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10 Best Restaurants in Playa del Carmen

10 Best Restaurants in Playa del Carmen

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Narrowing down the best restaurants in Playa del Carmen is a tough job, but after living in the area for several years, local writer Lindsi is up to the task.

There is no doubt that Playa del Carmen is known for its pristine beaches and stunning turquoise water but you will also be happy to learn that it has an incredible culinary scene to match. 

When planning a trip to this little Caribbean paradise, you will want to know about all of the best restaurants in Playa del Carmen. 

Whatever type of cuisine you are searching for, you can almost guarantee that you will find it here. Taco Trucks, fine dining, late-night pizza, burger joints, and the list goes on. 

Playa del Carmen is a melting pot of culture and the restaurant options reflect that. You can see some of our favorite breakfast spots here and our top picks for taco joints in town here.

Of course, you will find traditional Mexican options, such as chilaquiles and mole, but if you are craving pad Thai, choripan, sushi, risotto, schnitzel, or butter chicken, those options are absolutely available. 

Eating out doesn’t need to break the bank either. Some of the best food in Playa del Carmen can cost you as little as 20 pesos (that’s about $1 USD!). Whatever your budget, there is a restaurant for you. 

Map of the Best Restaurants in Playa del Carmen

Best Restaurants in Playa del Carmen

These are our top 10 favorite spots for amazing places to eat around Playa del Carmen. We hope you love them as much as we do!

1. Axiote

Book a table at Axiote (pronounced Ahh-shi-oti) and experience the true flavors of Mayan cuisine with a contemporary flair.

This chef-driven restaurant in the heart of downtown is the perfect place to enjoy an evening with your group. 

The menu starts with traditional dishes of Mexico and re-invents them with modern-day style. 

I would say the decor is minimalistic yet inviting.  Wood paneling covers the walls with wooden tables and chairs to match. You might find about 10 tables inside creating an intimate feel to the restaurant. There is a full bar with bar seating and an open-concept kitchen so you can sneak a view of where the magic is created. 

When I visited Axiote, our server recommended we enjoy the menu family-style, allowing us to try many different items and experience all the fantastic flavors. This was a fantastic idea because so many of the menu items sounded incredible.

By all means, if you aren’t keen on sharing you can order a dish just for yourself and be fully satisfied.  

Top picks of the menu are the grilled cauliflower, roasted bone marrow, Veracruz-style rice, local pork mole, and my personal favorite, the pumpkin seed dip. 

Each item is seasoned and cooked perfectly. The Pumpkin seed dip almost had me licking the plate as it was so flavourful and delicious. 

Pair your meal with a selection from their wine list or sip on a hand-crafted cocktail. 

plate of Mexican food with red rice

Red rice, grilled meat, and delicious cocktails.

2. Trattoria del Centro

For a fabulous dinner of pizza and pasta make your way over to Trattoria Del Centro.

In my opinion, this is one of the top restaurants in Playa del Carmen for Italian food. 

Their menu is quite extensive offering traditional wood-fired pizzas, pasta, stuffed pasta, risottos, appetizers, salads, calzones, and desserts.

All menu items are priced very reasonably at around 200-300 pesos ($10-15 USD) and are absolutely delicious. The portions are large and they offer you freshly baked bread with oil and vinegar to start. 

The decor is simple but chic. Most nights they have live entertainment with singers or musicians playing while you eat.

Be sure to order the risotto with asparagus and beef. The flavors are divine and the risotto is cooked to perfection.  

Some other menu favorites are the burrata cheese, chorizo-stuffed tagliatelle, and the fume pizza which comes with prosciutto and provolone cheese.   

The service staff are attentive and speak both Spanish and English. They are very knowledgeable and always help me when I can’t decide on what to order.  

Grab a glass of wine to compliment your dish or another refreshment from their full bar.  

risotto rice in a white bowl.

Best Italian food in Playa del Carmen.

3. Que Huevos

Start your day with a tasty breakfast at Que Huevos

This little joint is very popular and always busy, making it a top pick for the best restaurants in Playa del Carmen. For breakfast, it is definitely one of the best restaurants in Playa del Carmen. 

Located on 5th ave and Calle 48 Norte, Que Huevos Is open air to the public with limited seating. The decor is retro inspired and there is a Palapa roof that provides shade. 

At the peak breakfast hours be sure to go early to get a table. Usually, around 2 – 3 pm the restaurant becomes less busy with empty tables ready. 

They open at 7 am and Close at 4 pm so it’s perfect for all you early risers out there who need their coffee. It’s one of the few places open this early. 

Choose from breakfast and lunch options from traditional Western classics or Mexican favorites. 

If you haven’t tried them before, you have to go for the chilaquiles. Crunchy tortilla chips, salsa roja (red sauce), topped with fresh cream and avocado. You also have the option to add eggs or meat. Chilaquiles is a classic Mexican breakfast dish that everyone should try. 

My other two favorite items on the menu are french toast and eggs with chorizo. 

