This guide will help you discover the absolute best tacos in Playa del Carmen that you won’t want to miss on your trip to this famous Mexican beach town.
Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday… Any day of the week tacos are a great idea! Not only for taco Tuesday, and here in Playa del Carmen, you can find fabulous tacos at almost all hours of the day.
Forget the lettuce, tomato, and especially the crunchy corn tortilla shell. Traditional Mexican tacos are not like those boxed, Old El Paso, pre-packaged kits.
Traditional tacos in Mexico are served with tortillas, meat, and a little vegetable garnish. No más (Spanish for no more).
Of course, the restaurant will offer a variety of salsas to spice up your tacos but the meat is definitely the main focus. Check out our guide to traditional Mexican foods here.
Taco shops in Playa del Carmen come in a variety of shapes and sizes from dicey-looking street vendors to beautifully decorated restaurants.
Appearance can often be misleading. I have tried some of the most flavorful delicious tacos at your basic no-frills taco shop.
Traditionally, taco joints will always have a menu favorite and specific meat that they are known for. Be sure to ask your server for a recommendation of their specialty.
Furthermore, you will rarely find meat and seafood on the same menu except at your more upscale restaurants. Seafood tacos will be found at seafood restaurants and the Spanish word for that is mariscos.
Don’t be afraid to eat off the street. Street food in Playa del Carmen has some incredibly delicious and budget-friendly options. They also make for great stops on a self-guided taco tour. To keep your stomach safe stick to the restaurants listed in this article. Check out our guide to Mexican street food here.
A Playa del Carmen Favorite: El Pastor Tacos
An absolute favorite and incredibly popular taco found everywhere here in Playa del Carmen are the El Pastor Taco. You can find them as cheap as 20 pesos and even with some vegan options!
Pastor is a slow rotisserie roasted pork meat seasoned with too many decadent spices to list. Perfectly cooked, not spicy, and mouth-watering delicious.
A little fun fact is that Pastor Tacos were actually created by Lebanese immigrants. The Lebanese introduced the Mexicans to the spices they used and the vertical rotisserie style of cooking the meat.
Original Pastor tacos or “Tacos Arabi ” were traditionally served on Pita bread. Because the Mexicans weren’t too keen on Pita bread they switched the base to a corn tortilla. Add a little bit of grilled pineapple on top and Voila! You have your present-day delicious juicy Mexican Pastor tacos.
Do I have your mouth watering yet?
Types of Tacos in Playa del Carmen
Take your appetite and begin exploring all the best tacos in Playa del Carmen. Not sure what the different meats are? Use this cheat sheet to help you know what you are ordering.
Check out our full guide to different types of Mexican tacos here.
- Asada – Beef, usually Chuck meat prepared over charcoal
- Bistec – Beef prepared on a grill with cooking oil
- Arrachera -Beef Skirt Steak
- Suadero – Beef cut between the ribs and the skin
- Lengua – Fried beef tongue
- Cerdo – Pork Meat
- El Pastor – Pork meat seasoned with Achiote sauce
- Chicharron – Fried pork skin
- Pollo – Chicken
- Pescado – Fish
- Camaron – Shrimp
- Pulpo – Octopus
Now for the tasty information. The best tacos in Playa del Carmen.
Playa del Carmen Taco Tour
If you’re short on time during your stay in Playa del Carmen and you want to eat as many great Playa del Carmen tacos as possible in a short period of time (perhaps also pack some Immodium?) then a food tour is a fantastic option.
These are our top picks for Playa del Carmen taco tours:
- 3-Hour Food Tour: This Playa del Carmen taco tour promises to take you away from the main tourist streets and into the Mexican neighborhoods where you’ll sample some of the best Mexican food in the city. It is both a food tour and a walking tour of Playa del Carmen so you will learn not only about the food culture, but the incredible growth of this once dusty Mexican beach town. Book that walking and food tour here.
- Vegan Food Tour: Are you a vegan (or vegetarian) and want to partake in the Mexican taco culture sin carne? Then this is the tour for you. Explore Mexican food culture which was almost completely plant-based in origin. Book onto the vegan tour here.
- Playa Food Tour: This local food tour will take you to taco spots, a pozole restaurant (a delicious Mexican soup), and to a local market where you can learn about Mexican ingredients you may have never seen or tried before! Book that food tour here.
Map of the Best Tacos in Playa del Carmen
Click on any of the taco spots on the map below so you can find the exact location of all of the best tacos in Playa del Carmen.
1. El Fogon
I asked all of my friends before writing this article and 90% of them told me that El Fogon was their favorite. With their extensive menu, delicious flavors, and great prices I can definitely see why.
El Fogon is famous in Playa del Carmen with five locations in the city. Known for their juicy flavor-packed pastor tacos, El Fogon has built a great reputation for itself amongst the locals, ex-pats, and tourists.
