What's the Chow story with Cancun? I'll be travelling down there to meet up with my three brothers and have four evenings to fill with good eats. I'm assuming that most of the places to eat will be touristy and trite, but hoping that there a few places that a Chowhound would enjoy...
Are there any places that I should know about? I'm hoping for some good Mexican food and perhaps some good seafood.
Where in Cancun will you be staying? If you stay in the hotel zone, then you're right, everything will be a bit touristy, if you really do want to try actual local cuisine you have to get away from the hotel zone. Although there was one restaurant there called Captain's Cove, it was extremely good, a good mix of meat and seafood, a bit expensive but very very good, I highly reccommend the lobster enchiladas. Also another place with good seafood is called El Pescador in downtown, not as good as Captain's Cove, but a bit cheaper and still very good none the less.
Your best option for authentic cuisine is to grab a couple of pesos (I think 6- very cheap) and catch one of the many constantly running buses to downtown i.e. el centro. My favorite restaurant in Cancun was definitly a place called La Parilla, it's pretty well known so you can get walking directions from the people at your hotel. The food was extremely amazing, the tequila and drinks were excellent, the service was good, and it was constantly packed but there was never too much of a wait. This in my opinion was the best restaurant we visited, we actually ended up going there twice and it was just as good the second time. Quick disclaimer, if you're taking a bus into downtown you'll probably have to walk a few blocks to get there, trust me, it is extremely safe, we had to walk through a park at night to get there, at first we thought was a bit sketchy/dangerous until we realized there were kids everywhere, there was a clown and people selling all sorts of random stuff and some great snacks if you dare to try them. No worries about getting in trouble, it's safe, enjoy yourself, have a real churro.
We went to Playa del Carmen when we were there, honestly, we weren't impressed at all. I say skip it and spend more time in downtown cancun exploring, it's a lot more fun.
There is plenty to eat within driving distance... two suggestions. Downtown Cancun & Playa del Carmen. Besides all the cool places like Xel Ha & Tulum are south of Cancun anyway. You probably have enough time to drive inland to explore Chichen Itza and the towns of Piste & Valladolid.
There is plenty on this board if you do a search.