What are the BEST restaurants in Playa Del Carmen?
Many people come to Playa Del Carmen for one week of their vacations. In this time people search for the best restaurants in Playa Del Carmen to make their time special. For example, if you are staying at a resort outside the city you might pick one night to come into Playa Del Carmen and you certainly don’t want to end up having an average meal. If you are staying in the center and not at an all inclusive resort, you too will want to go out to try some of the top restaurants that are recommended. So what are the best restaurants in Playa Del Carmen to visit?
What makes a restaurant the “best”?
Is it the gourmet food? The award winning chef? How about the rave reviews online or in publications? These can all be factors that go into calling a restaurant the “best“. But when you think back to some of your best meals, the ones that were the most memorable, what do you remember about it? Was it a surprising find? A unique setting or special occasion? Maybe something special happened like the chef came out to greet you or it was just great food. Or was it the cheerful atmosphere or just one of those times the whole universe aligns and you have a magical night out?
We find that some of the best meals were ones that made us smile. Being totally satisfied not only by the food but food for the soul. It may be the kindness of someone, the surprising value, interesting ingredient combinations, and good overall experience. The music, atmosphere, food and especially the people that make it such a great meal.
We believe that the people are a big ingredient to making it one of the best restaurants. In Playa Del Carmen there are actually a lot of restaurant run by husband and wife teams. Others are run by a the chef himself. We find that often these are some of the best restaurants in Playa Del Carmen. But what about other factors? We will next talk about value.
Balancing between value and price for the best restaurant label
One thing that we grapple with and other review sites have to take into consideration is how to balance a simple restaurant with a 5 Diamond award winning restaurant. In many cases the most expensive restaurants will always be labeled the “best restaurants“. Of course any restaurant that is able to serve up a meal that cost $100 USD is going to be able to provide a luxury atmosphere, a name recognized chef, and some top of the line ingredients.
So we try to look at the value for what you pay. This kind of equalizes restaurants. For example, if you go to a restaurant and get a deliciously prepared French roast chicken with herbs of Provence and it is only $5 USD, that is a great value. Add in a chef that comes and talks to you and a charming restaurant, these are all factors that will make it one of the best restaurants in Playa Del Carmen. In fact this example just might be a reality, see our list of our best restaurants in Playa Del Carmen below.
Why some online review sites are hard to trust for best restaurants
Many people travel and do research online before they arrive. This is great to do so you have an idea of what is in an area. Doing research increases your chances of having a good vacation and really hitting up the places that interest you and are of good quality. Of course where you get your information and the value of it is going to effect your results. So what is the truth behind some advisor sites and others online?
We want to relate a recent story to you. We were talking to guest to Playa Del Carmen and they said they had just eaten at one of the top 5 best restaurants in Playa Del Carmen according to one website. It took us by surprise because we had never heard of the restaurant. We actually had to search online to know what restaurant they were talking about. When we found the restaurant we were shocked to even know that it was on the list anywhere near the top. The restaurant they were talking about was fairly new and nothing worthwhile to visit. The guest said they visited because some of the reviews raved about the food, but they found it to be average.
So why do we relate this story to you? Well, many online review sites are publicly supported by visitors post.
The problem with this is twofold:
- It is great having democratic way of ranking restaurants but not great in the way that one person who perhaps does not have much experience with food can have an equally important say in what is best from an expert. Someone can come and eat at one Mexican restaurant and say it is the best Mexican food. A Mexican chef can come and say another restaurant has the best and give multiple reasons why it is the best. In the end both reviews are equal in the ranking system but this might just blur what actually is better.
- It is no secret that a lot of the reviews online are fake. Many restaurants know that having a high ranking restaurant will garnish much more business. Having people write reviews to promote your restaurant will increase your rank and you bottom line. Your reading reviews that just might be some paid advertising or a fake review.
Our list of the best restaurants in Playa Del Carmen
As we have stated above, the best restaurant is the one you like the best for the style of food you like. We like these restaurants because they have something special, something a chain restaurant cannot offer or duplicate.
We are going to give you a list of restaurant in Playa Del Carmen that we think are the best for some special reason. In many cases the owners are the chefs or involved somehow at the restaurant. We have found that when the owner is a chef and is there each day, they care about each meal and are also financially invested in the restaurant. Their care puts a personal touch on it and it often carries over to you enjoying your experience.
These restaurants are in no special order. Each one is a best restaurant for one reason or another. As with all articles and list on our website, we update them often, removing and adding restaurants that make it to the list. Best of all none of these restaurants know they are on this list, yet and no one paid us to put them here.
Primer Plato Restaurant
This is a simple looking Italian restaurant/café run by a couple. The food is however not simple because it is made with love. When you order a pasta dish, they hand make it right there! The dishes taste better than some finer Italian restaurants we have been to. The prices certainly add to the value here. A dish can cost only 80-100 pesos.
