I lived in Playa Del Carmen for two years and aside from the life lessons I learnt in my first year while living abroad in Mexico, I also learnt that there is another side to Playa Del Carmen. There is hidden magic behind Playa Del Carmen and there is something there for everyone. This is why Playa Del Carmen attracts such a large number of expats moving to and living in Playa Del Carmen.
After my time living in Playa Del Carmen, I thought it would be useful to collate a little guide to help you think of some ideas for that special night out.
1. Delicious and romantic restaurants in Playa del Carmen
Spanish Restaurant in Playa Del Carmen
I have travelled to Spain and have fallen in love with Spanish food, especially in San Sebastian. I can honestly say this is definitely on par with the places I have visited in Spain. Think robust and affordable wines, tapas rich in a variety of sauces complimenting the ingredients and of course the paella, moist and full of flavour. We always get the vegetarian paella. This restaurant is one of my best restaurants in Playa Del Carmen. The venue is not fussy and it doesn’t need to be as the food is the star.
Don’t be fooled, the tapas plates are larger than you think. The Spanish owner who is almost always there and his staff are always happy and ready to meet your needs.
Bonus: we have been most nights and they almost always have live acoustics just to set the tone even more.
If you are a local- ask for the 10 % discount.
Italian Restaurants in Playa Del Carmen
Perche No Restaurante Pizzeria
There is Italian food everywhere in PDC, but in my opinion, not all great. How do you choose the best ones and away from all the crowds?
This one is one of the favourites. It is a little fancier than some other restaurants, so it is lovely for any occasion. From the excellent service to the clean sheik decor to the exquisite food. With one bite of my pasta, it tasted exactly like my nonna’s sauce. The pizza crust is thin and the ingredients are fresh. The servings are top-notch for the price. A good selection of wine also.
For an Aussie grown up in an Italian household with Italian grandparents, I highly recommend Perche No. This was also recommended to us when we first arrived by an Italian family.
Perche No restaurant is right around the corner from Playacar (10 minute drive from Playa Del Carmen town).
Another Italian restaurant in Playa del Carmen but I had to throw this one in as it has sentimental value to me as it was where Carlos took me on our first date. The ambience and nice setting are what makes this place a lovely date night or a place with friends. It is usually filled with locals or expats, couples or families. It has the option of sitting outside or inside, depending on what you like.
In our experience, as we have gone several times, the taste of the food isn’t always of a high standard and the service isn’t always consistent. But it still has a nice charm to it.
Mexican Restaurants in Playa Del Carmen
For a beautiful outdoor dinner, under the stars and amongst the jungle, I recommend Amete 38. Amate 38, is a quiet, hidden little restaurant that cherishes traditional Yucatecan food. The food is divine and the menu is extensive and showcases a variety of Yucatecan/Mexican cuisine. If you have never tried sikil pak, a delicious dip made from local pumpkin seeds, this restaurant in Playa Del Carmen is a great place to try it. They also have a tasty guacamole. Yum!
As a vegan myself, they are always willing to adapt the menu. However, the beauty of Yucatecan food is that most of the ingredients are completely plant-based.
*To find out how to make sikil pak, guacamole and other types of Mexican recipes, subscribe to my mailing list and I would love to share my recipes with you. All Mexican recipes are actually coming from the local Mexican people.
Location: Calle 38 between ave 1 & 5. Just off the main Fifth Avenue in Playa Del Carmen.
La Perla Pixan Cuisine
A relaxed vibe with colourful decor. Great for couples. It doesn’t look like much from the outside but the atmosphere and food is what makes this place.
We love coming here for their various vegetarian and vegan options. This gem is right off the main strip, so it is easy to get to. If you are looking for an extensive authentic Mexican menu, then this is your place, from soups, to guacamoles to quesadillas. They have put attention into the amazing flavours of Mexico and the servings are not to disappoint.
It is also worth trying Mezcal or pulque here for the first time.
La Perla Pixan Cuisine not only delivers authentic food but they always have a fun and entertaining band to compliment your night out.
Another favourite Mexican restaurant of mine, also underestimated. Just off the main fifth avenue, this Mexican restaurant, with an indoor and outdoor setting has a delicious Mexican menu. A great place to come as a couple or with a group. I highly recommend the food here for it’s authentic flavours and the fun cocktails. Although Carboncitos has an extensive menu for seafood and meat, it definitely caters for vegetarians.
2. Mexican Chef in the privacy of your own home
I have had the pleasure of becoming great friends with a very talented and inspiring Mexican Chef in Playa Del Carmen (and Tulum).
When you are on holidays along the Caribbean in Playa Del Carmen or Tulum and staying in a beautiful condo/house with beautiful ocean views or sometimes it is too comfortable to leave the room, why not have a Chef bring the night to you. You also have the freedom to create the menu you want that suits your pallet.
I highly recommend my good friend Chef Rocio and her team, not only because their food is delicious and authentic but she really focuses on ensuring your experience is a memorable one.
3. Dancing in Playa Del Carmen
Through this act of non verbal communication, the women places trust in the man and the man acquires the role of the leader. The attention is on her, she feels appreciated. There is a different level of connection. Just you, your partner and the exciting rhythms of the music. Falling in love with salsa is just the perfect way to practise mindfulness. This is why I have a great love for salsa myself.
