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Restaurants in Playa del Carmen: Insider Recommendations

Playa del Carmen has grown at such a rapid pace in recent years that visitors are now faced with hundreds of restaurant choices. But which ones can you count on for quality and authenticity in the sea of menu boards and tourist-hailing hosts? Here are a few of my favorite restaurants in Playa del Carmen.

Yaxche: Over-the-Top Mayan Cuisine

For an exquisite, over-the-top experience, head to Yaxche, right on the popular pedestrian strip that is 5th Avenue (La Quinta Avenida) in Playa del Carmen. Recipient of a Five-Star Diamond Award from the American Academy of Hospitality Sciences, as well as inclusion on the list of Distinguished Restaurants of North America, this is for people who want to experience true Mayan cuisine at its finest. Order malix, a dish of cream of chaya doused with white wine—it’s touted as a mystic aphrodisiac. Top it off with the Mezcal flambee crepe, a sweet crepe filled with banana and mango that is prepared right at your table.

HC de Monterrey: Dine With Locals

This tiny hole-in-the-wall serves as a butcher shop and restaurant. This local chain now boasts three locations, but this is the original and this is where you need to go. Known to some locals (and cab drivers) as “Super Carne,” you may notice more locals patronizing the place than tourists, but if you want to experience what may be the best steak meal you’ll ever have sans fancy surroundings, this is it. The Arrechera Nacional dinner costs about $12 and comes with a baked onion as a side dish. Incredibly sweet and tender, dip the onion into various cream sauces, including the garlic cream sauce – hands down the best of the batch. Open daily from noon to midnight.

La Pummarola: Simple Italian Cuisine

Serving authentic Italian favorites such as bruschetta, wood-fired pizza, calzones and pastas, La Pummarola keeps patrons (including me!) coming back again and again. With three locations around Playa, I prefer the one on Calle 24 between 5th and 10th Avenues. Tucked slightly away from the action on 5th Avenue, La Pummarola is a great place to escape to for some peace and quiet, and a deliciously simple Italian meal at an affordable price.

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