I love the coffee here as well. It is a nice dark roast that is robust and slightly nutty. They have a great espresso machine and serve up a fantastic cappuccino. They also offer fresh squeezed juices and smoothies. 

plate of chilaquiles with sauces on the side served in a pan from the best restaurants in playa del carmen

4. Primo

I discovered this little restaurant about two years ago and have watched them grow bigger and better ever since. It is without a doubt one of the best restaurants in Playa del Carmen.

Primo is outside on the corner of 10th avenue and Calle 14 Nte, right in the downtown core of Playa del Carmen. What used to be just a small area with a bar, grill, tables, and chairs has now turned into this cool industrial-style restaurant with a chic ambiance. 

What first lured me in was that I had seen roasted bone marrow on the menu,  so my friend and I popped in off of the street to check it out. 

Our server approached us and was very welcoming and knowledgeable about the menu. I ordered the burnt guava cocktail and my friend asked the bartender to whip her up something special.  Both cocktails were fresh, delicious, and made with care. Their mixology skills here are 10 out of 10! 

Primo is the place to eat if you are looking for some of the best food in Playa del Carmen. 

Their menu consists of beautifully curated appetizers and vegetables, meat dishes grilled to perfection, and decadent desserts to finish off. I recommend sharing plates so you can try a little of everything. 

Fresh farm-to-table ingredients are prepared beautifully in their open-concept kitchen with amazing flavors and presentation.

Without a doubt, I recommend ordering the bone marrow, along with the suckling pig and the brisket. Try and save room for dessert. If you are a chocolate lover you won’t want to skip the warm chocolate cake. 

Prices here reflect the quality of the food.  Expect a meal for two to cost approximately $50 USD. 

cocktail with passion fruit in it.

Best restaurants in Playa del Carmen.

5. Nativo

Make your way over to Nativo for some of the best local food in Playa del Carmen. 

From freshly squeezed juice, Mexican dishes, and healthy options, Nativo is a great place for a quick breakfast or lunch.  

The colors inside are vibrant with beautiful art murals among the walls. Service is quite fast and it is also a great place for takeaway juices and smoothies. 

What I love about Nativo is that the juices and smoothies are 100 % natural from fresh ingredients. The smoothies are massive and you can customize your smoothie with as many flavors as you want. 

Nativo is the perfect place to eat if you have a big appetite. The portions here are bigger than at most restaurants in the center and extremely budget-friendly as well. It’s one of the best restaurants in Playa del Carmen for delicious Mexican food.

Choose from traditional Mexican dishes such as chilaquiles, enchiladas, burritos and quesadillas. 

If you aren’t feeling like Mexican food they have a small selection of western favorites as well. 

tequila shots with lemon slices on top.

Best restaurants in Playa del Carmen for tequila!

6. Trujillos Cantina De Selva

Trujillo’s is one of the best restaurants in Playa del Carmen to begin a night out on the town. 

Dinner at Trujillo starts with fun cocktails, followed by an incredible meal, then more cocktails, and always seems to end in shots of tequila and mezcal. 

This restaurant is actually where I tasted my 1st grasshopper, by accident, but that is another fun story.

They offer a fantastic menu of elevated Mexican food, prepared with local ingredients all cooked over fire and wood. 

The minute you step into the restaurant the appetizing aromas of the oven fill the air. Trees and vines occupy the open-air space as if you were walking into the jungle. 

Their kitchen is open-concept featuring a large wood fire oven with an incredible painting of an octopus on its side. 

You will be impressed with any dish you order. A personal favorite of mine is the guacamole, served on a large piece of chicharron (fried pig skin). 

For a divine feast, order the Flintstone ribeye. Mouthwatering, tender, and served with truffle oil potatoes.

The menu is on the pricier side but absolutely worth every penny. This is one of the best restaurants in Playa del Carmen and you won’t leave hungry, as the portions are plenty big enough. 

Trujillo’s also has a great team of knowledgeable bartenders offering fascinating cocktails.

A large selection of tequilas and mezcals fill the shelves of the bar. After dinner, due to the fun atmosphere of the restaurant, I always find myself ordering shots for the table. 

Their shots are the best. Served with worm salt, orange slices, chocolate bits, and yes, fried grasshoppers. You really have to give it a try, it’s not as bad as it sounds!

One night, after a few cocktails and tequila shots ready on the table I picked up the antenna of a grasshopper thinking it was a dried chile or something of that sort.

I casually began eating it totally enjoying the salty and fried flavor. It wasn’t until I went to take the last bite that I realized I was eating a bug and I was holding onto its head and not the stem of a chile.

After being grossed out for a few seconds I decided it was a great salty snack that I would absolutely not ever eat again. However, many people love them and they are full of great vitamins. At least I tried it once!

smoothie bowls from the best restaurants in playa del carmen

Best smoothies in Playa del Carmen.

7. Cheester

Come hungry and leave stuffed after a dinner at Cheester

Cheester is serving up family-sized creative pasta dishes, wood-fired pizzas, delicious entrees, salads, smoothies, and much more. 

