Local restaurants in Riviera Maya give you the chance to experience outstanding, authentic cuisine outside of the high-end foodie scene and explore the true regional culture. This area is a haven for food lovers, who will find everything from tacos and burritos to ethnic foods. However, if you want to know where the locals eat, you'll have to look for several restaurants that don't show up on the lofty lists of global travel critics and food-based TV reality shows.

    Explore everything from jerk chicken to pork tacos in this amazing food landscape. Check out some of the best restaurants around the Riviera Maya that are favorites among locals.

    1

    Taquerias el Nero Juarez

    Enjoy tacos made with unusual cuts of meat

    Taquerias El Ñero Juarez is a classic local place where you'll find amazing flame-grilled tacos made from a variety of meats and ingredients, all at incredibly affordable prices. Here you can have tacos made from tripe, pork, chorizo, cheese, bean, and other ingredients. However, if you want to try something special, you'll go for the suadero taco. Suadero is a specialty cut of steak found almost exclusively in this region. Other unusual types of taco here include snout, beef tongue, beef head, and other unusual and intriguing cuts.

    The restaurant is no-frills and resembles a street food stand but offers inside and outside seating. It's just 15 minutes from central Riviera Maya to the north.

    Location: Av Benito Juárez LB, Centro, 77710 Playa del Carmen, Q.R., Mexico

    Open: Daily from 4 pm to 1 am

    Map
    2

    El Chuleton

    Try fresh-made authentic Mexican dishes

    El Chuleton is a taqueria offering up tacos made with fresh ingredients, generous portions, and a host of scratch-made daily specials that are sure to make your mouth water. For over 3 decades, this place has served up traditional, authentic Mexican cuisine using a unique blend of homemade seasonings. Their specialty is a taco made with T-bone steak, but they offer a wide range of other dishes as well, including breakfast dishes like Mexican eggs with charros beans, chilaquiles with starred egg, and others.

    The expansive menu offers so many options that your biggest challenge will be deciding what to order. El Chuleton is just 17 minutes north of central Riviera Maya.

    Location: Av. 20 entre Constituyentes y, C. 16 Nte. Bis, Centro, 77710 Playa del Carmen, Q.R., Mexico

    Open: Daily from 9 am to midnight

    Phone: +52 984 879 4799

    Map
    3

    Asadero el Pollo

    Grab and go or sit inside for great grilled chicken

    Asadero el Pollo is a Mexican grill focused on chicken dishes with big portions, great prices, and the kind of flavor that makes you believe it was made from generational family recipes. This is the place to go if you want a quick bite for the family that won't break the bank, and while you're on the go, but you want to get your money's worth. It's a highlight of grab-and-go food in Playa del Carmen, yet you can also grab a seat inside.

    This is another favorite place with locals on the go and worth a visit to catch some local color. It's only about 15 minutes north of central Riviera Maya.

    Location: 20 Avenida Nte. 652, Centro, 77710 Playa del Carmen, Q.R., Mexico

    Open: Daily from 10 am to 6 pm

    Phone: +52 981 816 7557

    Map

    photo by City Foodsters (CC BY 2.0) modified

    4

    Taqueria Honorio

    Try unique oven- and pit-roasted pork

    Taqueria Honorio is a simple roadside taco stand in Tulum specializing in authentic Yucatan culinary traditions with delicious food geared towards locals. The specialty here is spiced pork, lechon, and cochinita pibil. If you've never had lechon, it's specially-cooked pork, traditionally off of a whole roasted pig, but here roasted in pans in a brick oven overnight. Cochinta pibil is seasoned with achiote and sour orange and pit-cooked for 12 hours. Regardless of which you choose, it'll be unlike any flavor you've ever experienced. The menu also features tortas, quesadillas, and meat you can take with you.

    Best to go here early, as they draw big crowds and often sell out. It's about an hour south of central Riviera Maya.

    Location: Satélite Sur Sm10 lote 3, Centro, 77760 Tulum, Q.R., Mexico

    Open: Wednesday–Monday from 6 am to 3 pm (closed on Tuesdays)

    Phone: +52 984 745 0674

    Map

    photo by Lou Stejskal (CC BY 2.0) modified

    5

    La Perla Pixan

    Enjoy traditional Mezcal cocktails and delicious dishes

    La Perla Pixan is an authentic local Mexican restaurant and Mezcal shop that offers fresh food cooked up and incorporating flavors from across Mexico served up with a special twist. Their Mezcal cocktails are outstanding, and you can buy bottles of the specialty tequila to take home. The open kitchen lets you see how your food is being prepared, and the palapa roof offers a casual, down-home experience. Live music makes it feel like a party all the time, whenever you visit. Most of the seating is outdoors, and you'll relax to the smell of Copal, the traditional Mayan incense.

    This one is adored by locals who know their spirits. It's only 19 minutes north of central Riviera Maya.

