Saturday, July 25, 2009 12:28 PM
Good Eats Playa del Carmen - La Cueva del Chango
One of our very favorite spots in Playa del Carmen, one of the first we ever dined in even before moving to Mexico, is La Cueva del Chango. When we arrived, five years ago, this restaurant, nestled in the jungle off of Calle 38, seemed to be in the middle of nowhere, far from the action of downtown Playa. Well, downtown Playa has grown by leaps and bounds and Cueva is now right in the middle of the action, an oasis in a sea of modern development. Owners Pedro Gomez and Andres Friederich have made some improvements to the property over the years but nothing that in any way detracts from the "Old Playa" tropical atmosphere. The restaurant is completely open to the jungle and centered around a natural water feature which sends a steady stream running through out the property. Colorful glass bottles set into the free-form cement roof create a fanciful kaleidoscope effect inside while the garden tables are surrounded by tropical foliage and wandering vines, a quiet place to enjoy lunch with friends or a romantic dinner.
Executive Chef Rafael Montes has created a menu filled with fresh takes on traditional Mexican flavors. Serving breakfast, lunch and dinner, the kitchen at Cueva del Chango is always a buzz with activity putting out old favorites like chiles relleno, chiliquiles and empanadas alongside crepes, sandwiches, fresh salads and grilled local fish all accompanied by their house made salsas. This day, Rob and I both went for our old standby, the creamy poblano pepper soup with Oaxacan cheese and fresh crema. I followed with a large garden salad topped with grilled white fish and a chilled yogurt dressing with dill, for Rob, a grilled chicken breas.t sandwhich, loaded with veggies on wholegrain bread. As always our meal was delicious and filling. The service was attentive and friendly and we left promising Andres that one day soon we would return to enjoy dinner in the garden.
La Cueva del Chango is located on Calle 38, just east of 5th Ave. going toward the beach. The restaurant is open Monday through Saturday 8am - 11pm, serving breakfast lunch and dinner, Sunday 8am - 2pm for breakfast and early lunch. I am also pleased to report that La Cueva del Chango will be one of the participants in Taste of Playa - 1st Annual Sampling taking place on September 5, 2009 in the Parque Fundadores. If you are able to attend, be sure to come by their table and say "hello" and try some of Chef Rafa's signature dishes!