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3 nights in Playa Del Carmen area, please help!

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My wife and I are headed to Rosewood Mayakoba for 3 nights starting June 9th (happens to be my birthday). I hesitate to eat any meals at the resort (except the included breakfasts), not that the quality would be lacking but rather I am sure it is super pricey (why then are we staying at Rosewood? I won the stay in a poker tournament ;) ) but more so, we enjoy and appreciate all types of regional fare. And from the little time I have spent researching the PLD area it seems like Cocina 38 is a definitive. Beyond that I am wide open and would appreciate any input. We truly like all types of food as long as it is "Chow"-like. Thanks much in advance! .

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  1. If you enjoy eating fresh fish with your toes in the sand I would recommend La Tarraya. I would only go there for lunch only. It's on the beach and Calle 2. For delicious authentic I would recommend El Fogan. Mostly local customers. Delicious al pastor. Not quite sure of address. It's across from Mega around Ave. 30 and Calle 8. Or I could be completely wrong on that address. A fun place to go at night is Ajua Maya. Off 5th Ave. and calle 4. They have a great band that plays and the food is verry good too. Alot of variety including some authentic Mayan dishes(cochinita pibil delish!). Also another good place for lunch on the beach is at the Playa Maya hotel. Everything they have is great. Favorites are shrimp tacos, Playa Maya shrimp(coconut shrimp), ceviche, guacamole, squid in garlic and chile sauce. And the service is very good and friendly. Those are just a few suggestions. There are many great places to eat in Playa. Another favorite is Carboncitos. Calle 4 and just off 5th Ave. Right across from Ajua Maya. You are so lucky to be headed there soon! Have a great time!!!

    2 Replies
    1. re: Rheta

      TYTY and I will be sure to report back on our adventures.

      1. re: LVI

        You absolutely, positively MUST hit La Floresta. It's a side of the road Taco Stand, off of Highway 307 just north of Avenida Benito Juarez (make sure you are in the southbound local lanes - the highway divides between express in the center and local access on the sides in the towns). There's nothing fancy about this place but it has the absolute best shrimp tacos you will find anywhere. I found myself returning again and again while I was down there. It was that good.

        Another place to hit is an Argentinean steakhouse called El Asador de Manolo on 5tt Ave and Calle 32. Great steaks, particularly the Lomo.

    2. High end with wine, not Mexican: Cocina 38, Negrosal, Wicky's, John Grey's.
      Authentic Mexican, economical, forget the wine: El Fogon, La Bamba Jarocha, La Tarraya, La Parilla
      Mexican (Yucatec, Kinda), iffy wines, pricey: Yaxche
      Asian fusion, skip the wine, great mojitos and good food, half orders available, good apps: Babes (Swedish owned)
      La Floresta on the highway does have the best shrimp tacos for lunch, after Dr. Taco shut down. It used to be out by its lonesome on 307, but the area is urban madness with traffic and buildings, and the highway flyover construction. Same for El Faison Y El Venado on 307, an old original Yucatec resto, which is at least indoors. La Floresta is an outdoor palapa.
      The food at Mayakoba is pretty good, but I don't know what it costs. I was an invitee the first 2 years of the PGA golf tournament there each February.

      18 Replies
      1. re: Veggo

        TYTY for all the suggestions. I think La Floresta seems to be the "don't miss". While I said Cocina 38 is a definitive the more I read about it the more I think we will pass, as we are looking for more local/regional fare. One thing we love doing is going to one place for drinks and apps them moving to another for main course/dessert. Could I combine Babes with Yaxche one night? Again, Thanks so much for all the help. Getting very excited. Oh, and one last question. The hotel provides service to and from the airport (at a price). Is it best to use them for ease sake then rent a car through the hotel or is it best to rent a car from the airport (remembering that we are there for only 3 days so want to get the most time possible on beach and eating gr8 food)?

        1. re: LVI

          For 3 days, I would rent a car at the airport. It is off season and tourism has dropped off there, like everywhere else. There are numerous car rental counters side by side, and I guarantee you can get a good deal without a prior reservation. Mayakoba isn't far from Playa, but just far enough to be a nuisance without a car.
          Babe's and Yaxche are a block apart on 8 & 10 st, just off 5th Ave, so they pair up well.
          I highly recommend that you go to Alux one night for drinks before heading to a dinner of your choice in town. Alux is in a series of caves, on Juarez about a kilometer WEST of 307. It is a spectacular place. In 10 years you will forget every meal you ate in Mexico, but you will remember Alux. Another reason to have a car and mobility. It opens about 6 pm, and it's closed on Mondays. People here trash the food there, but hey, it's a cave.
          The Municipio in PDC did a massive beach restoration in January, and the beach in town is as good as any in the world. La Tarraya has real palm trees and authentic fish dishes, it's owned by an old time fishing family. For all other spots, you will rent beach chairs, tables, umbrellas, etc. and get decent food/beverage service.

          1. re: Veggo

            Another poster had hinted that La Tarraya would be a better lunch option. Would you concur with that or is dinner a worthy option also?

