Since we arrived here in Playa del Carmen in November, we've gradually built a list of favorite restaurants. Recently we tried two different places, both of which proved worthy of adding to our "list".
PapaCharly Pasta Factory
This small, unassuming place is just a short walk from our rental. It's well-loved by visitors and Playa residents, and we could see why. Although its name sounds like something you might find in a shopping mall in the US, don't let the name fool you. The food is authentic Italian, prices are reasonable, and the rustic setting is simple and charming. PapaCharly (their Facebook page) is the real deal!
To start, the house vino blanco and vino tinto were very nice.
Lovely fresh-baked bread accompanied our meal. We normally prefer to avoid white bread, but this was so good that we succumbed to its charms. Mmmmmm....
The menu includes a variety of pastas that you can customize from a long list of fillings and sauces. If you order cannelloni, as I did, you can order two different fillings. I chose one with spinach and cheese and the other with mushroom filling. My sauce choice was pesto. The bubbling hot dish was absolutely HUGE, and I was able to take home half of it for another dinner, making the price I paid even more reasonable.
Barry tried the ravioli with spinach & cheese filling and a spicy Arrabbiata sauce. It tasted as good as it looked!
To finish off our Italian feast, we just had to stop at Amo Gelato (which I introduced in this blog post) on the way back; it's right around the corner!
La Cueva del Chango
I had to put the name of this charming place into the Spanish to English language translator to find that it means "Cave Monkey". Their logo includes an adorable spider monkey. The restaurant (their web page) is hidden among the jungly (a word?) trees, providing the perfect intimate setting.
I'd read such good reviews I was excited to try it, and it didn't disappoint.
The homemade salsas were all incredibly good. The red and green salsas were mild but with great depth of flavor, and a tiny bit of the brilliant orange habanero salsa went a long way!
Barry started with this gorgeous salad, which I think was my very favorite thing we tried; yes, he shared some! Chopped salad greens were topped with goat cheese, pecans, and a balsamic vinaigrette, and the entire salad was ringed with the sweetest little grapefruit sections I'd ever tasted. YUM! I will definitely be ordering this next time.
For our entrees, I tried a shrimp/chile dish served with fried plantain chips and a small salad. It was all very good, though I would have liked a few more shrimp. That was my only slight complaint about this very good meal.
Barry had the chicken breast mole with stewed beans and rice and seemed to like it very much.
Prices were quite reasonable for what we got, and the setting and service were both perfect.
Although we've been to this casual Mexican seafood place quite a few times now, we've been pretty much stuck on getting the delicious shrimp tostadas every single time.
The tostadas are really, really good, but wanting a change of pace, I decided to try the seafood "cazuela" this time. It wasn't like a typical US-style casserole, but more of a seafood soup. Served in a traditional Mexican cazuela (I wondered a little about lead), the flavor was very rich, and it was packed with all kinds of seafood -- shrimp, fish, crab, and even octopus! Some was in the shell, though, which made it a bit challenging to eat. I sprinkled it liberally with the fresh cilantro and chopped onions that accompanied it.
It was a nice choice for a cool night!
So, our restaurant list continues to grow; Playa del Carmen is a foodie haven, and we are loving all the excellent eating!
Emily & Barry
We're a long-married, early-retired couple who are currently traveling as nomads with no fixed home base. After years of living in North Carolina (Emily's home state), we spent 18 months living oceanfront on Ambergris Caye, Belize, a year road-tripping the US in a Honda CR-V, a year in Playa del Carmen, Mexico, and are now roaming North America in our 32' motorhome, Pearl, following warm weather whenever possible.
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