Playa del Carmen Journals

Authentic Food and Boutique Hotels!

A December 2005 trip to Playa del Carmen by coloradowanderer

Santa Lucia Photo, Playa del Carmen, Mexico More Photos
Quote: Inexpensive meals and local hotels. Who needs an All-Inclusive resort? Not Me!

Authentic Food and Boutique Hotels!

Overview

Mega Veggies Photo, Playa del Carmen, Mexico
Quote:
This former fishing village exploded into a tourist base to explore the history and beauty of the Yucatan. Visitors flock to 5th Avenue, Quita Avenida, for shopping, suberb dining, boutique and budget hotels. Stroll Calle Corazon for high end souvenirs and art. The chains of McDonalds, Burger King,Subway, Starbucks and Hagen-Daz are found every 10 minutes. Wander the side streets and into the city itself for less expensive and more authentic meals.Pick your excursions from cenotes to jungle tours and zip lines! Rent snorkel gear in Akumal and hope to see one of the famed turtles. Tour the Mayan site on the beach in Tulum and be sure to bring your swimsuit. Or do absolutley nothing ...Read More

Santa Lucia

Hotel

Santa Lucia Photo, Playa del Carmen, Mexico
Quote:
This is perfect for budget travelers who want to be within stumbling distance of the nightlife. It is 300MXP for a clean room with A/C and cable TV. It can be loud at night when the mariachi band plays on the roof across the street, but just turn on the A/C. The music stopped about 1am, long before I arrived home. The front desk staff is helpful and aware of who is staying there. That's a bonus for a solo woman traveler.

UPDATE 2008:

This hotel has had yet another remodel. Trendy, silver sign and a new price of $45 a night. Still a bargain, but keeping up with the new hype of Playa.

Member Rating 3 out of 5 on January 29, 2005

Santa Lucia
On 5th
Playa del Carmen, Mexico

Hotel Tierra Maya

Hotel | "Aventura Mexicana"

Hotel Tierra Maya Photo, Playa del Carmen, Mexico
Quote:
(Review when hotel was Tierra Maya)This quaint hotel has 22 rooms with cable TV and A/C, a swimming pool, and temazcal. There is a sushi restaurant and bar open for dinner on the property. It is located in a quiet area but still within walking distance to 5th Avenue restaurants and nightlife. Staying at Tierra Maya was a splurge for me but probably quite affordable for most travelers. I found a deal on the Internet for $60, including tax. When the holiday high season started, the rate jumped to $115. The room, equipped with king-size bed and refrigerator, was decorated with tasteful Mexico touches, and the bathroom had colorful traditional tiles. Beach towels, along with coupons for two beach clubs cl...Read More

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on January 15, 2006

Hotel Tierra Maya
CALLE 24 NORTE 133 ENTR 5A Y10
Playa del Carmen, Mexico 77710
01152984 873 3960

Hotel La Tortuga

Best Of IgoUgo

Hotel | "La Tortuga "

Hotel La Tortuga Photo, Playa del Carmen, Mexico
Quote:
I am a budget traveler so this was a huge splurge for me. No special occasion, but I still felt like a queen. From check-in to check-out, the staff was above and beyond friendly. The desk is temporarily located in the restaurant, Agora and there is no La Tortuga sign right now. Be sure to get your coupon for the complimentary breakfast, beach towels, and Mamita's coupon for free chairs and palapa.Our jacuzzi suite, 202, was quiet with a faint construction noise that did not bother us. The view might be prettier over the pool, lit with lights and white lights in the trees at night, but we enjoyed the jacuzzi on our private terrace. Simply decorated, there was not a thing on the walls, glass s...Read More

Member Rating 5 out of 5 on February 12, 2008

Hotel La Tortuga
AVENIDA 10 ESQ CALLE 14
Playa del Carmen, Mexico 77710
52-984-873-2073

Posada Mariposa Photo, Playa del Carmen, Mexico
Quote:
As a budget traveler this hotel is great for the price. We found an online deal that was $20 a night less than the walk in rate. Feel free to email me to talk prices.In a quiet area of touristy 5th Avenue known as "Little Italy" by the locals and expats. All the rooms face towards the interior courtyard of plants, trees and vines. We always used the spiral staircase up to our simple room on the 2nd floor. Fridge, A/C, cable, large closet, and tile bathroom were fine. Hot water in the shower took a minute to heat up and the beds were a bit firm, but I don't mind.We stayed 3 nights and our room was always clean and towels were made into swans and hearts each morning.A wooden tab...Read More

