Tony & Cheri's PlayaZone

Adventures in Playa del Carmen, Mexico

  • Subscribe

  • Top Posts & Pages

  • Playa del Carmen Weather

  • Categories

  • Archives

  • Blog Stats

    • 720,086 hits
  • Pages

  • Networked Blogs

Archive for the ‘Dining in Playa’ Category

Heading for the Beach? The Luna Blue’s Newest Beach Clubs

Posted by Tony & Cheri on September 5, 2013

Beach Club at Grand CoralPlaya del Carmen has what many consider to be the best beaches around. In order to help our guests get the most out of their stay here in paradise, the Luna Blue Hotel has always offered discounts and passes to some of the most popular beach clubs in town. From time to time those clubs change based on feedback from our guests and from the clubs themselves. Here is the latest news on our associate beach clubs.

First and foremost we are very happy to announce the reopening of the Beach Club at the Grand Coral (formerly Blucacao). This beautiful upscale club has long been a favorite of our guests for its pristine, uncrowded beach, its two shallow infinity pools and the restaurant/bar overlooking the Caribbean Sea. The beach club was badly damaged earlier this year in a fire and has been closed for several months. However it has now been completely repaired and is open once again, bigger and better than ever. Guests staying at the Luna Blue Hotel receive free use of the beach club facilities including use of the pools, pool side loungers, beach chairs and umbrellas. The restaurant does have one of the more pricey menus on the beach, however it also features some of the most interesting and highest quality dishes around. Best of all, guests from the Luna Blue Hotel receive a 10% discount on their food and drinks. And the setting can’t be beat.

Indigo Beach ClubWe are also very pleased to announce the return of the Indigo Beach Club to the Luna Blue Hotel family. Set on Playa’s central beach at the foot of Calle 14, the Indigo Beach Club offers a lovely arrangement of loungers, tables, beach chairs and umbrellas. Guests of the Luna Blue Hotel may receive free use of beach chairs and umbrellas after 11 am, when the breakfast crowd clears out, with a $150 pesos minimum food or beverage purchase. In addition, Indigo has a new young chef, Rubén López. Rubén, who many may know as the head chef from the upscale Negrosal, has put together a series of upscale tasting menus of various prices for the evening hours. For those on a honeymoon—or just feel like they are on a honeymoon—there is a special “Romantic” tasting menu with a private seaside, candle-lit setting and private lounge. We can’t wait to try it. Maybe for our upcoming anniversary. :) The food at Indigo is not only top-notch, but it’s beautifully prepared as well. Guests of the Luna Blue Hotel receive a 10% discount on all dinners as well as all of the tasting menus.

On the north end of Playa we continue our association with the Canibal Royal Beach Club. Set in a cozy little cove on the shore, Canibal Royal offers not only a perfect beach setting to catch some rays, but also has a two floor restaurant with spectacular views of the ocean and a fascinating menu not seen elsewhere on the beach front. Luna Blue Hotel guests receive free use of a beach chair and towel at Canibal Royal with a minimum food or beverage purchase. And after sunning, drinking and dining at Canibal Royal, don’t forget to head up to the giant third floor hot tub to soak under the sky while looking out over an unspoiled view of the Caribbean Sea.

Wicky's Beach ClubFinally we continue our association with Wicky’s Restaurant and Beach Club. Wicky’s sits in the middle of all the action of Playa’s beautiful central beach. You can stroll on the shore, bar crawl or just people watch from your own lounge chair. Wicky’s offers one of the best and most upscale menus in Playa whether it be a traditional American breakfast or a “surf and turf” dinner. Dine on the deck or sitting on the beautiful white sand beach. Luna Blue Hotel guests receive free use of beach chairs and a 10% discount on food and beverages at Wicky’s Beach Club. During high season there is a small minimum food or beverage purchase required.

We are very happy to offer our guests use of such a diverse group of beach clubs. Of course both Playa’s central and north beaches are dotted with various beach clubs where you can rent chairs and umbrellas for just a few pesos. We recommend trying as many as you can. By the way, due to a difficult and unresponsive management and repeated problems with service, we are no longer recommending Mamita’s Beach Club to our guests. This was a difficult decision, but our concern is always that our guests receive consistent and high quality service.

For the most current information regarding the amenities of the Luna Blue Hotel, including our beach clubs affiliations, please check out our website. Do no rely on information found elsewhere on the internet. Hasta pronto from Playa del Carmen…where it’s always summertime. :)

Posted in Dining in Playa, Recommendations, The Hotel & Bar | Tagged: , , , | 1 Comment »

The Carnival Comes to Town

Posted by Tony & Cheri on July 9, 2012

Hello to all our readers. We haven’t posted a new entry for a while as we have had a very busy high season at our hotel and have been occupied with some family matters back in the US. But now we are back, and in the weeks ahead we will be posting more information about life in our adopted home of Playa del Carmen.

********

A carnival rolled into town this week to the delight of all the local kids…and quite a few adults.

Beautiful gelatinas in many flavors

This is not “Carnaval,” which is a large multi-day series of parades and parties held just before the beginning of Lent. And it’s not the big, glitzy circus that most Americans and Europeans know. Instead the summer carnivals or “ferias” of Mexico are small truck caravans traveling from town to town with rides, games, food stands and cheap merchandise for sale. This is the Feria Playa del Carmen 2012, and it has its own unique Mexican personality.

To us the carnivals offer a step back in time, reminding us of similar shows that traveled the US midwest back in the 1940’s, 50’s and early 60’s. To people here in Mexico today they offer an affordable diversion from daily life. And for the kids they always mean FUN!

As in past years, the carnival set up around Playa del Carmen’s Palacio Municipal (City Hall), taking over the parking lot and part of the plaza that sits in front of the city offices. This year the operation was so big it also spilled over into the adjacent Walmart parking lot and a couple of side streets.

On the evening of the grand opening. hundreds of parents with kids in tow flooded the streets and filled the plaza as city officials, beauty queens, school bands and the carnival’s master of ceremonies crowded onto the hastily built stage under a gigantic tent cover for the opening ceremony. To everyone’s delight, once the ribbon cutting was over the sky above the Palacio exploded with fireworks. After that show, it was time to explore.

