadores, Playa del Carmen, Mexico

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Accommodations, Activities & Restaurants in Playa del Carmen

Here’s a little overview for visiting Playa del Carmen. If you just want the restaurant tips, skip over this section. 🙂

It’s easy to feel at home in the fastest-growing city in Latin America. Whether you want to grocery shop, buy new jeans, lounge by a rooftop pool, eat lunch or get a dose of authentic Mexican culture, it’s all within walking distance in Playa. I’ve been to Playa more than five times now for solo vacations, romantic getaways, girls’ trips and for freediving.

I’ve spent a lot of time exploring the restaurants in Playa and I’m excited to show you my favorites!

selina playa del carmen hostel pool

View of the pool from our room at Selina Playa del Carmen.

Accommodations in Playa del Carmen

Hostel-wise, I recommend staying at Sayab Hostel & Bar or Selina Playa del Carmen.

Sayab Hostel & Bar has a beautiful pool and nice dorm/bathroom setup with a Good Vices Dive Center right on site that practices in the pool. Plus, it’s just up the street from both Falafel Nessya and El Fogon which I mention below.

Selina Playa del Carmen is part of a chain of Selina hostels that dot the entire globe! They’re some of my favorite hostels to stay in because they’re decorated so well and always have excellent amenities and staff. The location in Playa has a huge pool and is right off of the main drag and close to ADO Terminal Playa del Carmen.

If you are traveling with friends or family or want to be alone, there are tons of dazzling Airbnbs in Playa with price options to suit any budget. Think like $15-50 per night for an entire apartment! Or, if you have money to blow, Playa has plenty of upscale hotel options. I would stay at Thompson Beach House, Thompson Playa del Carmen (Adults Only) or Hilton Playa del Carmen (Adults Only).

freediving playa del carmen activity

Courtesy of Amancay Freediving

Things to Do in Playa del Carmen

The number one thing you should do in Playa is try freediving with Amancay Freediving (I’m biased because I love freediving, but Mexico actually does have some of the best freediving sites in the world). Other than that, Playa del Carmen has the Frida Kahlo Museum, beautiful beaches, excursions to Mayan ruins, cenotes and much more! You can also take the ferry to Cozumel for shopping, snorkeling or scuba diving.

Related Post: 7 Best Places for Solo Female Travel (That Are Totally Unexpected)

Best Restaurants Playa del Carmen

Now, on to the restaurants!

You can find every style cuisine and ethnic food you can imagine in Playa del Carmen. On Quinta Avenida, you’ll find plenty of delicious dining options, but there’s more authentic food and lower prices once you get off Quinta and leave the main tourist stretch.

restaurants in playa del carmen el fogon tacos

Playa del Carmen Best Restaurant for Mexican Food: El Fogon $

Av Constituyentes, Quintas del Carmen, Gonzalo Guerrero, 77720 Playa del Carmen, Q.R., Mexico

You’ll find El Fogon is one of the most popular Playa del Carmen Mexican restaurants because it’s authentic, cheap and delicioso! If you read the reviews, you’ll see the F word in the context of “really good f***ing food” more than once.

You can’t miss its bright yellow and orange appearance on Avenida Constituyentes—only about a 10-15 minute walk from Quinta Avenida.

What to Try at El Fogon in Playa del Carmen: I recommend the al pastor tacos and chorizo tacos with an Indio beer, or the taco loco if you want a burrito as big as your head filled with all kinds of meats and cheese.

Playa del Carmen Best Restaurant for Cheap Tacos: La Cochi Loka $

Calle 10 Nte 27, Gonzalo Guerrero, 77720 Playa del Carmen, Q.R., Mexico

I stayed at the Yak Hostel and this sweet guy that worked there recommended Cochinita Pibil, “the place with the pink sign across the street” and it ended up being my favorite place to grab a quick dinner. Tacos are less than a dollar each and you should order two more than you’re planning because they are oily and exploding with flavor. The only thing better than tacos sober is, well, tacos not sober, and this little restaurant is open 24 hours! So you can stuff your face for under $5 after you dance the night away at Santino.

What to Try at La Cochi Loka in Playa del Carmen: Don’t even bother with the pollo tacos, go all in with cochinita pibil and carne molida. I’m pretty sure I was audibly moaning as I ate them at the counter.

playa del carmen restaurante po thai

Playa del Carmen Best Restaurant for Thai Food: Po Thai $$

Av. 10 Norte entre calle 14 y 14 bis, 77710 Playa del Carmen, Q.R., Mexico

I don’t care what country I’m in, if there’s Thai food, I’m trying it! It’s actually kind of funny, I like to eat Thai food when I’m feeling home sick because Thai food is such a big part of my life. Anyone else?

Po Thai has an authentic Thai menu with everything you’re hoping for, including coconut milk soup, papaya salad, Pad Thai, curries, stir fry dishes, Thai Tea, coconut juice and more. On top of the high-quality food, everyone who works in this restaurant is so friendly and treats you like royalty.

