Why Farmers markets are important for social gatherings and to the local economy.
In Playa a local blogger has made it easy to find the farmers markets in the link below.
Best Playa Del Carmen markets
PARQUE LA CEIBA TIANGUIS
photo cred: playadelcarmen.com
Late night eats could be a hit or miss, luckily for me and my husband we found our go to place for Cochinita Pibil at Blue Pointe Grill. I've had my eye on this place for some time now but I just haven't made it over to that area of Playa and this night I was determined. I didn't let finding an unsure parking spot deter me, I was getting my seafood tostada! Well, what I thought was a tostada was actually the Calamari taco so I tried it along with the Cochinita Pibil Taco. My husband ordered the Beer Battered Fish Taco and the Cochinita Pibil Taco. He enjoyed his fish taco and I definitely will return to have the calamari taco as well. I'm secretly hoping they add Pulpo (Octopus) tostadas to the menu or the owners see this blog post.....that would make this place heaven for me! We both agreed the Cochinita Pibil was delicious and comparing quantity and quality to the price of the tacos, it's worth it!
The small outside dining restaurant is run by a husband and wife team from Minnesota, Miguel, and Nicole, with little ones running around. I find it charming and endearing and typical of a small family run business. Nicole stated they did not want to go to sleep and I jokingly said: "put them to wash dishes, they may not wash them but it will keep them busy and you'll have future dishwashers". Hey, everyone starts somewhere!
The mosquitoes were fierce this night and I usually carry repellent with me but I didn't have it on me. I noticed the owner brought a can of repellent out per the request of another customer and I jumped in on that! As I mentioned it was late and this night they close at 11 and it was only the 2 of them so I assumed they sent the wait staff home.
Everything is made to order so expect longer wait than normal but well worth it. There was one other table they attended and then another customer showed up so they do get those late night customers. I couldn't help but to peek over at the table next to us and notice that they had ordered the T-bone steak, oh boy.....guess what I'm having next time! They have burgers on the menu as well and there are many good reviews about them so if you're craving a burger and your other half wants a steak or a taco, this is the place to go.
There is something for everyone!
I was very confused when someone in conversation was adamant that Barbecue came from the Caribbean, primarily from Jamaican jerk and well, yes and no. I thought why would this person think such a thing. Well, history shows the word "Barbacoa", (remember, Barbecue derived from this word) came from the Caribbean because that is when it was first recorded not to be confused with Jamaican jerk that was actually created on the island of Jamaica in the Caribbean. Barbecue has become an American pass time with many techniques and regional differences in the marinade recipes used to make wet sauces and dry rubs. Before we get into that let's talk about the history of Barbacoa. Let's understand the process of Barbacoa before you can understand why this has been around since fire was discovered by humans.
Barbacoa was brought to the Caribbean (Cuba, Trinidad, Jamaica, Haiti, Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico) from the Taino Indian that came from South America and later in time of conflict with the Caribs, another indigenous group deriving from South America as well, to the northeast Caribbean. Not to get too much into how Jamaican Jerk was born but the process in which it is made can be confused with barbecue. The American word "Jerky" derived from Jamaican Jerk and the spice rub used is known as "jerk spice" referring to a spice rub. One theory that is more concrete is that the original spice rub originated in South Africa and it was brought to the Caribbean by the African slaves via the Spanish and when the British conquered the Caribbean the Africans fled to the mountains and intertwined with the Taino Indian. Over the years it has been modified in many ways but yet holds the name Jamaican Jerk.
Barbacoa is the process in which meat is cooked, generally over an open fire. In North Mexico, what I have grown up to know Barbacoa to be, was this delicious fatty meat (of course over the years we have cut back on fat, lol) cooked in it's own juices and beef head was usually prepared. Where I grew up (So Cal) it was a special occasion kind of meal considering it took a long time to cook and pork butt (pork shoulder) was used instead. Traditionally, in Mexico, it was primarily cooked over an open fire, pit or hole dug in the ground covered in the leaves of the Maguey plant and served with corn tortillas, guacamole, salsa, cilantro and onions.
Cochinita Pibil, found in the Yucatan, is similar only suckling pig is used and marinated in acidic citrus juices, seasoned with annatto seeds and wrapped in banana leaves before cooking.
The cooking process of Barbacoa was brought to the southwestern areas of the U.S. via Texas and later called barbecue. The word barbecue was cemented when the word "Barbacu'd" was published by an English writer who voyaged to Jamaica.
At first glance it's unclear what you're walking into because you're coming from La Quinta Avenida (shopping strip for tourist) and off a side street covered in shade from the wild foliage you enter into a dim lighted jungle like space. Once you get through, first to catch your eye is the eclectic colorful décor that adorns a huge palapa the covers the main seating area. In the center is a small pond filled with koy and turtles that feeds into other ponds in different areas of the restaurant through small crevices on the walkway.
