Image - Catch restaurant
If you visit Playa del Carmen in the Riviera Maya, the city’s seemingly limitless number of restaurants can make the decision on where to dine a daunting one. We have dozens of recommended staff favorites, ranging from casual beachside eateries to elegant choices. But if you are a foodie with a palette that appreciates lavish textures and flavors, we hope this list of upscale eateries will satisfy your longing for phenomenal cuisine and service.
(Located on Calle 12 and 5th Avenue, open from 6pm)
For the best views in the city, we recommend dinner at Catch on the rooftop of the Thompson Hotel Playa del Carmen. Sample artful creations like the Tartar Trio, a cool combination of Salmon, Hamachi and Tuna served with American Caviar. From the entrée menu, choose from delectable options such as aged strip loin, Alaskan King Crab or the savory ‘Catch’ of the day.
From this vantage point, the vistas of the cityscape make you feel like you’ve been transported to a futuristic Playa del Carmen. For cocktails, dinner with friends, or a romantic night out with your loved one, Catch offers big city views with an ultra-chic vibe.
Oh La La
(Located on Calle 14 Bis between 10th & 15th Avenue, open from 6:30pm)
We love this place because of its charming, yet covert location off of 5th Avenue and of course, the exceptional food. Oh La La was born out of Chef George’s deep appreciation for fine cuisine. He and the extraordinarily accommodating staff invite you in with a warm welcome and truly give patrons a unique, memorable dining experience.
On the menu, the seared Tuna Steak is a favorite as is the rich Thai Chicken Curry. For dessert, try the creamy cheesecake, one of the best in town. Oh La La presents a full bar and a sophisticated wine list to accompany your incredible meal.
In October of 2014, Oh La La was rated #1 Traveler’s Favorite Fine Dining Restaurant in Mexico. There are under a dozen tables in this intimate dining establishment, so reservations are highly recommended.
(Located on Calle 16 between 1st and 5th Avenue, open 9am-2pm and 6-11pm)
This fine dining concept is like no other in the Riviera Maya. Chef Juan Diego Solombrino uses his haute culinary skills to produce superb dishes such as the Grilled Lobster Tails, Chilean Sea Bass in a delightful citrus sauce or the Certified USDA Fillet Mignon in a rich mushroom cream sauce. The unique aspect of Plank is that the gourmet entrees are cooked and served on Himalayan Salt Blocks, Mesquite, Hickory, Cedar and Maple wood planks. The flavors are impeccably infused within each creative menu option and the result is a divine experience for your taste buds.
The stylish and modern ambience matches the elegant cocktail and wine lists. Try signature Plank beverage creations such as the Smoked Mint Julep or the Lychee Martini. Visit this upscale eatery on the weekend for brunch, dig into a cut of tender prime rib on Wednesday nights, or celebrate a special event with a group of friends. In any case, the experience is always a memorable one at Plank!
(Located on 1st Avenue between Calle 14 and 16, open from 7am-2pm and 6-11pm)
This is one of our top picks for breakfast which includes freshly prepared green juice, a basket of sweet breads, a plate of vibrant seasonal fruit with local honey and yogurt, as well as a main brunch favorite like the rich eggs benedict or a delightful leek omelet. The eatery has the ambience of a quaint French bistro with its patio lining the sunny, cobblestone street.
In the evenings, the menu offers an exquisite array of starters like the Tuna Tartare (my personal favorite) and clams cooked in a wine and garlic sauce. The inventive dishes feature an Asian fusion with a selection of international cuisine that is far from ordinary. Nosh on the duck in a flavorful orange sauce or try the red curry with mango and cashews over fragrant jasmine rice.
If you’re in the city during a holiday, Imprevist creates incredible menus just for the occasion. The service and food is consistently impeccable, but the restaurant is intimate so reservations are recommended.
Casa Del Lago
(Located in the Rosewood at Mayakoba, 10 minutes north of Playa del Carmen on the 307 Federal Highway, open from 7am)
Upon setting foot on the vast Rosewood property, one of the most spectacular pieces of land in the Mayan Riviera, you will be awed by its outstanding design and stunning, natural setting. For a serene and chic dining experience away from the hustle and bustle of Playa’s 5th Avenue, we suggest Casa Del Lago.
This delectable restaurant offers unparalleled views overlooking the prestigious resort’s pool and picturesque lagoon. Enjoy the heavenly vistas while sampling interesting Italian inspired dishes made with local ingredients. The blend of Mexican elements within the traditional Italian cuisine is unexpected, yet executed perfectly. The unique fusion is portrayed in entrees such as the Risotto with Huitlacoche (edible corn fungi - a popular Mayan delicacy) and the Catch of the Day bathed in a sauce with a hint of mint, green tomatillos and mild chile guajillo.
Dine al fresco earlier in the day on traditional Mexican breakfast favorites like Juevos Rancheros and witness the sunrise over the glistening waters. Play a round of golf at El Camaleon, Mayakoba’s renowned PGA tour course, then enjoy a light lunch of tuna tostadas and signature cocktails at Casa Del Lago or escape for a private dinner to La Cava, the restaurant’s glass-walled wine room.
There is an elegant dress code for dinner and reservations are recommended.
