Playa del Carmen for vegan and vegetarian travellers

I have already written about what to do in Playa del Carmen, now let’s go with the vegan and vegetarian side of it. I have to admit, I was afraid of not finding decent food for me here. But it is not the case! This is how I survived these days:

Subway: It’s always a great resource for me when I’m travelling. There are always vegetarian sandwiches in these establishments, although I always ask about the ingredients first, because you never know what vegetarian means in other countries. For example, here they looked weird at me when I asked the question, because the vegetarian sandwich only has vegetables. I could read the waitress’ mind telling me: do you want us to put some cheese and chicken on it for free or what? In most places in Spain (not sure about Subway), a vegetarian sandwich means bread, a leaf of lettuce, some sliced tomatoes and… yes, cheese, chicken, maybe sliced boiled eggs and maybe, if you are lucky, a little bit of serrano ham. Spain is different…

Price: inexpensive
Location: Quinta Avenida

Chez Cèline: Cozy and elegant French bakery where I had a looong and relaxed brunch with my friend L. on her day off. Although it’s not a vegetarian place, they are kind enough to have marked on the menu the vegetarian options. I ordered the vegetarian sandwich and asked them to make it without cheese, of course.

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Price: inexpensive
Location: 5th Avenue and 34th Street
Website: http://www.chezceline.com.mx/
For vegans/vegetarians: serves meat but there are vegan and vegetarian options

Green Box: On that day with my friend L., we spent such a looong time chilling at Chez Cèline that, by the time we were on the street again, I was already craving for something more. Give me protein, now!!!! – those were the exact words coming from my stomach. So, on our way to the beach, we stopped by Green Box. It’s a colourful restaurant with many choices for fruit shakes, sandwiches, wraps…

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I had the hummus with pita bread (hummus is made of chickpeas, chickpeas have a lot of protein -> my stomach was finally happy and calm) and my friend had a fruit shake. I came again another day to try the sandwiches: veggie sandwich with chapata bread… yummy!

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Remember, this is not a vegan place, so don’t forget to ask them not to use cheese as an ingredient!

Price: inexpensive
Location: 5th Avenue between 38th and 40th street
Website: http://www.greenbox.mx/
For vegans/vegetarians: serves meat but there are vegan and vegetarian options

Piola: another option to eat vegan while travelling are Italian restaurants. I mean, good ones like Piola where the pizzas are made on the moment and not just quickly defrozen and heated in the microwave. You can always ask for the vegetable pizza to be made without cheese. Or check with them first if the pasta is egg-free and order some spaghetti with tomato sauce. I’d rather go for the first option. Salads are usually on the menu as well in Italian restaurants, but I prefer to order something heavier or my stomach will start shouting Give me carbohidrates, now!!!!. Oh, my dear stomach is so picky and agressive.

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Price: inexpensive
Location: 5th Avenue and 38th Street (from the 5th Avenue, go along 38th Street in the direction of the beach and you will see it on the left)
Website: http://www.piola.it
For vegans/vegetarians: serves meat but there are vegan and vegetarian options

Kaxapa Factory: My favourite one in Playa. It’s easy to understand why this small and friendly place specialised on Venezuelan dishes has achieved #2 on the restaurant list on Tripadvisor. I was served by José Ramón, who, on my first day there, explained to me all the dishes in the menu and the vegetarian and vegan options. He also brought me 4 drinks to taste from, so I could choose better. For eating I tried the vegan kaxapa (some kind of a veggie-wrap) one day and the rest of the days, the vegan pabellón:

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The pabellón (remember to remark that you don’t want cheese on it!) was by far my favourite dish, because it ressembles a lot what I usually cook when I’m at home: some vegetables, some carbohidrates (rice) and some protein (beans and tofu). My stomach smiles and sings when fed this way.
The warm atmosphere of the place and the quality of the food made me come here for lunch many of my days in Playa and I would really recommend it to everyone.

Price: inexpensive
Location: Constituyentes between 10th and 15th Avenue
On Tripadvisor: http://www.tripadvisor.com.mx/Restaurant_Review-g150812-d2102270-Reviews-Kaxapa_Factory-Playa_del_Carmen_Yucatan_Peninsula.html
For vegans/vegetarians: serves meat but there are vegan and vegetarian options

Wow, it seems like I’ve spent all my days in Playa just eating out. Some options for those who prefer to cook or to just, ehem, lie on the bed/beach eating whatever is vegan:

Walmart: big supermarket on 30th Avenue between 8th and 12th Street. They have tofu! This is always a relief when making sandwiches for day trips.

Small supermarkets that you will see in almost every street: you can usually find bananas, bread, packed tortillas, cereal bars, cookies…

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My procedure with packed food is to check every ingredient and then check for the food warnings. A product which may contain traces of milk or eggs usually has been made without these ingredients (if it were made with milk or eggs, they wouldn’t be just traces) in a factory which uses milk or eggs for other products. I understand that a small milk particle might have landed on my cereal bar and I understand that the warning is needed for allergic people who would put their health into risk by not knowing it, but for my it’s usually not an issue. However, there are vegans out there who do care about the traces and I respect that, but travelling this way, it would be really hard for me to find suitable food. Yeah, I’m far away from becoming a level 5 vegan.

Please notice that I don’t get much into detail about the quality of the food or the service of the restaurants. For me, finding places to eat vegan is such an exciting experience that as long as the food is eatable and the waiters are not too much of a mess, I’ll be happy. Please note too that there are many other vegetarian restaurants in Playa del Carmen, but I was too lazy to try them all. The best way to find out about them is by having a look at Happy Cow – the best website for travelling vegans and vegetarians.

Next posts about León, Guanajuato and Guadalajara will come soon!

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