Ah, Playa del Carmen. The land of bars, miles of pedestrian boulevards, beaches too small to fit its visitors, and delicious food.
But among the many good restaurant options, there are just as many tourist traps. I’ve done the “hard” work for you and spent six weeks eating my way through Playa del Carmen to test out its best Mexican restaurants.
According to U.S. News, people perceive Mexico as ranking #4 for the best food in the world. Food experts rank it lower, but anyone who’s been to Mexico will likely be willing to argue that.
So, get your appetite ready—all of the Mexican restaurants in Playa del Carmen on this list are local and economical.
Wheelchair Accessible Note: Look for this blue box, which will indicate that a restaurant is (or is mostly) wheelchair accessible.
This post contains affiliate links. If you make a purchase, we’ll receive a small commission at no extra cost to you.
Most of the restaurants on this list offer menus with English translations. But even if you can speak Spanish, consider taking a peek at their translations for the potential of a good chuckle.
Breaded or grilled breast, anyone?
Tips for Dining at Mexican Restaurants in Playa del Carmen
Below are a couple of tips as you prepare to taste test your way through Playa del Carmen:
- The more touristy/expensive restaurants in Playa del Carmen accept credit cards. Since this list contains budget-friendly restaurants, be prepared to pay only in cash.
- All menus have English translations and most staff speak at least some English.
1. La Esquina Mexicana
Address: 15 Avenida Nte 159, Centro, 77710 Playa del Carmen
I’ll start with a confession—I ate at La Esquina Mexicana more times than anywhere on this list. The food was enough to draw me back time and time again, but the owner, Betty, was the icing on the cake.
This tiny restaurant literally sits on a corner (La Esquina Mexicana translates to “The Mexican Corner”). If you’re visiting during peak hours, you might even have to wait for a seat.
It’s worth it, trust me.
Don’t let this little restaurant’s size fool you—it has an extensive menu specializing in breakfast and “food” options (aka, lunch).
In fact, when you sit down, the waiter will ask you if you want desayuno (breakfast) or comida (literally translates to “food,” but in this context, it means anything that’s not breakfast.
If you’re hesitant to try out a local Mexican restaurant in Playa del Carmen because you don’t speak Spanish, Betty speaks excellent English.
Food Tip: Your waiter will offer you soft tortillas with your meal (there’s no extra charge for them). If you say yes to the spicy sauce, know that it’s a really spicy habanero. Just a drop will be plenty for most people.
You’ll likely have trouble choosing among the plethora of chicken, meat, fish, and vegetarian (yes, there are a few) options on the menu.
So, let me help you out—order the Filet Caribeño (Caribbean Fish) or Camarones Caribeños (Caribbean Shrimp).
It’s not the seafood of choice that matters, but the to-die-for Caribbean sauce that’s Betty’s own concoction. Some of its most notable ingredients are melon, tomato, and coconut milk.
I know, I know—it sounds too strange to be good. But it’s amazing, so give it a try.
Accessible Note: There’s about a 3-inch ledge you’ll have to pop over to enter La Esquina Mexicana. Tables and chairs can be rearranged to accommodate a wheelchair.
2. La Norteñita de La Quince
Address: Calle 4 Nte 150, Centro, 77710 Playa del Carmen
Hole-in-the-wall lovers will adore La Norteñita de La Quince.
Set a couple of blocks behind the ADO bus station, this little Playa del Carmen Mexican restaurant will have you sharing tables with locals and trying out their variety of menu items without you having to worry about an expensive bill.
Just how cheap is La Norteñita de La Quince, you wonder? Their tacos start at 15 pesos. I got a little overzealous, ordering three tacos and a mushroom picadito.
It was my first time trying a picadito, and oh my goodness, it was to die for! At only 30 pesos, it’s worth the venture. If mushrooms aren’t your jam, you can choose the chicken or meat variety.
Top all that food off with a cold, homemade glass of Agua de Jamaica (hibiscus water) and I was rolling out of the restaurant.
