Spending a month in Playa means we got to know the restaurant scene pretty well. We tried them all: Vegan restaurants, vegetarian restaurants, and restaurants that cater to vegans or vegetarians. Some were incredible, a lot were average, and a few were downright disasters.
We found that restaurants that had side menus for vegans/vegetarians didn’t really understand how to flavor or mix their ingredients in interesting ways. That said, there were a PLETHORA of excellent restaurants that did get it. While there’s tasty food to eat in Playa that didn’t make the list, below you’ll find our top 5 restaurants.
This was one of our first meals in Playa and we knew we’d go back for more. Unfortunately for us, they literally moved locations after our first meal and we had to wait over a week to go back. The juices are fresh and our top meal choices include: Enfrijoladas (vegan tacos filled with potato curry and covered in black bean sauce), huevos la mexicana (eggs with tomato, onions, and bell peppers), magic (fruit smoothie bowl), moshi-moshi poke bowl, and the pop-eye poke bowl. A bonus to the move, you can now sit outdoors (albeit across the street from a bus station) or inside the air-conditioned restaurant! A luxury in the healthy food scene in Playa. They also have a small health food store where you can pick up a few essentials.
Another excellent choice for smoothie bowls is the Aloha Raw Bar. A simple and limited menu means everything this restaurant has to offer is on point. Favorites include the flamingo smoothie bowl, berry acai bowl, and the oatmeal & flaxseed waffles! We missed this place the first time we looked for it (happened to be closed) – it’s not well marked from the street, but it is definitely worth the search. The decor inside is also curated for an Insta post or two.
3. Mercado 30 (Peace & Bowl)
We didn’t make it to this gem until our last week in Playa. If you’re sensing a theme, you’re correct – we ate a ton of smoothie bowls in Playa. It’s just what you do at the beach. With over 10 different bowls to choose from, there’s something for everyone. But Peace & Bowl is just one restaurant in a collective called Mercado 30. In addition to ordering up some delicious fruit, we also had a veggie dog with the best potato wedges I’ve ever eaten, as well as the world’s largest “small” salad from two of the other restaurants. The vibe here is definitely fun and while it can get incredibly hot (maybe go for dinner over lunch), there’s tons of different seating choices and decor.
It was so hard not to order the same things at Fresco Habito over and over again – they were that good. And some things I did keep ordering, like the mariachi bowl (one of the few meals in Playa that came with black beans!), pita carnitas (vegan taco pitas), and the coco morado (coconut water with blueberries, basil, and lemon). We also had some delicious one-offs like the ceviche tropical (made with coconut instead of fish) and, you guessed it, the berry bowl. We went here at all times of day (except late, since they close early) and the place was always packed. Frescho Habito is definitely no secret.
The Pitted Date is the only restaurant on this list where I didn’t eat a smoothie bowl. But they did have my favorite smoothies. Organized by color, I drank the violet smoothie nearly every time. Other highlights: Bagelwich, mushroom bomblette, breakfast burrito, and their beyond meat burger with gluten-free onion rings on top! Since this is a vegan restaurant, their “eggs” are made from quinoa, chickpea, tapioca, almonds, tofu, and spices – it’s so good I almost considered giving up real eggs…only I can’t make this myself! We absolutely lucked out that this place was just around the corner from our Airbnb, but I would have made the trek from anywhere in the city.
Bonus: Comet 984
Last on our list is a fun bonus. All of the restaurants listed above fit under the “healthy foods” category. Comet 984 is anything but. However, they do have delicious vegan burgers in a 1950s diner-themed restaurant. Each time we went we were treated to different entertainment: Music videos, Popeye cartoons, and classic commercials. You’d think the menu would be limited, but we had different orders nearly every time. Our favorites: Hot-dog, bbq burger, and the spicy burger (you know this one was all Chandler!).
If you find yourself looking for a meal in Playa del Carmen, you can’t go wrong at any of these restaurants!