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Rocky Mountain Food Tours

Get a local taste of Playa del Carmen’s food and art scene with Eating With Carmen

 

Hola from Mexico!

Brenna here — blogger and foodie here at Rocky Mountain Food Tours — and I’m so excited to share about my recent food tour experience with Eating with Carmen in Playa del Carmen!

My husband and I have always bonded over exploring new places, and with the lack of traveling over the last year and a half, we were eager to get to explore the colorful Caribbean coastline of Mexico’s Riviera Maya for our anniversary this year!

Playa del Carmen is a popular tourist destination about an hour south of Cancun, however, on this trip to Mexico, we were determined to explore a more local side of this quickly growing city — and what better way to do so than with a food tour? We went with Eating with Carmen’s Authentic Local Experience and it did not disappoint!

Keep reading to learn more about our experience and get a peek into some of Playa del Carmen’s hidden culinary gems.

 

 

Brenna and her husband, Michael, in front of one of Playa del Carmen’s many amazing street art murals | © Rocky Mountain Food Tours


Stop 1 | Hibiscus Tea and History

 

We met our group at the south end of Playa del Carmen’s bustling pedestrian walkway, Quinta Avenida (or Fifth Avenue), known for its endless boutiques, cafes, tequila tasting rooms, and more. Our tour group consisted of Michael and myself, a fun family from Ohio, who we quickly bonded with over our shared love of travel and good food, and of course, our incredible guide, Alejandro.

Alejandro kicked off our tour by giving us a refreshing bottle of agua de jamaica (hibiscus iced tea) as he gave us a quick lesson on the history of Playa del Carmen. This coastal city was once a small fishing town and passageway to Cozumel, an island across the Cozumel Channel known for its stunning scuba and snorkeling spots.

In recent years, this former “pitstop” has been transformed into a popular tourist destination and vibrant city in its own right, and one of its main attractions is, of course, the food! So without further ado, let’s get to the good stuff…

 

Michael enjoying a cheesy bite of a huitlacoche quesadilla at Las Quecas de Playa | © Rocky Mountain Food Tours

 

Stop 2 | Las Quecas de Playa

 

We enjoyed a quick walk to the first stop on the food portion of our tour, which led us to Las Quecas de Playa! We enjoyed an appetizer of locally-made tamales from a popular cart in town while Alejandro explained a bit behind the process of making this famous dish.

Next, we got to enjoy our first main dish — a quesadilla! But this wasn’t just any quesadilla. This quesadilla contained huitlacoche, a fungus that grows on ears of corn and was first utilized by the Aztecs. While some farmers continue to toss their diseased corn to the side, huitlacoche has recently been made somewhat of a delicacy in the United States and around the globe.

In fact, I recently visited a popular taco spot in New York City where a friend recommended the huitlacoche taco. I consider myself a pretty adventurous eater, but when she shared what it was, I laughed and quickly ordered the carne asada. Thankfully, being on a food tour inherently makes you a bit more adventurous, so I ate it all up and I’m so glad I did!

 

Mole at Antojitos Playa del Carmen | | © Rocky Mountain Food Tours

 

Stop 3 | Antojitos Playa del Carmen

 

A food tour in Mexico wouldn’t be complete without some mole, Mexico’s national dish! Alejandro explained that while mole comes in many shapes and sizes, you’ll always experience a unique blend of sweet and spicy, with the use of ingredients like chocolate, nuts, chili pepper, cinnamon, cumin, and beyond.

We enjoyed our mole on enchiladas at Antojitos Playa del Carmen, a local, hole-in-the-wall joint serving up a bit of everything, including tacos, empanadas, and sopes!

 

Alejandro explaining the difference between the various peppers used in Mexican cooking | © Rocky Mountain Food Tours

 

Stop 4 | Agua Fresca at Jugos y Frutas

 

Let’s be honest, this Colorado native is not used to the humidity of the Caribbean, so stop number four on this tour was a welcomed treat! Jugos y Frutas is a colorful fruit market and Agua Fresca joint just a short walk from our last stop. Alejandro read off the long list of flavors to choose from including tamarind, pineapple, pozol-cocoa, and more! I went with lime and mint and smiled ear to ear when I was handed a cup the size of my head filled with this refreshing, sweet juice!

We then got to explore the fruit market where Alejandro helped identify the various peppers used in Mexican cooking and pointed out some of the more obscure fruits we may not be used to seeing in the states!

 

Mexico City-style tacos at Rico’s Tacos y Tortas | © Rocky Mountain Food Tours

 

Stop 5 | Rico’s Tacos y Tortas

 

Stops five and six may have been my favorite from the tour, but I’m also extremely biased towards anything related to tacos! Alejandro took us to Rico’s Tacos y Tortas for some Mexico City-style tacos! These tacos may look simple, but they are all about the meat, which is cooked to perfection in a large, almost wok-style pan.

The menu was made up of various meat offerings, including familiar items like chorizo, steak, and pork. More adventurous eaters can order things like Lengua, which is cow’s tongue, or Tripa Suave y Dorada, or cow’s stomach and intestine. Since I was being adventurous, I was excited to try the Lengua taco, which I ended up loving!

 

Al pastor tacos at a hole-in-the-wall spot in Playa del Carmen | © Rocky Mountain Food Tours

 

Stop 6 | Al Pastor Tacos at La Terminal 

 

Our last savory stop on this tour was for al pastor tacos from a hole-in-the-wall spot close to our meeting point. Alejandro explained that al pastor tacos were an adaptation of the middle eastern dish, shawarma, made of slow-cooked lamb.

For economic reasons, lamb was replaced with the more affordable option of pork, and topped with onion, cilantro, and a slice of pineapple, giving us the al pastor taco we all know and love today!

 

 

Paletas at Paleteria y Neveria Purepecha  | © Rocky Mountain Food Tours

 

Stop 7 | Paletas at Paleteria y Neveria Purepecha 

 

The tour ended with a delicious stop for paletas at Paleteria y Neveria Purepecha! These Mexican-style popsicles are made with fresh, real fruit, unlike much of the store-bought summer treats you can find in the United States. We were able to pick from flavors like mango, strawberry, vanilla, and mamey! We couldn’t think of a more perfect way to end this amazing tour!

 

With seemingly endless offerings of all-inclusive resorts in the area, it’s possible to visit Playa del Carmen without ever stepping foot in the city itself; however, Playa del Carmen is well worth the visit, with remarkable food and colorful art at every turn. With the help of Eating with Carmen, we felt as though we truly got a taste — pun intended — of the city’s cultural identity and got the authentic experience we were craving.

Eating with Carmen also offers two other Playa del Carmen food tours, as well as tours in Mérida and Tulum! We can’t wait to continue to explore more of Mexico with their help!

 

And of course, if you find yourself in Colorado, we’d love for you to join us on one of our food tours! Join us for weekly public tours, or set up a private tour for your group, as we explore delicious food and drink in our own backyard. Check our calendar for upcoming availability here.

 

Cheers, Brenna from Your Rocky Mountain Food Tours Team

(So, what’s a food tour, anyway…?)

 

 

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