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Need Restaurants near Mayan Palace/Playa del Carmen

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We are vacationing at the Mayan Palace outside of Playa del Carmen next week and would appreciate recommendations for some good restaurants in the vicinity. Two years ago we found a wonderful place in a little town just south of Playa del Carmen, but I can't remember the name. It was owned by a Californian, who also was the chef, and the meal was terrific. We will have a car, so we would like to explore the area. Also, we had a fantastic dinner north of Tolum on a beautiful lake, just a spectacular view and the seafood was superb. Please help as we have no interest in eating at the Mayan Palace. Thanx in advance.

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  1. I stayed last month at the Grand Mayan, which is part of the complex where you will be, and after my first $25 breakfast I hardly ate there again.
    My restaurant suggestions heading south:
    Playa del Carmen - Babes, Oasis, Dr. Taco, Alux, Cueva del Chango, Negrosal ($$$), El Fogon (there are 3) Los Carboncitos, Cactus, Yaxche. Pick up a kilo of coffee at Java Joe's and get the local gossip.
    Puerto Aventuras - Dos Chili's, right on the marina in front of the dolphin show. Good lunch, good show, good ritas
    Akumal - Cueva del Pescador. Superior whole fish (boquinette) with a crunchy garlic sauce, best ceviche around
    Tulum - Hechizo (the only one on my list I have not been to, but friends raved about it last month)
    To the north: In Puerto Morelos, Pelicanos, on the water 50 meters south of the dock that is listing badly since Wilma. Pelicanos has the best broiled conch with garlic you will find, plus excellent ceviche.
    That should get you started. Also, that you will have a kitchenette and a car, do a grocery run to Playa and hit Chedraui, Marsans, and Super Carne for arrachera take-out plus some roasted onions ,which are superior.
    Post back for more info of general interest; for more specific, please e-mail me at my profile address.
    Buen provecho, Veggo

    3 Replies
    1. re: Veggo

      Thank you very much for your recommendations - I feel better already knowing about the variety of choices available to us, rather than settling for the over-priced venues at the hotel.
      I would like to take you up on your offer regarding information on activities and places of interest in the area. We have 4 adults/3 teenagers in our group, and we are all adventurous and like to try all kinds of stuff. Please feel free to suggest your "best bets." I tried to e-mail you at your profile address, but as I'm not very computer literate I was confused as to the procedure. Again, your input would be most appreciated. We are leaving on Saturday, so I look forward to your suggestions at your earliest convenience.

      1. re: ruready

        My restaurant suggestions for 4 adults/3 teens:
        Playa - lunch- Dr. Taco, 10 ave between 8-10 st -inexpensive , great shrimp tacos
        dinner- Alux, on Juarez 1 kilometer WEST of 307. It's in a catacomb of caves and is fascinating. Also La Parilla on 5th ave at 6th st. Fun food, mariachis, etc.
        Puerto Aventuras- Dos Chilis, as I mentioned above. Swimming with the dolphins is expensive, over $100 dollars by the time you buy the pictures, but you can have a nice lunch and watch the dolphins do some neat tricks for just the price of the lunch. There's a little grotto with a few manatees and they may let you feed them a few heads of lettuce.
        Other suggestions: Check out atvexplorer.com. It's an ATV tour through the jungle with stops at a cenote for swimming and some small but genuine mayan ruins, immediately south of Playa. Lots of fun. Ask for Eric; mention me.
        And of course the Tulum ruins are worth a visit.
        Xcaret gets favorable feedback but would be a very expensive day for 7 people.
        A day trip to Cozumel may be fun and gets everyone out on the water a bit. The round trip is 220 pesos. A fun restaurant there is Plaza Leza, on the south side of the square in San Miguel, only a short walk from the dock.
        For a beach day ( the beach at the Mayan Palace/Grand Mayan sucks) try Mamitas, just north of town in Playa. You have to rent tables and chairs, but it's one of the prettier beaches and the food/beverage service is pretty good. Take Constituentes to 1st ave, left (north) then right on 28 st.
        Have fun!

