While the scenery and beaches of Puerto Vallarta are a big part of what draws people to this part of Mexico, the local cuisine should definitely play a part in your trip planning. Here are our favorite places to grab a bite in PV (in alphabetical order):
- Café des Artistes – Designed by Thierry Blouet, Cafe des Artistes reinterprets the finest Mexican cuisine with French influences, proposing dishes of soft textures and a large orchestra of flavors designed to delight the senses in an elegant Mexican-style atmosphere with ocean view. We recommend starting with the Ensalada Mixta de Hojas, Arugulas y Verduritas (mixed salad with Huajicori mountain cheese and mustard vinaigrette) and the Taco de Lechon Confitado (grilled scallops with avocado cream, black onion puree, crispy crackling fungi and “drunk” sauce) before moving on to the Duo de Costillar y Petalos de Filete (ribs and beef petals, with camembert cheese sauce chipotle, shallot confit and potato terrine with bacon) and finishing with the Super Copa Moka (coffee ice cream, chocolate crumble, whipped cream, meringue and a mocha-pecan espresso shot).
- Coco’s Kitchen – The perfect place to savor a hearty breakfast or have a casual lunch as you take a break from sightseeing. On the breakfast side, we’re partial to the Churro Hot Cakes (cinnamon pancakes served with milk caramel and mascarpone cheese) and the Mexicano omelet, with chorizo, tomato, cilantro and onion. For lunch, you can’t go wrong with the Burro Rojo (shredded beef in tomato sauce with rice, beans and sour cream), but the selection of sandwiches is quite appetizing – especially when paired with the sweet potato fries!
- El Arrayán – Situated in the heart of Old Town, El Arrayán is an intimate Mexican restaurant with a lot of soul. Offering a variety of authentic yet unusual Mexican dishes using only the best traditional recipes and highest quality ingred Emphasizing the regional wealth of the state of Jalisco, El Arrayán strives to bring home the influences that have historically changed cooking in the region, as the way people cook varies from the flatlands to the coast, lakes and forests. Try the Rajas con crema (soft, sautéed, creamed Poblano peppers) for a start, then hit the spot with the Green Pork “Pozole” (hearty soup with hominy corn and shredded pork). For an entrée, a terrific treat is the Lamb Birria – a specialty stew, cooked slowly in mixed, toasted sesame and spices.
- Gaby’s – A bright and cheerful spot to dig in to dependably tasty Mexican classics, with terrace seating and a tree-shaded back patio. A great value at lunchtime. Gaby’s is known for its mole sauces (and for projecting videos onto the building next door), but we’re big fans of the Tortilla Soup, the fresh-made guacamole, the Chicken Burrito and the Shrimp Tacos.
- La Leche – Don’t be fooled by the monochromatic interior design; there is plenty of color to be found in the cuisine of La Leche (see video below). It is a place to awaken your senses, in a space conceived as a canvas. Chef Alfonso Cadena reinterprets the culinary tradition in an irreverent way, making the most of local produce to reinvent the menu every day. The special and unique cuisine at La Leche is based on the principles of surprise, contrast, difference, fun and excellence. After dinner, be sure to head upstairs to the second floor, fittingly called “Cream,” for an intimate atmosphere, entertainment and personalized service.
- La Palapa – Founded in 1959 as the first beach restaurant in Puerto Vallarta. For over 50 years, La Palapa has become a destination for those who enjoy spending a day at the Beach Club or enjoying a candlelit romantic dinner on the sand. The menu features international dishes, but served up with a modern presentation. The Seafood Enchilada plate scores top marks. While primarily a dinner destination, breakfast is also a popular choice.
- Le Kliff – Nestled on the southern edge of Banderas Bay – the second-largest bay in the world – Le Kliff features incredible panoramic views of the Pacific coast, and a menu that collects all the flavors and beauty of Puerto Vallarta in one place. For a light lunch, try the Fish Sandwich, with manchego cheese gratin, avocado aioli and fried potato slices with chive dressing. For dinner, the Cotija cream cheese (with goat cheese foam and lobster meat) is a winner, especially if you let it lead you into the Passion Red Snapper – on pistachio crust, mashed potato, grilled asparagus, citrus supreme and passion sauce.
- Marisma Fish Taco – A novel approach to a traditional dish (by way of Baja California) led to the creation of something special – crisper and more flavorful, using local produce. The menu is relatively simple, offering tacos, stews, quesadillas, burritos, hamburgers and fruit drinks. However, Marisma’s reputation has led to its incredible success and growth, with three locations around Puerto Vallarta.
- Ocean Grill Vallarta – Accessible only by hiking or by boat, Ocean Grill offers a mature, relaxed dining experience, which thrives on providing a calm atmosphere for all dining guests. (To that end, children under age 14 are not allowed. Period.) It may take some effort to get there, but diners are definitely rewarded with a sumptuous seafood-laden menu. Among the tasty appetizers, the Grilled Veggies (with goat cheese croutons and balsamic dressing) is a favorite. For an entrée, we recommend the Octopus – tender on the inside, crunchy on the outside, with a Kalamata tapenade on a bed of sautéed potatoes with paprika and herbs. Unbelievable! Whatever your main dish, you can choose from an assortment of sauces, including the house recipe Sarandeado, Gallega (sweet pepper, olive oil and sea salt) and Ajillo (garlic and guajillo chile).
- Pipi’s Restaurant & Bar – For the simple pleasure of a fajita, Pipi’s is the place to go. Located toward the southern end of the Malecon, it’s the kind of place that people return to every time they visit. The ginormous margaritas are a definite draw, as is the guacamole, made fresh at your table.
To plan your own dining tour of Puerto Vallarta (or any of our other delicious destinations), send us an email: firstname.lastname@example.org.