We walked along the rows of rides, most of which were for small children. Among the more popular rides were the merry-go-round, “flying” helicopters (which were about four feet off the ground), a tiny swinging pirate ship, a small Ferris wheel, and a train painted with various Disney characters. For the bigger kids there was a tilt-a-whirl and a “twister” that lifted a platform filled with seated riders to whirl them up into the air. And for kids of all ages there were bumper cars!

One ride we had never seen before was a row of five or six plastic bulls with very round bodies. As loud Mexican music played, the bulls would shift left and right and rotate rotate back and forth–a bit like a typical mechanical bull. The trick was to stay on the bull throughout the ride. Not very many were successful at it, so it was really fun to watch.

A very happy little girlIt is impossible to describe the wonder on the faces of the little children as they waited impatiently for their turn on a ride, or their delighted screams when their turn actually came. Sometimes we think Mexico has the most beautiful children in the world. Watching the kids have fun was the best part of the evening for us.

Eventually we wandered through the food area. Large tents offer traditional Mexican dishes like taco al pastor with large spits of marinated pork slowly turning on an open flame. Smaller stands offer churros (a sweet pastry stick), dried spicy shrimp on a stick, or grilled corn on the cob which is slathered in mayonnaise and chili powder. Other specialty items included artistically sculpted gelatin flowers in dozens of flavors and marquesitas, giant Mayan crepes. And of course there was cotton candy…what’s a carnival without cotton candy?

In the center of the carnival is a row of tents offering merchandise for sale. Furniture, clothing, plastic containers, records, shoes, toys, and plaster statues of saints and animals all vied for the attention of people walking by. And if the items don’t catch your attention, a barker with a microphone and amplifier probably will.

Of course there are games of chance. Booths abound where you can shoot an air gun, throw a dart or toss a ring in an attempt to win a great prize like a giant stuffed pink teddy bear. Strange, but we didn’t see anybody win that night. :)

And what’s a carnival without some freaky stuff? The oddity trailer had numerous items of weirdness from the natural world like a two headed snake, a four winged goose and even an alligator woman! We passed on that one.

When we had seen it all we started walking home. We passed a large lot, usually empty, now filled with truck trailers. campers and makeshift tents of plastic tarps. It was where the carnival folks had parked and set up housekeeping. We observed a young man step out of a tent from which very loud Norteño/Ranchera music blasted on a portable CD player. He carried a screw driver and a blender full of what appeared to be the basic fixings for salsa. He nonchalantly strolled over to a nearby building and set about hot-wiring the building’s electrical box so that he could plug in his blender! We laughed all the way home about his resourcefulness. We wondered about how different life must be for a carnival gypsy in Mexico.

The Feria Playa del Carmen is in town through July 16. If you are going to be in town (or you already live here) make sure to stop by.

********

Sale at the Luna Blue Hotel

Can you believe July is already here? The summer seems just to fly by. Wouldn’t it be nice if you could make summer last just a little longer? You can at the Luna Blue Hotel. Our Make the Summer Last sale and Advance Prepayment Rates offer rooms as low as $44.00 USD from Sept 1 to Oct. 14. When everyone else is pulling the fall jackets out of the closet and heading back to work or school, you can be lying on a white sand Caribbean beach. Just CLICK HERE for details.

Enjoy these photos from the feria:

‘LIKE’ the Luna Blue Hotel & Bar

Posted in Activities, Dining in Playa, Events & Happenings, The Love of Travel | Tagged: , , , | 5 Comments »

So Many Choices…Food & Drink in Playa del Carmen’s North Beach

Posted by Tony & Cheri on September 28, 2011

As many Playa del Carmen aficionados know, Playa is divided into two different worlds when it comes to accommodations. There’s the world of the small, local or boutique hotels (which are located in town) and the world of the large all-inclusive mega resorts (which are primary located out of town). Most people generally prefer one over the other.

We of course have a rather biased opinion in favor of small boutique hotels, being the owners of the Luna Blue Hotel. But even before we owned a small hotel, our tastes always ran to that sort of experience. We just find it more interesting and fulfilling than an all-inclusive resort type experience. In fact in our travels in Mexico in particular, we have always loved trying the smaller hotels and have never had an experience with one that didn’t leave us with interesting stories to tell…to us the essence of good travel.

But one of the main reasons we recommend the small “in town” hotel experience in Playa del Carmen is the food. Unless you’ve been to Playa, it’s hard to imagine the sheer number of different restaurants and bars one can experience, on foot, within a short distance. We can’t imagine someone wanting the all-inclusive experience here–eating at the same buffets day in and day out, or the same couple of restaurants all supervised by the same chef–when one can try something completely different at every single meal.

Someone sent us an email the other day asking how close we were to the nearest restaurant. The reply we gave, “about 10 steps,” made us think about just how many eating and drinking establishments there are within a short distance of the Luna Blue.

So, for fun, we decided to count them, just in case the question ever comes up again. Using Luna Blue Hotel–26th Street between 5th & 10th Avenue–as the central point, we’ve made a list of how many bars and restaurants can be found within a five block walk. We surprised even ourselves. Here’s what we found:

Restaurants and Bars
…within one block of the Luna Blue:

  • Las Cazuelas – Just across the street from the Luna Blue. Authentic Spanish tapas made by our friend Miguel and his wife. Miguel, who also makes amazing paella, will deliver tapas to your bar swing on request. 26th Street between 5th & 10th Avenue
  • Sushi Club – In our opinion, the freshest sushi in Playa del Carmen, and just next door to the Luna Blue. 26th Street between 5th & 10th Avenue
  • Isola Dolce Pasteleria – Associated with our favorite gelato place, Corsi, this pasteleria (bakery) has two other locations: one in Cancun and one in Florence, Italy. 26th Street between 5th & 10th Avenue
  • El Mero Negrillo – New Mexican/Seafood restaurant, Veracruz style, in the old La Quinta Pasion location. 26th Street between 5th & 10th Avenue
  • Il Baretto – Popular spot for Italian expats and tourits. Some say their pizza is the best in town. 26th Street between 5th & 10th Avenue
  • Hacienda La Herradura – The best arrachera in Playa del Carmen, in our opinion. Consistently good Mexican food at reasonable prices. Luna Blue guests are almost always offered a free shot of tequila after dinner. Corner of 26th Street & 10th Avenue
  • Trattoria del Centro – Small hole in the wall Italian joint on our “must try” list. Word has it that women from the “old country” cook up authentic Italian food that’s to die for. 26th Street between 10th & 15th Avenue
  • Don Tomato – Small pizza joint, by the slice & by the pie. 10th Avenue between 24th & 26th Streets
  • Il Pescatore – Italian restaurant which has been around forever. 10th Avenue between 24th & 26th Streets
  • Capriccio Latino – Another of North Playa’s many Italian restaurants. 5th Avenue between 26th & 28th Streets
  • La Fe – Popular and loud bar with bar food. Almost always crowded. 5th Avenue between 26th & 28th Streets
  • El Carnicero – Authentic Parilla Mexicana. If meat is your thing, you’ll like this place. 5th Avenue between 26th & 28th Streets
  • Kum Kum Mezcal Bar – High end fancy mezcal bar and store. 5th Avenue between 26th & 28th Streets
  • Deli Smart – Small deli and convenience store. 5th Avenue between 24th & 26th Streets
  • Cantegrill Parilla Uruguaya – The latest restaurant in a location that seems to change restaurants every six months. We haven’t tried this one yet. 5th Avenue between 24th & 26th Streets
  • Pizza Renzo – Our “go to” pizza spot in the north end. Pizza by the slice that’s great when it’s fresh and so-so when it’s not. Open late. 5th Avenue between 24th & 26th Streets
  • La Vagabunda – Popular breakfast spot which also has lunch & dinner. 5th Avenue between 24th & 26th Streets
  • Tutti Fruiti Yogurt – New frozen yogurt shop. 5th Avenue between 24th & 26th Streets
  • Pummarola – Popular pizza/Italian food spot. 24th Street between 5th & 10th Avenues.

…within two blocks of the Luna Blue:

  • Corsi Gelato Italiano – Our favorite gelato place in Playa. Their nutella gelato is to die for. Reasonable prices, to boot. 28th Street between 5th & 10th Avenue
  • Starbucks – Just like every other Starbucks. 5th Avenue between 28th & 30th Streets
  • Cenacolo – New high-end restaurant on our “we’ve been meaning to try” list. 5th Avenue between 28th & 30th Streets
  • That’s Amore- Surprisingly good pasta and pizza at reasonable prices. 5th Avenue between 28th & 30th Streets
  • Rufino Mescaleria – Bar and restaurant with traditional Mexican seafood. 5th Avenue between 28th & 30th Streets
  • Buddie’s Diner & Cantina – New restaurant in the old Babe’s location owned by some young American guys. Decent American breakfasts, burgers. 5th Avenue between 28th & 30th Streets
  • La Micheladeria5th Avenue between 28th & 30th Streets
  • Maktub Cafe – Popular Lebanese & fondue spot. 5th Avenue between 28th & 30th Streets
  • 1847 – Traditional Mexican fare. 5th Avenue between 28th & 30th Streets
  • Sushi Tlan – Reasonably good sushi for Playa. Sushi Tlan has other locations in Playa as well. 5th Avenue between 28th & 30th Streets
  • El Bistro Bites – A casual international tapas restaurant with a Mediterranean taste. Associated with La Tortuga’s popular El Bistro. 5th Avenue between 28th & 30th Streets
  • Molusko – Cocina del mar. That’s “seafood” for you gringos. 5th Avenue between 28th & 30th Streets
  • El 10 – Argentinian steak house. Reasonable prices. Very popular corner spot. 5th Avenue between 28th & 30th Streets
  • Haagen Dazs – Expensive ice cream, but yummy. 5th Avenue between 28th & 30th Streets
  • Shanghai Restaurant – One of only a handful of Chinese restaurants in Playa del Carmen. 10th Avenue between 22nd & 24th Streets
  • Ambasciata D’Italia – Excellent Italian food. Tell Bruno the manager we said “hi.” 5th Avenue between 22nd & 24th Streets
  • Las Delicias – Traditional Mexican fare. 5th Avenue between 22nd & 24th Streets
  • La Fragata – Eclectic meals with an emphasis on Mexican foods. 26th Street between 1st & 5th Avenues
  • PG’s Sandbox – Popular sports bar and restaurant with big screen TVs and live music on some nights. Some say the best shrimp tacos in town. 26th Street at 1st Avenues
  • Off the Vine – Liquor boutique and bar. 1st Avenue between 26th & 28th Street
  • Vera Lucia’s Pasteleria – Pastries and light meals. 1st Avenue between 26th & 28th Street
  • Caiman Tugurio – Small open air restaurant with Mexican dishes. 24th Street between 5th & 1st Avenues
  • Mayan Bistro – Located in the Aventura Mexicana hotel. 22nd Street between 5th & 10th Avenues
  • El Fresco Sabor Small outdoor eatery attached to hotel Riviera Caribe Maya – 10th Avenue between 28th & 30th Streets
  • Winery & Plus10th Avenue at 28th Street

…within three blocks of the Luna Blue:

  • Ah Cacao – Best chocolate and chocolate related goodies in town, bar none. 5th Avenue between 30th & 32nd Streets
  • Playa Wings & Pizza – Not only does this place have pizza but it also has hundreds of types of wings. 5th Avenue between 30th & 32nd Streets
  • La Parilla de Manolo – Used to be Asadora de Manolo which was located around the corner from the Luna Blue. Argentinian steak house. 5th Avenue between 30th & 32nd Streets
  • Yaxche Mayan Cuisine – Traditional Mayan food, served with a flair. 5th Avenue between 20th & 22nd Streets
  • Freeze – One of those frozen drink kiosks with pretty colored liquids whirling in little machines. 5th Avenue between 20th & 22nd Streets
  • Ristorante Romagna Mia – Traditional Italian food. New location. 5th Avenue between 20th & 22nd Streets
  • Texas Burger Company – The name says it all. 5th Avenue between 20th & 22nd Streets
  • Burro PlayeroBeer and tacos. 28th Street between 1st Avenue & the beach
  • La Tavola dello Squalo -Small Italian restaurant featuring carry away pizza on the way to the beach. 28th Street between 1st Avenue & the beach
  • Las Helodias – Bar near the beach with take away drinks. Specializing in cheladas. 28th Street between 1st Avenue & the beach
  • Hangover Bar – New little bar with a catchy name. 28th Street between 1st Avenue & the beach
  • Bella Vita Pizza28th Street between 1st Avenue & the beach
  • TNT Bar & Beer Shop28th Street between 1st Avenue & the beach
  • Capitan Camaron – Seafood on the way to the beach. 28th Street between 1st Avenue & the beach
  • Mamita’s Beach Club – Playa’s classic beach bar/restaurant. 28th Street at the beach
  • Kool Beach Club – Eclectic menu and bar on the sand. 28th Street at the beach
  • Reina Roja – Bar known for its many red lights and mannequins in suggestive poses. 20th Street between 5th & 10th Avenues
  • Nikkori – Japanese food. 10th Avenue at 32nd Street