Their pastor tacos begin with a soft corn tortilla, seasoned pastor meat, fresh onion and cilantro, and pineapple on top. The pineapple is one of the best parts adding juicy sweetness to the taco.
Besides the pastor tacos, El Fogon has many other great menu choices. I am a huge fan of their arrachera torta. An arrachera torta is a skirt steak sandwich.
Their meat is grilled to perfection and the super soft bread roll is loaded with lettuce, tomato, avocado, and a secret garlic sauce they use. A lot of restaurants won’t add vegetables to their sandwiches so that is one of the reasons that makes El Fogon great in my books.
Another fantastic perk of El Fogon is that they are licensed to serve alcohol. Grab an ice-cold beer or margarita to wash down those delicious tacos.
El Fogon won’t break the bank either. Single tacos start at 22 pesos. That’s just $1.10 USD. Try all the different flavors and enjoy a local budget-friendly meal.
2. El Sabor
My absolute favorite taco shop is El Sabor. I call El Sabor “My taco shop.” Let me tell you why.
Like many little taco shops in Playa del Carmen people refer to them by their location and not their name. With my friends, I would relate to this taco shop as “My” taco shop because it is my favorite.
El Sabor has a great location right on Avenida Juarez and Calle 40, making it hard to miss. It is open until 1 am to satisfy all your late-night meat cravings.
In my opinion, El Sabor has the best tacos in Playa del Carmen and my personal favorite meat they serve is the arrachera.
Arrachera meat is skirt steak and there is no other replacement. Skirt steak is prized for its flavor and texture, so when chopped up into pieces, it makes the most delicious taco ever.
A little cilantro, onion, and fresh lime juice, and bam! Your perfect taco. Change the tortilla for a bakery fresh bun and you have a torta—another mouth-watering option.
What I really love about El Sabor is that they offer a big variety of self-serve salsas, beans, salads, and rice.
Simply order your dish, then take your plate up to the salsa bar and add the fixings you like. El Sabor is also budget-friendly and if you include the free rice and beans you will definitely leave satisfied. Grab your family or friends and feast on their delicious flavors.
3. El Nero
I actually stumbled upon El Nero Tacos while I was spending lots of time in Cozumel and it quickly became my favorite taco shop on the island of Cozumel.
When I finally learned that there were 3 locations in Playa del Carmen as well, I was absolutely thrilled.
El Nero is another favorite and well-known taco joint here in Playa. With low prices, delicious flavor, and many meat options, what’s not to love?
You can bet that El Nero has some fantastic pastor tacos, but one of the things that makes this place great is that all the other meats they offer are equally delicious in taste.
It was at El Nero where I tried my first lengua taco. Lengua is tongue in Spanish and these tacos in particular are made with beef tongue. Yes beef tongue, and was it very delicious. Their chorizo, bistec (thin steak), and chuleta (pork chop) tacos are also very tender with great flavor.
Personally, I love El Nero’s corn tortillas over the others. They fry them slightly on the grill before adding the meat making for an almost crunchy tortilla.
At your table, the servers will bring you a platter of salsas and fresh cucumbers for you to load up your taco. Add pickled red onion for some zing.
If you are new to the taco-tasting world, El Nero might be a great first stop because they have just about ever taco available for you to try all in one place.
4. The Lost Tiki
Previously known as the Tiny Tiki hut, The Lost Tiki Restaurant is definitely serving up some of the best tacos in Playa del Carmen.
This Hawaiian, tiki, jungle-inspired restaurant in the heart of downtown Playa del Carmen offers wicked menu options, cool crafty cocktails, tropical ambiance, live music, and much more.
Taking original tacos and adding their own creative flare, The Lost Tiki offers a taco experience you won’t get anywhere else.
The Korean bulgogi beef taco is packed with flavor, and definitely a must-try on their menu.
Because it is a sit-down restaurant, taco prices are a bit higher coming in at a whopping 35 pesos, $ 1.75 USD, which is still incredibly reasonable.
Their cocktails are also made with love and served in a fun tiki-style vessel. Try the ‘Bikini Bottom’ for something fresh to wash down your tacos.
5. Taqueria Gomez
Looking for some straightforward good tacos in Playa del Carmen? Head over to Taqueria Gomez.
From what all my local friends tell me, Taqueria Gomez is the closest thing you can find in Playa del Carmen that resembles the authentic street tacos of Mexico City.
Very humble in its appearance, Taqueria Gomez is only 3 walls with wooden tables and chairs, a little grilling area that you can see, and a refreshments fridge. The menu is even painted on the walls as you see in many traditional taco shops.
Because of its modest nature, Taqueria Gomez doesn’t have air conditioning and due to the grill, it can get quite hot inside.
If you can’t stand the heat, order your tacos para llevar (Spanish for “to go/to take away”) and enjoy them in the little park across the street that is nicely shaded with trees.
