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Jan 16, 2009 01:58 PM

Any foodie destinations in Playa del Carmen

I'm considering a trip close enough to Playa del Carmen in early March. Are there any really good good spots. Things I'm interested in:

Good tacos
Grilled seafood
Whole roast suckling pig (lechon, I believe)
Anything else chowhounders can suggest

Please help.

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  1. Gotcha covered, GG
    Tacos- Dr. Taco, ave. 10 between calle 8 & 10. Killer shrimp tacos w/ wonderful fresh sauces. New place just to the right does really good arrachera tacos.
    Grilled seafood- Oasis, calle 12 between aves. 5 & 10. Fresh catch every morning, grilled or whole fried boquinette is superior. Ceviche, also.
    Lechon- 2 places, morning only. They sell out by 11. Under the tarp at Ave 30 & calle 30, nw corner. Unbeatable lechon tortas con chicharon y salsa. Also, a street vendor off 307, 1 block s of Constituentes (the Covi liquor store) right 100 feet. Killer lechon.
    Steak- !st ave. s between ave. 20-25. (1block south of Juarez). Take out arrachera by the kilo, roasted onions, etc. is ready about 11:30. Your nose will guide you. If you want fancy, John Gray or Nogrosal will sate you for evening fare.
    Fruit- Dacs. Ave. 30, 2 blocks north of Constituentes, right side. Everything, plus fresh fruit smoothies.

    10 Replies
    1. re: Veggo

      Super Carnes HC de Monterrey is 1st South between 20 and 25, as Veggo said.

      Yaxche is worth checking out, never been but the menu looks great but potentially cheesy reviews have been mixed

      Cactus-30th Ave and 20th Alta cocina from French chef interpreting mexican classics.I remember a stand across the street next to a market that had juice and breakfasts, the stand had cochinita and rellena negra tacos that were amazing.

      Asadero el Pollo Estilo Sinaloa-roast chicken 2nd at 20th

      La Floresta on hwy 307-mariscos

      La Bamba Jarocha-Veracruz style seafood 30th Ave. and 36th St.

      Go to the Cofradia tequila shop and taste 'til you drop.

      1. re: streetgourmetla

        I second the recommendations of both Dr. Taco and Super Carne (though I've only been to the latter's Cancun location).

        I also once had a really delicious (though pricey at 90 pesos) plate of arrachera at La Diez, though I don't know if it's still open.

        I wonder if La Bamba Jarocha that streetgourmet mentions is owned by the same folks who ran a place with the same name in was my favorite place for seafood until it closed.

        Never quite gotten what the appeal of Yaxche is...husband and I were looking for a nice place to have dinner once (as opposed to tacos like we normally get) and wanted to look at the menu. We were immediately turned off because the young hostess couldn't even speak a word of Spanish and I had to ask her for the menu in English. It must be a twist on Yucatec Maya cooking because there were several things he didn't recognize on the menu. *checked the website and it indeed says that the menu is a fusion8

        Unfortunately, this was not the first time that restaurant employees in Playa speak absolutely no Spanish, which irritates me to no end, especially when a Mexican has to struggle to make himself understand.

        1. re: streetgourmetla

          Any other Mayan restaurant alternative to Yaxche? I checked the web site, and indeed it is cheesy. It looks like a Las Vegas interpretation of what it should be. I'll be traveling soon too, so excuse me if I am hijacking the thread, but I'll be looking forward to a recommendation that is less gimmicky.

          1. re: emerilcantcook

            Yaxche's actual menu is even cheesier than the web site. Slick marketing seems incongruous with old-world cooking, I agree. Their good reviews and tour guide recos have gone to their head a little. And it's a bit pricey with smallish portions, so you need to eat a few courses. But the food is pretty good and well presented.
            The irony of Playa's growth is that it has squeezed out some of the old authentic originals, like El Chino and Los Almendros. Many of the new, slick places feature non-Mexican cuisine.
            La Tarraya is one of the remaining originals, on the beach at 2nd st. Quite comfortable, actually, because they have a lot of palm trees and tables in the sand. It's owned by one of the older fishing families, and get nice fresh catch daily. Not fancy but good and inexpensive. La Choza in Cozumel has pretty authentic native food. And the lechon under the blue tarp at 30th and 30th is quite an experience, but he sells out by late morning.

          2. re: streetgourmetla

            I second -- and third -- Yaxche. Been there twice. It's wonderful, exotic and (as far as I can tell) authentic Mayan cooking. It was a delightful surprise find for us wandering around town.

            1. re: chicgail

              Certainly NOT authentic Mayan cuisine. From the menu it seems that it's a fusion.

              I looked through the menu and found very, very few dishes that are eaten in Yucatec Maya land.

              Of course, it'd probably be helpful if I could offer some suggestions of where to find authentic Mayan cusine, but I can't. Other than good places to eat the antojitos tipicos, which are ubiquitous in street food, I've only actually eaten in one restaurant that served such dishes in my life.

              1. re: GabachaYucateca

                Sure looked authentic to me, but what do I know. I'm a gringo.