…within four blocks of the Luna Blue:

  • Bar Dello Sport Bar & pizzeria located in the Banana Hotel – 5th Avenue between 32nd & 34th Streets
  • Da Gigi – Italian food. New location. 5th Avenue between 32nd & 34th Streets
  • Chez Celine Boulangerie, Patisserie, Artisanale – Pastries and sandwiches. 5th Avenue between 32nd & 34th Streets
  • Kixten – Popular bar with live music most nights. 5th Avenue between 20th Street & Constituyentes
  • Karma Bagels – Great salads & bagel sandwiches. Now open for breakfast. One of our favorite lunch spots. Big pitcher of iced tea is always refreshing. 5th Avenue between 20th Street & Constituyentes
  • Bip Bip – One of Playa’s oldest Mexican restaurants, known for its good breakfasts. 5th Avenue at Constituyentes
  • Ah Cacao – Best chocolate and chocolate related goodies in town, bar none. And with two locations within blocks of the Luna Blue, you can’t go wrong. 5th Avenue at Constituyentes
  • Los Amigos – Traditional Mexican food, very low prices, located on one of our favorite streets, outside the tourist zone but not too far. 30th Avenue at 26th Street

…within five blocks of the Luna Blue:

  • Bodeguita del Medio – Cuban food, fun restaurant and bar. Free salsa lessons two nights and week. Live music every night. 5th Avenue between 34th & 36th Streets
  • Coffee Cafe – A popular place to sip that important first cup of the morning. Plus snacks. 5th Avenue between 34th & 36th Streets
  • Winery & Plus – Wines from around the world by the glass or the bottle. 5th Avenue between 34th & 36th Streets
  • Util Pasta Factory – One of our favorite Italian spots, run by very nice people. Wonderful sauces. Eat there or take away. 25th Avenue between 30th & 32nd Streets

There you have it…74 bars & restaurants within a five block radius of the Luna Blue…75 if you count us. You could have breakfast, lunch and dinner at a different spot every single day for almost a month and never have to travel more than five blocks from one central point. And just think of the possibilities if you were to venture out further!

Now isn’t that a million times more interesting than a giant buffet or lobby bar at an all inclusive mega resort?

We think so, too.

Playa del Carmen's North Beach area

‘LIKE’ the Luna Blue Hotel & Bar

Posted in Dining in Playa, Living the Dream, Recommendations, The Hotel & Bar | Tagged: , , | 1 Comment »

Best of Playa Raffle & Fundraiser May 27 for the Peanut Pet Shelter

Posted by Tony & Cheri on April 24, 2011

Our friends at the Peanut Pet Shelter here in Playa del Carmen have had a rough year. A local competing charity and various individuals with personal agendas tried in a malicious and underhanded way to discredit and close them down. It was an ugly campaign that caused rifts between various individuals and businesses. Fortunately this small group was unsuccessful in their endeavor. However, the result of their effort was a reduction in donations to the Peanut Pet Shelter, which has since then been struggling to make ends meet.

We are big supporters of the Peanut Pet Shelter. Because of them, we have our dog Roxie (the star of the poster) and, indirectly, our dog Gypsy, both of whom entertain us and make us happy on a daily basis. Many of our friends here in Mexico and also in the US and Canada have adopted dogs that were rescued by the PPS. We have seen first hand the amazing work they do in rescuing and caring for the many, many abandoned animals of Playa.

As a result, we’ve decided to join together with other local business owners and sponsor a kick ass raffle and fundraiser to not only raise a boatload of cash for the Peanut Pet Shelter but to show them that the people of Playa del Carmen and the nearby communities care about them and see them as a valuable part of life here south of the border.

We’re calling it the “Best of Playa,” because most of Playa del Carmen’s best businesses (as well as several businesses from the surrounding communities) are donating prizes to this worthy cause.

Raffle Details

From now until the Best of Playa Raffle Party on Friday May 27, 2011, for every $10 donation to the Peanut Pet Shelter, you will receive one raffle ticket for the Best of Playa Raffle, where Playa’s best businesses have donated dozens of cool prizes to support this worthy cause. Tickets may be purchased via the link below until 4 pm the day of the event.

Before the event, tickets will also be available at the Luna Blue Hotel & Bar and at the Peanut Pet Shelter dog & puppy washes on Saturdays & Sundays. Tickets will also be available at the event up until the drawing.

You need not be present to win…but you do need to go to paradise to redeem. :)

Every 10 kilos of dog food donated to the Peanut Pet Shelter will earn the donor another raffle ticket. Food may be delivered to the Peanut Pet Shelter or the Luna Blue Hotel or brought to the event.

The drawing for prizes will be at the Best of Playa Raffle party at the Luna Blue Bar on May 27. We will have live music, drink specials and some fun surprises. AND 50% of the bar proceeds will go to the Peanut Pet Shelter!

Click Here to Make a Donation/Purchase Raffle Tickets

Click here to see a list of the dozens of raffle prizes available, including a private sunset cruise on the Catamaya for up to 80 people(!!), a seven night stay at the Royal Oasis condos, and a five night stay at our own Luna Blue Hotel! Prizes will be added daily up until the date of the event, so check back often.

And please patronize the many Friends of the Peanut Pet Shelter who have so generously donated prizes:










“Like” the Luna Blue Hotel & Bar on Facebook to keep up with the latest news of Playa del Carmen, life in paradise & our version of “living the dream.”

   

Posted in Activities, Dining in Playa, Events & Happenings, Friends, Living the Dream, The Hotel & Bar, What's New | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

More Than Just Happy Hour….

