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Aug 31, 2010 02:07 PM

Recs for Cozumel, Playa del Carmen, Tulum, and Cancun

Hi all,

I'll be traveling to Cozumel, Playa del Carmen, Tulum (day trip), and Cancun for a week and a half soon... I'm looking for authentic places to eat at. They an be taco stands, little hidden gems, or fancy places... we really don't care- we just want some good food :) Preferably not too touristy... thanks in advance!

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  1. Where will you be dividing your time, and will you have a car? Have you chosen your hotels in PDC and Cozumel? There are some pretty good active threads on this board now that cover PDC, Cozumel, and Tulum. I know PDC and Cozumel and the MexRiv pretty well, but not Cancun and I'm not a big fan of Tulum. If you can be a little more specific several hounds will gladly chime in. There is so much.

    2 Replies
    1. re: Veggo

      I will be in Playa for 3 days, then Cozumel for another 3, and ending the trip in Cancun for another 3 days. We'll have a car in Playa, but not in Cozumel or Cancun. However, if it's not too far, I don't mind taking a cab...

      We'll be staying at the Lunata in Playa, Occidental Grand in Cozumel, and Krystal in Cancun.


      1. re: javabean116

        The Lunata is a lovely property in Playa, and very central to many walkable restos. On the beach, La Tarraya, Playa Maya, Wicky's, and Zenzi's for a cool beach spot. 5th ave. vicinity: La Parilla, the Jaguar hotel resto almost across the ave from you has good chile rellenos. Babes around the corner on 10th st is very good. I agree with porker that Yaxche is a little funky, but you might check their menu during the day. Negrosal is very good. Short drive: Cocina 38, and numerous spots on 30th ave north of Constituentes: Cactus across from Dac's (get some produce and a smoothie at Dac's), further up is La Bamba Jarocha and one of the El Fogon's. If the blue tarp is up in the morning at 30 & 30, the tortas de lechon are a special experience.
        The OG in Cozumel is of course an all inclusive and a bit secluded but quite nice. If you rent motor scooters at the hotel you can take a scenic trip around to the windward side, and stop at the Paradise cafe (aka Bobs Marley Bar) for a cold one and ceviche. Same for Playa Bonita and Coconuts further up.
        If you head into San Miguel, Plaza Leza is a comfortable spot on the square for people watching, 'ritas (no mix- fresh lime), and a snack of guac and queso fundito.
        The Tulum ruins are interesting but are all roped off now and a little disappointing. Coba is a doable day trip from Playa, and has the only pyramid you can still climb. Pick up a roast chicken and tortillas in Tulum where the Coba road turns off and take a picnic with you.
        On the way to Tulum, Puerto Aventuras has the neat dolphin show and a few restos on the canals, although it has grown into a Disneyland scale. In Axumal, one of my favorite restos is Cueva del Pescador for conch ceviche and fried boquinette with crunchy garlic sauce.
        Let us know if you have more Q's after you read the boards, I am not current with the Cancun scene.

    2. Perhaps look through the board.
      In Playa,
      I always suggest the torta/taco stands at the bottom of Benito Juarez (next to the church). This is breakfast as they close up by noon. They have fish tacos, chicken tacos and tortas, but my favorite is the cochinita pibil torta washed down with a bottle of ice cold coke. I ask them to dip the fresh roll into the juices (a la french dip) and they laugh at me. Be careful with the sauces on the counter...
      Off the beaten path is a seafood restaurant La Bomba Jarocha "on the north east corner of 30th & 34th" (thanks turbox) is a must stop for me.
      Yaxche is a resto featuring ancient mayan cuisine with a modern slant in an upscale setting - some people love, not so much.
      You'll be dazzled by all the swish places on 5th avenue, IMO most aren't worth it. Hop in a cab and ask to go to the driver's favorite El Fogon - there's a few in town and people argue on which is best.
      Drive around a few neighborhoods north of the highway and you'll find corner barbecues offering costillas, delicious bbqed pork ribs.

      Ask around which is the best chicken place. They do very good fire-grilled chicken, usually with salad, pasta, and tortillas for cheap.

      1 Reply
      1. re: porker

        Thanks for the tip on Bomba Jarocha in PDC--we stopped for lunch after arrival in Cancun on the way to Tulum. Perfectly Mexican seafood feast!!