A perfect way to enjoy traditional street food in Playa del Carmen.
6. Birria de la 30
Recommended by many locals and even friends of mine from Canada who have visited Playa del Carmen, the ultimate hangover cure, Birra de la 30.
Looking for some going out inspiration? Check out our guide to the best bars in Playa here!
With its prime location on Avenida 30 and rustic western decor, Birra de la 30 is not hard to miss.
Birria de la 30 is famous for its main dish, consome, a style of meat broth with many traditional spices and flavors.
Ordering might be a bit challenging if you have never tried this style of food before. Here is what you need to know to enjoy some of the best Mexican food in Playa del Carmen
- Step 1 – Order the consume (soup style broth)
- Step 2- Choose between 3 options of taco style to accompany your consume
- Step 3- Dig in and enjoy your mouth-watering meal. Que rico!
The three taco options are all delicious, with my personal favorite being quesabirria. Tender perfectly seasoned shredded beef, melted gooey Oaxaca cheese, all grilled to perfection inside a consome soaked corn tortilla.
I will warn you, because of all the juices leaking out of the tender meat and consome this meal can be quite messy. Not the best place to wear your nice white shirt but that doesn’t matter. The flavors and food you will experience are totally worth the visit.
7. Don Sirloin
Another well-known and delicious location to find great tacos in Playa del Carmen is Don Sirloin.
Don Sirloin is a taco chain across Mexico and, as the name suggests, they are known for their sirloin tacos.
Not your average taco shop, Don Sirloin takes your traditional taqueria to the next level. Offering an extensive menu, full bar, and imported and local beers.
What I love about Don Sirloin is that you can change the corn tortillas out for flour tortillas creating a tasty “Gringa” taco, and of course, you have the option to add cheese to everything!
If you have a picky eater in the group, Don Sirloin is great because they have other menu options such as nachos, burritos, guacamole, french fries, and even hamburgers.
My personal favorite to order is the queso fundido and don’t forget to add the chorizo.
They have two locations and are open until 10:30 pm so you can easily get your taco fix throughout the day.
8. La Floresta
With all this talk about carne (meat), you would almost think we have forgotten about seafood. While visiting Playa del Carmen you must sink your teeth into some delicious tacos de mariscos.
Looking for the best food in Playa del Carmen seafood style, check out La Floresta.
La Floresta’s aesthetic is very simple. Open air with plastic tables and chairs. But who can complain when they serve up some of the best tacos in Playa del Carmen?
Choose from a variety of tacos, tostadas, seafood cocktails, ceviches, and even beer.
For me, I equally love the shrimp (camaron) and fish (pescado) tacos. Battered and fried to perfect crispness. Served with salsa on the side so you can choose your level of spiciness.
They open at 10 am and close at 5 pm. For the best and freshest tacos and fast service, I recommend heading there earlier in the day. Because of La Floresta’s popularity they can sometimes be quite busy in the afternoon.
9. Los Aguachiles
While we are talking about seafood you will definitely want to check out Los Aguachiles.
With a cute upscale decor, great drinks, and an appetizing menu, Los Aguachiles takes your ordinary seafood tacos to the next level.
Aguachile is adish from the Mexican state of Sinaloa. It’s basically ceviche but made with shrimp and it can come in a variety of flavors, but always has a little chili kick.
At Los Aguachiles, you can expect to enjoy some seriously fantastic seafood tacos, but they also have a nice selection of other dieshes (like aguachile!). Don’t miss the Green fish ceviche, Atun TikiTiki, and my personal favorite, Camarones Rock and Roll.
They use traditional flavors but add a modern twist. They add pickled vegetables or crispy garnishes and house-made aolis on top of their tacos. A delicious perk is that they serve a selection of flavorful homemade sauces.
10. El Chiquilin
Not a taco stand, but a street food legend in Playa del Carmen is El Chiquilin. (Pronounced Chee – kaa – leen). He is ever so popular amongst all the locals so despite not being home to the best tacos, we had to give this Playa del Carmen street food spot a mention.
El Chiquilin serves up late-night burritos and hamburgers all for just 45 pesos ($2.50 USD)! A delicious and perfect end to a night out in Playa del Carmen.
You can normally find his little food cart outside and across the street from Coco Bongo. More specifically, on Calle 12 nte and Avenida 10, in front of the store Munchers Maniac.
He starts his service around 9 or 10 pm and stays open well past 3 am (there are no real set hours).
I must warn you sometimes he moves his cart and sometimes he is away on vacation. Sometimes you can ask a taxi driver nearby, “donde esta Chiquilín?” They will definitely know who you are talking about and might know where he is located.
When you do find him, grab a carne asada burrito and a few pre-packed baggies of crema and salsa, sit down on the curb and enjoy your Playa del Carmen street food with real Mexican style.