Posted by Tony & Cheri on April 15, 2011

It's 5 o'clock somewhereThings are starting to slow down a little bit here in Playa del Carmen. The fast pace and the large crowds of the high season are disappearing as many of the snowbirds head home (probably to late spring blizzards!!!).

The locals can now find a seat at their favorite bar and a place on the beach. And travelers in the know will find less crowds and lower prices. Spring is a great time to be in paradise.

To celebrate our favorite time of year we are starting our own version of happy hour at the Luna Blue Bar.

Every Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday from 4-8 pm we will have $20 peso beers, 2 x 1 house margaritas, and free chips and salsa.

As usual we will have Radio Margaritaville playing via satellite. And as an added bonus, Jimmy Buffett’s live performances will be broadcast on many of those nights!

And as always, any chicas contributing a thong to the bar’s collection will receive a free shot of our best tequila. It’s a tradition. :)

Cheap beer and ’ritas, snacks and a front row swing to hear Jimmy’s concerts. We don’t call it happy hour…we call it the “Buffett Buffet at the Blue.”

It all starts next Tuesday, April 26, 2011 at the Luna Blue Bar and continues throughout the spring and summer.

Stop on by and you’ll say–in the words of Playa’s popular singer/songwriter Mike Grabow–the Luna Blue is “Where I Want to Be”.

“Like” the Luna Blue Hotel & Bar on Facebook to keep up with the latest news of Playa del Carmen, life in paradise & our version of “living the dream.”

   

Posted in Activities, Dining in Playa, Events & Happenings, Friends, Living the Dream, The Hotel & Bar, What's New | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

Thanksgiving and more…on the beach

Posted by Tony & Cheri on November 5, 2010

Can you believe it? November is already here. Only seven weeks until Christmas and a week more to a whole new year. The whirlwind of the holiday season is almost upon us. Here in Playa del Carmen, Mexico this time of year brings some of the familiar activities we remember from the United States and some uniquely different ones.

Bye Bye Hurricane SeasonBye Bye Hurricane Season
When November shows up on the calendar the first thing that happens is that those of us living in the tropics begin to relax a little about the weather. The hurricane season in the Caribbean Sea and the Atlantic Ocean officially runs from June 1st through December 1st. However the final month of November sees water temperatures drop, and the chance of a major storm is almost zero. This storm season has been very good for us here along the Mayan Riviera. While there were many named storms, including a large number of hurricanes, they never made landfall or even threatened this part of the Caribbean. In fact, we didn’t even have much in the way of normal rainfall. It was a great summer for hitting the beach down here in Mexico.

November in Playa also means getting ready for the “snowbirds,” the masses of tourists who come each year escaping the cold winds of winter in the north. Just after Halloween when temperatures drop up in the States, people start thinking about time in the sun. Around town you see businesses putting on a new coat of paint, sprucing up and making improvements in anticipation of our yearly winter migration of tourists.

Turkey Day
The first influx of the tourist season will happen around the time of the US Thanksgiving day. More and more people see that long four-day weekend as a chance to get away and get a tan before the snow starts falling back home. In response, many businesses in Playa del Carmen have adopted the holiday as its own. When we first moved to Playa many years ago we couldn’t even find a turkey for our Thanksgiving dinner. How things have changed.

Happy ThanksgivingThis morning on our weekly shopping trip to Sam’s Club we saw not only frozen turkeys but all sorts of holiday dinner paraphernalia like Thanksgiving platters, napkins, cooking utensils, and decorations. The stores here in Playa del Carmen now stock cranberries, stuffing mix and canned gravy this time of year. We even found pumpkin pie mix!! So if you are here in town and have a room with cooking facilities (like the Luna Blue’s Garden View Deluxe rooms with full kitchen) you can prepare a holiday meal just like back home…only with warmer weather.

Don’t Wanna Cook?
And if you think being on vacation means a break from cooking, you can still enjoy a traditional Thanksgiving Day feast. Many restaurants have special menus on Thanksgiving. Last year you could have had a gourmet turkey dinner with all the trimmings at Wicky’s or John Gray’s Place. Or you could have opted for a feast on the beach with buffets at Zenzi or Bad Boys beach clubs. Great multi-course Thanksgiving meals were also served at Cocina 38, Off the Vine, El Bistro and Ajua Maya among others. We expect an even larger list of restaurants serving turkey dinners this year. So instead of slaving over the stove all day, you can head for the beach, swim in the Caribbean sea and then go to dinner where someone else did all the work (and will wash the dishes afterwards).

The Game
Another Thanksgiving Day tradition you will find here in Mexico…Football! For many red blooded American men and women, Turkey Day just isn’t complete without seeing “the game.” That is no problem here where satellite TV will beam the broadcast into several popular sports bars in town. Our personal favorite is PG’s Sandbox which has several big screen TVs, good drinks and plenty of things to snack on (in case you are still hungry after dinner!). PG’s is just down the street from the Luna Blue Hotel at the corner of Calle 26 and 1st Avenue.

Fun Local Charity Events
Of course there is a lot to do down here during November in Playa del Carmen besides overeat on Thanksgiving day. This month there will be a fun charity event with which we are proud to be associated.

The Peanut Pet Shelter “Feed a Friend” Drive. People donating a $25 bag of food to the Peanut Pet Shelter are entered in a drawing to win a free vacation in Playa del Carmen including a week’s stay at our own Luna Blue Hotel. The party for drawing the winner will be held at the Luna Blue Bar on November 9, 2010. Click here for more details.

For Foodies & Jazz Buffs
November is also when Playa hosts two wonderful annual events, Taste of Playa and the Riviera Maya Jazz Festival.

Try the Luna Blue's newest drink, 'Sex on the Bar' at Taste of PlayaThe Taste of Playa, held on Sunday, November 21, is a food and beverage festival featuring tasting menus and samples from 40 of the best restaurants and bars in the area. This year, our own Luna Blue Bar will be participating this year, offering tastes of some of our finest cocktails including the legendary “Sarita B Careful” margarita and the new wonderfully wicked “Sex on the Bar.” Our booth will be a replica of our bar with Jorge serving the drinks and with some of the infamous “tangas” (thongs) hanging from the ceiling. Please stop by and see us if you come to the festival.

