Monday, May 16, 2016

Food Guide: Playa del Carmen

This is a follow-up guide for food in Playa Del Carmen… mostly fish tacos. We get asked all the time about how we find restaurants and where are the good ones, so here are some good ones.

La Riviera Maya Hotel: This one is accessible by the beach. The hotel is located between Calle 4 Nte and Calle 2 Nte. You have to choose the beach loungers directly in front of the hotel to get these tacos. The chairs are rented by the day, or you can bring a towel and sit on the beach in front of the hotel. There are also a couple of tables in the sun between the loungers and the hotel where you can eat the tacos without renting a chair or sitting in the sand. Competition for your business is intense on the beach, make sure you have the correct hotel. The traditional fish tacos are small and come 4 to a plate with double tortillas. They serve Negra Mordelo here.

Shark Burgers on Calle 28 Norte, near 1 Avenida Nte: This little hole-in-the-wall is up 2 blocks from Mamita’s Beach. These hamburgers are delicious. They have a wall of fame for people who could eat their giant burger by themselves. Joe and I split the regular size. We like the one with the bacon.

Aldea Corazon: Calle Quinta Avenida, near Calle 14 Nte. This is for the quiet, romantic, elegant night out. It’s located directly on 5th Ave. The restaurant front poorly represents the interior. On the right of the restaurant is a little gift shop selling heart stuff. You can walk through the little shop into the restaurant to get a peak at it. It is built around a cenote (sink hole). The tables wind around the small canyon downward right in the middle of the jungle growth. The food is upper end Mexican. If you’re on a budget get a table and split an appetizer and enjoy an excellent glass of Malbec from Argentina. Otherwise splurge and get a gourmet meal. The mole negra is excellent.

Los Hijos de las Tostadas: Calle Quinta Avenida y Calle 38 Nte. This fun little hot spot is constantly packed. It’s way up at the northern end of 5th Ave on the right hand side. They have about ten tables that spill out onto the street. The shrimp tostada is fantastic, I mean flavor-packed wonderful. The fish and chips are great too. We got one plate of each and shared. The fish is fresh and bright white with a thin crunchy breading. The French fries are the best I’ve ever had. Love this little place.

Club Nautico Tarraya: Next door to La Riviera Maya. When you are standing on the beach looking at La Riviera, it is on the left. This was one of our favorites because of the shade. The restaurant is on the sand with some tables up on a raised deck. This is a locals hangout. Workers come down here in groups taking two or three or tables. Their shoes come off and they sit discussing business for an hour or so with their toes in the sand. The Fish tacos are not fried and similar to their neighbors. (I prefer the tacos at Riviera Maya)  They have semi-dark beer made by Leon.

Zenzi: Located at the end of Calle 10 Nte on the beach. Come here at night. They have a great mix of people. Every night they have a different band and they also have Salsa lessons at night. This is a fun beach bar, very relaxed. All the servers are in shorts and barefoot. My favorite menu item is the chicken nachos. It’s a huge serving… almost too much for us to share. They have Negra Mordelo and my favorite beer, Bohemian. You can also get a decent glass of wine here.

Las Tulipanes: 5th avenue and Calle 14 Bis. Joe wanted pizza and I wanted a really good glass of wine, so we stopped here even though it’s a bit pricey. Honestly it was one of the best pizzas I’ve had, including in Italy. The wine was top notch. It’s also a fun place to people watch.

Lido Bar and Restaurant: Another beach restaurant. Follow Calle 10 Nte to the beach and hang a left. It’s past Zenzi. The restaurant is behind the beach chairs. They have good shade and good service… barefoot servers again. The best menu item is the fish and chips which are lightly breaded and deep fried. The French fries are the steak fries style and are almost as good as Los Hijos de la Tostada. We came here three times in four days! Good food.

La Barbacoa: This classic cheap restaurant is our favorite. It’s on the corner of 10th and 10th where the giant statue of a bull is. The bar is on the sidewalk and is a great place to people watch. We go there almost every day, either for a beer or fajitas. The chicken fajitas are the only thing we like on the menu :) It’s a plate of chicken, onions, and bell peppers covered in melted cheese. Just scoop it onto your tortilla and your ready to go. They have a keg of Negra Mordelo sitting on the bar, and they make super good Micheladas.

Il Forno Classico (Classico Cantina): This little gem is located in Gold River, Sacramento. You may wonder how it got into this blog? Well Cinco de Mayo occurred shortly after we got back and they switched from Italian to Mexican food for the day (a tradition at Il Forno). The owner, Scotty, consuls with his Latino cooks for the menu. Naturally we had to order fish tacos. The chunks of grilled escolar were huge and tender. It was delicious, but you have to wait until Cinco de Mayo, 2017 to taste them. In the meantime you’ll have to try their pasta. This is my favorite Italian restaurant in the States.