Sunday, March 8, 2009

Playa Me With 20 Peso Cervesas

J. had been to Playa del Carmen about 15 years ago. She told of driving down dirt roads towards the beach, findling a low key resort with lots of palapas and cheap beers. 15 years later, Playa had changed a lot.

Playa exists for two reasons: 1) Tourism, and 2) the ferry to Cozumel. There is a smidgen of culture along 5th Avenue, but only so far as it feeds the tourists.

When faced with these situations, we find it's always a good idea to go with what we know; food. Street vendors can be found all along the beach, featuring everything from ice cream (helado) to fresh fruit. We tried to find some more traditional fare, but to no avail. In fact, the only tacos, tomales and ceviche we found were either on the outskirts of town (seen from our cab on the way out of town) or on the menus of the touristy joints.

Deciding to swallow our pride a little, we looked for the cheapest beer specials and hoped for the best with the food. Enter Eduardo, and Playa Tropica. Eduardo was the guy working the street trying to fill his patio with customers. Normally I hate this sort of hucksterism, but we were in a buying mood, and I'm sure Eduardo sensed that.

"Señor, you look thirsty." His 20 peso beer deal sealed the deal.

The menu was less than inspired. Burgers, fajitas ... pizza for crissake! Now I've been told pizza in Playa is pretty good ... but no. Not this trip.

"Something to eat señor?"

"I thought this area was known for fish. I don't see any fish on the menu."

"You want fish señor? I can get you fish."

"You have fish tacos Eduardo?"

"Si. You like ceviche?"

"Si Eduardo ... and two more cervesa por favor."

The food was fine. Nothing more, nothing less. And as we sat and listened to Eduardo invite the "honeymooners" (what he called every young couple) to the best lunch in Playa, the cheap beers and distinct lack of snow on the ground made the patio at Playa Tropica almost as good as the palapas at the end of a dirt road.


  1. Sorry to hear you didn't have a great food experience in Playa del Carmen! I'm lucky enough to live here and there is a lot of great food available. I've never heard of Playa Tropica before. It must be new. If you get a chance to come back, try La Tarraya on the beach for seafood or El Fogon on 30th Avenue for an authentic Mexican dinner.

    Oh, and I've gotta try making homemade tortillas one day! They are so awesome, but they're hard to come by in the restaurants. What a great experience you had making them with the Maya women. It does sound like that tour was a bit touristy. But the women really do wear those dresses every day! Even when they shop at Walmart! :)

  2. Libby,

    Thanks for the feedback.

    I am sure there's great food in Playa del Carmen. And it looks like I should have visited your site before I went to help find it!
    I didn't mean to imply that all food was bad there ... but when food is geared towards the tourists, authenticity and quality often suffers.

    I could have the restaurant name wrong ... there were a LOT of 20 peso beers!


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