Foodies, get ready to get take notes for your next trip to Mexico. Meet me in Puerto Vallarta and let’s start tasting! There’s more than meets the eye in this popular Mexican destination. Here’s a list of recommendations and I’ll start with one of my favorite presentations before we even go deep.
Cevicheria El Guero
They do a great job with basic but delicious tacos, chicken, fish and jalapenos of course, but what they’re most well known for is their Ceviche, most notably the Mahi-Mahi ceviche, which was top notch. Yum! We also tried Smoked Marlin as well. They cure many of their ceviche dishes in lime — also carrot, green pepper and green chili. Oh so wonderful! It’s been around since 1989 and they’re open every day until 7 pm.
Local Taco Stands
Two taco street stands worth call outs include TACOS ROBLES, which is a Birria Taco Stand on Constitucion Emiliano Zapata. This was by far my favorite spot for standard classic tacos — it is a family run taco stand and it’s obvious that the grandmother is the artistic genius behind the recipes. It’s been around since 1986 and is still popular today. Two thumbs up!
There’s the ever so authentic TACOS EL CUNADO on Francisco Rodriguez which has been around since 1968. They were so fresh and so delicious – be sure to try their sirloin strip steak, play with their add-ons too, go for the extra spices and add a pinch of salt.
Cesar’s Coconut Stand
This corner stand on Aquacate 271 has been around since 1968, through three generations. It is still a family run business, they care about quality and it shows – the coconut juice is oh so pure and freshly cut open while you wait.
Tortilleria La Gloria
This is another stop on the Puerto Vallarta Food Tours, which I’d strongly recommend doing. Here, you’ll discover how tortillas are made at the local tortilla factory in town on 5 de Febrero. It’s open every day starting at 6 am.
One of my favorite spots for both atmosphere and food is Gaby’s, a popular Mexican restaurant in town on Mina #252. Attention to detail is one of the things you’ll notice first about this quaint romantic spot where you can dine both inside and out.
We did a fun tequila pairing here with their Green and Dark Mole, which is a popular dish in Mexico. There are only three basic steps to making green mole: Whip up a purée of toasted pumpkin seeds, tomatillos and chiles in a blender; sear the purée in oil and cook it until it thickens slightly; then add chicken stock and simmer until the mixture is creamy. Mole Verde is also common in Mexico, which is also known as “Pipian” or “Pipian Verde” in some places of Mexico. It can be made with chicken or pork, and you can also add vegetables like green beans, chayotes, nopales, zucchini, and sometimes, even sweet peas. Many cooks add a small amount of corn masa to thicken the sauce. Below, Gaby’s version of both green and dark mole prepared by chef Julio Cesar Castillón Pérez.
Originally from Puerto Vallarta, Julio Cesar Castillón Pérez was born in a practically all culinary surrounding along with the founding of the then, Gaby´s, a Mexican fast food, in 1989. “It was a time in which downtown Vallarta was full of life and all the government offices, banks and stores were concentrated in the center of the city, thus, in its first stage, this Mexican fast food was becoming famous even offering the traditional three course meal like many small restaurants called “fonditas” did.”
Some of the dishes they offer include Stuffed Avocado with shrimp,mix lettuce and creamy avocado dressing, Tortilla Soup with fresh cotija cheese, Aguachile Shrimp which is cooked in a spicy cucumber-chili lime sauce, Ceviche Vallarta which they serve with a pico de gallo sauce, Mussels Dona Concha, which is prepared menier sauce in a creamy chile chipotle sauce with rice and veggies,and Veracruz Style Plantain Empanadas, which they fill with black beans, sour cream and topped with both gouda and cotija cheese. Yum!
Located in the center of town, this Mexican restaurant makes delicious salads, tamale, meat and fish dishes. Their fish ceviche was scrumptious, made with orange juice, guajillo chili and cilantro mayonnaise. Their Chayote Salad is made with Mexican oregano-lime dressing and a crumbly cotija cheese, which is very popular in this part of Mexico.
For mains, we tried the Pork Tamale in a banana leaf wrapper with black beans and tomatillo zucchini, the Oaxacan Wedding Beef Stew with sweet fruit mole and steamed veggies and the Achiote Boneless fish filet with rice and stewed beans. Their desserts were oh so delicious as well, from homemade sorbets and Baked Banana Flan with vanilla beans to their luscious Lime-Tequila Layer Cake which they serve with Maria cookies.
