Nowadays, traveling for holiday is one of the a way of habit for all people in the world. They want get some smile after busy days at office.
Tex Mex is so delicious; we had been eating it by the bucket load in the United States.
But we were now in Mexico and I wanted to further explore the local cuisine. I knew I couldn’t find that on the popular and touristy 5th Avenue in Playa Del Carmen, so I found the Viator Playa del Carmen Food Tour to get the real, behind-the-scenes authentic Mexican experience we were craving.
Our meeting spot was easy to find near the bus terminal and Cozumel ferry terminal. Our group consisted of just 5 people, the perfect size for an intimate tour. Our friendly guide came prepared with a heat-quenching bottled water for each guest, and we were off.
During the tour we caught several cabs. There was not too much walking, which was really appreciated by our kids. The walking we did do was often over uneven surfaces, so be careful to watch your step and wear comfortable walking shoes.
Our Spanish is very much lacking, but fortunately our guide took care of all communication with restaurants so we could effortlessly follow along.
The food tour included five stops and, of course, the best was saved for last.
Stop #1: Quesadillas @ Las Quekas
Corner of Ave 30th & Calle 14
Across the road from Mega shopping mall we found a small restaurant with room for about 4 tables and a bench. Three ladies inside were cooking fresh quesadillas over a large, open, flat grill. These ladies make their own corn tortillas from scratch and use Oaxacan cheese (the authentic Mexican quesadilla cheese).
We sat down at a table to try three different varieties: chorizo, cheese and corn. And to quench our thirst from the heat, sipped a Mexican Coke which is very different to the US version, using real cane sugar rather than high fructose corn syrup.
Stop #2: Market @ DAC
Avenida 30th between Constituyentes & Calle 20th
This stop was at a local market filled with fresh fruit and vegetables, as well as barrels of dried spices and chilies. Our guide pointed out several different fruits and chilies that are native to the region, including the Jamiaca, which was featured in our next stop.
Stop #3: Pozole & Jamaica @ Mi Abuelita
Avenida 30th between Calle 20th & 22nd
This small hole-in-the-wall restaurant is a local Pozoleria fitting roughly 4 tables.
It was here we tried Jamaica.
No, it wasn’t a slice of a Caribbean island, but perhaps just as refreshing. This Hibiscus Water is similar to a cranberry or blackcurrant drink, like Ribena.
After our Agua de Jamaica, we were each served a bowl of hearty Mexican stew, known as Pozole. The soup is made from nixtamalized cacahuazintle corn (process of soaking corn in alkaline solution, the first step to making corn usable for food preparation, like tortillas), better known as hominy. This soup is usually served with pork, but we tried the chicken variety. A layered stand of extra toppings was served tableside to add to the soup – lime, lettuce and chilies.
This hearty soup is filled with complex flavors that Mexicans love. It’s usually served at celebrations and one that can certainly turn a warm day to a red-hot one if you have a low threshold for spicy food. Phew!
Stop #4: Tacos @ Merchant
Benito Juarez between Ave 30th & Ave 25th
This unassuming restaurant stole my heart, or rather ran away with my taste buds. It was my favorite stop, hands down. Plastic tables and chairs gave it a very simple feel. At the entrance stood an unassuming chef chopping pork for all to see. There was no hiding of ingredients here.
We sat down at the back of the restaurant and were served a tray of condiments – guacamole, hot sauce, chilies and other bits and pieces. Next up we were given a choice of “greasy” or “non-greasy”. We ordered one of each so we could compare both. I recommend the greasy vor cochinita pibil – it was by far our favorite Yucatecán street taco.
This pork dish is typically done in the Michoacán style with selected “cuts” of meat (pork) that are roasted or braised at low heat in a copper pot. The pork is seasoned with salt, oregano and sometimes crushed garlic.
The tortilla was soft and light and just thick enough to hold the full-flavored meat filling. I could have done with several more of these.
Stop #5: Ice Cream @ Nieves Mexicanas Street Stall
Corner of Avenida 25th & Benito Juarez
Our last stop was at a super small stall on one of the city’s busiest streets selling handmade, artisanal ice-cream. Nieves is the Spanish word for snow and is a general term for frozen Mexican treats.
Everyone choose one frozen dessert, and we stood on the busy street corner licking continuously, watching the cars, pedestrians, bikes and general comings and goings of Playa Del Carmen.
After the refreshing ice cream, our guide walked us back to the plaza near our starting point and said her goodbyes. The day after our tour we received a follow-up email with details of each place we visited. This was a great bonus, because I for one knew I was headed back for more tacos from Merchant. Mmmmm…
So we do hope that all of you enjoy this post. See you on the next post.
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