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on February 15, 2008

Posada Mariposa
5A AVE 314 ENTRE CALLE 24 Y 26
Playa Del Carmen, Mexico 77710
011529848733886

Oasis

Restaurant | "El Oasis"

Oasis Photo, Playa del Carmen, Mexico
Quote:
This was suggested by a local, and I was not disappointed. There is a relaxing atmosphere by the water fountain if you choose to dine inside. I sat alone at a sidewalk table, people-watching. Inexpensive, flavorful, fresh fish and shrimp tacos are about $1.30. There's a wide selection of seafood dinners or light fare, a full bar, and attentive, friendly service. If you are on 5th, turn up 12th, away from the beach, and you'll find El Oasis on the left in the middle of the first block. Enjoy! El Oasis was closed during my recent visit due to damage from hurricane Wilma. I peeked through the tarp and saw the roof is gone and workers are completely remodeling the interior.UPDATE ...Read More

Member Rating 5 out of 5 on January 29, 2005

Oasis
12th Street
Playa del Carmen, Mexico

Tarraya

Restaurant | "La Tarraya"

Quote:
You might think a beach restaurant has to be expensive, but that's not the case here. Look for the lunch special sign on the beach. Fish fillets are prepared in a variety of sauces, and you can get rice and corn tortillas for 45MXP. We were seated out on the beach, toes in the sand, but there are trees if you want shade. My local friend suggested the tixnic(sp?), a local Mayan specialty. It had a full flavor of light tomato sauce with peppers and onions. It was fantastic and something I never would have thought to order on my own. While we waited for our meals, we took a dip in the calm waters. I instantly dried in the intense sun back at the table. It was a peaceful, relaxing Mayan beach lunch. ...Read More

Member Rating 5 out of 5 on January 29, 2005

Tarraya
Downtown Beach Front at 2nd Street North
Playa del Carmen, Mexico

Babes at Little Italy

Best Of IgoUgo

Restaurant | "Babe's Noodle Bar"

Babes at Little Italy Photo, Playa del Carmen, Mexico
Quote:
This is a slice of the Far East in Mexico. Tables are available inside amidst traditional Thai decor with a Caribbean flair and, of course, pictures of babes from the 1950s. Luckily, my two companions and I got a sidewalk table with a breeze. Service is not rushed; it even says so on the menu. Giant mango margaritas and trying to communicate in French and Spanish kept us entertained. It was well worth the wait. I had spicy, flavorful shrimp curry served with vegetables and garlic mashed potatoes. I had expected noodles, but the mashed potatoes were delicious. There is an extensive Thai menu available in half or full orders. Full dinners are between $8 and $12. A return visit to PDC called...Read More

Member Rating 5 out of 5 on January 30, 2005

Babes at Little Italy
5th Avenue
Playa del Carmen, Mexico
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La Cueva del Chango

Restaurant

La Cueva del Chango Photo, Playa del Carmen, Mexico
Quote:
La Cueva del Chango for breakfast was all I heard it was. Walk around the "vivero" to see the live plants for sale and the building with the glass bottle ceiling.We sat outside in the jungle garden next to a water feature and little stream. I had eggs scrambled with chaya, nopales, ham, mushrooms, onions, side of potatoes, pot o'beans and tortillas. My friend had the chilaquiles. The red and green salsas, in cute wooden bowls with little wooden spoons, were not very spicy but very flavorful. The whole meal was Yum-O as past visitor Rachel Ray would say and only $12 dollars for two.Our neighbors at the hotel asked for a breakfast recommendation, so of course I sent them here. They raved...Read More

Member Rating 5 out of 5 on February 12, 2008

La Cueva del Chango
38th St. between 5th Ave and the Sea
Playa del Carmen, Mexico
+52 (984) 804 91 90

