The Best Ceviche We Found in the Yucatan: La Playa in Chelem

When we visited the Yucatan, we decided to visit a hangout we'd often heard mentioned on the expat forums, but when we finally located it, we discovered that new management was taking over and the building was being remodeled. Alas. We'd missed our chance.

The new manager, however, recommended La Playa in Chelem to us, so we took off in search of this restaurant we'd never heard of.  We found it. It was down a drive lined with old picturesque boats and palm trees. 

The outside was not what we expected, just because we aren't yet used to the real Mexico. But we decided to try it. It was probably originally a motel, and we peered into the empty rooms as we walked past the fishing boat in front of the main building.

Two young Mexican men walked out to greet us and led us into the restaurant.  We were the only customers on that weekday mid afternoon.

We could see through to a table perched right by the ocean and asked to be seated there.  Where the restaurant is located, directly east of the Progreso Pier, has a real beach erosion problem and the waves lapped right up to the bottom of the the covered concrete patio where our table was situated. We wonder how long it will be until it is actually eroded away. That will be sad.

Actually, all we wanted was a beer, mostly, and that was about all we could afford because we hadn't located an ATM in Progreso yet and they didn't take credit cards. I scrabbled through my purse for all the pesos I could find and we ordered two Solas and a ceviche to share.

Chef Carlos strolled out to talk to us as we enjoyed the best ceviche we experienced on our entire trip. And we sampled quite a lot. We love ceviche. He told us how he came to start the restaurant and that he climbs down from the patio onto the crumbled concrete by the waves every morning to buy fresh fish from the fishing boats. 

We were told by a friend later that many Mexicans refuse to eat fish in the afternoon because by that time, it isn't fresh enough for their standards.  That's one reason that I'd love to live by the sea. I would love to exist on mostly fish. What fun to buy it from the fishermen and have it that fresh!

We ordered a couple more Solas as we finished every last bite of Chef Carlos' ceviche. The wind was brisk. A bird trying to make headway, fighting against the wind put on quite a show for us.

We left La Playa planning to return, although we weren't able to do so on this trip. We will be back, however. We were very impressed.

We found this tiny restaurant by the sea by accident, but discovered before we left that it is a big favorite for the local expats, both those that live at the beach and many who live in Merida.

We can see why. I can't wait to visit again.

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