Playa del Carmen has over 700 ‘eateries’ and it can be overwhelming for visitors when trying to pick a place to eat. You can walk the streets forever, see a ton of interesting places to sit down and chow but the choice is overwhelming. Everyone has their favorites, and everyone has an opinion, which makes it sometimes even worse. It really depends on what you are looking for and what type of breakfast you really want; fresh, a bit greasy (yes people want that) cultural, something like home, dietary based, and the list goes on.
We have some great options that will give you a good starting point. There are more than 10 places to have breakfast in Playa, and I am sure there are people who would say yea or nay to these choices, but if you want a variety of choices and don’t want to be disappointed, here is our list.
1. El Nativo. Av. 30 and Av. Constituyentes. This continues to be a Playa favorite as you have a choice of fresh, small, large, cultural and homey. yes, if you want the grease, they have that too, but all in all there are a ton of option. Large fresh juices that are delicious, great eggs done as omelets and any style, chiliquiles, a Mexican favorite that would serve the same purpose as fried eggs, bacon and potatoes. Inexpensive and a nice small Mexican style restaurant.
2. El Bistro Av 10 between 12th and 14th. They have a great deal for breakfast, many international options and nice staff. you can sit by the street or by the pool, the pool always being my option. The coffee is good, the options good and I have never had a bad meal. the only thing is have to say is that on Sunday it can be busy, so go early or be prepared to wait a bit.
3. La Sasta La Quinta between 10th and 8th. This is a super coffee place and is a long standing Playa coffee house, if not the first to arrive on the scene way back in the early 90′s. If you are looking for a European breakfast of coffee and sweet breads or an American breakfast of bagels and muffins you have come to the right place. Their outdoor patio faces 5th Av so it is a great place to people watch. The women who work that are nice, funny and they have great coffee. Lattes, cappuccino, Americano, brewed, and frozen lattes…
4. Fusion 6th Av on the beach. Fusion does a lot of things well, but there is nothing like, crawling out of bed and rolling down to the beach for a nice breakfast, a view, chill music and beach chairs right there that are just waiting for you. Fusion is chill, no nonsense and a great deal. The food is good, simple and eclectic, some Mexican dishes, some north american dishes and really something to please everyone. Give it a try and tell us what you think.
5. The Fruit Ladies At the Cozumel Ferry Pier at Juarez. Oh the fruit ladies, a Playa favorite and a great walk in the morning. This has been a ritual of ours to go for an early walk, see the ocean, grab some fruit from the fruit ladies, mixed fruit or mango, coconut or watermelon, melon or Mayan plums. I discovered about 5 years ago, the greatness of lime and chili powder sprinkled on your fruit. Yuck you say, no YUM we say. Yes it sounds strange, but it is the best combo I have ever had. My favorite is mango with chili or jicama with chili (white root vegetable that is fab), or oranges with chili. for 15 pesos, 1.10 usd it is a great breakfast.
6. DiVino La Quinta on the corner of 12th. This is a long time favorite for brunch and a big breakfast. I am not a fan of buffets, but when there are chefs making omelets in the minute for you, fresh fruit galore, cereal, coffee, potatoes, you name it they have it, all for you to choose, I am not going to shun it. They do a great job, it is great value and as always the service is super!
7. Empanandas Many locations throughout Playa Ohhhh empanada’s, my nemesis, my love, my devil, my habit. I had a year that i call my empanada year, I loved empanadas, (and i still do) i could not go a day without empanadas, i dreamed about empanadas and it was my motivator…sad but true. But then i had to put things into perspective. Empanadas are a great treat, they are not a staple meal and they are to be had once a month, not 30 times a month. Do i love life, yes, do i love empanada, yes, but i love life more so now they are a treat. Empanadas are deep fried taco, stuffed with either cheese, or chicken or sausage and potatoes, or beef. You put on top of them, spicy salsa, marinated cabbage, cream, and marinated onions. Oh how i love thee…but they are deep fried. BUT they are a mexican tradition…there are a few places i would recommend for a treat and a great Mexican experience. the corner of 4th Ave and 20th, a little road side cart that is with a tiny palapa and a ton of people eating empanadas. A little tiny eatery on Juarez on the south side between 35th and 40th..these are made with LOVE and fresh fresh fresh. on Juarez between 25th and 20th, though a funny little place, if you get them fresh they are good..and finally on 10th ave near the corner of 1st street on the beach side..they have a few stools and been there for over 10 years..delicious..
8. La Vagabunda La Quinta between 24th and 26th. Again a favorite with locals and tourists…and they have a well priced breakfast with lots of choices..
9. La Cueva de Chango la Quinta and 38th street. Oh the monkey cave, which is the translation in English. Not only is this one of the first restaurants in Playa, it has a really nice setting, very cool decor, super nice staff and a menu based on Mayan ingredients and Mexican flavours. Many a breakfast have started early and then somehow turned into a late lunch as you are relaxed, are loving the atmosphere, loving the food and all the choices. People come for a nice quiet breakfast and just chat and enjoy and all of a sudden, it is time for lunch…and you are ready to dig in again..
10 Tacos by the Pier La Quinta at Juarez There are about 7 taco stands in the morning at the small church by the pier, and if the crowd is any indication, i believe and have heard that they are great. there is not one better than another. and some of the guys and gals have Cochinita Pibil, the very famous roasted Mayan pig that is marinated, slowly braised and a fine delicacy. these are served as sandwiches in large buns and though admittedly I am a vegetarian, the feedback from reliable meat eating sources, say, these are great places to eat!
So these are our suggestions, not a be all, end all list, but some great places to get you started. If you have any comments, place your suggestions in the comments section for everyone to see and share. What we love about Playa is the diversity and the choices that includes every budget, every flavor, and every wish….
By Nicola Inwood – Nicola is the Chair of Taste of Playa 2010. She writes for numerous blogs, one being www.lifejustbecamesimpler.wordpress.com and is the owner of various businesses in the Riviera Maya.