La Pesca

Restaurant

Quote:
La Pesca was a delight, except for the view of the Mega grocery store. Might sit inside next time. I thought about ordering a House Special, shrimp casserole on the back of the menu. For some reason ended up with a fish filet Veracruz style that was still good. My friend had the shrimp diablo. I was craving fried calamari. It was lightly fried and served with a sweet and tangy sauce. Everything was very good. The owner came at the end of our meal, thanked us and asked where we were staying. I told him we heard about it online from local hotel owners. Antonio said “Oh yes, they are good friends.” He also recommended the shrimp dish that I passed up. A delicious dessert shot, beso de angel, a...Read More

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on February 12, 2008

Yaxche Maya Cuisine

Best Of IgoUgo

Restaurant

Quote:
Seemed like the right choice for our last night in town and I have always wanted to try it. No problem with walking up on a Tuesday night and sitting in the garden. Romantic environment, interesting food. We each tried something new and ordered exactly what we wanted that just happened to be about $10 each. I had the Moloch, sampling of Mayan appetizers- shrimp taco, shrimp tostado like thing, corn cob, Mayan tamal and a spicy pepper stuffed with cochinita pibil. My friend had the turkey, beef and egg. Mango margs and bites of everything except the egg for me. I liked the stuffed pepper and turkey the best, tamal the least.I ordered the Mayan Sacrifice drink because it said flambeed in your...Read More

Member Rating 5 out of 5 on February 12, 2008

Yaxche Maya Cuisine
8th Street
Playa del Carmen, Mexico
+52 984 873 2502

Asadero Norteños

Restaurant

Quote:
One of many plastic table and chair type local restaurants this one on Constituyentes across from the Mega grocery store. Pork on a spit out front and picante salsas. We only tried the tacos al pastor for about 50 cents each and fruit licuados. My favorites are pineapple or strawberries con agua and guanabana when available. Everything on the menu is resonable and about $5 per person with a drink.

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on February 12, 2008

El Faisan y El Venado

Restaurant | "El Faisan y Venado"

El Faisan y El Venado Photo, Playa del Carmen, Mexico
Quote:
We took a cab in the pouring rain to El Faison y el Venado- The Pheasant and the Deer at Juarez and highway 307. Out of the tourist zone and this Mayan restaurant is popular with locals. Located in a hotel, the large dining room is lined with long, wooden tables and chairs.
Cochinita pibil, a Mayan specialty, was very moist and tender. The chicken mole had the best sauce of the trip. There was a special on shots of tequila, so of course we had two rounds. The price was half of the more popular Mayan restaurant in the tourist zone.

Easy walk back to our hotel down Juarez. Highly recommended to eat where the locals do.

Member Rating 5 out of 5 on February 12, 2008

El Faisan y El Venado
Carretera Federal y Calle 2 Nte
Playa del Carmen
+52 (984) 8730533

Dr. Taco

Restaurant

Dr. Taco Photo, Playa del Carmen, Mexico
Quote:
This hole in the wall is an institution in Playa. Locals hang out in the "lab" where the "Dr" does his thing at the fryer. Tourists fill the small dining area with the wild paintings on the walls. Only three booths, a shared middle table and salsa bar.

Tacos are fried fast and you can't go wrong with fish or shrimp. Head to the salsa basins and pick your poison from mild to spicy, slaws and traditional Mexican toppings. Try the homemade mayo looking sauce in the squeeze bottle. I promise it's good!

My top pick for an inexpensive meal, close to 5th Ave in Playa. Why spend a lot at a tourist trap with lousy food? Just wander around the corner to this favorite spot.

Member Rating 5 out of 5 on February 19, 2008

Dr. Taco
10th Avenue
Playa del Carmen, Mexico

Playa Mamitas

Attraction

Playa Mamitas Photo, Playa del Carmen, Mexico
Quote:
UPDATE 2008Back in action and still the best beach club in Playa.Mamitas is a shade of its former self after Hurricane Wilma. During previous visits, dozens of beds and hundreds of chairs were filled with young people and music filled the air. Only three beds were usable. Amid all the construction, palapas were being made and installed daily. Still a popular place, the available palapas were always gone by 11am. My hotel provided a coupon for a chair and umbrella for 10 pesos each. The normal price is 20 pesos, totally worth it to keep sand off you while sunbathing. Be aware that going topless is allowed here and is quite common.Breakfast is served from 7am until 11am. They also have s...Read More

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on January 15, 2006

Playa Mamitas
North from the ferry pier at about 26th street
Playa del Carmen, Mexico