Playa del Carmen is not hurting for restaurants. There is a plethora of places to eat here and not just Mexican food. Most people are shocked at the vast assortment of international restaurants Playa has to offer, we’ve lived here almost a year and still get surprised sometimes. Pizza, pasta, sushi, pad thai, seafood, quiche, burgers, even a little BBQ (although let’s be serious here, we’re from Kansas City) can all be readily found. Running a restaurant is a hard business to be in here, actually I thnk it’s a hard business to be in anywhere, and in our short time in Playa we’ve seen quite a few restaurants open and close. We have found a few go-to favorites, but we also love to try new places and try to support the ones we like to keep them around. When we heard about Taste of Playa, a local food festival that showcased the tremendous diversity and international flavor of Playa del Carmen, we knew it would be a great way to try some new restaurants and hopefully add to our list of favorites.

This was the fifth annual Taste of Playa event, and the first time we had attended. More than 40 different local restaurants and bars participated. We bought VIP passes in advance because first, that’s how we roll. And also? Crowds. Hate ’em.  The passes gave us special seating, several tickets for food and drink and most importantly access to the event an hour before it opened to the general public. Having been forewarned about how crowded Taste of Playa can get we decided it was worth the investment and we were awfully happy with our choice. There were a lot of people and chaffing dishes in a pretty small space. I’ve given up on the idea of a lot of personal space here in Mexico, but this was pretty extreme.

Crowds at Taste of Playa
And this is before it got busy.

I think all of Playa showed up, we didn’t take more than two steps in any direction before we would run into someone we know. But the crowds did not diminish the fun, festive atmosphere. We ate and drank. And then ate and drank some more. Because everywhere we turned there was something else we wanted to try.

Sushi at Taste of Playa
And this is why I loved Taste of Playa. Up til now I thought Canibal Royale only served typical beach bar fare. I was wrong.

I love Middle Eastern food so was delighted to come across Kartabar’s selection. They are located in a part of town that we normally do not frequent so what a treat to find them at Taste of Playa.

Mediterranean Food at Taste of Playa
The falafels and kibbeh were our favorites.

The only problem when we stopped to visit Chez Celine? Trying to decide between the amazing baked bread, their amazing pastries and their amazing sandwiches.

Chez Celine at Taste of Playa
We made it easy on ourselves and got all three.
Watermelon at Taste of Playa
My watermelon carvings never come out this good. I think it’s all in the wrist.

And of course there were lots of drinks to go along with all the delicious food. Some of our favorites like Bar Ranita, Babes Noodle and Bar and Off the Vine kept us hydrated. That is how it works, right?

Dirty Martini at Taste of Playa
The Dirty Martini Lounge had very generous portions.

And then it was on to dessert. Although I might have gone out of order just a bit.

Red Velvet Cupcakes at Taste of Playa
First stop of the day was red velvet cupcakes from PDC Smoked Meats. I didn’t try any of their meat but if it’s half as good as the cupcake I ate then you should go get some now.

And finally, the best thing about Taste of Playa for me? I had the absolute best key lime pie I’ve had since leaving the States. Thank you Turtle Bay Cafe.

Taste of Playa
This is my happy place.

Because Playa’s population is made up of people from around the world, it is truly becoming a foodies dream as everyone brings flavors from their home countries here. Taste of Playa was perfect because we tried some great food from places we hadn’t been to before, found some new potential favorites and satisfied some cravings we’ve had since moving. And there just might be another key lime pie for me and a couple of sandwiches for Jason chilling in the fridge. If only we’d grabbed a couple of extra Kebe Bolas and some hummus!