La Norteñita de La Quince has a family-run feel. It was clear they have their loyal regulars as I stuffed my face and watched them pour through the door.
Accessible Note: There’s about a 3-inch ledge to enter La Norteñita de La Quince. The benches can easily be rearranged to accommodate a wheelchair.
3. Señor Taco
Address: 10 Avenida Nte. 221, Gonzalo Guerrero and 10 Avenida Norte Mz. 122 Lt. 3, Centro
Calling all taco lovers! Señor Taco offers an array of taco options, complete with a tray of three types of salsa.
Like so many tacos in Mexico, you’ll order them individually so you can mix and match flavors. You can also choose between flour tortillas (less expensive) and corn tortillas (more expensive).
Food Tip: Add cheese for a couple of extra pesos per taco.
The most economical tacos start at around $1 USD each. If you’re hungry, I recommend ordering three or four.
Although Señor Taco prides itself in its tacos, they have a hefty menu with just about any other Mexican dish you could possibly dream of.
Bottom line? Arrive hungry!
Accessible Note: There’s a 3-inch ledge to enter Señor Taco. Tables are wheelchair accessible.
4. Sabor de Luna
Address: 15 Avenida Nte 157, Centro, 77710 Playa del Carmen
If you enjoy a hippie vibe, Sabor de Luna is a great authentic Mexican dining option in Playa del Carmen.
Adorned with decor that’ll soothe your hippie heart, Sabor de Luna is best known for its “menu” style meals. These multi-course meals will run you under 100 pesos (under $5 USD).
They offer “menus” that are meat/chicken based and seafood based. The menus change by the day, so make sure to ask what the current special is. They’ll also post it on a chalkboard outside the restaurant.
I visited Sabor de Luna a handful of times. Below is an example of one course from the seafood “menu”:
What isn’t shown here is the shrimp soup that came before it and the massive plate of fried fish and salad that came after it. Oh, and cucumber lemon water, tortillas with dipping sauce, and dessert were included too.
Needless to say, you shouldn’t plan to run a marathon right after leaving the restaurant.
If the “menu” sounds like more than you can stomach (no pun intended), they have an extensive a la cart menu.
5. Antojitos Sandra
Address: 77710 q r, Calle 4 Nte 168, Centro
If you love trying a lot of different kinds of traditional Mexican food, head to Antojitos Sandra.
Antojitos, which translates to “little cravings” in English, is a Mexican term for appetizers and street food.
There’s nothing fancy about Antojitos Sandra, which is why I love it so much; you’ll simply walk into the tiny restaurant, choose your seat, and read from a gigantic menu hanging on the wall.
Prices are cheap—you can get 3 tacos starting at 40 pesos. However, even though its name indicates portions will be small, this is far from the case.
Make sure to bring someone along to help you down your meal!
Accessible Note: Seating is tight but tables are chairs can be arranged to accommodate a wheelchair.
6. La Veracruzana
Address: 30 Avenida Nte. 118, Centro
La Veracruzana gives off the vibe of a street food stand, except it has a roof and seating. They have daily menus with a large main course and drink for a mere 60 pesos (about $3 USD).
Vegetarians and vegans will have an extra hard time ordering food there, but with a little explaining, they should be able to concoct something for you.
For example, they made these cheese empanadas with mole:
Although most of the Mexican restaurants in Playa del Carmen on this list offer menus in English, that’s not the case.
So, if you don’t speak Spanish, either head to La Veracruzana with a friend or a dictionary.
7. Las Quekas
Address: 15 Avenida Nte S/N, Centro and many others you can Google.
Las Quekas is a Mexican quesadilla and sopes chain. We all know what delicious quesadillas entail, but you might be wondering about sopes.
Sope is another name for picadito. Basically, it’s a thicker corn base with quesadilla stuffings on the outside.
There are many things to love about Las Quekas, starting with their stuffing options. Keeping in mind that all orders come with cheese, they include:
- Braised pork
- Potato with sausage
- Zucchini flower
- Black mushroom
- Regular mushroom
What I love most about Las Quekas is that they use minimal oil and they rub an onion on the griddle for added flavor.
