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Kalaka…A New ‘Must Try’ Restaurant in Playa

Posted by Tony & Cheri on June 21, 2009

Cheri at KalakaWe were looking for a new restaurant to try the other night and ended up at Kalaka. It was an instant hit with us, and it’s already become one of our “must recommend” places. We enjoyed everything about this restaurant and have already eaten there twice in the last three days.

Kalaka bills itself as serving Italian/Mexican fusion food. We were a little dubious about that description and were unimpressed when we first read the menu. The entrees offered are pretty basic, i.e., steak, fish, fajitas, pasta. Basic Playa style restaurant fare. However, it was cute and intimate with only eight tables in an open storefront setting on Calle 4 between 15th and 20th Avenues, and it got points from us for being outside the resort zone. We decided to give it a try.

As soon as we sat down, we had a cute little free appetizer delivered to the table consisting of cheese and olives in a pool of olive oil. There is an extensive wine list but unfortunately only by the bottle. Wine by the glass is limited to your basic red and white “Chateau de Sam’s Club.” There is a full bar.

The first night Cheri ordered chicken in a mushroom cream sauce. It was a large chicken breast completely covered in a thick cream sauce full of very large sliced mushrooms (no canned stuff). In our opinion, cream sauces tend to be too thick and a little bland in taste. This one was flavorful and delicious. The chicken came with rice and some steamed vegetables which had been perfectly cooked and flavored with a whole lot of butter. Tony ordered shrimp fajitas. Rather than getting the standard bowl of shrimp with some overcooked onions and pepper strips, he got a plate full of well-spiced shrimp surrounded by huge amounts of steamed vegetables. The vegetables were fresh, well-cooked and perfectly set off the shrimps. This was accompanied by homemade tortillas and some of the best guacamole in Playa. We were both extremely impressed with our meals.

The after-dinner tequilasThe next time we returned, Cheri had the shrimp brochette, which consisted of giant shrimps wrapped in bacon and grilled on skewers with various vegetables. This was covered by a light and very flavorful sauce. It was served with a baked potato and more of those delicious vegetables. Tony ordered one of the two filet mignons on the menu. It was a good sized steak grilled perfectly and covered with hollandaise and a tangy soy-based sauce. It was easily as good as any steak we’ve ever had in Playa. It was, frankly, better than the steaks we had at Chicago Don Jose’s and equal to the more expensive steaks we had at John Gray’s Place. It was served with fresh asparagus and a baked potato swimming in butter and sour cream. At the end of both meals, a small tray with two shots of tequila, lime, salt and watermelon chunks was placed on the table. It was a nice touch.

We met the owners, Sylvia and Max, who are from Milan. They were friendly and gracious and are obviously very enthusiastic about their restaurant. We really liked this place, as you can tell. The intimacy and soft lighting makes it a very romantic spot. The quality of the food makes it one of the better restaurants we have eaten at in Playa del Carmen. And because it is a couple blocks off of Fifth Avenue, the prices are not outrageous. The most expensive thing on the menu was the filet mignon Tony ordered at $225 pesos (about $17 US).

This place has style and is worth keeping around. We’re definitely going back (next time we’re ordering from the extensive pasta menu) and highly recommend that our readers give it a try when they visit Playa.

Shrimp Fajitas

Pollo con Champinones (Chicken with Mushrooms)

Inside Kalaka

And on a totally different topic…for those of you who have been worrying about the weather, the beaches, the sunshine, etc. (especially our friends, “the other Tony & Cheri”), here are some pictures we took this morning on Xpu-Ha beach. This is why we live here.

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7 Responses to “Kalaka…A New ‘Must Try’ Restaurant in Playa”

  1. Tim & Ruth said

    Cheri is radiant in that photo~!

    Thanks for the write up and the heads up, guys…

  2. Robert Coleman said

    Looks like another winner for a restaurant. Put it on our list for October when we arrive. BTW, where is Xpa-Hu beach located?

    TikiBob

  3. Angela said

    I recommend it, too! We ate at Kalaka when we visited Playa last month, and the food was great. It was well worth the little extra walk for us.

  4. Kim P said

    Oooo, can’t wait to try this new spot! And I think I’ll be serving watermelon with my tequila shots this summer–yum!
    Hey Tony, out of curiosity, did you and Cheri ever get to go to Cafe Del Mar on Xpu-ha? I was soooo sad when I heard they lost their lease–that was one of my ultimate chill spots in the Yucatan. We’ve enjoyed La Playa since, but boy do I miss Cafe del Mar šŸ˜¦ Is La Playa still the only beach club there right now?

  5. Kristi said

    Excellent review and photos of the dishes. Looks like a wonderful place to try on our next trip. Thank you!

  6. Dawn said

    Cheri – You look absolutely beautiful in that picture. Your happiness is so evident. Maybe I’ll see you guys this fall and stop by this gem for dinner. šŸ™‚

    Dawn
    Chicago Chica

  7. Wow looks delicious. I hope to have a byte soon.

    Greetings from Guadalajara. Peter

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