What to Try: I tried the Red Curry and Pad Thai and Pineapple Fried Rice (that comes in a pineapple!) and every meal was 10/10. And when you get the coconut juice, don’t forget to ask for a spoon so you can scoop the coconut chunks out of your glass…no shame!

Related Post: Wanderlust Without Worry: Safe Countries for Solo Female Travel

playa del carmen best restaurant for falafel nessya

Playa del Carmen Best Restaurant for Falafel: Falafel Nessya $

Calle 6 Norte entre avenida 10 y 15, Centro, 77710 Playa del Carmen, Q.R., Mexico

Funny story trying to find this restaurant. I knew the general area it was in because it was near where I stayed on my first trip to Playa but on my walk there I was stopped by a guy on a bicycle that said “Shalom”. There are a TON of Israelis in Playa del Carmen (everywhere in Mexico/Central American really) and when I said “Shalom” back, he started speaking to me in Hebrew. I just stood there looking at him and finally said, “I don’t speak Hebrew” and he said:

Israeli: Vhat?! You’re not Israeli?

Me: No

Israeli: Okay, Jewish though?

Me: No

Israeli: I could have sworn you were an Israeli girl

Me: Can you take me to the good falafel place?

Israeli: Of course

We ended up becoming friends and when we got to the street I knew the falafel place was on he started taking me to another, newer Israeli restaurant.

Me: Hey, this isn’t the falafel place I was talking about.

Israeli: Ah… but it’s really good and it’s new. Come have lunch, it’s on me.

Me: Honestly, I would have but now I really want to eat at the other place just because you tried to trick me.

It was all really funny and he went on to tell me that I must be traveling solo because I scare all the guys away with my independent attitude…okay. Anyway!

What to Try at Falafel Nessya in Playa del Carmen: This place has the most delicious falafel and it’s cheap cheap cheap! Definitely ask about the homemade paletas (popsicles) for dessert, too.

restaurants in playa del carmen la casota quina avenida

Best Restaurant in Playa del Carmen for Street Tacos: La Casota $$

Quinta Avenida MZA 5 LTE 2, Centro, 77710 Playa del Carmen, Q.R., Mexico

The first time I ate here, it was out of pure laziness. I was starving walking down Quinta Avenida where someone is trying to sell you something at every turn and when the workers here told me to come sit down and eat, I followed. You’ll find typical American prices here but the tacos are definitely authentic and there are jumbo margaritas. Grab a table out front and you’ll enjoy the varied people-watching Playa del Carmen is famous for.

What to try at La Casota in Playa del Carmen: Tacos, hot sauces and margaritas.

Playa del Carmen Restaurante for Beer & Tacos: Cervecería Chapultepec $

1 Avenida Norte 1, Gonzalo Guerrero, 77720, Playa del Carmen, Q.R., Mexico

My freediving instructor recommended this place to celebrate me getting my level two certification and to say goodbye to new friends. I absolutely loved the atmosphere and menu, but the music was so loud no one could hear each other. We had delicious mezcal shots and left because of the music volume. Most items on the menu are just 21 pesos so you can eat and drink for just a few dollars!

And remember, when in Mexico, eat as many tacos as possible!

steakhouse in playa del carmen PLANK restaurante

Best Steakhouse Playa del Carmen: PLANK Gourmet Grill & Patio Bar $$$

218/2-4 M. 10 Beach Road 16th Street between 1st. & 5th Avenue, Playa del Carmen 77710 Mexico

There are tons of overpriced steakhouses along Quinta Avenida that are great if you’re not concerned about budget at all. However, just off of Quinta and you’ll find PLANK—one of my favorite Playa del Carmen restaurants.

It may not be called a steakhouse but damn will you be impressed with the steak they bring out on a hot slab of salt. My boyfriend and I went here for his 30th birthday and everything from the service and cocktails to the steak and birthday song they sang was excellente!

playa del carmen sports bars porfirios

Best Playa del Carmen Sports Bars: Porfirio’s Playa del Carmen $$$

5TA Avenida Esq. Calle 12, Col., Centro, Gonzalo Guerrero, Playa del Carmen 77710 México

While Porfirio’s isn’t actually a sports bar, they do have a HUGE screen that they play soccer and other sports on. It’s right on Quinta Avenida and it’s a great spot for high-end craft cocktails and gourmet food. I’ve come here to enjoy cocktails during the day and sat at the bar for a full evening meal.

best playa del carmen restaurants

What are your favorite restaurants in Playa del Carmen? I’m definitely going back so I want all the recommendations I can get! Please let me know in the comments below!


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I’m Tara Weber, a Sarasota, Florida based travel blogger and copywriter. On She Needs Less, I share my adventures across our beautiful planet and inspire women to build self confidence and independence so they can live the life they dream of. No matter how unconventional!

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