Playa del Carmen, once a sleepy fishing village, has grown to be one of the hottest shopping and eating scenes in Mexico. Referred to by many simply as “Playa,” you will fall in love with the infectious vibe and general happiness of this place. Also, with many notable chefs taking up residence along the famed La Quinta Avenida (5th Avenue) you are never far from a good meal. Here are our top picks of the chicest Playa del Carmen food and shopping hotspots.
While meandering in Playa for the weekend with my husband, we were able to discover the best Playa del Carmen food and shopping spots. One strong suggestion would be to explore on the northern side of the main walking street so to avoid the “touristy” traps.
Eating + Drinking
The Bar @ Hotel Cacao. One of our favourite places on the Playa del Carmen food and shopping trail. Pop up to the 4th floor towards the end of the day and enjoy the sunset and fantastic views of Cozumel from this sexy rooftop lounge. I suggest trying a cocktail infused with Mezcal, like the Skimmer (watermelon + lime juice, rosemary syrup with Mezal), for an extra local Mexican experience. You can also order food from the restaurant on the main floor called Nibs. Nibs is home to the famed Alejandro Cuatepotzo, who was recognized as a “Rising Star Chef of Mexico” at the 2015 Wine and Food Festival Cancun-Riviera Maya. We enjoyed the Ceviche de Pescado as an appetizer to start the night.
5ta Av. S/N Manzana 31 Lote 1, Gonzalo Guerrero, 77710 Playa del Carmen
Almirante Pech The next stop on the Playa del Carmen food and shopping trail is Almirante Pech, an ever-bopping local favorite for dinner and drinks. Order the Tuna Tartar to start and don’t miss out on the pan roasted “catch of the day” because it wouldn’t be a proper beach vacation without some fresh, perfectly prepared fish.
5ª Av Esq C/30 esquina Calle 30, Quinta Avenida, Centro, 77710 Playa del Carmen
Maiz de Mar. For something a more quick and casual, you can head next door from Almirante Pech for delightful, gourmet tacos in a great atmosphere at Maiz de Mar. This restaurant is the creation of Mexico’s (arguably) most famous Chefs, Enrique Olvera. The price point is more friendly at Maiz, and the restaurant is beautifully designed. We loved eating on the front terrace for prime people watching.
Quinta Avenida Manzana 71 Lote 1, Centro, 77710 Playa del Carmen
Caguamería de Esquina. A tucked away little gem. This is a casual yet chic spot for craft beers, gourmet burgers, and brick oven pizza. Great for a small break from Mexican food.
1 Avenida Norte Mz 63 Lt 1, Xaman Ha, 77710 Playa del Carmen
PLANK. The next stop on this Playa del Carmen food and shopping trail is wonderful for dinner, but we really enjoyed PLANK for brunch. The Chorizo Frittata is a must along with a Mimosa (included in the brunch special). This eatery is located a little closer to the “party” crowd in Playa, but we loved the sophisticated atmosphere and the great people watching on a Sunday morning after a hard-core night (for some in the vicinity). I’m waiting to go back and try the infamous Beef Wellington, which is grilled directly on wooden salt planks – said to enhance the natural flavors of the meat.
MZA 64 LTE 2, Quinta Avenida, Gonzalo Guerrero, Solidaridad, 77720 Playa del Carmen
Silvia Suárez. Find traditional fabrics from the birthplace of Mexican textiles, Oaxaca. This is one of our favourites on the Playa del Carmen food and shopping tour. Beautifully intricate embroidery in vibrant colors which makes for easy breezy beachwear as loose tops and dresses. All pieces are hand-made, and some items are also available in children’s sizes.
Quinta Avenida Entre 34 Y 38 Col.Gonzalo Guerrero, Playa del Carmen
Jula Luma. Explore curiosities like a stuffed version of Freda Kahlo smoking a cigarette or ethereal linen blouses and sundresses. They also have a wonderful selection of handmade jewelry made by local artists and beyond.
MZA 152 LTE 2, Quinta Avenida, Zazil-ha, Solidaridad, 77720 Playa del Carmen
La Troupe. This Playa del Carmen food and shopping tour comes to an end at La Troupe. Keeping in line with the hippy, laid-back nature of Playa del Carmen, you can find gorgeous hand embroided clothing and houseware here. We enjoyed learning that the design of the shop was completely made from recycled shipping pallets.
L 2 B, Quinta Avenida 101, Centro, Solidaridad, 77710 Playa del Carmen
Where to Stay
There is no better hotel from which to explore the wonderful Playa del Carmen food and shopping scene than Hotel La Semilla. Located close to the city’s best hotspots, the hotel has a distinct bohemian feel, and the effortlessly cool design are in perfect harmony with the city’s laidback vibe.