        Tulum tips:
        El Asadero (on Satellite Norte, about two blocks off Avenida Tulum) does an awesome meat-centric Argentine-Mexican fusion, very casual, very popular. No liquor license. Get the combo #4 plus an order of the Argentine sausage (comes grilled, split, covered in olive-oil-rich chimichurri).

        Cetli is a splurge for gourmet regional Mexican cuisine, Claudia Perez is a chef from Mexico City who does wonderful things like huge shrimp with huitlacoche, chicken breast rolled with herbs and various sauces (pumpkinseed or peanut mole, cactus jelly, etc), and awesome chili relleno. Surprisingly excellent wines from Mexico to accompany the meal. An unlikely spot in down-to-earth Tulum. Also a block off Avenida Tulum on Orion Norte and Polar Poniente. Claudia will be offering cooking classes soon, we are told, at the Posada Luna del Sur, where we stayed in Tulum.

        Another random tip--we sat at Zamas (along the beach drive, maybe 3-4 km from the start) for beachside drinks one late afternoon and found that they make killer Spanish-style patatas bravas.

      2. I recently found a taco stand named Taqueria Honorio in Tulum that serves EXCELLENT tacos de lechon. To find it, go down 307 towards Tulum from Playa. You'll pass an intersection where you can make a right to go to Coba. a few blocks down, you'll see a Swiss bank on the left hand side, on the other corner on the left side at that intersection is this taco stand.

        I also had the opportunity to have cochinita pibil tacos at Taqueria Tony's, which is recommended by Veggo, They were good, but I think the cochinita at the Honorio is slightly better.

        Pic of Taqueria Tony's tacos - (sorry, I dug into it too fast)

        Pic of Taqueria Honorio -

        1. Thanks for all the recs fellow chowhounders! Too bad i didn't get a chance to check the replies until after my Playa del Carmen part of the trip. But I asked some locals in Playa and we found this GREAT ceviche and fish tacos place called Los Aguachiles (calle 34 & ave 25). I'll give a full report when i get back to the States.

          In Cancun right now, any last minute recs?


          3 Replies
          1. re: javabean116

            Sure we have recs, javabean116, but you'll be read them, after the fact, upon your return to sunny California - haha

            1. re: porker

              I agree. If he asks for help and won't read it, let's just wait until he gets home and then tell him where he should have gone...;)

            2. re: javabean116

              I am a bit late to the party (have been off line myself for a week or so), but I definitely recommend Labna in downtown Cancun. Had asked about it here on CH:


              got no responses, but had seen other recommendations for it.

              We went early and the place was a bit empty, despite (or perhaps because of?) the huge fiesta going on in the park across the street for El Dia de los Ninos (this was back in late April). Started with a delicious sopa de lima: they pour the broth into bowl at your table, which keeps the fried tortilla strips crisp; also had a perfectly dressed salad. We stuck to regional dishes: Hubby loved the pavo en pepian; I had a very good, tender rendition of poc chuc. House made tortillas. Nice bar. Recommended.


            3. I have been traveling to Cazumel for some time both for work and pleasure. Just west of the shipping terminal on the mail Blvd. out in the middle of absolutely No Where is a little dirt road on the right side of the hard road. Turning right onto the dirt road you travel for about a 1/4 to 1/2 mile. Keep a watchful eye on the dirt road as you dont want to hit any of the iguanas. At the end of the dirt road you will come to an open clearing with two small tiny buildings. Once is the bathrooms and the other is the kitchen of Alberto's. Seating for Alberto's is about 20 small palm thatched tables so close to the waters edge you can drink your Corona and wade your feet in the cool waters of the ocean. Alberto's has a very authentic mexican menu AND the best thing is it is all made to order. If you want fish saveche, alberto's son hops into a little boat and puttes out about 25 yards and catches you a big grouper or red snaqpper, brings it back and cooks it right in front of you. After you are finished eating, a lady comes over and give you a 20 minutes massage all while you are listening to mexican music. And should we talk price........... no need to it is so affordable you feel guilty and want to pay more, Alberto's is further west than Carlos & Charlies by the La Playa. Carlos & Charles is also a great place, but Albertos is far far better.,,,,,,,,,, Would love to hear from you if you go as I believe you will end up staying alday cooling your feet in the water, drinking Coronas and have your back and neck massaged.

              1 Reply
              1. re: Kdiez

                I'd love to see Alberto cook that ceviche {;/)