Mexico is a foodie’s paradise for fresh, local and tropical food…I had some of the best guacamole (and we tried many) and tacos of my life here, and found it was super easy to eat healthily whilst travelling, regardless of the fact I was travelling with non-Vegan friends – there was always something for everyone! Oh, and did I mention SUPER CHEAP?! Take me back…
The important things to know in advance of a trip here – learn some Spanish! I highly recommend the 6 week travelers course I completed in Melbourne through CAE.
If you have dietary requirements, learn how to say them in Spanish. This enabled me to ensure I was able to let cafe staff know if I wanted to alter a dish:
“no/sin carne” – no/without meat
“no/sin quesa” – no/without cheese
“no/sin pescado” – no/without fish
“soy vegano/vegetariano” – I am vegan/vegetarian
“frutas/vergulas” – fruit/vegetables
Playa Del Carmen
Day 1 here we hit up the local mercado (market) to stock up our fridge for the lazy days by our rooftop pool, or for breakfast/snacks. We were lucky enough to have a blender in our AirBnB apartment which I put to full use every day making green smoothies full of pina and platanos (pineapple and bananas) and spinach. It was super cheap for us to pick up the freshest local food for minimum pesos (Mexican currency).
Eating out around Playa del Carmen, there were plenty of restaurants which catered for dietary requirements (my friends even hit up a steakhouse which had a HUGE grilled vegetable plate on their menu for me). During the day we relaxed by the pool or beach and I had snacks of cut up fruit, or fresh fruit juices and coco frios (cold coconuts) from the nearby juice bar on the corner of Calle Av 10 and Calle 46 Nte. There was also a delicious authentic cafe called El Sangha Rito on Calle 46 Nte on the way to the juice bar which did amazing salads, guacamole with pico de gallo and fresh juices.
We were walking distance to Canibal Royal beach club which had a great food menu and cocktail list – if you haven’t tried a michelada before, it’s a must for lovers of beer who enjoy a chilli savoury kick!
Dinner @ La Cueva Del Chango – Calle 38, between 5th Ave and the beach
We all loved our meals here. Plenty of guacamole and pico de gallo to start, rounds of maragaritas, and I got a fantastic apple salad for main which was huge and so tasty!
I found the main strip of restaurants on 5th Avenue were catered for tourist cuisines – although most had a Mexican section to their menus, the authentic Mexican diners were found in the backstreets, and were worth the hunt! Super cheap, and super delicious. But you will need your Spanish basics here to understand their menus and place your orders. There is a great list of healthy Playa Del Carmen eatery tips found on Lynn Gilmartin’s blog – check it out here. We used this to navigate our way around PDC.
This beach-side town does not cease to disappoint, from beach clubs to food options to beaches themselves! Take note: this town is far bigger than you could expect, and it would take you a 10-15 minute taxi ride from town to beach / 45 minute bike ride to beach. I highly recommend learning from our mistake, and stay down along the beaches! You’re close to everything you need each day, and you will have no need to head into town except for when you’re leaving Tulum! Or to stock up on fresh fruit or cheap canned chipotle chillis or beans…
La Morena chipotle chillis – 15.50 pesos = AU$1.32, when I’ve paid up to $10 a can for these in Melbourne!! Stock up!!
Recommended playas (beaches):
Playa El Paraiso – beautiful white shores, great surf, and Paraiso Beach Club to rent sunbaking lounges, wifi, food and drinks. They also have a little beach stall further along where a man opens coco frio (cold coconuts) and will also scoop out the coconut flesh when you’re done and serve it up in the shell with chilli and lime – YUM!
Playa Pescadores – incredible sandy beach surrounded by palm trees, the shores scattered with hammocks and ‘swing’ bars – a great spot to have a Mexican beer and a light lunch.
Anywhere within the vicinity of Mateo’s Mexican Grill. This place is awesome, and is on a long road strip of restaurants, cafes, bars and right near the beach.
Mateo’s is a cool open air shack with multiple levels. Downstairs is casual seating for food and drinks which at night times is prime location by a stage with local reggae bands and fire twirlers. Second level up overlooks the stage with views of the beach nearby. Third level up is a row of hammocks which you can sit in, watching the sunset whilst sipping on a beer – HEAVEN! Not to mention I had the 2nd best tacos of my whole trip at this place…the food was delicious here; I highly recommend the tacos and burritos!
Isla Mujeres (Island of Women)
Our 2nd favourite place throughout our travels in Mexico…This island is well worth the visit, regardless of what you’re travelling for – it has a good nightlife, shopping, tasty restaurants, beautiful beaches, and lots of local features for sightseeing (the colourful cemetery near Playa Norte was a personal favourite). You are able to get lots of fresh fruta and coco frio from carts on Playa Norte (the best beach on Isla Mujeres).
We ate a number of times at Lola Valentina on Ave Juarez which had a great healthy menu – the sweet potato burrito was addictive!
Saving the best for last – this was our favourite place we stayed out of our entire trip. A traditional Mexican fishing village with many great beaches nearby (Playa Carrizalillo is worth the ten minute drive), excellent surf (PE hosts the Ripcurl Pro tour each year), and lots of great eateries.
Spirulina – an awesome fresh menu filled with juices and smoothies, salads and tacos. I ate here daily, it was so cheap!
Acai Bowls Puerto Escondido – so many types of bowls, and so refreshing on a hot day!
Fish Taco & Beer – we ate here daily also. The lady owner is lovely and only too happy to give you recommendations on where to visit nearby for site seeing. The food here was incredible. Best guacamole and tacos of my ENTIRE trip. You can’t miss this place if you travel to PE, it’s the bomb!!
For more images from my trip around Mexico, check out my Instagram: