Eat to Live or Live to Eat?
I would like to ask you a rhetorical question: Do you live to eat, or eat to live?
I’m sure that there are both followers of the first part of this expression and of the second. I’m definitely eating to live. But recently I discovered Mexican cuisine…Mmmm….It’s just impossible to digest it quickly and run to work! It makes you want to stretch out every moment.
And, of course, a lot really depends on where you find your meals. Sometimes you want something vivid and full of life, sometimes you prefer a romantic place. When you go on vacation to a small tourist destination like Playa del Carmen, surely you want to visit every restaurant you see. But, often you don’t have enough time, or you find something you like so much that you keep going back. Meanwhile you might miss something interesting. Let me try to help you by describing in a few words the most significant locations in this paradise called Playa.
“El Fogon” (Calle 6 & 30th Avenue)
I’ll begin with traditional Mexican food, what the locals eat every day, not what’s made only for tourists. The restaurant is called “El Fogon.” For the curious, “El Fogon” means “stove” or “hearth” in Spanish. The main characters here are the tacos. This is corn flat bread stuffed with minced meat, cheese, tomato and onion. It’s always served with local picante sauces and vegetables. From the traditional Mexican cousin there also are nachos, quesadillas, tostados, tortas and many others. They are the same corn flat breads with various stuffing. Prices here are just unbelievable cheap, the service is excellent, and everything is fresh and tasty. The bistro has 3 different locations around the town. Tourists frequently come to eat here. I hope that their presence does not affect the quality of the food. The only downside of El Fogon is that the locations are next to large and noisy streets. But, on the other hand, it’s convenient.
“Nativo” (30th Avenue)
Nativo is located near El Fogon. Here, as elsewhere, everything is natural. At the entrance, for decoration, stand bags of vegetables and fruits, and there is a small cozy terrace. The menu is dominated by natural fruit drinks and smoothies, and you get a big menu of cocktails made not just with fruits, but with vegetables too. The only problem with this place is the bathroom. It’s located on the second floor and is not in great condition. But the food and beverages compensate for any inconvenience.
“Piola“ (Calle 38 between 5th Avenue and 1st Avenue)
So far I’ve covered Mexican cuisine. A friend of mine works in an Italian restaurant called “Piola.” Here we have the kingdom of pizza; you can find more than 60 types or ask for a custom pizza of your choice. Everything is really delicious. I often come here with friends for a glass of wine. It’s a very cozy place with great decor. The restaurant is located away from all the street noise, and prices here are reasonable.
“El Pirata” (In the Costa del Mar Hotel, 1st Avenue between Calle 12 and Calle 10)
El Pirata is the place for those who love freshly made fish. To be honest, I live right next to it. You can eat in the restaurant or order take out. You can even choose your own fish. The most delicious fish is the one with a reddish color. Be sure to try the ceviche—it’s magical. The prices at El Pirata will leave you very happy.
“Babe’s“ (Calle 10 between 5th and 10 Avenue or 5th Avenue between Calle 20 and 30)
Babe’s is probably one of the best places in town. They’ve got two restaurants across town from each other. Here you will enjoy delicious Thai food. A big plus here is that you can order a regular portion as well as half. You can also have a fresh fruit cocktail. I haven’t been there for ages—I’ll have to go soon…
On to the next. There is another Italian restaurant in Playa, called “Pumarola.” This place is for a clientele with bigger pockets. Here you’ll find all the delights of Italian cuisine along with lovely decor. The owners are Italian, which tells you a lot about the quality and authenticity of the food.
“Buenos Aires’ (Calle 6)
Of course, I can’t ignore the Argentinean restaurants. There are few of them in Playa. I set my eyes on “Buenos Aires.” It’s located near the city center but the same time it is very quiet. The atmosphere here is very easy. You should definitely order the steak. It’s just inimitable. And the waiters … I haven’t seen anyone more handsome than the Argentines. Come and see!
“Fusion“ (At the end of Calle 6)
One of the most famous places in Playa is the hotel, bar, and restaurant called “Fusion.” This place is more well-known as a bar, but cuisine is great as well. The dishes are just enormous. Another big advantage of this place is that it is right on the beach. It is a very romantic place, especially in the evening and there are small tables and comfortable chairs right on the sand. You can also see the fire show here, as well as music in town—jazz, reggae, salsa etc.
It would take more than one post to describe all the great restaurants in town, but I will write in even greater detail on different menus, prices and location in my coming articles. For now, though, what do you think? Eat to live, or live to eat?