If you’re looking for raw food in Playa del Carmen, then you won’t be disappointed. This friendly, safe, relaxed Mexican city just down the road from party-loving Cancun is a veritable haven for yoga-loving, rawfood-eating, sun-worshipping hippies from all around the world.
Here are a few of the restaurants I visited for smoothies, juices and salads while staying here last month.
Avenida 10 N entre calles 10 y 10 bis, Playa del Carmen
My first mention has to go to the completely gorgeous La Senda. A cool friendly little place in a great central location; they have a huge menu of juices, smoothies, salads, and vegan meals, including 2 raw dishes (zucchini pasta with pesto, and raw pad thai – both amazing).
La Senda is a quirky little place where you can sit in the shade with a smoothie and watch the world pass you by.
They have an awesome range of freshly-made drinks. I loved the ‘ancient mayan’ type ones – try the cacao variety and you’ll be all set to head down the road for a night at Coco Bongos. They also do wheatgrass shots to revive you the next morning 😉
The staff are total sweethearts and a real warm energy pervades the restaurant, and the food. Proper soul food! This place really made my time in Playa del Carmen extra-special.
30 Avenida Norte 274, Playa del Carmen
This restaurant was a little bit more off the beaten track for us (look for the big MEGA supermarket on 30 Avenida Nte then you’re just a block away), but definitely worth seeking out, as it was located within the excellent DAC organic fruit and vegetable market – very handy for stocking up on supplies.
This is the place to go if you want to get away from the tourist traps and find somewhere a little more authentic. It’s always bustling as it’s really popular with the locals, and the prices are much more reasonable than the ones you’ll find along 5th Avenue.
The menu is full of great freshly-made drinks and salads (fruit salads too), plus all kinds of other foods (Mexican and European) for your non-raw friends to enjoy.
Just across the road from La Ceiba is Nativo, a very cool looking restaurant with a tempting array of fresh juices and smoothies. We never actually got to eat there but I heard very good reports.
Calle 10 entre Constituyentes y calle 16, al lado de Scotiabank, Playa del Carmen
An organic vegetarian restaurant (including vegan and gluten-free options) with a healthy grocery store attached; this place was another life-saver for me. I visited literally every day to buy supplies – although unbelievably I didn’t actually get to try a meal there (we were so spoiled for choice with all the great places in PDC!) – bit of a shame really as I would have liked to try their raw tabouleh.
Instore they have a good range of dried foods such as nuts, seeds (lots of chia), energy bars, superfoods (especially spirulina – the Mexicans love their spirulina for some reason!) and natural eco-friendly toiletries – so here’s where to head if you’ve forgotten your suntan lotion.
The chiller is stocked with different goodies each day – bottles of freshly-squeezed organic OJ, ‘alkaline water’ (a mix of apple cider vinegar, honey, ginger and cinnamon), and bottles of mysterious unlabelled dark green liquid (perhaps spirulina water)? With hand-rolled organic tobacco often nestling amongst the alfalfa sprouts, it was always fascinating to see what new stuff the fridge was stocked with.
Plaza Paraiso Caribe (Ave 10), Playa del Carmen
We were lucky to have this juice/smoothie bar/healthy café just a few minutes down the road, so it was very convenient to pop in for a quick juice on our way out exploring various Mayan ruins and whatnot!
A funky and colourful place with indoor and outdoor seating, Fruta Madre had a wide range of interesting juice and smoothie combinations.
They had salads too, and lots of different meals, but they weren’t raw, so I just stuck to the drinks. I’m sure they would accommodate though if you wanted a raw mixed salad.
They also did something interesting called ‘frushi’ which was sushi made from fruit! Again, it wasn’t raw, but it was an interesting concept nonetheless.
If you’re a parent, the real selling point to this café is their extremely cute kids’ zone – an area especially designed to keep children nicely occupied while you chill out with your smoothie.
5 Av. 209 Mza 28, Playa del Carmen
100% Natural looks a bit fancier than most of the other veggie-type restaurants in PDC. It looks especially pretty at night – like a mini jungle all lit-up right there on 5th Avenue.
