My favourite cheap-ish local restaurants in Playa del Carmen

These are some of my other favourite, reasonably priced restaurants in Playa del Carmen. I frequent them for their value, quality and atmosphere. My favourite cheap local eats are here.

These restaurants offer meals from 60 to 150 Pesos per person ($5 – $12):

 El Pirata – Calle 40, between 5th and 10th Avenida.

This is our favourite seafood restaurant in Playa del Carmen. In low season they are closed Mondays, but in high season they open every day. They are mainly a lunch place and close around 7pm. They get super busy around ‘Mexican lunch time’ from 2pm, so if you don’t want to take a number and wait in line it’s best to arrive early, around 12:30pm.

The ceviche is excellent and great value at just 140 Pesos for a large, which is enough for two to share.

There is a fish monger attached to the restaurant where you can select a whole fish to be cooked to your liking, or buy fresh seafood to take home.

Tarraya Restaurant and beach club – Calle 2 and the beach

This little restaurant is one of the most affordable places to eat on the beach.

It serves good value meals, with a focus on seafood, from midday well into the evening. They have sun loungers and umbrellas for rent during the day. Two chairs with an umbrella will set you back $100 Pesos ($8). It is a popular spot for locals and a lovely place for sunset drinks and dinner on balmy evenings.

I recommend the garlic fish fillet, served with rice, salad and tortillas for 50 Pesos ($4), and the ‘Pollo Maya’ which is chicken marinated in achiote, cooked in foil and served with rice and salad. The guacamole is also really good and drinks are very cheap.

Don Chendos – 30th Avenida, near Calle 26.

My friend Russell recently opened this American-Italian restaurant which serves high quality salads, pastas and Chicago-style deep dish pizzas. If you get a craving for Italian-American food made with care and love, then this is the place. Russell makes his own tomato sauce, grows fresh herbs and always uses high quality ingredients, which shines through in the flavour of his food.

I recommend the pepperoni pizza, the meatballs and spaghetti, and well, pretty much everything else at it all looks so good. The pizzas and pastas are large and can be shared between 2-3. His chocolate brownies are seriously the best I have ever had.

Russell is a New Yorker with a huge heart and a passion for cooking and food, so if you find yourself there, please tell him Sarah said hi.

Po Thai Kai Yang Thai restaurant – Calle 30, just back from Avenida 30

Po Thai has moved to Avenida 10 nr the corner of Calle 14 bis

One of two authentic Thai restaurants in town, this little place with a Thai chef is the place to go for an Asian fix. The prices are not exactly cheap, in fact it was one of my ‘splurges’ when I lived here but the authentic curries, noodles and rice dishes are a lovely treat (especially after your 600th taco).

El Fogon – Three locations: Avenida Constituyentes near Avenida 30, Avenida 30 and Calle 32, and Avenida 30  and Calle 6 bis (Three locations)

Al pastor, Alhambra, steak and Arracherra are the focus of this small chain of family restaurants.

We mostly went to the large one on 30th Avenida and Calle 6 because I like to sit upstairs on the balcony and catch a light breeze. The other two get pretty hot inside. There is always a lively atmosphere with musicians, rowdy kids, smartly dressed families and funny waiters. The service is quick, friendly and efficient.

I recommend the Arracherra Especial, which is seasoned, tender beef served with a baked potato, guacamole, delicious grilled onions, tortillas and a bean soup. It’s enough for two, but I have been known to have one to myself. It is around 100 Pesos ($8).

The ‘Taco Loco’ is also delicious, a huge burrito-style wrap filled with meat and cheese and garnished with a slice of bacon (I didn’t say it was healthy!). Plus, in my opinion El Fogon has the best fresh salsa in Playa del Carmen (careful – it’s deceivingly spicy!).

Kaxapa Factory Avenida Constituyentes near Avenida 10

Kaxapa has moved to Calle 10 in between Avenida 15 and 20 (opposite the plaza)

This little Venezuelan eatery is my friend Wendy’s favourite and I’m so glad she introduced me to it. It has an interesting and varied menu of Venezualen specialties such as arepas (corn flatbread stuffed with meat, cheese and other ingredients), Kaxapas (a filled corn pancake) and Patacons (delicious crispy grilled plantains topped with meat and salad – my favourite), delicious fresh juices (try the Guanabana) and friendly service.

The man who owns and runs it is absolutely lovely and I want to hug him every time I see him (and sometimes do).

Cheesters – Avenida 40 near Calle 4

This place has a nice outdoor seating area with a great atmosphere. It’s worth going for the freshly baked bread rolls with garlic butter alone, but the pastas, pizzas and salads are pretty good too. Servings are huge and can be shared between two.

Plus, they have a no cell phone policy which I think is really cute.

Titi Panini, Calle 10 between 10th and 15th Avenue

This is a great little place for a healthy meal, introduced to me by my healthy friend Brenda. They serve grilled meats with vegetables, pastas and paninis which all include access to a serve-yourself salad bar. If you are craving a healthy alternative to tacos and other Mexican fare, this is the place to go. Main courses are around 100 Pesos ($8).

Papa Charlie’s, Avenida 25 and Calle 30

This place was a late inclusion as my friend Justin recently introduced me to it. I must admit, I’m glad I didn’t discover it earlier, as I probably would not have been able to stay away. The handmade fresh pastas are simply out of this world. The fettucini is superb.

Pastas start at around 80 pesos for a pesto sauce to 120 for a prawn and white wine sauce, and come with complimentary bread rolls (in case you hadn’t had enough carbs).

For cheap local eats in Playa del Carmen, click here.


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