Exhausted all of your dining options on Fifth Avenue and in the tourist-centric east side of the highway? Or just looking for something different that won’t break the bank?
Sometimes you just want to get away from the crowds (and the overinflated prices) on La Quinta, and head for somewhere new to grab a bite to eat. Luckily for us, the melting pot that is Playa Del Carmen has more to offer. If you dare to venture across the Carretera (highway), a different world of restaurants awaits.
Not only are there local joints and taco bars, but you can find some delectable spots boasting fine cuisine, and fresh ingredients, at prices you won’t see in Centro.
KKIS’s 8 Best Playa Del Carmen Restaurants from Across the Highway
Let’s venture west – away from the beach – and explore the gastronomic delights that are available to residents and visitors alike at the 8 Best Restaurants on the ‘other side’ of the Highway.
Pizca Del Sal
Av. 115 y Av. 28 de Julio
Pizca Del Sal is a popular option for brunch in Playa Del Carmen all week long, but the real specialty comes when the weekend arrives! On ‘el fin de semana’ they offer traditional BBQ smoked meats from morning until late in the evening.
This Mexican fusion spot across the highway marries classic Mexican dishes such as chilaquiles, enchiladas, and tacos with international staples such as waffles and sandwiches.
If you really want it all, you absolutely need to try their BBQ meat platter – a sharable medley of meats, cooked to perfection.
Locals rave about the food here, with Pizca Del Sal regularly coming up as a favorite restaurant west of the highway in Playa Del Carmen, for those who’ve been.
They’ve recently extended their premises, adding more tables due to their popularity. And if you have a four-legged friend, they are welcome on the patio and are adored by the attentive wait staff.
60 Avenida Sur entre Calle 1 Sur y Ave Benito Juarez
One of the foreign cultures that has the most influence on Playa Del Carmen is Argentina. This is evident in the number of parrillas there are in town. Bendita Costilla which translates to “blessed rib” is regarded as one of, if not the very best, parrillas in Playa.
A visit to Bendita Costilla transports diners to Argentina with its laid-back bustling atmosphere intertwined with the smoke coming from the open fire pit. Located across the highway in the Ejidal neighborhood this elevated restaurant offers cross-cultural cuisine such as pizza, empanadas, and milanesas all with the signature Argentinian twist. But it’s the grill where this restaurant really shines, offering delicious cuts of beef at a fraction of the price you’d find in Centro (and still with exceptional quality!)
Craving a signature Argentine sandwich such as a lomo, choripan, or bondiola? Look no further. Portions are true to Argentinian standards as well, which are generous, to say the least.
It’s not just for meat-lovers, even vegetarian friends love this restaurant and say that the paste here is exceptional!
Their cocktail and wine menu also is accessible in price, so our advice is to leave the car at home and take a taxi to make a night of it!
Calle Av Petempich y Av. 28 de Julio
Muelle 115 serves Baja-style seafood in the 28 de Julio neighborhood from Tuesday- Sunday. The fresh offerings available here include ceviche, tacos, and aguachiles (if you can take a bit of a spicy kick!). The tuna tiradito is a standout as well as the fresh oysters.
If you haven’t had a chance to try the Mexican staple – the Michelada – this is an excellent place to do so. Micheladas are a mixture of your favorite Mexican beer with lime juice, hot sauce, tomato juice, soy sauce, and Worcestershire sauce. Perfect for washing down your fish tacos!
Beyond the excellent food and beverage, the service is fast and friendly. There is also a kid’s menu offering chicken nuggets and fish sticks. Mulle 115 is our choice for a casual seafood dinner across the highway in PDC.
Calle 19 Sur, entre Ave 80-85 Sur, Ejidal
Looking for an authentic Mexican breakfast or lunch in Ejidal? El Hongo is your answer. Tuesday to Saturday, from 9 in the morning until 4 in the afternoon, they serve up classic dishes such as huevos rancheros, tostadas, ceviche, and Mexican favorite – mole. If you’re out for a bite on Sunday, be aware that they end service an hour early and close at 3 pm.
