recommended La Cueva del ChangoPopular with expats and travelers in the know, La Cueva del Chango offers hearty and healthy Mexican eats from dawn to dusk. The restaurant has a gorgeous outdoor eating area with vegetation growing ... read morejust about everywhere--it kind of feels like your eating in the middle of the jungle. It's an especially great place for breakfast before you hit the beach, just a couple blocks away.
- FrutiyogurthAvenida 10 at Calle 10recommended FrutiyogurthNot exactly a dive but not fancy either, Frutiyogurth is a bustling little eatery that specializes in Mexican-style sandwiches--tortas--that are piled high with fillings like milanesa and chicken ... read morechipotle. There also is a long list of salads, smoothies and freshly squeezed fruit drinks. And then there's the mouthwatering breakfast entrees--the chilaquiles are definitely worth coming back for! All in all a place to hit up when you're looking for a good, inexpensive meal.Liza Prado
Last time I was in Playa, I ate here 3 times (in 5 days!). Enjoy!
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Check out Alux! I've never been but have it on my list of places to go when I return to Playa. It's a restaurant in a cave. It's upscale, but a completely unique and memorable experience.
recommended AguachilesHipster-ized beach shack food: tostadas heaped high with shredded fish and avocados, and that kind of thing, plus eight million kinds of salsa. It's in a big open-sided restaurant on a corner on the ... read morenorth side of town (not on the beach), where Playa's more glam set hangs out. It's fun people watching--more residents and long-stay vacation people than tourists--and the prices are pretty reasonable.Zora O'Neill
Not exactly down-and-dirty local, as a lot of stylish tourists come here too, but nice and casual, and not too pricey.
recommended El FogonGrilled meat is the name of the game here, and you can smell it from a block away! This is a great simple taco joint (actually, two--one at Av 30 and C 6 bis, and another on the north side on Av 30 at ... read moreC 28) that's a nice break from the slick businesses on Av 5. Be sure to get grilled green onions with your steak tacos, and some good fruit juice to wash it down.Zora O'Neill
Another good option. Generally, for more local-oriented food, you want to head to at least Av 20, but Av 30 is the big inland main drag (before you get farther west to the highway). Lots of good options there.
recommended La FlorestaEvery time I go through Playa, I make a pit-stop at this shrimp-taco place on the highway. If you're staying _in_ Playa, it's a little bit of a schlep back out to 307, but soooo worth it. The tacos ... read moreare simple: perfectly fresh shrimp in a tempura batter, fried until perfectly crispy and set on a tortilla with a squidge of mayo and pico de gallo. With an ice-cold Coke, it's heaven. The place is open only till 4pm or so.Zora O'Neill
Very well-loved local place!
recommended Youth Hostel PlayaThe pickings are pretty slim for hostels in Playa del Carmen but if you're on a tight budget, Youth Hostel Playa is a fine choice. The rooms and bathrooms are clean enough and beds have thick ... read moremattresses, mosquito nets, and individual fans (the last, a huge plus in the summer months). There also is a remarkably clean shared kitchen and a huge common room for hanging out (according to one staffer, it used to be a strip joint).Liza Prado
Another option if you're interested in hostels....
- Hotel Casa de las FloresAvenida 20 Norte, Playa del Carmen 77710, Mexicorecommended Hotel Casa de las FloresIf you don't mind staying a few blocks from the beach, Las Casa de las Flores is a good mid-range option. It's definitely off the main tourist path but the rooms have modern amenities with ... read morehacienda-esque flair, all open onto a leafy courtyard, and there's a nice stone-bottom pool too. Best of all, it's just a quiet, pleasant place to base yourself for a few days.
- Le RêvePlaya Xcalacoco S/N, Fracción 2ª, Solidaridad, 77710 Playa del Carmen, Quintana Roo, Mexicorecommended Le RêveGreat service, very friendly and romantic. A perfect boutique hotel for a weekend get-away with your partner!Idil Bayram
Salman, this is an uber cute boutique hotel in playa....it's quite romantic and very chill, but still a lot of fun when you go in a big group... not sure if this is what you are thinking of for this vacation, but in the future, make sure to take a lucky lady here! :)
- Hostel 3BAvenida 10 esquina Calle 1 sur, Colonia Centro, Playa del Carmen, Mexicorecommended Hostel 3BIn keeping with Playa's new image as the Miami Beach of Mexico, this hostel is full of style-y details. That's normally a turnoff for me, when I know I'm paying extra for a fancy light fixture, but ... read morethis place keeps up the rest of the operation well enough for it to all be worthwhile. I got the proper "hey, I'm on a budget, but I still deserve a good-looking room!" vibe. I stayed here not too long after the place opened, and everything was in very nice shape--my one worry is that all the cool white furnishings won't hold up very well.Zora O'Neill
This is a lot closer to the water, though a bit south of the bus station--you'll end up walking pretty far north for a lot of the cooler bars and things.
- El Acuario HotelAv. 25 Norte entre 2 y 4 Norte Col. Centro, Playa del Carmen, Mexicorecommended El Acuario HotelSensible little hotel with a pool. In Playa, that's hard to come by these days, as everything gets totally blinged out and overpriced. So this simple, family run place with about a dozen rooms is a ... read moretreat. Even if it is a bit back from the beach. (The benefit of being away from the Av 5 strip is the noise is far less severe, at least--and you're closer to good cheap eats as well.)Zora O'Neill
It's not super-close to the beach, but the sad reality of Playa these days is that most places up to Av 20 or so are kind of overdone/overpriced. Not sure what your budget is, though--you might be able to afford more than this?
- Porto Playa Condo Hotel1 Avenida Norte Esquina 16 Norte Bis Gonzalo Guerrero, 77710 Playa del Carmen, Quintana Roo, Mexicorecommended Porto Playa Condo HotelI stayed here in spring of 2009 and loved my stay here. It was so nice to have a kitchen for quick snacks throughout the day, plus it is a much better value for a large group than getting lots of ... read morehotel rooms. They have 2 and 3 bedroom condos, with every amenity you could want. The pool area is small, but very nice and has lots of lounge chairs. The location is also great -- you can easily walk to the restaurants on "5th Ave" and you can also easily walk a block to the beach. It's also a great idea to get reservations at one of the beach clubs on the beach so you can have access to their umbrellas and beach chairs.Traci
My whole b school section rented out most of the units in this place for spring break -- great decision! They have 2 or 3 bedroom units, as well as a pretty sweet 4 or 5 bedroom place with a rooftop grill.