            1. re: LVI

              I would agree. It is not well lit at night and is not open very late and some fresh fish items sell out during the day. The tables and chairs in the sand among the palms are cheap plastic, and the indoor dining area is not particularly attractive. I have to do a little ducking inside. It is best suited for daytime beach attire.
              Portions are small but are economical so you can get lots of stiff. Get Guac with the complimentary chips and salsa. The salsa is nuclear -pure habanero. I usually get a ceviche "chica" mixto and one of the shrimp dishes, either La Tarraya or with veracruz sauce. Lobster is sold by weight. Whole fish and fish filets vary daily. 'Ritas are excellent; they don't use mix. For the budget traveler, their fish burger is still 15 or 20 pesos. La Tarraya is very popular with local mexicans, especially on Sundays when many large families camp out for hours.

              1. re: Veggo

                Am I making a mistake by not going to Cocina 38? I hate hemming and hawing like this (actually one of the fun things about planning a trip) but it seems to get tremendous praise and while not really "authentic" for the area looks as though many local ingredients are incorporated into alot of the dishes. So maybe your suggestion of Alux for drinks then we go to Cocina 38 for dinner. That would leave one dinner at Rosewood. That leaves La Tarraya for lunch one day and La Floresta the next. And maybe Playa Maya for a snack.

                1. re: LVI

                  Sounds like a good plan, but in Mexico it's important to stay fluid and flexible. Start with it, adjust as necessary. Sunburns, afternoon margaritas, siestas and the like, are often the downfall of many a well laid evening plan.
                  PDC is very casual about social engagements and schedules. I recall inviting about 30 for a casual dinner, and about 30 showed up. 20 I had invited, and 10 I had never seen before.

                  1. re: Veggo

                    Sounds like a good party! Given that we are in off season is the need for reservations moot? I also want to go to El Fogon if time/stomach permits. I have a feeling I will end up like Mr. Creosote in Monty Python's Meaning of Life after this trip!!!

                    1. re: LVI

                      No reservations. Go with your own flow. Most don't take them, half the others pretend to.

                      1. re: Veggo

                        You have been a tremendous help and I truly appreciate it. If you have any other suggestions feel free to post and I will be sure to read. I will also make sure to post when I get back.

                        1. re: LVI

                          If you do a beach day in Playa along with a lunch at La Tarraya, the current daytime hangout for the "beautiful people" is Zenzi, on the beach at 10th St. One can rent a pair of beach beds with umbrella and a small table for I think 30 pesos. Beverage service is attentive, bar is slick. Easy walk from it to La Tarraya, about a driver and a 6 iron away down the beach to the palm trees, and the contrast is amusing.

                          1. re: Veggo

                            last but not least Cocina does integrate local ingrediants and regional styles with a twist into their cusine.

                            1. re: Veggo

                              What place is your favorite for guacamole?

                              1. re: LVI

                                Best guac? El Pelicano in Puerto Morelos and Cueva del Pescador in Akumal, which both have outstanding seafood as well. In PDC, guac is aguacate, jugo de limon, sal all over town. The only difference is the chips ( at La Tarraya they are a bit thick) and the salsa or pico de gallo to accompany it.

                            2. re: LVI

                              for get Yaxche................very over priced for what you get and really not that traditional.............bad service..............
                              Cocina 38 is far superior for about the same price........................

                              1. re: LVI

                                In fact if you are a foodie Cocina 38 is one of those meals you will also not forget because it is world class in PDC.

                                1. re: wineman3

                                  Thanks and I am leaning toward 38 again. My wife and I are serious foodies so after looking at Cocina 38's menu I decided it sounded too good to miss.

                                  1. re: LVI

                                    The porkbelly app is to die for.

                          2. re: Veggo

                            "Sunburns, afternoon margaritas, siestas and the like, are often the downfall of many a well laid evening plan"

                            LOL
                            So true Veggo!!

                            I do my research, plan...etc...and then all the above happens (or we get lost!!!!) - and I usually end up winging it every time!

              2. LVI,
                My family and I just returned from our annual 2 week stay in playacar. We live in West Texas so we eat good Mexican food several times a week all year long. We have had a difficult time finding any good Mexican food in Playa. We have a few favorite places that I would recommend. El Fogon is an excellent choice for some local cuisuine. The food is mostly grilled and very tasty, but the place is not air conditioned and is pretty hot. I would suggest going here after the sun sets. Food is great and price is very reasonable. It is located on Constituyentes at 30th across from the MEGA store.
                If you like Italian food, I would recommend Bruno's located on 5th ave at 10 norte. Pasta and Pizza are excellent. Other good places on 5th Ave are Karen's near 2 norte and La Parilla at 8 norte. Karens has good fajitas and pizza and the Camaronnes Diabla is excellent. They also have a 3 piece band that plays every night. They play everything from Mayan inspired instrumentals to the Beatles to Wilson Pickett and Lynyrd Skynyrd with a Mexican flair. It is a fun place to go. The waiters are fun. If you go, ask the band to play Mustang Sally. Another good choice on 5th ave is Casa Adela near 6 norte. They have a very good Banana Foster dessert.

                If you get a craving for American food, there is a Johnny Rockets burger joint on the South end of 5th ave and several Burger King, Mickey D's and Dairy Queens.

                You'll love Mayakoba. It's a beautiful place and the golf course is terrific. It hosts a PGA tour event in April. Only problem is that it is halfway between Cancun and Playa, so you will need to use public transportation to go anywhere. This is not necessarily a bad thing since they have excellent service down there. I would not personally want to drive down there and parking could be a problem if you rent a car.

                Hope you have a great time. Wish we were going back.