There are many places in Playa del Carmen that offer salsa lessons and places to practise your skills to dance the night away. What a romantic way to spend the evening while staying in Playa Del Carmen, Mexico.
Salsa/Bachata Lessons in Playa Del Carmen
An excellent place to learn salsa in Playa Del Carmen is at the Sports Mario Villanueva. Here they teach salsa, bachata, different nights of the week.
The teachers are professional and they cater to different levels.
The lessons are in Spanish but it is ok, you can easily watch and learn.
If you are after a private lesson with your loved one, I have a wonderful and talented friend/dancer/teacher from Guadalajara, Mexico with excellent salsa/dance classes (or if you are feeling extra enthusiastic, why not try tango or cha cha cha).
Monica and I instantly became friends through our passion for dance. We have both danced together, she has attended my dance classes and I have taken hers.
Her dance classes are very well structured, fun and she makes you feel comfortable from the get go.
Where can you practise salsa in Playa Del Carmen?
Zenzi Playa Del Carmen
When: Tuesday, Thursdays, Saturdays
Location: Calle 10 and Beach
A casual beach bar right on the beach. It is literally on the sand. With a live band playing some famous salsa tunes, you can practise your skills along the beach. The dance floor isn’t so big but the energy of the people are great. Plus who said you can’t dance on the sand?
The venue makes it a great place to also sit back and relax along the beach with a cocktail.
They do have a lesson before hand but it is in lines rather than with partners. So if you are a super beginner, this would be a great start. Not so much if you have danced a little salsa before.
Salsa at the Reef 28
When: Friday nights from 8pm
Location: Calle 28 and 1st
Bring your best dancing outfit for a relaxed rooftop vibe.
Dancing on the rooftop, beach breeze, lovely view and live band. Most importantly, alot of space to dance the night away. This is one of my favourite places to dance as you can pretty much take up as much space as you want! The bonus: 2 for 1 mojitos.
La Bodeguita del Medio
When: every night.
I have been to Cuba so I can honestly say this little bar, La Bodeguita del Medio, is as close to Cuba you will get in Playa Del Carmen in terms of music as the band is from Cuba. They do play salsa every night, the downside here is the dance floor is quite small, so expect to step on people’s toes. Or you can just dance on the street like we did!
4. A night at the Theatre
Teatro de la Ciudad de Solidaridad
From ballet, to opera to cultural shows, the theatre is a great option for a date night or an evening with the family. An added bonus is that this theatre in Playa Del Carmen is usually free. The shows are usually on the weekend which is generally when I go but I am sure there are weekly events also.
Tip: come a little earlier, since it is usually free, seats fill up quickly.
5. Movie Date night in Playa Del Carmen
6. Watching the sunset with a Picnic along the beaches of Playa Del Carmen
This idea of a picnic on the beach I always love. Grab a basket, pack your food and wine and find a great spot.
Our favourites are at Punta Esmerelda, or on the other end of Playacar. The sunset and the ocean is always magical no matter when you are in the world.
7. Stand up Paddle Boarding at Sunrise in Playa Del Carmen
I am yet to try it with these guys in Playa Del Carmen but my good friend who lives in Playa Del Carmen, Mexico also, swears by it and does it all the time.
Sunrise, Caribbean ocean, calm waters, snorkelling in those pristine blue waters… romantic don’t you think?
To find more information with pricing, times etc, head to Aloha Paddle Club.
8. Rooftop Bars in Playa Del Carmen for that romantic evening
Roof top bars in Playa Del Carmen never fail. A bar in Playa Del Carmen is the perfect way to start or end a night.
With the breeze in your face, elegant ambience, pretty cocktails and great music (DJs and live bands), there is an abundance of roof top bars in Playa Del Carmen, Mexico.
There is a rooftop bar here for everyone and if you are lucky there is ladies night also in some places also. Something Mexicans love to do, this can mean 2 for 1 or even better, free drinks!
After living in Playa Del Carmen for two years, I have visited quite a few roof tops bars. So here are five of my favourites in Playa Del Carmen. All of them with their own luxurious magic, with carribean feels and great music (live and DJ sets).
Five of my favourite rooftop bars in Playa Del Carmen
Thompson Hotel Roof Top Pool
Be Roof at Be Playa
The Fives Hotel
The Reef 28 Hotel Rooftop Pool
Roof Club at the Palm Hotel
Check out this article as they share more information about each of these roof tops. Seems like we have the same taste too!
9.Watching a band play in Playa Del Carmen
Le Lotus Rouge
Le Lotus Rouge is one of those bars where I wish Playa Del Carmen had more of.
Located away from the hustle and bustle of the city, this is a hidden gem. It is an artist’s dream, there’s so much to discover in each direction you gaze. With dimmed lights, unique motifs in each room you walk, it has a touch of that Moulin Rouge feel. As you walk past the unique ornaments, you are greeted with a stage and a casual set up to enjoy the show and a refreshing drink. There is a snack bar also if you are feeling a little peckish.
If you appreciate the arts and local talent, this is a fun place to check out.
Location: Avenida 35 | con Calle Norte 2, Playa del Carmen 77710, Mexico
Playa Del Carmen, Mexico, really does have something for everyone. That is one of the reasons why it attracts people from everywhere. When you get past all the craziness and noisiness of it, and step away from all the touristic spots, you will be amazed what you can find in this romantic, magical beach town that we call Playa Del Carmen.