My foodie adventures in Playa del Carmen were… a little bit stressful, mainly because I tend to get stressed out very easily but also because I DIDN’T HAVE PROPER YELP OR CHOWHOUND. I had TripAdvisor instead. I don’t know if any of you use TripAdvisor but this was my first time using it intensely for food. Here are examples of what TripAdvisor reviewers write:
- “This is the BEST TACO place in Playa del Carmen!!!!!!!!!!!!!” – person who has only been in PDC for a day
- “My hubby and I loooove this place so muchhhh. We even got to take pictures with a Mexican man in a sombrero hat after!”
- “The fish was soooo fresh and I loooved the truffles and everything was sooo cheap! So affordable!!” – person who ate at a $$$$ place
Basically, TripAdvisor food reviews are not very helpful but hey, you gotta take what you can get. I essentially spent hours looking up the “must eats” on the World Wide Web, then the “bests” on TripAdvisor, and finally had to cross reference these “bests” with what some other bloggers have written about. After meticulously putting a list together with almost all our meals planned, we ran into a few bumps in the round. There were a couple of times where the restaurants I wanted to visit simply didn’t exist anymore. Other times the restaurants were just… not good (when TripAdvisor says the seafood is fresh, don’t believe them). Below is a list of places I tried and my general thoughts about them. I hope this is helpful for anyone who decides to visit!
I’m here, I’ve eaten, and I have wifi in my room! We arrived at about 7:30pm last night and rented a car in preparation for a week of exploring. Once we dropped off our bags in our hotel, we set off to find a quick bite. We live right off of 5th Avenue, which is the main tourist strip where there are loads of souvenir shops, restaurants, and bars (having come from NYC, funny that 5th Avenue is also a big deal here…). Most of the little taco stands and such off of 5th Avenue had closed so we were forced to stay on the main strip and eat with all the other tourists – yay. Prior to coming, I knew this would happen at some point or another, so I looked up some of the better restaurants on the strip. Yaxche is one of them; it serves traditional Mayan cuisine with a bit of a Disney-fied experience and hiked up prices. AH weeeellllll… we were starving and it was close and it smelled good.
5th Avenue and 22th Street
Playa del Carmen, Riviera Maya, Mexico
They started us off with a big basket of gleaming chips and dips. The chips were very oily but were delicious, especially to two hungry travelers. The dips were interesting and I’m glad I had the options. One was a tomato paste that tasted oddly like ketchup but had a much thicker texture – that’s homemade ketchup for you right there. Another was a creamy sauce that was deliciously garlicy and … well, creamy. The last was an extremely spicy pepper sauce that went really well if you mixed it with the creamy sauce. I never think twice when eating “extremely spicy” things in NYC because they never are that spicy. Here, I’m going to have to take caution… one tiny drop of that pepper sauce was enough to burn a hole through my tongue.
We ordered two apps, one of which is called Tsic, a ceviche of shrimp and fish that are marinated in orange juice, xcatic pepper, and coriander, garnished with avocado, tomatoes, and coriander. The seafood was not completely raw and tasted like they were poached. I was a little put off at first but decided that I loved the sweet taste of the poached fish and shrimp. The “fish juice” as LAW called it was deliciously fresh tasting. I’m pretty sure there was lime juice added though not mentioned on the menu. They came with, surprise surprise, more chips. This time round instead of triangular. Let’s see how many shapes of chips we will find this week…