We sat down to a quiet still in the air and your eyes go everywhere while your mind is trying to keep up with everything you’re taking in. Muffled sounds coming from other diners and the trickling of the water from the small waterfalls in the ponds make for a very relaxing dining experience. The rain starts to come down pretty heavy just adding to the mystic of the natural beautiful setting. We were joined by one of the owners, Andres, who wanted to learn a little more about what we offer in our food tours. As we started talking he offers us freshly squeezed juices. I opted for the Guayaba- orange juice combination while my husband ordered the mango-orange juice, both equally refreshing and without any added sugar.
I ordered a few dishes to taste and the anticipation was killing me after reading many good reviews. We started with the Lima soup, that I would say in comparison is similar to the Mexican chicken soup but with Lima (a sweet floral, with little acidity citrus fruit) and you take it up a notch by adding the caramelized habanero chile that creates this mouthwatering combination in a good way.
We moved on to the red and green chile mole, a sauce of many ingredients and too many to remember. The green chile mole was a little tangy but not too much that your cheek muscles tighten up. The red mole was just as I expected a little sweet but very savory. Yes, it’s one of those confusing foods that you either love or hate. I requested one of my personal favorites, the Fish Fillet Veracruz style. This dish of very little ingredients has such an enormous amount of flavor you’ll find yourself licking the dish. Green olives and capers give this tomato based sauce a favored flavoring you’ll never forget it.
If you like to pair any of these dishes with wine, they are very capable of helping you find one and all the wines in house are from Mexico. They are very knowledgeable in the origin of Mezcal and Tequila and have some favorite options to pick from.
Entering the uneven dirt road to find this tranquil, tropical, romantic hotel was a great surprise. Of course, we visited only the restaurant at night which set the mood but I imagine visiting during the day is just as magical as it is in a very quiet stretch of the beach in Playa Del Carmen.
I was anxious to get into their pool (yes, you can get in the pool) but I was starving and couldn't make up my mind on what to order. Did I want to order pizza, ceviche mixta, or a fish/seafood dish.....oh the choices! I asked the server what was the most ordered fish dish and he recommended a filet of grouper with a sauce of sorts made of cilantro, garlic and butter and oh man, was he right! It was delicious but halfway through my dish I was soooo full! Like I mentioned I was starving, so I indulged in tortilla chips and salsa beforehand which I might add is great here in Playa because you tend to get at least a couple options of salsa at any restaurant, Habanero being one of them. If you're not use to spice, WATCH OUT, this will burn hole in you tongue. Not really, but you won't ever forget it. My husband ordered pizza and he said it was delicious. Might I add if you're a pizza lover like my husband you'll always tend to think the pizza isn't big enough for 2 but I have to agree this pizza is the perfect size for 1 person. I might take home a couple slices to enjoy the next day. If you want to share the pizza get a side dish to accompany it and make it a meal. Our friend ordered the ceviche mixta and the pieces were nice and chunky and the flavors were spot on!
They do offer a good variety of drinks and I ordered the classic Margarita but as I always do, I ask if they can substitute the tequila for brandy and I'm so glad I did. They serve it with slices of serrano chile and wow.....it was the tastiest brandy margarita I've ever had. For me it wasn't as spicy as one might think but the serrano chile added just enough spice to still make it refreshing. At 150 pesos they considered it a "special margarita" and I was okay with it because they made it strong like I requested and one for me was like having 2!
The serene ambiance set a very relaxing mood that sucked you in and wouldn't let you go plus the hammock isn't that easy to get out of once you it sways you into a hypnotized trance were your body surrenders and for a second has you thinking, "I could sleep here tonight". I guess you could but you would have to rent a cabaña.
One of the few places here in Playa were you will find a line formed outside before the restaurant opens and people wait patiently too because they know they are in for a treat. They are mostly famous for their Al Pastor tacos. You will only find this flavor profile in the spice mix they flavor the pork meat with and a slice of pineapple is added to the top of the taco before serving. The service is what you should expect of a busy restaurant and with the line of people waiting outside they have to be on their game.
The tacos are not the only dish that will have you coming back. The charro beans will have you sipping every last drop straight from the bowl. You will want to try everything on the menu and you won’t be disappointed. They have refreshing tasty margaritas and fresh, "jugos", juice drinks that you can't find at your local grocery store. This local spot is not in the famous tourist area, La Quinta, but you can find it not too far off the beaten path.
If you don’t want to wait in line try your luck at 1 of the 3 locations but this place is on fire just as its name means in Spanish and you won’t want to miss trying it.
Here are their 3 locations and I've attached google maps links. They are close in proximity to each other so if you find too long of a wait at one you can take a short walk to another.
They don't have a website but here is the FB page.
30 Avenida Nte and Calle 6 Nte Bis https://goo.gl/maps/JerzT73bHdm
Ave Constituyentes and 30 Ave Nte https://goo.gl/maps/9TGsKhC7bM92
30 Avenida Nte and Calle 32 Norte https://goo.gl/maps/w2C2UGPEk7r