Playa del Carmen is a seafood mecca with a big Italian influence. For every ceviche spot you find, there’s a wood-oven pizza restaurant next to it. So finding veg-options can feel a bit tricky. The last time I was there (just a few years ago), I didn’t see nearly as many plant-based options as I found in health-concious neighbor Tulum. But not anymore. Last week, on a quickie getaway to Playa, I found these incredible new(ish) restaurants that I couldn’t wait to share.
5th Ave between 38 and 40 • greenbox.mx
When I found this place, I let out a little squeal. It’s truly the plant-palace of Playa. Green Box’s menu has over 21 veg options for their juice/smoothies – everything from chaya (awesome Mexican green) to grapefruit to cilantro. Owner Tavo Giageda’s changed his life by juicing, and he wanted a place where he could share raw juices with people…and they are pretty damn good. In addition to his juices and smoothies, he’s got a great big menu full of healthy wraps, oatmeal, wheatgrass shots, and even spirulina cookies for you hardcore blue-algae fans.
Constituyentes Ave between 10th and 15th • Kaxapa Factory
Technically, this is not a Mexican restaurant. It’s Venezulean. But it is a must when visiting Playa. Kaxapa Factory specializes in two different corn cakes – arepas (lighter, pita-like) and cachapas (more pancake-ish). I am still thinking about the cachapas. They are really one of the most delicious things I’ve ever eaten. I stuffed mine with black beans, plantains, and avocado. I don’t have a photo of it, because I basically gobbled it up like an animal. They also have crazy good empanadas and these awesome plantain sandwiches (they use huge plantain slices instead of bread). Most of the menu is g-free and they are totally down if you say that you want something veg. The owners are quite possibly some of the sweetest people I’ve ever met. They really make you feel like part of the family.
5th Ave between 34 and 38 • Green 373
This juice/healthy-food shop opened this past summer, and I hope it stays open forever. I went so many times that the staff knew my order when I walked in. They do add honey or agave to their green juices, so if that’s not your thing, remember to ask for it without. And if you’re like me and your Spanish is just the basics, just say “sin miel” (no honey). Their breakfast options were pretty great too – the tortillas covered in black bean sauce and g-free/dairy-free pancakes were awesome. They’ll also deliver right to your hotel!
And if all else fails, you can always grab a coconut from a street vendor and have them cut off the top with a machete. It’s the best “I’m on vacation” drink ever.
One last thing! I found this place, La Senda, on the last day and didn’t get a chance to go. If you’re heading to Playa, check it out and let me know how it is!