A plate with tacos - one of the best cheap eats in Playa del Carmen

14 Best Cheap Eats in Playa del Carmen for Foodies

Home » Mexico » 14 Best Cheap Eats In Playa Del Carmen For Foodies (2023)

Playa del Carmen is a popular beach destination in Mexico that is a food lover’s dream. It can be a very touristy place but if you follow our list you avoid the tourist traps and find the best cheap eats in Playa Del Carmen!

So many visitors to Playa del Carmen never go past 5th Avenue, the main tourist street, when deciding where to eat. This means they end up paying way too much for food that is not that great.

But if you just do a bit of exploring you will find tonnes of good options. In this blog post, I will give you my top tips for local restaurants that also have some healthy options on a budget.

1. El Fogon 🌮 (Best Traditional Taco Cheap Eats in Playa del Carmen)

El Fogon (The Stove) is a classic Tacos al Pastor restaurant with several locations. It is the most famous taco restaurant in town with some of the best cheap eats in Playa del Carmen.

Their restaurants have large seating areas and if you come at a busy time there will be a lot of customers. Service is usually quick as there are a lot of waiters rushing around.

Tacos al Pastor is the most popular dish at El Fagon and cost 24 pesos (1 USD) per taco. But you can also get quesadillas, nachos, tortas (sandwiches), juices, cocktails, and beers.

If you are new to Mexico and want to experience a fairly traditional taco restaurant then El Fogon is a good place to start.


2. Falafel Nessya 🥙

Falafel Nessya does really good falafel at a very reasonable price. The falafel pita is 80 pesos (4 USD) while a falafel plate is 115 pesos (6 USD).

All the ingredients in the pita were super fresh every time we went and the falafel was also super tasty. They also have a good range of homemade vegan sauces and paletas (ice popsicles) for dessert.

They have a small seating area and are located right in the middle of the main tourist area. So it is a great place if you are looking for healthy vegan cheap eats in Playa Del Carmen’s city center.

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Two falafel pitas sitting in bowls on top of a wooden table. A great healthy and cheap meal in Playa del Carmen

3. Zenzontle 🌿

Zenzontle (Mockingbird) is a small restaurant that we stumbled upon on an afternoon walk. It is a chill place making healthy Mexican food with the best quesadillas and vegan tacos we have had in Mexico.

The tortillas they make are homemade and you can really taste the difference. It is definitely not your standard taco stand and is one of our favorite cheap eats in Playa del Carmen.

Quesadillas only cost 45 pesos (2.5 USD) and vegan tacos 40 pesos (2 USD) per piece. They also offer them with shrimp but have mainly veggie options and no meat.

The baked potato dish was 120 pesos (6 USD) and came with a salad and grilled pineapple. Everything we tried including the Agua de Jamaica was super good and rich in flavor.

Zenzontle It is quite a way out of the city center near Playa 88, one of the best beaches in Playa del Carmen. But this part of the beach is way nicer than the hotel zone so check it out!

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Baked potato and salad with grilled pineapple on a plate
Baked potato dish with salad and grilled pineapple for 120 pesos (6 USD)

4. Tacos ALV 🌮 (Best Vegan Cheap Eats in Playa del Carmen)

Tacos ALV is pickup or takeaway only but they are some of the best vegan tacos we have ever had. They are homemade by a local Mexican guy who has been a vegan for more than 8 years!

All the tacos use soy for the filling and the flavors are bistec, chorizo and al pastor. The menu also has burritos, burgers, and tortas which we still need to try.

Each taco only costs 20 pesos (1 USD) and is very filling for the price. Three tacos per person were more than enough and we crowned bistec our favorite.

Tacos ALV is located quite a long way outside of the center so if you are not close by it’s best to order. The delivery fee is 50 pesos (2.5 USD) and you can order by whatsapp +529842155563.

Read also: 10 Best Vegan Restaurants in Playa del Carmen

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Vegan tacos from Tacos ALV some of the best vegan cheap eats in Playa del Carmen
3 vegan tacos for 60 pesos (3 USD)

5. La Chachalaca 🥪

La Chachalaca is a little vegan cafe that is a great place to grab something for lunch. They focus on using organic produce in all their food and are also selling them in their shop.

We had a lentil sandwich for 70 pesos (3.5 USD) and although simple it was really good. The sandwich has sourdough bread and was served with fresh greens.

They also have salads and a lentil burger on the menu so it is a small selection but healthy and cheap. We can also recommend the vegan chocolate chip cookie which is super soft and sweet.

Also check out their fridges and shelves filled with interesting food products such as fermented drinks, hummus, organic greens, salsas, and chickpea chips.