    Location: Calle 38 Norte Entre 5ta y la playa, Gonzalo Guerrero, 77720 Playa del Carmen, Q.R., Mexico

    Open: Dily from 7.30 am to 11 pm

    Phone: +52 984 120 2616

    Map
    6

    Antojitos La Chiapaneca

    Try amazing traditional spit-roasted al pastor

    Anojitos La Chiapeneca is among the most beloved taquerias in downtown Tulum, offering a simple menu with high-quality ingredients and generational recipes that light up your tastebuds. The offerings here are deceptively basic: you pick from beef, chicken, or tacos al pastor. The al pastor is the specialty of the house and spit-roasts all day long for an incredible char. You can also choose from a small plate snack menu with offerings like empanadas with Oaxacan cheese. When your food is finished, you top it with sauces and condiments however you like.

    It's a cheap, satisfying meal that's a favorite of the local Tulum community. Tulum is about an hour south of central Riviera Maya.

    Location: Calle Acuario Nte. 3, Tulum Centro, Tobiano, 77760 Tulum, Q.R., Mexico

    Open: Sunday from 10 am to 11 pm (closed Monday–Saturday)

    Map

    photo by T.Tseng (CC BY 2.0) modified

    7

    Sabor de Mar

    Try a local seafood restaurant in Tulum

    Sabor de Mar is an unassuming and simple restaurant offering outstanding seafood made from specialty house recipes renowned across the community. The Sinaloa-style surroundings create a welcoming atmosphere. The menu highlight is the torres or a seafood-tostada tower that's positively stacked with seafood, whether whitefish, shrimp, or tuna. You can also enjoy house-made seafood soups or specialty plates like seared tuna with yam purée. To top it all off, various salsa varieties are on offer. One of the highlights is the mint-mango variety.

    Sabor de Mar is in downtown Tulum. It's about an hour's drive to the south of central Riviera Maya.

    Location: Calle Jupiter Manzana 5, Lote 17 Local 4, Centro, 77760 Tulum, Q.R., Mexico

    Open: Daily from noon to 9.30 pm

    Phone: +52 984 203 5644

    Map
    8

    Puro Corazon

    Be charmed at a magical gourmet establishment

    • Food
    • Couples
    • Families
    • Luxury

    Puro Corazon is a gourmet Mexican restaurant that's like entering a magical Caribbean garden that will make your heart sing with its warm ambiance, fresh food, and live music. The offerings here run the gamut of the expected—delicious and locally-famous tacos—to the unexpected—fresh grilled lobster, the catch of the day. The recipes are unique and individual, and everything they serve is fresh and primarily locally sourced. At 8 pm daily, they offer live music in a variety of genres from jazz to funk, reggae to blues, salsa, and others.

    This is the place where couples come to romance and families come to celebrate special occasions. It's about an hour south of central Riviera Maya.

    Location: km. 5.5, Av. Boca Paila, Zona Hotelera, 77780 Tulum, Q.R., Mexico

    Open: Daily from 8 am to 10.30 pm

    Phone: +52 984 186 1152

    Map
    9

    Merkadito del Mar

    Enjoy grilled octopus, gelato, and horchata

    Merkadito del Mar offers up delicious Caribbean and Mexican cuisine with unique and unusual local delicacies as well as amazing desserts and baked goods. The highlight menu items here are grilled octopus, grilled sea bass, and shrimp ceviche. On deck for dessert are fruitcakes, parfaits, and unbelievable gelato. To top it off, you can enjoy horchata, coffee, juice, margaritas, mojitos, and a wide selection of local and imported craft beer. In the evenings they offer live music played by local artists.

    The service is friendly and enthusiastic, and the ambiance homey and welcoming. It's in Puerto Morelos, about 45 minutes north of central Riviera Maya, and is sure to become a regular destination for every trip here.

    Location: Av. Rafael Melgar L. 8B, Centro, 77580 Puerto Morelos, Q.R., Mexico

    Open: Daily from 11 am to 11 pm

    Phone: +52 998 871 0774

    Map
    10

    Ferron's Jerk Chicken

    Try some classic Jamaican jerk in Mexico

    Ferron's Jerk Chicken is a traditional Jamaican restaurant in the heart of Mexico offering up jerk-style chicken and sides that is a favorite among locals looking for something different. It's been a local staple for almost 10 years, offering quality food, good prices, and happy, friendly service. In addition to jerk chicken, they now offer fried chicken and jerk pork ribs, which have become wildly popular among locals. The air-conditioned dining room offers a simple back-porch style experience that gives the whole thing a down-home feel.

    Sides include fried tacos, rice and beans, street corn, fried plantain, and mac and cheese. Ferron's Jerk Chicken is located just 20 minutes from the center of Riviera Maya to the north.

    Location: Av. Constituyentes 30 Bis-Local 3, Ejidal, 77710 Playa del Carmen, Q.R., Mexico

    Open: Tuesday–Sunday from noon to 6 pm (closed on Mondays)

    Phone: +52 984 120 2312

    Map

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