                Thanks for the correction.

                Food was good though.

                1. re: chicgail

                  The food being tasty is what's important!

                  1. re: GabachaYucateca

                    Sadly, I don't know of another restaurant between PDC and Chetumal that even attempts Mayan preparations. Just a few old friends in Cozumel. Mercantilism has totally displaced authenticity and heritage in the Yucatan. Good food will sell itself by word of mouth, but few Mayans have the means to get a start. They don't think in capitalist ways, but are tireless workers and excellent cooks.

          3. re: Veggo

            Was in Playa just two weeks ago. On Veggo's recommendation, we hit up both Dr. Taco and Super Carnes (the arrachera b/t 20 and 25 on 1st Ave South). Both were excellent. I preferred Dr. Taco's grilled fish tacos to their shrimp but the shrimp were awesome, too. The grilled fish tacos were unbelievable. The arrachera was fantastic. Picked it up one night and brought it back to our hotel. Great recommendations, Veggo. Thanks for the tips!

          4. Wow, thanks for all the recommendations. Sounds like there are some definite places of interest. If there are other places you can suggest, I'm all ears.

            1. Playa is getting really spread out, especially north of Constituentes. Where are you staying, and will you have use of a car? If we connected all the dots mentioned so far, it would be almost too much to walk. There are taxis that load mostly at certain corners, but cabbing back can be a nuisance. And nothing mentioned yet is on the beach; will you be beaching it at all?

              7 Replies
              1. re: Veggo

                Will be staying at the Mayan Palace. Which looks like it's close to a town called Maroma, between Puerto Morelos and Playa del Carmen. We're staying in a place with a kitchenette, so I figured we'd eat out 1/2 the time and eat in the other half. Would likely be cabbing it or taking the collectivo. Pretty much day trips to Playa del Carmen. I'm not really into clubs or late nights.

                For 1/2 the time I'm not eating out, I figured we'd have groceries. I know there's a wal-mart in Playa del Carmen. Is there somewhere else you'd suggest if I'm looking for steaks, seafood, perhaps to cook in the room?

                Find out tomorrow if this trip is actually happening.

                1. re: grandgourmand

                  I have stayed at the Playa Maya, which is a sister property to the Mayan Palace, and shares some common facilities. The day scene is very oriented around the pools rather than the beach. The suites with kitchens are pretty nice.
                  The most accessible grocery store, with the best range of selections, is Chedraui, which is on the left side of 307, about 1 km south of Juarez in the south end of Playa. Good produce, fish varies but what they have is good and fresh, load up on beer and wine and your staples. They have a taxi stand in front. You could do a grocery run to Chedraui by the collectivo, (the hotel should offer periodic van service to Playa) then taxi to Super Carne for arrachera take out (after about 11:30) It re-heats really well for steak sandwiches on bolla rolls with some of their sauce and roasted onions. It's near Chedraui, and you wouldn't have to maneuver through town, which is getting cumbersome. I would suggest that if you are staying 4 days or longer, that a grocery run is a must.
                  P.S. Maroma is not a town -it is the most expensive all-inclusive I have ever seen!
                  Have fun.

                    1. re: Veggo

                      well, as it turns out, the initially planned trip has fallen through. However, we're looking at alternatives to get us to playa. In any case, based on the feedback provided, I'm sure I'll be heading there at some point, the question is when....

                      1. re: grandgourmand

                        Que lastima. You could e-mail me for info on really inexpensive, close- in places to stay.
                        There is a comfort in the fact that the spanish infinitive for the verbs "to wait" and "to hope" are the same: esperar.

                        1. re: Veggo

                          thanks for the offer. I suppose it's the email address listed in your profile?

                          1. re: grandgourmand

                            Yes. Let my know how many you are traveling with, and any special needs. Again, I am not in any business. My referrals are to enable people to have fun.

                2. I know of a couple of places, but can't rember their names. I know, no help. I've asked a freind who goes there every year. However, as weird as this sounds, there is a sushi place on 6th ave and you can eat in a tree house. The food is excellent.

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: zuzax1

                    My memory falters somewhat, but there is no 6th ave. in Playa. My guess is that you or your friend is thinking of the resto "All Natural", which does have a small table that requires a few ladder-like steps up a tree to a platform, overlooking avenida cinco. I have eaten there when a romantic dinner turned into a monsoon in 2 minutes.

                    1. re: Veggo

                      You are correct. After I posted I remembered it being 5th (cinco) ave and "All Natural" seems to ring a bell.

                  2. Another place with really good seafood and great atmosphere is La Pesca, and off the beaten path.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: zuzax1

                      Z, middle age is catching up with me. The "tree" place is named "100% Natural". Mostly vegetarian, but not wholly. Your suggestion of La Pesca is a good one. The sidewalk tables look appealing, but the busses and trucks on 30th ave belch a lot of exhaust. The courtyard by the open kitchen is infinitely more pleasant. Wonderful grilled or fried boquinette, and ceviche.