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6. Tropical Tacos 🌮

Tropical Tacos is a cool taco joint that serves unique tacos with meat, fish, vegetarian and vegan options. A lot of them are traditional Mexican favorites with a slight twist to them.

Many of the tacos have sprouts and other toppings which makes them a bit healthier and more interesting than your standard Mexican taco.

Nearly all of the tacos are 35 pesos (2 USD) and full of flavor. There is a really cool atmosphere too so it is a good place to grab a couple of drinks after visiting Playa 88 one of the best beaches in Playa!

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7. Pozol 🌽

Pozol is a traditional local drink and deserves to be one of the cheap eats in Playa del Carmen as it is very filling and nutritious. It is made by fermenting corn dough mixed with water and cocoa.

The drink has been made in the South of Mexico for hundreds of years and was taken on long journeys by prehispanic groups as a way to fuel themselves when they were away from home.

Today Pozol is used as a way to cool off on a hot day in the Yucatan. The coolers are full of ice so the drink will be ice cold which is heaven on earth in Playa del Carmen.

You will see guys selling Pozol from their motorbikes all over town. We take our 1-liter water bottle to the stand and fill it up for 30 pesos (1.5 USD) to avoid the styrofoam cups.

The flavors you can choose from are coconut, cacao, and cacahuate (peanut). They will also ask if you want it sweetened or unsweetened. I recommend that you try it unsweetened first and then add the amount of sugar to your preference.

The drink will have a bit of a grainy texture due to all the corn in it. But we love it as it is a great and tasty way to cool down on a hot day and try something new.

📍 Locations

You will see carts with Pozol all over Playa del Carmen outside its center. However, the greatest concentrations of vendors we saw are along Avenida 30 and Avenida Benito Juarez.

A bottle of Pozol being held up in front of a food cart on the streets in Playa del Carmen Mexico
1l ice cold Cacao Pozol for 30 pesos (1.5 USD)

8. El Compa 🌮 (Best Street Tacos in Playa del Carmen)

El Compa is not a spot where you will find some healthy food options but they have the best street tacos in Playa del Carmen and give you a real Mexican street food flair.

It is a taco cart set up in the car park of Mega supermarket and specializes in Birria tacos which happen to be my favorite tacos.

Birria is a regional specialty of Jalisco state in which meat is stewed overnight in herbs and spices. This results in super juicy tender meat.

I recommend trying the Quesabirria taco which only costs 20 pesos (1 USD) and is huge. Just having two of them was almost enough to fill me up.

There is also a great selection of salsas, pickles, and other veggies to put on top. It is one of my favorite taco carts in the whole of Mexico so I highly recommend checking them out.

Read also: 12 Best Taquerias in Mexico City

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A sign for El Compa tacos some of the best street tacos in Playa del Carmen

9. Ay Taco! 🌮

Ay Taco! is a more traditional taco truck that mainly does Tacos al Pastor. This is a very popular type of taco in Mexico with vertical grilling meat that looks very similar to how shawarma is cooked.

The reason for this is that Tacos al Pastor was actually created by Lebanese immigrants. So it was the combination of Middle Eastern and Mexican cuisine that created Tacos al Pastor.

We also tried the vegan tacos that come with grilled mushrooms and peppers topped with a little piece of grilled pineapple and guacamole. Very tasty!

You can either order per taco or get a plate of 6 for 130 pesos (6.5 USD) which is a good deal and cheap eats in Playa del Carmen. Try also the homemade sauces that come with it.

The location is just a couple of blocks from Playa’s main shopping street but is far enough out that it doesn’t get too crowded.

Read also: Best tacos in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico

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3 vegan tacos covered in guacamole from Ay Tacos a great restaurant for cheap eats in Playa del Carmen
Grilles mushroom tacos with guacamole on top

9. La Cochi Loka 🐷

La Cochi Loka is a taco stand with a couple of locations. It has the best street food in Playa del Carmen which specializes in Cochinita Pibil tacos.

Cochinita Pibil is a traditional slow-roasted pork dish that was made for centuries by the Mayans. Before the Spanish arrived the Mayans made the dish with a range of wild meat but the Spanish brought pigs with them so now it is made with pork.

It is prepared by marinating pork in strongly acidic citrus juice which makes the meat super tender. Annatto seed is also added which gives Cochinita Pibil its characteristic orange color.

Tacos at La Cochi Loka are only 20 pesos (1 USD) and taste super good. One of their stands is right in the middle of the city so it is fantastic value for money considering the location.

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10. Dona Paula Restaurant 🍲 (Best Traditional Mexican Cheap Eats in Playa del Carmen)

Dona Paula Restaurant is one of the best traditional local restaurants in Playa del Carmen that feels like eating at a family home.