El Hongo is more than a delicious restaurant; it also operates as a cultural center. In conjunction with the local community the streets surrounding the restaurant are filled with murals and graffiti from local artists and residents who were invited to adorn the streets with vibrant colors that express what Playa Del Carmen means to each individual.
El Hongo is a work of art that has inspired its surroundings to become the same. This family-run restaurant offers a funky experience and often they will have local musicians playing while you dine.
C. Uno, 28 de Julio
Looking for fresh seafood for an early lunch? Barracuda is a seafood institution open from 11 am – 6 pm every day of the week. This place isn’t fancy, but it certainly knows how to cook up some great fish! Prices are accessible and serving sizes are generous.
Seafood offerings include fresh fish fillets, conch (in season), shrimp, and octopus – prepared as cocktails, ceviches, tacos, soups, or empanadas.
The service is fast, but the food preparation requires patience as everything is prepared fresh to order. The menu warns guests of a minimum wait time of 25 minutes, so it is encouraged that guests relax and enjoy a margarita or beer while waiting for their meal.
C. 23 Sur, entre diagonal 85 sur y 85 bis
Located in Ejidal, Anafre is the perfect option for chef-driven cuisine in Playa Del Carmen.
This restaurant is regularly mentioned in the expat foodie forums as a stand-out favorite, and attentive knowledgeable service.
The cuisine is upscale, ranging from steak to seafood with an open-concept kitchen for guests who like to watch the professionals in their element. Another highlight is their cocktail menu, which uses unique local ingredients to provide balanced creative cocktails that are raved about by clients.
It’s almost a hidden secret, and when passing, you might not even know it’s there. To enter, you need to ring the doorbell and once inside you’ll be transported to an elegant space with a warm atmosphere. Loved by expats and locals alike, Anafre makes diners feel as if they stumbled upon a secret that they don’t know if they want to share!
Viking Smoke Master
Avenida Chemuyil y Av. Solidaridad
As the name alludes, this Texas style BBQ restaurant is known for all things smoked. Located in the 28 de Juilo neighborhood, west of the highway, Viking Smoke Master is open for dinner from Thursday through to Sunday.
Customers rave about the brisket, pulled pork and ribs for their perfectly seasoned tenderness. Traditional sides compliment the smokey meats such as mac n’ cheese, coleslaw and cornbread. To balance out all of the flavor it’s recommended to wash it down with a cold beer served from the renovated fire truck on site.
Avenida Constituyentes y Calle 90 Norte
Wine O’Clock is part boutique wine distributor and part restaurant making it a unique enterprise, across the highway in Playa. They offer a wide selection of small-batch exclusive wines produced in Mexico in addition to international options.
Open early and closing late every day, the restaurant offers breakfast, lunch, and dinner with dishes thoughtfully prepared to be perfect pairings with their wine offerings.
If you are a resident or local wine enthusiast, joining their wine club offers various benefits including a monthly wine tasting for you and your companion, 15% off restaurant purchases, 10% off carry-out wine, and 20% off wine pairing dinners for you and your guests.
If you haven’t stopped in for a bottle of wine and cheese board, we highly recommend doing so.
Keeping Kids in School
If you have ventured across the highway (or are now inspired to, from reading this article!) you’ll know that the growing community of Playa del Carmen is more than just a tourist town.
Many locals call it home, but for some, living here can be a struggle. We know that children who complete their high school education have a much-increased opportunity to get better jobs here in the Riviera Maya. For a lot of families though, allowing their teens to complete their high school education isn’t an option. It can be tough for them to gather enough money for their kids’ school fees, uniforms, and other essential school supplies. On top of that, many grapple with deciding whether to let their children stay in school longer for a better future or to start working early to support the family financially.
But here at KKIS, we’re working to change this cycle!
It costs less than $2 USD per day to help keep a student in high school.
Why not forgo that extra glass of wine with your dinner from a restaurant on the other side of the highway in Playa del Carmen, and spend it on a KKIS scholar instead? Changing a life starts with you!