(Located on 5th Avenue and Calle 10, open from 12pm)
For the best steaks in the city, Sur is our first choice. The casual yet sophisticated ambience is ideal for lunch, dinner or drinks. The ample outdoor dining areas overlook the colorful 5th Avenue and present the prime vantage point for watching the international characters flock over the city’s most famous street.
Combined with the succulent surf and turf menu, the servers go above and beyond to create an amazing dining experience. As a precursor, enjoy a cucumber martini at the stylish bar, and when you sit down to dinner, choose a bottle from the impressive wine list to accompany a superb filet.
Apart from the large selection of tender cuts of red meat, patrons can also choose from an assortment of poultry and seafood entrees as well. For those warm Mexican Caribbean nights, Sur offers an elegant, air-conditioned dining room.
Passion by Martin Berasategui
(Located in Paradisus Playa del Carmen on 5th Avenue & Calle 88, open from 6:00pm)
The prominent Spanish chef, Martin Berasategui has accumulated 7 Michelin stars over the years. Fortunately for us, he decided to open Passion here in Playa del Carmen. Either on the open terrace or in the refined, yet comfortable dining room, a meal at Passion is a culinary adventure.
Choose from a 7-course tasting menu or create your own delicious line-up from the a la carte menu. Sample exquisite morsels of Kobe beef, divine mushroom ravioli or remarkable foie gras while the in-house Sommelier forms the perfect pairing to delight your palette.
The attention to detail in the service and presentation makes the experience an unforgettable one and is an excellent destination for a special occasion. Passion is an adult-only dining establishment and advance reservations are required. A proper dress code is in effect and valet parking is available.
(Located on 5th Avenue and Calle 32 in the Lat20 Hotel Building, open from 5pm)
If you appreciate the rich flavors of authentic Italian cuisine, Cenacolo is a fine choice! Handmade pastas in savory, yet light sauces made with fresh ingredients take traditional dishes like lasagna and ravioli to a new level. The Seabass in the leak sauce is exceptional and the crème brulee is an excellent grand finale to a fantastic meal.
The intimate eatery features a sophisticated wine selection and elegant décor with classic white tablecloths. Sit inside and enjoy the staff’s highly professional service, romantic dim lighting and serene atmosphere, or dine on the terrace, which looks onto the effervescent 5th Avenue. Reservations are recommended.
(Located in the Azul Sensatori Resort in Puerto Morelos 20 minutes from Playa del Carmen, open from 6pm)
The delectable menu at Le Chique is a labor of love orchestrated by Chef Jonatan Gomez Luna. Upscale items like the Brioche are anything but typical with their Yucatecan-inspired flavors. Seasonal and regional ingredients are perfectly incorporated into traditional dishes like mole, gorditas and panuchos, taking them up a notch on the culinary scale.
A tasting menu gives you the chance to sample delicacies served to Mayan royals like crickets and Tascalate, a sweetened warm corn, chocolate and vanilla drink. Superior service staff work with the talented culinary team to present the exquisite offerings in such a visually appealing way that you are left astounded. Not only are the mini pedestals used in the presentation impressive, but also the combinations of flavors are out of this world.
An optional wine-pairing menu is available and an elegant resort dress code is enforced. Call in advance to reserve your table and if you want a more private, intimate dining experience, ask for a table in the wine cellar. Although eating at Le Chique requires you to drive outside of Playa del Carmen, the drive is absolutely worth it!
(Located in Tulum on the compound of Rancho San Eric, on the main strip on the right side of the fork that runs along the sea)
We had the great pleasure of dining here for a friend’s birthday a little while back. Hechizo is owned and operated by Chef Stefan along with his wife Pastry Chef extraordinaire Hui and sits along the world-class beaches of Tulum.
Before we ordered, Chef Stefan came out to introduce himself and explain the elaborate menu offerings. We savored gourmet entrees like black peppered prawns and local, sautéed greens, seared Tuna and Salmon dishes and finished with a flourless, dark chocolate cake to mark the special occasion. The servers were stealth-like and we didn’t notice until we picked up our glasses that our waters had been refilled.
There are outdoor tables on the sand, but on the evening we went, it was quite windy. So opted to sit indoors, but still enjoyed the sounds of the waves pounding the shore just a few steps away. The whole experience was definitely one to remember. Although the food and service was deserving of a 10-star rating, the atmosphere was extremely warm, friendly and unpretentious.
The charming, family run business closes periodically during the low season so be sure to call ahead to reserve your table.
This rounds out our top 10 choices for upscale restaurants in this magical city by the sea. We hope that this list provides you with some good direction as you search for the ultimate culinary experience in Playa del Carmen.
Buen Provecho! Bon Appetite!
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About the Author
Juanita grew up in a small town in the middle of Canada. Having experienced twenty years of ruggedly cold climate, she had seen enough snow to last her a lifetime. After moving to and working in Vancouver for thirteen years (where she was ecstatic to see the odd palm tree) she jumped at the opportunity to move with her husband and three children to Playa del Carmen. She calls it a ‘dreamy existence’ and cherishes year-round, backyard barbecues with friends, road trips and watching the sunrise over the Caribbean. She writes for Bric Vacation Rentals.