Expect the small café to be crowded and expect to wait about 15-20 minutes to eat. It is worth it though! To read more about Primer Plato for directions, hours, our video and more, see our article here.
500 Gramos Restaurant
Tucked in a small plaza off 5th Avenue, this is a great value for steak and meat among other things. This is a restaurant run by a husband and wife team. And by team, we mean she cooks and he serves. They are always checking on their guest and making sure they are happy.
They certainly know how to cook both meat and pasta. Their prices are also something that makes this a great value. You can get a steak and sides for less than a soup and appetizer at some of the fancy steak houses in Playa Del Carmen. For more about 500 Gramos Restaurant see our article here.
Before, during and fully cooked and ready to eat meal at 500 Gramos Restaurant.
Copate Che Restaurant
What might best be described as a gourmet hole in the wall type place, Copate Che Restaurant has gourmet food at very reasonable prices. The husband and wife team that run this restaurant wanted to have their own place with great food at good prices. They can because this restaurant is on the edge of the downtown where more entrepreneurial people are starting restaurants where rents are lower. Update: On vacation from May 8- June 15
You can expect a different menu each week with whatever is fresh and what new things Chef Rene comes up with. You can taste the creativity of the chef and charming service of his wife. For more about Copate Che Restaurant and what makes it one of the best restaurants in Playa Del Carmen, see our article here.
For gourmet food lovers you will like the value, décor and service here. Consistently the owners of this restaurant (who are almost always there) take great care of guest so they keep coming back. This is something that more restaurants try to do that are not on the main pedestrian tourist street of 5th Avenue. Here you can enjoy a Mediterranean style gourmet meal at about half the price of where you might come from.
This is the French roast chicken restaurant we gave as an example above. What was started from a simple idea to offer good food at good prices, the French Chef here Fabian runs a great restaurant with his wife (yes another husband wife run restaurant).
On the south end of town you can find this cute café with whiffs of roasting chicken coming from the back. Not only is this a great value meal and delicious, but having Fabian there makes the experience all the more better. Like good wine, this restaurant has gotten better with time. They keep making it more charming and still serving up great food at great value.
Bagels? How can bagels be on the best restaurants in Playa Del Carmen list? Well you just might have to go to see why. Besides homemade bagels, happy service, they also have some of the best sandwiches in Playa Del Carmen. The bagel sandwiches are made with great combinations and are a good value at well under 100 pesos. Robin Bagels in not in the center of Playa but worth it for those that drive here. For more about Robin Bagels see our article here.
El Jardin Restaurant
What is an urban oasis in the middle of Playa Del Carmen, this garden restaurant offers a nice setting, good value, good food and warm host. The owners of this restaurant are a husband and wife team that manage this breakfast and lunch restaurant. It is not overly complex, just dishes with fresh ingredients. In fact you might not even see one can of preserved food in the kitchen.
We love the fact they have a menu of the day at very affordable price and you can get breakfast here all day long.
This Italian restaurant on 30th Avenue has been a go to place for comfort food for locals, snowbirds and tourist for years now. Russell the owner is a true foodie and provides consistent quality especially with the pizzas. When you go here you know what you are going to get, a good meal good value, and hospitable atmosphere. For more about Don Chendo Restaurant see our article here.
Pacifico Norte Restaurant
Pacifico Norte is off the beaten path in Playa Del Carmen but foodies are making their way there. This restaurant is also run by a husband and wife team. Here the husband cooks while his wife is the pastry chef. At Pacifico Norte you can get a good taste or northern Mexico cuisine. There are many seafood dishes on the menu but there are also some meat options. The value is also very good here. Expect fresh ingredients and as much insight as you want on the dishes straight from the chef, if you do speak Spanish. The desserts are also good here.
Many people comet to Playa Del Carmen looking for good Mexican cuisine. While there is a lot of Mexican seafood restaurants and a few Yucatecan restaurants, there are not that many good Mexican gourmet restaurants. Axiote restaurant is headed up by Chef Xavier Stone who has created a modern fusion of dishes from around Mexico. If you are familiar with the ingredients and food culture in Mexico you will appreciate the food here. For food photos, prices and directions to Axiote Restaurant see our article here.
Other restaurants in Playa Del Carmen
If you enjoyed reading our guide here to some of what we think are the best restaurants in Playa Del Carmen, you might also like to read our full restaurant guide here.
We hope you get t try some of these restaurant, both from our best restaurants list and full restaurant list. It is great to support hard working restaurateurs that have a passion for food and the customers.
What is on your list of some of the best restaurants in Playa Del Carmen? What do you think should also be on this list? Let us know in your comments below.