In addition, the Riviera Maya Jazz Festival will take place November 25-28 at Mamita’s Beach Club and will feature jazz musicians from around the world. Personally we are really looking forward to hearing the Manhattan Transfer vocal group. Mamita’s is on Calle 28th just a few blocks from the Luna Blue Hotel. Regular blog readers already know that guests of the Luna Blue receive free use of chairs and umbrellas at Mamita’s. But now our guests will also get 10% off of their food and beverage purchases at Mamita’s. So now you can spend the day at the beach for free while eating and drinking for some of the lowest prices on the sand.

For more details on both the Taste of Playa and the Riviera Jazz Festival see our previous blog entry here.

Now’s the Time to Visit
As you can see there is a lot going on in our lives and in Playa del Carmen this month. It really is a great time to visit. The weather is still warm and the beautiful beaches are not yet crowded with visitors. And you can save money by staying with us at the Luna Blue Hotel. We still have a few rooms available for the week of November 21st (Thanksgiving week), and if you reserve and pay in full at the time of your reservation you can still take advantage of our 10% discount. Please visit our website for more details.

And remember whenever you are traveling in this area to stop on by and say hello. We love to meet the folks who read our blog.

Posted in Activities, Dining in Playa, Events & Happenings, News & Politics, The Hotel & Bar | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

Sabor a Mexico, Another New Local “Joint”…And This One Healthy!

Posted by Tony & Cheri on June 2, 2010

Update 9/5/10: We’re sorry to say that this little gem of a restaurant is now closed, another apparent victim of the drop in tourism. We wish Karmen the best of luck in future endeavors and sure hope she opens another restaurant at some point in the future.

We had the pleasure of eating lunch yesterday at a new spot on the other end of town from us, but one we’re sure to return to again. It’s called Sabor a Mexico. Located on Calle 4 between Avenidas 20 & 25 (a block from Kalaka, another of our favorite spots), it’s a few blocks out of the tourist zone, but worth the stroll.

Sabor a MexicoOwned by a beautiful and energetic young woman named Karmen, Sabor a Mexico looks like many small Mexican eateries, but cuter and cleaner. We were introduced to Karmen over the phone by our friend Mayte (former owner of Bloody Chicas & current owner of local favorite watering hole El Bar) when we were trying to find someone to cater a private event we’re having in a couple of weeks. We decided to stop by Karmen’s restaurant and see if her food is as good as Mayte said it was.

Happily, we weren’t disappointed. Sabor a Mexico was opened by Karmen about four months ago and features food from central Mexico. What makes this spot different from many others is Karmen’s focus on her dishes. As she explained, her food is “saludable” or healthy. She uses a minimum of fat in her cooking and very little pork. Everything is prepared with a focus on healthy eating–or as healthy as Mexican food can be. :)

We both decided to try the comida del dia, or meal of the day. This sort of eating is often also called “comida corrida” and generally consists of a complete meal including starter, entree and beverage (and sometimes dessert) for one price. Sabor a Mexico‘s comida del dia started with a chicken noodle soup followed by our choice of four entrees and included rice, beans, tortillas and unlimited fruit water (first lemonade then later jamaica). Tony had the meatball soup, and Cheri had the picadillo de res. Both were delicious and obviously fresh and well-prepared. We ate a full meal yet walked away not feeling completely stuffed like we normally do after a Mexican meal. And the price of our lunch was only $90 pesos–about $7 US–for both of us. There are cocktails on 5th Avenue that cost more than that! There were other items on the menu as well that we’ll likely try our next time there.

After lunch we talked with Karmen a bit about what she could do for us for the event. She described some of her other specialties, was extremely organized, took notes, and said she would call us the next day with a price quote. She showed up at the hotel this morning with a list of all the different dishes she suggested as well as a “presupuesto” (or quote) that was very reasonable. She seemed like she’d been doing this forever, but when we asked if she had done an event like this before, she said it was her first, but that she had two more events later in the month. We were very happy, told her she had a deal and said we’d talk in a few days.

It was a delight to find such a pleasant little spot owned by someone who clearly cares about good food and good health.

Sabor a Mexico is open Monday through Saturday from 8:00 am to 5:30 pm. We’ll be returning soon to try breakfast.

If you’re looking for healthy but delicious food prepared with care, check out Sabor a Mexico.

Sopa de Albondigas

Sabor a Mexico

Picadillo de Res

Posted in Dining in Playa, Friends, Recommendations, What's New | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments »

The Newest Member of the Luna Blue Family…Indigo Beach

Posted by Tony & Cheri on April 22, 2010

Just when you think paradise is as good as it gets…something new comes along and raises the bar. This time it’s Playa’s newest beach club/restaurant, Indigo Beach.

xxxThis last week our good friends Tim and Ruth were in town. On their final day they decided to spend some time on the beach so they could grab some last rays before heading north. We decided to join them. They had already been to Mamita’s and Blucacao and Xpu-ha, so Cheri suggested we all try a new place…and so we headed for the brand new Indigo Beach beach club.

Indigo Beach is a short 10 minute walk from our hotel, located on the beach at the foot of Calle 14, in front of El Taj condominiums. As we strolled on to the beautiful beach, imagine our surprise when who should greet us but our old friend Prad. Prad has managed a number of clubs and restaurants in town over the years and now is working at Indigo Beach.

In a few minutes Prad had us fixed up with very cool beach loungers (they adjust at both ends…very convenient) and umbrellas. And we have to say the newly renovated central beach is gorgeous. As soon as we settled in, Carlos, who would take care of us that day, was at our side taking drink orders and making sure we were comfortable. Throughout the entire day we had terrific service. And it wasn’t just us. We saw waiters moving among the chairs helping people all day long.

When we arrived, the restaurant part of the club was still serving its daily breakfast buffet. We had already eaten so we didn’t partake, but we went to take a look…and it looked great. For $130 pesos you have your choices from a buffet filled with meats, cheeses, fruits, cereals, breads (more on the breads later) and a daily special hot dish among other things. It was quite an impressive spread.

xxxAfter swimming, napping, reading and more swimming we did finally decide to eat. We could have had our meals brought to us at our chairs, or we could have gone inside the dining room which looks out on the beach. Instead we decided to sit in the lovely dining area with tables, chairs and white fringed umbrellas sitting directly on the sand.