Maybe I was getting a little spoilt with all the great places I’d been eating at, but despite appearances I wasn’t majorly impressed with this restaurant. I ordered a juice and got what tasted like a watered-down smoothie, and my salad consisted of some tough spinach leaves drenched in salty soy sauce. I’m not a big fan of salt at the best of times, so this wasn’t ideal for me.
Still, it did have an impressive array of fresh juices and smoothies, and I’m sure if something like that existed in Glasgow then I’d visit all the time. But I’d say there were definitely better (and cheaper) options in Playa del Carmen.
5th Avenue, Playa del Carmen
Keep your eyes peeled as you stroll down 5th avenue and you will find Quintana Raw, a little takeaway juice stand at the side of the street, next to the Pez Vela restaurant.
Cheap and cheerful, this no-frills juice bar will keep you well hydrated as you enjoy the Mexican sunshine.
Try the Green Mango juice for a hefty dose of green goodness!
Av constituyentes entre Avs. 10 y 15, Avenida Constituyentes de Q. Roo, Playa del Carmen
From Bio-Natural, walk up to the roundabout, turn left onto the main road, and you will see this little place on the right hand side.
To be honest with you, Kaxapa Factory does very little in the way of raw food beyond a few fresh juices and a mixed salad – BUT – I wanted to include it anyway as it was such a cute friendly little restaurant!
The owner, a LOVELY Venuzuelan guy came over and gave us samples of juice the moment we arrived, and chatted away about his family to us. We immediately felt at home here, and the rest of the staff were equally helpful and welcoming.
If you’re not strictly raw, or you’re with non-raw pals, you might want to sample their authentic Venuzuelan cuisine – they have vegan and gluten-free versions too. And they had some very tantalising-looking deserts!
It’s a small cosy place, but unsurprisingly they’re always busy. In fact I felt a bit sorry for the restaurant next door, which was completely empty, while people waited patiently outside for a table at Kaxapa!
Centro, 77710 Playa del Carmen
This juice bar / café on 5th avenue is fresh, clean and cheerful, with pop music and videos playing to entertain you while you wait for your order. On offer are juices, smoothies, wheatgrass shots and salads, plus a good selection of vegetarian and vegan foods.
They’re very friendly and accommodating; drinks can be customised to your requirements. They have indoor or outdoor seating, plus an upper level with extra seating. If you’re going to go there often, get a stamp card – that way you get one free juice with every 5 you purchase. They have happy hour too – AND good wifi!
Calle 28 Nte & 1 Avienida Norte, Playa del Carmen
Booster Juice (part of a Canadian chain of juice and smoothie bars) is at the Marmita’s Beach end of Playa. You will be so glad to see this place; it’s an oasis of freshness amid all the beer ‘n’ burger joints on the road down to the beach. Keep an eye out on their Facebook page for special offers.
Calle 11 entre 5 y 10 Sur Col. Gonzalo Guerrero, Cozumel
No trip to Playa del Carmen would be complete without a jaunt across the water to visit the beautiful island of Cozumel, with its stunning coral reefs and natural beaches.
If you’re looking for some healthy food while you’re over there, I highly recommend the cute and friendly ‘La Cuisine’. Situated underneath ‘Ego Gym’ (find Quintana Roo park then turn left) it has a great menu of freshly made food and drinks, with vegan and vegetarian options, and daily specials. It has a lovely atmosphere and is patronised by a cool bunch of health-conscious locals. They also sell energy bars and snacks to go.
SO – what are you waiting for – grab your passport and book that ticket NOW! I wish I could go back there, if only to eat the raw pesto zucchini pasta at La Senda again!
Oh, and before I go, I must give a shout-out to our super-friendly taxi driver Tino, who picked us up from the airport, showed us some fantastic sights, and even gave me a present of some Mexican mole sauce to take home for my mum – how’s about that for customer service? 🙂
Lisa Murphy is a counsellor, hypnotherapist and raw foods advocate who specialises in weight-loss and healthy living. For more details of Lisa's therapies and weight-loss courses please visit www.CherryTherapies.com