A Real Sinkhole of a Place
One of the most beautiful things to see on any visit to Mexico is the various cenotes dotted around. Cenotes (pronounced suh-noh-tee) are natural sinkholes created when land collapses and exposes the natural water under the ground. It, in essence, forms crystal clear, natural lagoons. They provide some of the most awe inspiring sights in the Yucatan. A perfect place to lie in the sun and take a dip in the cool waters.
Many of them are even connected by tunnels and caves, allowing you to scuba dive through between the cenotes. In essence, stop reading this blog and go visit as many as you can. Given the beauty of these natural marvels, when I heard that there is a Playa del Carmen restaurant where the dining area was set on a real cenote, I had to pay it a visit.
There have been many impressive locations for hungry samplings from this trip, but Aldea Corazon is certainly one to add to the list. Aside from the smart looking exterior facing out onto the main strip, a quick glance wouldn’t tip you off to what lays within. Instead, you’re led through a tiny corridor of a restaurant and even asked if you would like to sit inside, before exiting the wardrobe into a Mexican Narnia.
The many outside tables are weaved around a jungle-like expanse. It’s daytime but you can only think how it must look lit up by the tall lanterns a lady is stuffing with oil and rope. As we sit, a small waterfall patters away behind us. The serenity of the surroundings just about making up for the fact that the restaurant is nearly empty at around 12.30pm. Maybe the nighttime lighting makes for more of an evening crowd.
Still, even without other diners to keep us company we managed to make our way through some fish tacos. Large, crisply battered chunks of fish paired with macerated red onion. The only criticism of them being the tartar-like sauce drizzled over didn’t leave any room for some much-needed chilli heat.
Luckily the meat for both the chicken and beef fajitas are equal to the Tacos. The beef jerky needed to be ordered for the curious name alone. It turned out to be steak, pounded thin with a tenderiser and then part-cured before being charred on the grill. The process left it still juicy but with a real intensity from the salting. It was a well thought through counterbalance to go with guacamole and refried beans. Finished with a large slice of cactus, like a thick lilypad. The chicken fajitas, although less surprising, did have succulent and well-seasoned chicken. Both served with their wonderful, homemade corn tortillas which really made a difference to a usually routine dish.
It should be said that my first time trying cactus, however, might also be my last. The large green slice looking like an over-ripe avocado that has been squashed with an anvil. What it lacks in aesthetic, it also lacks in both taste and consistency. The overwhelming sensation being a slimy layer to your palette with each additional mouthful.
Little quibbles aside, there’s no doubt that it was a good way to spend £45 pounds for the meal for two (with a few token Tecate Lights). Down the strip in PDC that definitely averages out around the middle of the price range.
Sure, there are more magical ‘jungle’ settings when you venture down to Tulum. It’s fair to say perhaps this one benefits from the mood lighting after the sun sets. But in the touristy strip of Playa del Carmen, this really is something a little different. Just make sure you pack some bug spray if you come back at night.
Go for the Cenote setting
The Cenote setting makes Aldea Corazon something really different in the main strip of Playa del Carmen, which can all too often feel a little soulless due to the focus on tourism. A comprehensive menu of well executed, traditional Mexican food, next to a waterfall makes this a welcome change.