My only regret as a vegetarian traveling to the Mayan Riviera is that I didn’t go out to eat MORE! I always thrill at the plant-based options in Mexican cuisine in general, but Tulum and Playa del Carmen have so many choices that you could spend all of your time devouring one veggie meal after another.
That said, I embarked on enough of a vegetarian tour during my 3 ½ week visit this summer that I can confidently make some recommendations to my fellow vegetarians, vegans and veg-friendly friends, so here they are!
Burrito Amor - This was the first spot I tried when I arrived, after getting a ton of positive recommendations and realizing that it was a 20-minute walk or (even better) a 5-minute bike ride from my Airbnb in “el pueblo” (the town of Tulum as opposed to the hotel zone on the beach). I went three times and got the same thing every time! An egg burrito with chayo (a type of spinach) and avocado. I actually...don’t like burritos very much. They always feel really heavy and chewy to me. But THESE were divine, I think because they were toasted up and served hot (VERY hot) in banana leaves (see my *unwrapping* video above). Plus the trio of salsas (chipotle, avocado and a spicy red salsa) were delicious!
Burrito Amor has a great atmosphere with a ton of indoor/outdoor seating, right on the main road that runs through town (hwy 307). Pricing was very reasonable - I spent less than 200 pesos on my very filling burrito and a non-alcoholic drink.
Ruztiko - This became our favorite local spot since it was right around the corner from our apartment, so we stopped by several times on our bikes to buy their fresh juices - green juice, hibiscus, orange, pineapple, and more - so refreshing!
But I first discovered it because it had gotten good reviews for their tacos. They didn’t disappoint! The best part is how accommodating they were in making delicious veggie tacos and a veggie breakfast plate for me. And these dishes were closer to local prices - not the slightly elevated tourist prices you find in town - about 50 pesos for three tacos and 150 pesos for a delicious breakfast of eggs, veggies, frijoles and all the fresh tortillas we could eat (plus juice!). Large juice bottles were between 30-40 pesos each and we stocked up every few days.
Palma Central - Another spot that was easily accessible to our place (our airbnb was on the edge of town so proximity is a recurring theme haha :)) and had so many options to choose from! It’s an outdoor market with food stalls, a weekly clothing and crafts fair, and live music on Tuesdays. (Note: Closed on Wednesdays!) The veggie tacos I got there were just OK, but I really loved getting a change of pace with the pad thai and loaded baked potatoes. I found the prices reasonable here as well, coming in at around 140-150 pesos for an entree. They also have full bar service so try the margaritas (for about 150 pesos)!
La Hoja Verde - Oh, I LOVED this place! First, because our waiter was DARLING - he was so quirky and sweet and funny, and yes, we both had completely innocent crushes on him about 5 minutes in. But also, the food was a treat - SO many choices. We split a flight of vegetarian tacos that were approximations of your typical pork/beef tacos (e.g. carne asada), but my favorite was the platter of breaded cauliflower tacos. They were reminiscent of fish tacos and really hit the spot. Hopefully someday I’ll go back and try out more of their offerings! They’re located right in the center of town, and for only 270 pesos each, we split two 3-taco platters, got drinks, and shared a dessert.
El Vegetariano - Stopped by here for lunch and had a satisfying homemade veggie burger with homefry-style papas fritas, and a tasty ginger-mint lemonade (for about 200 pesos). Seemed like a popular spot to relax on your own or meet friends. Definitely would go back to try out some other dishes!
La Zebra Hotel - This is not a vegetarian spot per se, but one night we went out to dinner in a small group so I got to try the veggie tacos. They had really unique ingredient combos (one of my tacos had hummus in it!) that were delicious, as were the margaritas.
Note, this was not a budget-friendly place! We wound up there not expecting to order dinner, but it was “Taco Thursday” so getting tacos a la carte was the cheapest and most sensible option. (Unfortunately, I forgot to write down how much they were and I can’t find anything online, but I think they were something ridiculous, like 150 pesos PER taco.)
Despite the sticker shock, the atmosphere was so nice - a gorgeous view of the full moon over the beach plus an energetic and enthusiastic salsa band - that we went with the flow and had a great time!
La Buena Vida (Akumal) - After snorkeling at Yal Kul Lagoon in Akumal, we stopped at this surfside restaurant/bar to admire the ocean view, while studiously averting our gaze from the piles of sargasso on the shore, and relaxing with some drinks and snacks. I got the veggie quesadillas which came with a side of coleslaw and guacamole. They were very tasty, as were the margaritas. (Tbh, I wasn’t disappointed by the margaritas ANYWHERE we went, especially since we kept ordering passion fruit margaritas - “maracuyá” - and they’re just delicious.) All in with tip, I paid 300 pesos.
La Cueva del Chango (Playa del Carmen) - A monkey lives here, y’all. Enough said.
Just kidding - it WAS a great perk to spot a spider monkey swinging through the trees, but the food was delish too. This is a veg-friendly restaurant so aside from plant-based options, you can also just ask for what the vegan choices are. (Also it’s quite romantically lit, so I’d recommend it for a date night <3) I wound up getting enchiladas stuffed with sweet plantains and quinoa in a mole sauce - it wasn’t on the menu, but the waiter recommended it! Yum! (Dinner including a drink came to about 200 pesos.)
Fresco Hábito (Playa del Carmen) - Oh, this quickly became my favorite place in Playa del Carmen after only 24 hours! On our first day, we got delicious smoothies (90 pesos each) to take the edge off after traveling up from Tulum and still having a few hours until dinner. The second morning we decided to fill up before catching the ferry to Tulum and we went all out! We split an acai breakfast bowl, cacao waffles, “Green & Champi Cheese” toast (amazing - get it!), and each got our own fresh juice. Everything was to die for and the final bill didn’t break the bank! Came out to about 265 pesos each, including tip. Highly recommend! Loved, loved, loved it!
Amparo's (Cozumel) - Another place I FELL IN LOVE with for breakfast. We went both of the mornings that we were in Cozumel (paid about 200 pesos each time). We loved the green detox drinks, and the chilaquiles were *chef’s kiss*. I loved the flavorful huevos rancheros (I tried both the standard and vegan versions). If I had spent more time in Cozumel I probably would’ve eaten there every day until I had exhausted their menu :) lol
Veggie spots in Tulum that I want to try next time:
So even with all of that eating, I still didn’t get to try every spot that came recommended! Here are a few for you to check out in the meantime (and let me know what you think until I can visit again and try for myself!).
Raw Love Tulum Town
Real Vegan Mexican Street Food
I Scream Bar
All in all, I felt very well-fed as a vegetarian in Tulum, Playa del Carmen and Cozumel. Let me know in the comments if you have any questions or other veg recommendations! Buen provecho :*