Puerto Vallarta is a food fiesta and everything is fresh, fresh, fresh; as one of the semi-permanent residents noted, “You basically can’t go wrong with any restaurant in PV.”
But here are a few of my favourite restaurants where you can go really, really right!
The Omelet’s House.
Nachos Fiestas, a total delight of tomatoes, chiles, onions and more (a type of salsa cruda) on nachos with guacamole, cheese and frijoles. If you are hungrier try their Quesadillas de Camarones (shrimp) or their Shrimp Fajitas. This restaurant is one of the best places to go for Mexican food in this very international food town! (2019, still great and wthey charge way less than many other restaurants.)
Gaby’s Restaurant Bar.
After a lot of taste-testing I think Gaby’s has the best enchiladas verdes in town. The chiles rellenos are fantastic too!
Gaby’s is in the Centro Histórico of Puerto Vallarta, a great place to stop if you’re doing the Art Walk.
Another restaurant on the Art Walk route is the Café de Artistes. If you go for their ‘Early Bird Special’ you get the gourmet meal without the high end prices. It’s so good it rates it’s own post!
Life changes forever once you’ve tried their Tacos Pastor, slivers of spiced pork and pineapple on a tortilla. There is ALWAYS a huge line-up but it’s worth the wait. The people at the table next to us came down to Puerto Vallarta just for these tacos (or so they said).
Of course, you can get great tacos pastor everywhere. But Takos shines when you see the ‘salsas al lado’ (sauces on the side) – my favourite was the mango habanero salsa on the right.
Pancho’s Takos is on Basilio Badillo with it’s wide sidewalk and plethora of restaurants and high-end shops.
Sand in your feet.
There are two restaurants right on the beach where people try to lure you in. I’ve always been a bit resistant to this approach of grabbing customers but ended up going to Canto del Mar to see beach vendor Johnny singing and loved it. The floors are sand, the beer is cold and the food is tasty.
They offered up three different types of ceviche on tostadas. One ‘orden’ was 80 pesos (2012 price), but between my horrible Spanish and our waiter’s horrible English, I had no idea what differentiated these three ceviches, and was reluctant to order an entire ‘orden’ only to find out I didn’t like it.
Then I noticed that one could order one ‘tostada’ for a mere 18 pesos, and my Spanish really shone as I ordered, “una (point), y una (point), y una (point).”
These are the three tostadas de ceviche: ‘pescado’ (fish, cilantro, lime, traditional); ‘acapulqueño’ (larger chunks of fish in a spicy, slightly sweet sauce) and marlin (smoked and tasty). They were all so good I could have had an entire orden of each! (2019, Canto del Mar has gone upscale and downhill. Sad to say, I can no longer recommend it.)
Los Abuelos Beach Club next door has a similar set-up and great Mexican food as well. Alas it was too dark to get any decent food shots but believe me when I say I’m drooling just thinking of their chiles rellenos. It doesn’t show up on Google Maps but it’s south/left of Canto del Mar. (2019, fab enchiladas verdes!)
Down along the ‘strip’.
We had this shrimp-stuffed avocado at the Vayan Café but it shows up at a lot of places, something everyone should try. (2019, better stuffed avocados at the Omelet’s House.)
I’ve marked the location of most of the restaurants on this map. The Sea Monkey serves food but is best known for its sunsets and $1 margaritas.
And more from the locals…
“When we go out for a special dinner we go to Casa Isabel – great view!”
“In the market the third Fonda stall next to the washrooms, Fonda Marina, has the best fish I ever had and a guava juice for only 74 pesos.”
“Right by the river, on Aquadis Cerdan, the street that leads to market on Plaza Santa Maria, is a fonda known for their pozole and flan. All the beach vendors eat there. It’s about 80 pesos for two.”
I see that all my recommendations are for restaurants serving the local Mexican fare, but there are a ton of Italian restaurants plus restaurants that offer meatloaf and ribs for home-sick gringos. But as one ex-pat put it, “why come to Mexico if you’re going to eat pizza!”