Xoco Divas Chocolates
This well known Artisan chocolate shop along Basillio Badillio has been around for years, but the owners (2 women from Victoria Canada) are retiring soon, so their store location will no longer be around sadly. News on the street has it that she will be showcasing their chocolates at markets periodically however. There are no fillers, it’s all organic and they use 70% Cacao – oh so delish!
Outdoor Dining & Tequila Tasting at the Marriott
The Puerto Vallarta Marriott offers outdoor patio dining in their Herb Garden. On a beautiful summer night, it’s the perfect thing to do.
Their food is exquisite as well – in fact, I thought their Ceviche was better than the options I tried in town. We tasted a variety of things while we were there, but on our last night, we had a pre-fix menu which included Roasted Beet, field greens, orange segments, goat cheese and caramelized Macadamia Nuts, with a Citrus y Balsamic Vinaigrette to start, followed by a Roasted corn cream Caviar Cuilacoche (cake), followed by a Crab cake with mango sauce, red onions and a chilli sauce, with our main entree being a Filet Mignon with Marrow crushed caramelized onions, foam goat cheese in a demi glace. WOW!
Warm chocolate cake and vanilla ice cream with a strawberry compote was served for dessert ….. AND, we paired all of it with both California and Mexican wines. For Mexican white, I went with the Chardonnay Reserva La Cetto and the Chardonnay Varietal Santo Tomas. A few of the dishes I sampled during my stay there are shown below.
They do tequila tasting at La Cava as well. We sipped and learned about the tequillas we were tasting from the resort’s tequila ambassador Audrey Formisano. We started with the Casa Magna Tequila Joven which was a young one year old tequila and we paired it with a mozzarella salad. Then came a seafood and avocado dish which we paired with the Casa Magna Tequila Reposado, which had been aged around 9 months in oak. We finished off with the Casa Magna Anejo (aged) tequila, which had been aged in an oak barrel for 4-5 years. With the most aged tequila, we had a chicken dish before moving to our main dinner in the courtyard. I’d strongly recommend doing this when you’re in Puerto Vallarta.
The Blue Shrimp
The Blue Shrimp gets their shrimp, lobster, fish and oysters delivered daily from local fishermen. The restaurant is located on the most popular beach in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, Los Muertos. They offer shrimp served over 30 different ways and the menu also includes authentic Mexican specialties, steaks, salads, soups and more.
The Blue Shrimp was founded in 1999 and was one of the first restaurants in Banderas Bay targeted toward families. It has a fun interior design and also a very mean coconut shrimp which we tasted on our foodie tour. Loved it – bring on the Margaritas and I could have eaten the whole plate poolside!
Aside from the designated stops you make, there are plenty of fun things to take in along the way — food is everywhere on Puerto Vallarta streets, so foodies, beware!!!
Other tequila that I tried while I was in Mexico…..
Other fun suggestions include:
- Sea Monkey: this spot largely has bar food, so not the stop if you want a serious meal.
- Coco’s Kitchen: offers traditional Mexican cuisine along Pulpito.
- Kabuki Sushi Bar: Classic Japanese food and sushi on Olas Atlas.
- La Yarita Bakery: On the main Basilio Badillo drag, it’s a fun stop for the carb lovers among you.
- Hacienda Alemana: this is a German restaurant also on the main drag of Basilio Badillo.
- Joe Jack’s Fish Shack: contemporary seafood offerings in town.
- Page in the Sun: a great place for coffee, pastries and deli sandwiches.
- Cerveceria Union: great spot for oysters and beers on Paseo Diaz Ordaz.
- La Cigale French Bistro: for classic French cuisine, this is a good spot on Hidalgo 398.
- Cafe Des Artistes: this is a great contemporary spot for fine dining on Guadalupe Sanchez 740.
NOTE: Be sure to also read my See, Do & Eat Travel Guide to Puerto Vallarta, as well as my Marriott hotel write-up! Would love to hear about your experiences in Puerto Vallarta or other parts of Mexico as well in the comments below!