We call Playa del Carmen food trucks, street vendors and it is a popular form of eating in the city and throughout the Riviera Maya. Don’t be afraid. Do keep in mind that all street vendors are not created equal as restaurants are not created equal as home cooking is not all created equal. Food is love and love is food, and one can tell if a cook, chef or mother puts love into their food or not. Bad food is not only lacking flavor, it is lacking a whole lot of lovin’. Carboncitos has a whole lot of lov’in put into their recipes but that is another day, today we want to highlight some other great cooks, chefs and food.
We have lived here for long time, and there are some highly recommended street food vendors that we would encourage our visitors and guests to try. It is inexpensive, fast and cultural. Brush up on some basic food spanish so you end up with what you want. Queso (cheese), res (beef), pollo (chicken), taco, para llever (to go), para aqui (for here) are some that will be helpful.
1. Empanadas. These deep fried treats are filled with either cheese or cheese and chicken, potato and chorizo or beef. As an empanada anonymous afficianado (I had to quit this habit as it was doing nothing for my cholestrol) the best I have had is on Av. Juarez between 35th and 40th. It has been there for years and when you add the cabbage, salsa, and cream, they are great. Now you know why I am in empanada rehab. Once a month, a great idea but as an addiction, bad, very bad.
2. Salbutes. There is a group of women on Av. Juarez at 20th ave. that are located outside a Fruteria that serve salbutes, a Mayan invention that is an open taco with marinated onions, chicken, lettuce and beans. Man, these are great and adding your salsa and cream on top, yikes. Delicious. The other alternative in the evening is at Dona Mary’s on 30th avenue on teh corner of 28th street. Super off the beaten track mexican food made by a family of women.
3. Cochinita Pibil. We can not count the staff at our restaurant Carboncitos, as they are not street vendors, but they have been known to make a wicked Cochinita Pibil. Cochonita Pibil is pulled pork, marinated mayan pig in achiote paste and some other secret ingredients. On 12th and 2oth Ave there is a cart with some of the best cochinita pibil. Simple fair, pork on a bun, but the pork is slow cooked for 24 hours in the paste, wrapped in banana leaves, with sour oranges and onions. The cooking process is long, but the results, fantastic. This process can also be done with goat, chicken or beef.
4. Fruit. The ladies in the Plaza at the end of Juarez and 5th sell a great selection of Tropical Fruits all day. Coconut, Mango, Jicama, Papaya, Cucumber, or a mixed Tropical Fruits specialty. You can have it served up natural or with chile and lime, a Mexican favorite topping for Mango, Coconut and Jicama. I am converted and choose the chile and lime. It is delicious and cuts out the sweetness of the mango, or brings in more flavor to Jicama.
5. Tacos a Res On Juarez and 40th there is a very very popular taco mobile eatery that opens at 6 pm and stays open until 3 am. The line up is always big and the crowds always surround this small area. It is beef only and the tacos with toppings and salsas are very good. Large crowds mean high food turn over which is best when choosing a mobile eatery. And it means that the tacos are good, who lines up for bad food?
I need to state again, not all mobile eateries are created equal. Some are great and some not so great. If you are feeling like having a taste of local culture, the best time to scout mobile food eateries is at 630 am in the morning when people are going to work or at 11 pm when people are looking for a little snack. As we do with Chinese food, if the eatery is filled with locals, go. If it does not, think twice.
Most are located in the back streets so it will be a walk off 5th Ave and beyond. It is well worth the walk, but you can be the judge.
Anyone have a favorite mobile eatery they recommend. Post in comments or say something on our Facebook page so that we can share all views and try new street food that will give you more experiences and save you some money!