It is right in the center so you won’t have to travel far from the touristy areas. They serve traditional Mexican food such as chilaquiles, mole, burritos, and pozole. Try the pozole!

Pozole is a traditional soup that has existed in Mexico and Central America for thousands of years since before the Spanish arrived.

The soup is made with hominy which is corn prepared in a special way that releases more nutrients. A lot of spices and shredded meat such as pork or chicken is added on top.

The pozole at Dona Paula is one of the best I have ever tried and costs 90 pesos (4.5 USD) if you get a big size (grande). It is full of flavor and will probably have you sweating in the heat! But it’s worth it.

So if you are looking for a filling rich cheap eats in Playa del Carmen that feels home-cooked by a Mexican abuela (grandmother) you should head to Dona Paula Restaurant.

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A bowl of bright red Pozole a traditional mexican soup with tostadas and a bowl of salad behind it
A big bowl of Pozole

11. La Antojera 🌮

La Antojera (The Graving) is another taco stand that does great Conchinita Pibil quesadillas, tacos and tortas. It doesn’t look like much with just a few stools to sit on next to the cook.

But the flavor is great and their tortas and tacos are huge for the price. A torta is 70 pesos (3.5 USD) while tacos are 25 pesos (1 USD) each.

They do have vegetarian options but when we went there the vegan burrito wasn’t good. It was way too oily and fell apart so I can’t recommend you try that.

However, if you are after some Yucatecan-style meat tacos, burritos, quesadillas, and the best tortas in Playa del Carmen then this is a great and cheap place to go.

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12. Don Luca Juice and Snack Bar 🍹 (Best Healthy Cheap Eats in Playa del Carmen)

Dona Luca Juice and Snack Bar is a tiny shop close to 5th Avenue that makes fresh smoothies, juices, salads, acai bowls, sandwiches, and coffee.

We tried the Pesto and Mexicana Toast for 85 pesos (4 USD) each. Both were made with super fresh veggies and tasted great. The juices were super good as well. Try the tropical one!

Juices cost 55 pesos (3 USD) for a medium and 85 pesos (4 USD) for a large cup. We found the medium size big enough for one person.

It also has a very small seating area that you may have trouble fitting in if you are tall. But it is beautifully designed and the owner has made great use of the tiny area.

Don Luca opens early so if you are looking for a healthy start into the day you will find here the best cheap breakfast in Playa del Carmen.

Read also: How to eat healthy and cheap while traveling

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13. Tamales Ciencia Ficción 🫔

Tamales Ciencia Ficcion (Tameles Science Fiction) is a cart that specializes in vegetarian and vegan tamales. They are a traditional Mexican food consisting of steamed corn dough inside a corn husk.

The corn dough is then flavored with a variety of ingredients including cheese, meats, vegetables, fruits, herbs, and spices. So they can be either sweet or savory.

You will see tamales being sold on the side of the road all over Mexico from large circular metal containers but it’s usually not easy to find vegan ones.

Tamales at Ciencia Ficcion cost 35 pesos (2 USD) per piece and you can choose from all kinds of flavors such as beans, spinach, cheese, and strawberry.

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14. Marquesitas 🍌

Marquesitas are a traditional dessert to the Yucatan and you will see carts selling them everywhere at night time. They taste great and can’t be missed on a list of the best cheap eats in Playa del Carmen!

The marquesita was created in the 1930s by an ice cream shop owner who needed something sweet to sell in the “winter time”. So he created the marquesita and they can now be found throughout Mexico.

A marquesita consists of a crepe that is cooked super crispy and rolled up. You can choose your toppings such as Nutella, banana, strawberry, cheese, kiwifruit, and more.

They are a great local dessert for about 60 pesos (3 USD) depending on what toppings you choose.

📍 Locations

You will see marquesitas carts all over the city, especially in car parks, squares, and touristy corners. So just walk down the street at night and you should see one.

Playa del Carmen Food Tour

If you are hungry for more there is also a Playa del Carmen Food Tour with a local guide that will take you around to show you the best food of Playa del Carmen.

The guide will also tell you the history of the area and the food. So it is great for people wanting to learn a little more about the roots of the food while they eat!

Now you know the Best Cheap Eats in Playa del Carmen, enjoy!

Playa del Carmen is a paradise for foodies and doesn’t need to be expensive. If you stay away from tourist traps and know where to get great cheap eats.

Which ones are you going to try? Let me know in the comments below! Also if you have any places you think we should try let us know! We are always on the lookout for new spots to try out.


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Travel, health and fitness fanatic. Co-founder of happyhealthynomads.

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