The menu was pretty interesting with a more varied selection than one usually finds on the beach. It is billed as being Thai-Caribbean fusion which sounded pretty exciting. Still, we were anticipating the usual mediocre beach food. It seems to be that the better the view, the less attention is paid to the food. But that didn’t happen here. What we got was one of the best meals we have had in Playa. Seriously.

First we munched on the bread and olive oil. We know that doesn’t sound very special, but the basket of various breads of different shapes and textures was out of this world. We discovered that Indigo Beach bakes its own breads on site fresh daily…for breakfast and meals throughout the day. They were wonderful (we might have eaten two baskets full). And they are made even better after dipping in the chili infused olive oil. We were already stuffed when the foods we ordered began to arrive.

We had appetizers of Tuna Sashimi upon coffee emulsion with red onions and capers ($120 pesos), and Aguachile Sauce Shrimp with red onion and cucumber ($130 pesos). Both were delicious. Then came our main courses. We had ordered some hamburgers which turned out to be HUGE! They are served on giant homemade toasted buns with cheese, onion rings & bacon (on the burger) and all sorts of goodies. Trust us…this is the best burger in Playa. Really. And the burgers come with a side of crispy (YES!) french fries ($130 pesos).

We also ordered a house special Crudaiola pizza ($130 pesos). For the price, we assumed the pizzas would be personal sized, i.e., for one person, but they are very large…certainly they can be shared as a meal for two. And it was excellent, overflowing with toppings and a thin crisp crust. We also had a Caesar salad with salmon. Fresh un-wilted lettuce (that’s a find in itself) and plenty of large chunks of smoked salmon. ($100 pesos).

xxxAs we passed everything around for tastes, our table was filled with the sounds of each of us groaning in pleasure. But we weren’t done yet. Prad insisted we try some deserts (ok…twist our arms). We had Mousse of Passion Fruit with chocolate heart ($100 pesos). We also had the world’s best crème brulee with vanilla and raspberry flavors ($80 pesos). Cheri doesn’t even like crème brulee…but she loved this.

Finally, good coffee. Not a little demitasse cup like you usually get in Playa restaurants, but a big honkin’ cup…served with a pitcher of steamed milk! The four of us waddled back to our chairs on the beach swearing we would never eat again. We finished out the afternoon watching the colors of the Caribbean Sea change with the fading light.

The next day (today) we had a busy, busy work day. Around six tonight we decided we deserved a reward for working so hard, so we headed back to Indigo Beach for dinner. We were the only ones there. We were seated at a table overlooking the beach with cool breezes blowing in off of the sea. Paulo the chef (whom we met yesterday) came out to say hello and promised us a great meal. He wasn’t wrong. We started with wontons of shrimp, crab and cream cheese in a sweet chili sauce. Then we had the Indigo Pizza (shrimp, pesto, and cherry tomatoes). Paulo then insisted he make something special…who were we to say no? He made us giant hand rolled tortellinis stuffed with homemade spinach ricotta and served with a sweet cream carrot/truffle sauce. Yes…it tasted as good as it sounds.

To enjoy this meal while the beach slowly turned dark and the lights of Cozumel began to twinkle was an experience you can only have here in Playa.

We have fallen in love with this place, as you can tell. Great beach, fun beach club and an extraordinary restaurant. We loved it so much we asked the Indigo Beach to become one of the Luna Blue Hotel’s featured beach clubs. We are pleased to say they welcomed the idea. So now guests of the Luna Blue have the FREE use of four different and unique beach clubs…Mamita’s, Blucacao, Wicky’s and the new Indigo Beach, where our guests will have free use of chairs and umbrellas. We think we are the first and only hotel to offer guests that many choices for free beach club use.

Whether you are a guest of the Luna Blue Hotel, or another fine accommodation in town, or just passing through town for the day…do yourself a favor and stop by the Indigo Beach for some time in the tropical sun and one of the best meals you will have anywhere. Trust us…this place will become a Playa classic. Indigo Beach is open from 8 am to 7 pm. The breakfast buffet goes from 8 am to 12:30 pm, with the lunch/dinner menu starting at 12:30 pm.

And if you are in town this Saturday (April 24) stop by for Indigo Beach’s Official Grand Opening from 4:00 pm until 9:00 pm. We hope to see you there.

xxx

Click here to look at Indigo’s main dining menu (pizza menu will be posted separately).

Posted in Dining in Playa, Recommendations, The Hotel & Bar, What's New | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , | 11 Comments »

You haven’t been to Playa del Carmen until…

Posted by Tony & Cheri on February 1, 2010

It seems to us that few visitors to Playa del Carmen come for only one trip. Playa is a special place and its uniqueness and beauty can be very addictive. People return year after year and never seem to run out of things to do or see. Part of the reason people return is that Playa is always changing with new events, restaurants, shops and clubs.

At the same time there are some places and activities that have stood the test of time and have become “Playa classics.” In our mind they are part of what makes Playa del Carmen so special…and if you haven’t seen or done a good part of them…you haven’t yet seen the real Playa. So here is our “must see and must do” list for your next trip back to paradise.

In our opinion, you haven’t really been to Playa until you…

1. Skip the mega-resort out on the highway and stay in town. At night, turn off the air conditioner, and listen to the call of geckos as you fall sleep beneath a whirling ceiling fan.

2. Walk along the empty shore of the Caribbean early in the morning and watch flocks of pelicans diving into the water for breakfast.

3. Get coffee and a pastry at Java Joe’s. Sit and listen to the chatter of old time locals talk about how Playa used to be.

4. Snorkel in Akumal Bay where you might come upon a sea turtle or two casually munching the sea grass on the sandy bottom.

5. Sit in the evening at a beach side bar, pulling your chair down to the water’s edge and watch the lights on Cozumel island sparkle against the night sky. Look for cruise ship lights in the distant ocean.

6. See fire dancers whirl flaming torches as they perform amazing acrobatic movements in the sand.

7. Guys: Go fishing for marlin while smoking a real Cuban cigar. Out on the ocean any man can be Hemingway for the afternoon.

8. Gals: go topless on the beach. It doesn’t matter your age or shape. This is the Caribbean where every woman can experience the freedom of the sensuous tropics…and no one back home will ever know.

9. Explore the locals’ Playa del Carmen. Walk along Juarez Street or 30th Avenue. Pick a café or restaurant where you see no tourists and sit yourself down. Better yet, stand in line at a taco cart and try something new.