        1. re: Veggo

          The ATV tour is a lot of fun. I can be a bit expensive so if you wanted to skip the tour, just pull over at any of the cenotes and go for a swim and just hang out. If your the only group there it can be a jungle paradise. There are at least a dozen south of Playa before Tulum. I you do the trip, go to south Akumal for lunch. The little grocery right at the entrance to the beach has great food dirt cheap. Or farther down the road to the left, La Buena Vida on the beach has hammocks, a crows nest and snorkling on the beach. If you will be there on a full moon, they have a band that night and the place is a lot of fun.

    2. We stayed in Playa Paraiso, right next the Grand Mayan...we found a great Argentine restaurant, La Barsa. The empanadas, chorizo and steaks were excellent. We actually went back to this place because the food was so good. It is on 10th, between 24th & 26th. We had 16 people (7 adults, 9 kids) and we ate like kings for $300 (appetizers, meals and drinks)
      We also went to Alux, just 5 of us. Eating in a cave is pretty cool, but the food was absolutely awful....the entrees were the equivalent of a cheap steakhouse in the US. I had surf & turf, the lobster was extremely dry (even my 8 year old daughter picked up on that) and the steak was one of those frozen steaks wrapped in bacon that came out looking like a hockey puck and tasted like one. I would recommend going for drinks only just to experience the cave portion, but do not eat...TOURIST TRAP!!

      1 Reply
      1. re: augir

        Augir, I hope that your memory of the cave will outlast your memory of the meal, and that you walked through the numerous catacombs and seating areas at Alux. The food is marginal, yes, but the development of the cave, with accessibility, the creation of level floors, ventilation, and lighting, was genius and hard work. Very few caves and collapsed cenotes in the Yucatan are above sea level. The only similar experience I know of in the Yucatan are fully flooded caves accessible only to experienced cave divers. And at those moments I assure you we are not enjoying margaritas, we are reeling out orange nylon cord and making sure others in our party are safe. 'Ritas are later, if everything goes right. Which is not always.

      2. We are also staying at the Mayan Palace. Our son is getting married there. I need to find a place for a rehearsal dinner. Got any ideas. I don't think I want to use the resort. Food doesn't sound that fantastic. We will be about 25 in number. Any recommendations would be appreciated.
        Thanks you

        4 Replies
        1. re: imluvd

          I stayed at the Mayan Palace last November, for a wedding that was at the Iberostar, which is just a kilometer south. The rehearsal dinner was at La Casa de Agua in Playa del Carmen, on 5th ave at 2nd st., on the second floor. They did a good job, it's a nice place, and will do a private function of your size. We were about 40. And you all can stroll 5th ave after dinner, which is a must for any first time visitors to the area. Most restaurants in Playa do not take reservations, and are hesitant to commit to a large party because it means some lost business, depending on the season. What month is the wedding? I ask in part because of the heat in summer. The only air conditioned restaurant that could handle your group that comes to mind is John Gray, on 14th st. between 5 and 10 aves. La Casa de Agua as I mentioned is on the second floor, is pretty open and you'll get a little more breeze- it's just one block from the sea.

          1. re: Veggo

            THe wedding is June 8. Thanks for the restaurant ideas. I will check each one out as soon as we get there.
            Thanks again

            1. re: imluvd

              Seems a bit risky waiting until the last moment. I think either restaurant will work with you on-line, or I could link you to a dear friend who is a wedding planner in Playa; she speaks about every language. The Mayan Palace should be willing to assist, even with an off-site venue, if numerous of the wedding guests are staying there.
              Buena suerte, in any case.

              1. re: Veggo

                Thanks for the advice. I will ask the resort wedding planner for help. I didn't consider asking them for help since it was off site. I will email her immediately. Thanks again.