It doesn’t get cheaper than Las Quekas, either. For a mere 15 pesos (less than $1 USD), you’ll get a huge quesadilla. Sopes run into the two-dollar range at 45 pesos.
Accessible Note: There’s a 3-inch ledge to enter most of the Las Quekas in town.
8. Mercado Playa del Carmen
Address: 10 Avenida Nte. 10, Centro
Mercado Playa del Carmen isn’t a single restaurant but an outdoor-style market.
There are a handful of sit-down restaurants you can choose from, all serving traditional Mexican food.
This market is set only a couple blocks back from the touristy 5th Avenue. But you can get food for less than half the price there, so it’s a great budget restaurant option in Playa del Carmen.
Accessible Note: There’s a ramp leading up to Mercado Playa del Carmen and tables can easily accommodate a wheelchair.
9. Cocina Doña Paula
Address: Centro, 77710 Playa del Carmen, Quintana Roo, Mexico
The second story Cocina Doña Paula is located across the street from the Mercado Playa del Carmen.
There’s nothing fancy about this restaurant which is what gives it its charm—you’ll dine on a slab of plywood as you watch the cooks work in the kitchen.
Make sure to go hungry since the portions at Cocina Doña Paula will leave you full the rest of the day. The prices at this cute traditional little Mexican restaurant are some of the lowest in Playa del Carmen.
Cocina Doña Paula has a family-owned and family-friendly feel.
If you’re a vegetarian, your options will be limited to a couple of items. Everyone else will have a large menu to choose from, hung on the wall for all to see.
Accessible Note: Cocina Doña Paula isn’t wheelchair accessible.
10. Fruit Stand
Address: Centro, 77710 Playa del Carmen, Quintana Roo, Mexico
A fruit stand restaurant, you ask?
It’s not like the typical sit-down style restaurants elsewhere on this list, but the Fruit Stand is a smoothie and health lover’s dream. Best of all, the prices are a third of what you can find on 5th Avenue.
Don’t believe me?
This passion fruit, pineapple, and plantain smoothie cost me 45 pesos (about $2.25 USD).
Aside from smoothies, the Fruit Stand offers fresh juice, sandwiches, bagels, salad, fruit cocktails, and fruit cocktails with yogurt and granola.
And yes, you can get it all for ridiculously low prices.
Accessible Note: There’s a 2-inch ledge to get onto the sidewalk that leads to the Fruit Stand and a 2-inch ledge to enter the outdoor store.
Colombian Restaurant in Playa del Carmen
I know this post is about Mexican restaurants in Playa del Carmen. So if you’re screaming at me here, go ahead and skip down to the next section. Otherwise, once you’ve stuffed yourself full of delicious Mexican food, you might be ready for a change.
In that case, I highly recommend the Colombian restaurant Mi Rinconcito Colombiano (Address: 30 Avenida Nte. 6-MZA 58 LTE 6, Centro).
A huge bonus?
Mi Rinconcito Colombiano accepts credit cards. Hallelujah!
Accessible Note: Mi Rinconcito Colombiano is wheelchair accessible.
Vegetarian & Vegan Food in Playa del Carmen
Mexico isn’t a vegetarian’s haven, but there are enough plant-based dishes so vegetarian and vegan visitors to Playa del Carmen won’t starve.
Below is a photo journey of some of my favorite vegetarian dishes that I tried in Playa del Carmen. Beneath each photo, I’ve listed the dish’s name and the Mexican restaurant I purchased them at.
What Mexican Restaurants in Playa del Carmen Will You Choose?
If the photos in this post have you drooling, I can only hope you’re already in Playa to give these restaurants a try.
That said, they’re far from the only best Mexican restaurants in Playa del Carmen. If you’re currently in or have already been to Playa, share your favorite Mexican restaurants in the comments section. I can’t wait to try your recommendations when I return!