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One of the qualities that makes Mexico so loveable is that it’s so easy to eat delicious food for very little money. Although, when visiting a resort town it can be a little trickier to find affordable places to eat on a budget. That said, it IS still possible to find cheap places to eat, even in the heart of the Riviera Maya.

My best tip for finding cheap eats in Playa del Carmen is to explore away from La Quinta Avenida; it is the heart of the touristic zone, and therefore the most expensive area. Wander a block or two away from La Quinta and you’ll notice the restaurants (and the prices) start to seem a lot more down to earth.

In the event that you’re not up for intrepid exploration, I’ve put together this list of my favorite cheap places to eat in Playa del Carmen.

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Don Sirloin

Avenida Constituyentes between Avenida 20 and 25 (also various other locations)

In my opinion, Don Sirloin serves the best tacos in Playa del Carmen, their speciality being, as you can probably imagine, sirloin tacos. They do offer arracherra, pastor, and chicken tacos as well, but none of them are as tasty as the sirloin. The menu also includes other favorite Mexican foods, including quesadillas, fajitas, and even burritos. Also, the charro beans are super tasty.

Don Sirloin is definitely one of the best cheap places to eat in Playa del Carmen.

Is this anyone else’s idea of the perfect meal?!

Three sirloin tacos and a beer will set you back about $150 MXN ($7.50 USD), including a tip.

Note: some locations accept cards and others don’t (Constituyentes does!).

El Fogón

Avenida Constituyentes between Avenida 20 and 25 (also various other locations)

El Fogón is one of the most popular taco spots in the city, and is often touted as serving the best tacos in Playa del Carmen. I remain loyal to Don Sirloin on that front, however, you can definitely find tasty fare at El Fogón. My personal favorites are the fajitas, or the chorizo tacos.

If you visit El Fogón after 7pm during high season (November – March), expect crowds. It’s not uncommon to see a large group of people waiting on the sidewalk for their chance at a table, especially at the main location on Constituyentes. Fortunately, they’re conveniently located half a block from Don Sirloin 😜 Just sayin’!

Expect to spend about $150 MXN ($7.50 USD) for a meal for one. Also, they accept credit cards at El Fogón.

Bonus Money Saving Tip:
You get more for your money at taco restaurants when you order in bulk. You can order 200g, 500g, or even 1kg of your chosen taco meat and it will come with tortillas, charro beans, as well as salsas and fixins. If you can’t finish all the meat simply package it up and save it for the next day!

Tacos El Ñero

Avenida Benito Juarez and 45 Avenida Nte.

This taquería doesn’t look like much from the outside. In fact, it doesn’t even exist during the daytime. The tacos are grilled on mobile carts on the sidewalk, and the plastic tables and chairs are set up inside a covered courtyard. But don’t let the DIY appearance fool you, the tacos are tasty, and the place is usually crowded as a result. You’ll never have to wait long for a table though as the service is exceptionally speedy (a rarity in the Riviera Maya).

El Ñero is a great place to eat tacos on a budget in Playa del Carmen, Mexico.

The number of salsas and fixins on this table top let you know that El Ñero is the real deal when it comes to tacos.

If you’re looking for a truly authentic Mexican taquería experience, this is where you’ll find it. You can choose from classic taco cuts, such as suadero, maciza, pastor, lengua, and more.

An average meal here (3 tacos and a soda) will run you $100 MXN ($5 USD) or less, and they accept cash only.

I will include a word of warning: The tacos at El Ñero are very greasy– if you’re not accustomed to greasy food you might experience a rumbly stomach after eating here.

Wichoos

Calle 4 between Avenida 15 and 20

Wichoos is a small, unassuming seafood restaurant with kitschy decor and tasty food. It’s by far one of the best cheap eats in Playa del Carmen. In my opinion, the highlights of the menu are the ceviche and the sopa azteca, but they also offer fish tacos, and filets of fish, both of which are also very tasty.

Wichoos is a great place to eat for cheap in Playa del Carmen.

Doesn’t this ceviche look fresh and delicious?!

The only downside to eating at Wichoos is that they aren’t licensed to serve alcohol, so you’ll have to settle for water or soda.

A meal for one will run you about $150 – $200 MXN ($7 – $10 USD). They don’t accept cards at Wichoos so be sure to bring cash.

Pizza Renzo

Avenida 10 Nte, between Calle 6 and 8

Pizza Renzo is just as delicious as it is cheap. At $20 MXN per slice you can easily eat your fill of tasty pizza and still have money left over for beer.

This is ultimately a carry out spot, but they do have a couple of tables both in front and in the garden out back. The garden is quite peaceful, except for the multitude of massive iguanas eyeing up your meal. Beware of them; Hector and I were once victims of an iguana-run pizza heist.

Renzo doesn’t accept cards, but they do have an ATM on site.

Lonchería los Machacados

Avenida 45 Nte and Calle 3 bis Sur

This friendly antojito restaurant is one of my favorite places to eat in Playa del Carmen. The only annoying thing is that they don’t open until 5pm! They serve an assortment of traditional Mexican antojitos, including sopes, salbutes, tostadas, and empanadas, among other dishes, including a soap of the day, and tortas. The service is good, but can be slow because the place is often very busy. It’s well worth the wait though!

Each antojito item on the menu costs $18 – $20 MXN ($1 USD), and they are quite large, so 2 or 3 items are sufficient for a full meal. Expect to spend about $75 MXN per person. Like most traditional antojito shops, Machacados is cash only.

Cafe Andrade

Avenida 20 and Calle 8 Nte

You could easily walk by this unassuming cafe without ever giving it a chance. In fact, that’s what I did for the first 4 months I lived in Playa del Carmen. It wasn’t until one day, in search of a caffeine fix, that I said to Héctor (a native of the state of Veracruz), “Isn’t cafe Andrade a popular coffee brand from Veracruz?” (FYI Veracruz is the coffee Mecca of Mexico). He confirmed my suspicion and we decided to give the cafe a try.

Aside from great coffee, Cafe Andrade has an extensive menu featuring just about every traditional Mexican dish you could ever want, including chilaquiles, enfrijoladas, enchiladas, huevos a la mexicana, and more! I wouldn’t say the food is mind-blowing, but it’s a reliable option that won’t break the bank.

You can expect to spend about $150 – $200 MXN ($8 – $10 USD) per person, for a complete meal, and they do accept credit cards.

If you’d like additional tips on how to distinguish a delicious Mexican restaurant from a crappy one, check out my post on How to Find the Best Tacos in Mexico.

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