What are the BEST restaurants in Playa Del Carmen?

Playa Del Carmen Guides

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 for 2018?

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.

best Restaurants in Playa Del Carmen
500 Gramos Grill Restaurant in Playa Del Carmen.

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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.

Yum Yum Restaurant by George

This is a modern and clean designed restaurant with Asian fusion menu. You can find authentic flavors of each dish and well designed cocktails. The owners are very involved in the running of this restaurant. It is not surprising this restaurant is on our list of best restaurants in Playa Del Carmen because the same owners here opened Oh Lala Restaurant. You can see more about this restaurant in our brief video overview below and our Yum Yum Restaurant article here.


Oh Lala Restaurant

For years this has been an intimate dinning experience in Playa Del Carmen. Brought to you by the same owners of Yum Yum Restaurant above, the same creativity and quality can be found here. This restaurant is great for romantic dinners or just that special dinner in Playa Del Carmen.

Expect great service and consistent quality as you dine here. The menu is small but focusses on great dishes presented by the chef. There are international favorites and hints of flavors from Asia.

There are only a few tables here, so it is good to reserve. For more on Oh Lala Restaurant see our article here.

Oh lala restaurant playa del carmen
A dinner at Oh Lala Restaurant, one of the best restaurants in Playa Del Carmen.

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.

best Restaurants in Playa Del CarmenBefore, during and fully cooked and ready to eat meal at 500 Gramos Restaurant.

La Brocherie

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.

Don Chendo

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. You can aso see the Don Chendo menu here.

best restaurants in Playa Del Carmen Mexico
Getting ready to slice a pizza at Don Chendo Restaurant.

Axiote Restaurant

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.

best Restaurants Playa Del Carmen
Just one of the great dishes at Axiote Restaurant in Playa Del Carmen.


    • Hello Cindy

      This restaurant gets very good reviews and the fact that they want to keep it small to make sure they can give quality to the customers is great. We have not been there yet, so we have not commented but given what we have heard, it sounds very good.

  1. Made it to Pacifico Norte Restaurant today and loved it! Two down now, we are going to work our way through your list.

    • That is awesome Silvia! So glad you liked Pacific Norte. We hope you enjoy the rest of the restaurants. What is next on your list?

  2. I love this site. I use it everytime I come down, with that being said, I think you are way off base with 500 Grams. I am just finishing up one of the most mediocre meals I’ve had in twenty years in Playa. Jhonny, my waiter, was fantastic.

    • Hello Randy

      Can you tell us what you ordered and what was it that your did not like? We can mention this to the owners. Thank you for your comments.

    • We do update all our articles, so the information is still good. There are many restaurants, but these stand out. The 500 Gramos has changed hands but we think they are keeping with the same recipes and idea of the place.

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