This little joint is located on Avenida and Calle 4 just outside the downtown core, but that doesn’t take away from its popularity. This is one of the best restaurants in Playa del Carmen and also one of the most popular.

I have not once been to Cheester’s and witnessed it empty of patrons. In fact, there is usually a small wait. The wait is 100 % worth it. 

The pasta dishes they serve are so delicious and the portions are huge. They incorporate different varieties of ingredients creating mouth-watering flavor profiles and the pasta is always cooked to perfection. 

When I say the portions are large I mean it. The pasta comes served in a giant pasta pot. Two people can dine to satisfaction and still have leftovers to take home. 

Indulge in the bread they offer you at the beginning of your meal and don’t be afraid to ask for a refill in your basket.  Served nice and warm with a house made special butter sauce for spreading. 

Cheester’s is alcohol-free but their smoothies and juices are incredible and very big as well.

Their dishes cost an average of 230 pesos (about $11.50 USD) which I find quite low for the amount of food you receive compared to other Playa del Carmen restaurants of this quality. It’s definitely a great value for your dollar. 

It’s a great place to enjoy with your friends and family while sharing their fantastic cuisine.

plate of pasta

Best pasta in Playa del Carmen.

8. Ilios Greek Estiatorio

Illios is high on my list of the best restaurants in Playa del Carmen. 

Not only is the food divine but the atmosphere is lively and the service is 5-star.  

Located on 5th Avenue and Calle 12, Illios is in the heart of the town center and the perfect location for an unforgettable experience. 

The decor is elegant and warm with beautiful wood paneling and ambient lighting. You will surely want to dress to impress as this is a place to be seen.

The menu features Mediterranean flavors representing the best that Greek food has to offer. 

Sink your teeth into a tender cut of meat with exceptionally high quality. Ilios prides itself on the fact that its steaks are never frozen.  This is also one of the only restaurants in Playa del Carmen where you can find Wagyu beef.

Pricing is high but I can honestly say that this steak is some of the most succulent and tender steaks I have ever tried. 

Other menu favorites are the spanakopita, crab cakes, black muscles, and red Snapper.  

Save room for dessert because their options are too good to pass. 

Illios is the perfect place to celebrate a special occasion or simply celebrate life. Sparkles are lighting up the room all night as desserts and champagne bottles are flying to tables.

They usually have a DJ playing music and on busy nights there are even entertainment acts to dazzle you. 

Service is top-notch to match everything else about the restaurant. There is never a dull moment at Ilios. It is a majestic dining experience you won’t forget. 

chile en nogada dish

Chile en Nogada.

9. La Cueva del Chango

For breakfast, lunch, and dinner, Cueva del Chango is an absolute must for this list of best restaurants in Playa del Carmen. 

Located on Calle 38, Cueva del Chango’s environment is covered with trees and vines and is even home to a little monkey. You might get lucky enough to spot him during your visit. A little river also runs through the open restaurant creating peace and tranquility. 

Choose from a large selection of traditional Mexican dishes all prepared with authentic flavor and spices. 

For breakfast, feast on an order of molletes. A base of whole wheat bread, layered with refried beans, and melted cheese. Choose your finishing ingredients to top off your molletes with a selection of vegetables or meat. Select the chaya to experience the true flavor of Mayan cooking. 

For dinner, treat yourself and indulge in chile en nogada. A traditional Mexican dish from the city of Puebla is usually served around Mexican independence day (the meal consists of the colors of the flag!). The dish is made of a poblano pepper stuffed with meat of your choice and topped with a special Mexican walnut sauce.

Due to the popularity of the restaurant Cueva Del Chango is always busy so arrive early to guarantee yourself a table or be prepared to wait in line. 

This is also a great place to dine if you have a vegan in your party as they have a specific menu designed with many vegan options.

burger with two patties on top of a chopping board served at the best restaurants in playa del carmen

Best burger restaurants in Playa del Carmen.

10. Mu. Burgerhouse

Looking for a juicy mouthwatering burger? You must make a stop at Mu. Burger!

They have two locations In Playa del Carmen and are extremely popular amongst locals and tourists. 

In my opinion, Mu Burger is one of the best restaurants in Playa del Carmen for hamburgers. 

The burgers patties are big in size ranging from 5 – 7 oz,  and the meat is cooked to a temperature of your liking. Their burgers are designed with imaginative toppings such as bacon jam, burrata cheese, pesto, and much more. 

A side of fries or sweet potato fries is served with your burger and a selection of house-made sauces. My favorite is the curry aioli.  

If you are not in the mood for beef they have fish, chicken, and even vegetarian options. 

Cocktails are crafty and beers are ice cold. They whip up a super refreshing Moscow mule and even serve it in a copper mug (something I find quite difficult to find in Playa del Carmen). 

Prices are super reasonable considering the size and quality of the ingredients. Burgers cost 100- 120 pesos . That’s just $5 USD for a juicy delicious gourmet burger.