Monday, June 24, 2024

Playa del Carmen’s café culture shows a hidden side to the party capital

Have you ever wondered if Playa Del Carmen had more to offer than beaches? The city is globally renowned for its nightlife district and a fantastic vacation spot. But there’s a strong expat and digital nomad community here, which has led to a diverse variety of restaurants and cafés to choose from if you know where to look. 

Whether you’ve come to Playa Del Carmen for a quick getaway or want to dance all night, there is something for everyone. If you’re willing to explore this once sleepy fishing village of Quintana Roo beyond its resorts, here’s your guide to get started. 

Chez Celin

French inspired Chez Céline takes the cake as Playa’s best bakery. (Chez Céline/Facebook)

France is well-known for its café society, and you see that influence take shape at Chez Celine from the ambiance to the quality of the cuisine. With most of its tables situated outside, it also encourages you to socialize with friends and watch the world go by. 

This French styled bakery, café, and restaurant is a popular hotspot for breakfast in Playa Del Carmen. If you don’t make a reservation or arrive early in the morning, you could be waiting in line for hours until you can be seated. 

Highly ranked on Tripadvisor with thousands of positive reviews, you can find Chez Celine on 5th Avenue along Calle 34. From their smoothies, scrambled eggs, and sandwiches, you can’t go wrong with anything on their menu. 

Ah Cacao Chocolaté Café

As the name suggests, Ah Cacao offers visitors to the city the chance to try drinking traditional Mayan chocolate. (Ah Cacao/Facebook)

A trendy café found in the heart of Playa Del Carmen’s bustling 5th Avenue, Ah Cacao offers your traditional Mexican coffee fix at a fair price. It’s also the perfect spot to try Mayan chocolate in a beverage form, along with other drinks and pastries. 

If you care about supporting local farmers and understanding where ingredients come from, you’ll also be happy to know that’s a big part of this café’s mission statement

There are four locations overall in Playa. Three are between Calle 30 and 40 near plenty of resorts and beaches, while the fourth is on Calle 2—a short walk from the Cozumel ferry and the outdoor mall where the 5th Avenue strip begins. 

Café Italia

Combine remote work with great food at Café Italia. (Café Italia/Facebook)

Located a short walk outside of Calle 4, you’ll find this gem along a path where there are other incredible restaurants you won’t find on 5th Avenue. 

It’s a locally run business with delicious food and coffee. It’s never too crowded during the day, which makes it perfect for digital nomads, and it’s also a great spot to find other expats if you just moved to Playa and want to meet new friends. 

But on my recent stay in Playa last February, I explored their menu deeper instead of sticking to my usual. After having their empanadas, avocado toast, and a few of their pastries, I can say with confidence this is a phenomenal café and that everyone should try it at least once. 

Sabrina Pizzeria

Café Italia might offer great pastries, but Sabrina can’t be beaten when it comes to pizza. (Sabrina/Facebook)

If you want to teleport to Italy while you’re in Mexico, this is the place to go! Located outside 5th Avenue between Avenues 10 and 15, you’ll be happy to enjoy an authentic Italian dinner here for a better price than you’ll find anywhere else in Playa. 

There’s a present Italian and Argentinian expat community in Playa Del Carmen and not only can you see that influence in their menu, but also in their regular clientele. From their pizzas, pasta dishes, desserts, and coffee, Sabrina Pizzeria might be the most hidden gem on this list. Based on the reviews, most people who have been lucky enough to stumble upon this restaurant agree.

Marley Coffee

It’s all peace and love at Marley Coffee. (Marley Coffee/Facebook)

For those who love Bob Marley and Rastafarian culture, this is an essential café to experience. 

Marley’s Coffee is all about honoring the life and career of the legendary musician by spreading love, closeness, unity, and sustainability in everything it sells. You also see it in the number of paintings there are of Bob Marley at this café, as well as in the quality of its beverages and overall ambiance. 

From their frappés, smoothies, and coffee, you can’t go wrong with what you order. Better yet, the reviews speak for themselves!

 Excited about your next trip to Playa del Carmen?

(Elizabeth Ruiz/Cuartoscuro)

No matter what you’re craving, Playa Del Carmen has a restaurant, café, bakery, or market that is ready to meet those needs. From Italian, French, Argentinian, Middle Eastern, Kosher, Thai, Cuban, French-Canadian, and, of course, Mexican, there are so many different cuisines to explore in this part of Quintana Roo. 

So, do your research and enjoy being spoiled for choice! 

Not only will you contribute to the Mexican economy, but you’ll also be supporting the locals who make Playa what we all know and love. 

Ian Ostroff is an indie author, journalist, and copywriter from Montreal, Canada. You can find his work in various outlets, including Map Happy and The Suburban. When he’s not writing, you can find Ian at the gym, a café, or anywhere within Mexico visiting family and friends. 

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