10. Volunteer to help at the Saturday Dog Wash at the Peanut Pet Shelter. Hang with the local ex-pats and fall in love with the puppies. If an adorable stray falls in love with you, take him home with you for a permanent reminder of this special place.

11. Bar crawl the beach, starting on the north end with Mamita’s and then head south hitting beach bars along the way. End at Bad Boys late in the afternoon on a Thursday or Saturday when you can dance in the sand or on the bar to the music of the Nasty Bastards.

12. Swim in a cenote with local kids jumping in from the overhanging rocks.

13. Find the best tacos al pastor (marinated barbequed pork tacos). Start at Carboncitos and then head over to El Fogon or to any number of other local eateries. Try to pick your favorite…it may take several tastings. And if you get tired of tacos, go to H.C. de Monterrey for some arrachera.

14. Meet Lenny the Wonder Dog. Toss the ball so he can bring it back to you. Repeat…all night long.

15. Get a tattoo at Scream Ink. Only for the truly hardcore Playaense.

16. Rent a car and drive to Cobá instead of flying by small villages along the way in a giant tour bus. When you get to Cobá climb the pyramid and gaze on the same jungle that Mayan priests looked out over thousands of years ago.

17. Stroll along Fifth Avenue at night listening for the best come on line from store owners (“Hey Buddy, now it’s my turn to rip you off.”).

18. Speak a little Spanish to someone…even if it is just “Buenos Dias” or “Gracias” or “Uno Mas.”

19. Drink some really, really good tequila…and sip it, don’t slam it.

20. And last but not least…sit on a swing at the Luna Blue Bar, drinking a Sarita B Careful margarita and listening to Mike Grabow sing his original song about discovering Playa, “Where I Want to Be.” Then say to yourself, “This is paradise.”

Of course this is just our own subjective checklist. Feel free to make your own…and we would love to hear any suggestions you may have.

By the way, it was five years ago today, Feb 1, 2005, when we sat in the lawyer’s office in Cancun and signed the final papers making us owners of a little hotel in Playa Del Carmen. We had been coming here to this lovely part of the Caribbean for a number of years and had finally decided to make it our home. So here we are five years later still trying our best. For all who have helped and encouraged us along the way you have our sincere thanks.

Posted in Activities, Dining in Playa, Events & Happenings, Living the Dream, The Hotel & Bar | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | 23 Comments »

We Tasted Playa…and Not a Taco in Sight!

Posted by Tony & Cheri on September 6, 2009

The coconut shrimp from Zenzi--our favorite 'taste'Today was the first of what we hope will be an annual food festival here in Playa Del Carmen…the Taste of Playa! The Luna Blue Hotel and Bar was proud to be an early supporter of the Taste of Playa and was an Executive Sponsor of this wonderful and unique event.

The Taste of Playa brought together over twenty five restaurants in one lovely outdoor setting to showcase the amazing variety and quality of foods available to locals and visitors alike. In the Parque Fundadores overlooking the Playa Del Carmen beach and the blue, blue Caribbean Sea, crisp white tents sheltered some of the region’s finest chefs as they prepared sampler “tastes” of their best cuisine.

Guests wandered from tent to tent and counter to counter tasting cucumber martinis, salmon and spinach salads, roast beef sandwiches, chicken in peanut sauce, raviolis, ceviche, sausages, shrimp skewers, steamed mussels, and dozens and dozens of other dishes and recipes. Visitors could purchase a “VIP Passport,” allowing them to sample the foods of every participating restaurant, or purchase individual tastes from specific restaurants. Most restaurants prepared from one to five different samples and would allow you to sample each one if you asked. Some restaurants changed their dishes throughout the day, so earlier arrivers tried different dishes than those who arrived later in the day.

We arrived as the festival opened at two o’clock and ate our way through half of the offerings, went home, took a nap and returned for the second half of the festival offerings this evening. (After sampling at ten different tables, we were stuffed!) We tried almost everything and it was all good. One of our favorites was the coconut shrimp from Zenzi Beach Club and restaurant. They were fantastic, and everyone was talking about them—definitely the best coconut shrimp we have ever tasted. And since we saw almost everyone carrying around plates full of them, it seemed like others shared our opinion.

We also enjoyed a dish from one of our favorite restaurants, Kalaka. They offered a shrimp cocktail with avocado in a sweet cream sauce. We also really liked the Thai coconut soup from Babes and the crème brulee from La Route des Vines. We finished off with chocolate and lime gelato from Ciao Gelato and incredible crepes with nutella and strawberries from a new restaurant, D’Light, which is very conveniently located near the Luna Blue Hotel (and which we definitely plan on checking out in the near future).

It was a great day for all. Most of the ex pat community showed up so it gave all of us locals a chance to see each other. Out of town visitors came and were able to truly experience the wide range of foods offered by Playa Del Carmen. We saw many of our own guests from the hotel happily munching away on delicacies. It was very hot, but there was plenty of shade and lots of cool beverages, which made the event even more enjoyable.

We often hear from people that they worry about the food on a visit south of the border. They wonder if they will have nothing but long lines at a buffet table at one extreme or tacos from a street cart at the other. One of the reasons we chose to sponsor this wonderful food festival was that it showed Playa has a large and diverse culinary community that can offer something for any taste or preference. The Taste of Playa festival showed positive proof that Playa has become a culinary capital of the Caribbean.

We can’t wait until next year!

Logos of the sponsors like the Luna Blue were on display

Our dear friend Michele Kinnon, one of the organizers of the event, looking stylish as always

Pretty girls from the Tequila Barrel making margaritas

A chef preparing his samplings

Popular restaurant Yaxche’s table

The chef from D’Light making us a nutella and strawberry crepe. Mmmmmmm.

Samplings from Kalaka and Chicago Don Jose

The chef from La Route des Vins caramelizing creme brulee

Our good friend Rick, wandering around in a food daze

The view from the festival

The Zenzi Beach Club & Restaurant sample table

The display at Zabor’s table

Samplings from El Bistro

The girls of the Dirty Martini making cucumber martinis

Preparing shrimp ceviche for Cafe Tropical. Notice the cool carved watermelon!

Posted in Activities, Dining in Playa, Events & Happenings | Tagged: , , , , , , | 6 Comments »

 
Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 699 other followers