Puerto Vallarta restaurant report
We have just returned from a wonderful visit to Puerto Vallarta and would love to share our favorites. We have been enjoying this wonderful city for years and love the variety of offerings from taco stands to haute cuisine--certainly something for everyone! We attempt to enjoy mostly regional specialties but don't limit ourselves to those.
We discovered El Arrayan 3(maybe 4?)years ago--what a find for us! Carmen Porras, the charming owner features family recipes that keep us returning at least twice each visit. We love the plantain empanadas with black bean and cheese filling. The salsa negra(chipotle/garlic black salsa)is a perfect match with these and the salsa verde(tomatillos/cilantro)good for a cooling effect. In the past we loved the duck carnitas(duck confit with arrayan-orange sauce)and think it as good as any confit we tasted in France! This visit I loved a new item on the menu--shrimp with chipotle sauce flamed with raicilla on yams. The sweetness of the yams was the perfect foil for the spicy shrimp. The fish filet with axiote sauce was perfectly cooked and the sauce divine. We also loved one of the specials--lamb rib chops with mole also on yams. My favorite was chilies en nogado which I thought could never be better than those I eat at Red Cabbage every year--heavenly and stunning on the plate! We love the atmosphere, decoration and service. The center courtyard is open with the tables surrounding under a tile roof and there is not a bad table in the house.
Trio was new to us this year and another winner. The menu is Mediterranean/Mexican and each dish sounded fabulous. We loved the chili roasted red snapper with cilantro lime sauce--such bright flavors on wonderful fish. Shrimp sauted with garlic, brandy, tomato and chili oil were wonderful. Nice wine list and good wine by the glass. Gorgeous decor and wonderful service.
Barcelonas Tapas is certainly an enigma--a "view" restaurant with wonderful food. Be prepared to climb 70+ steps but the effort is rewarded with a wonderful view of the town and bay. You choose any number of hot and cold tapas and they keep them coming!
Rio Grande is our favorite for BBQ fish and shrimp. It is located on Av. Mexico right across from the Ley grocery store in the south hotel zone. The grill was open to the street at one time and that is what attracted us--the smells of grilling fish was not to be ignored! Good prices and warm service.
Casa Naranjo(Naranjo @ Cardenas)was a first for us this trip. We loved the cool spare but not sparse decor and the open kitchen. Local flavors with a Continental leaning--great appetizers and fish. Sort of off the beaten path, but if one can find Red Cabbage....well, you know!
Vitea makes the best mojitos along the malecon--well, at least best out of the 5 places I tried!! Funkily artsy fun decor and I love that some main dishes can be ordered as half orders. My favorite is the spice glazed red snapper with jicama carrot salad. Great dessert of caramelized pineapple with coconut ice cream.
Picnic makes great hamburgers and BBQ chicken. Nicely done place overlooking Olas Altas and Hank and Conrad of Chilies(NOT US chain)are there helping local owner get it going or keep it going. We loved the grilled burgers. They also serve chicken sanwiches and chicken salad.
So many restaurants, so little time! Some great, some not so great but what a delightful quest to enjoy all this beautiful city has to offer. Hasta el ano proximo!
Wish I'd had this report before I went, rather than after! Just got back as well, we may have been there during the same time. You've hit some great-sounding places we didn't try. However, we can heartily second the recommendation of El Arrayan...we ate there on our first night and then went back on our last, it was our favorite. Had those duck carnitas and the lamb mole (which at first sounded like an odd combo but it was fabulous.) Also purchased some of the salsa negra to take home! Our last night there was a Saturday and they had live music which was really quite wonderful...a trio playing what we later found out was traditional music from Veracruz. Not at all your typical mariachi-type. My only regret was that I didn't buy their CD.
As for other restarants, we also enjoyed Barcelona Tapas, and had a good, but not great meal at Mestizo--also a lovely garden setting but the food was just so-so, a bit odd. We had high hopes for Xiomates which started out promising but in the end we found the food really uninspired and also with some odd combinations on the plate that didn't work.
Ate at La Palapa for my birthday and it was wonderful, table on the beach, feet in the sand and lobster on the plate. The food was really quite good and I wasn't expecting much, went more for the beach setting and a craving for lobster but it was better than hoped for. A bit crazy and crowded but if you get a beach table you are a bit away from the hubub.
An interesting note, La Palapa and Barcelona Tapas are on OpenTable.com and we made reservations from the Internet cafe at the marina...that worked great! Even got my 100 points!
I think some of our best meals were the breakfasts at Mr. Cream's at the Marina. Fantastic chilaquiles and some other mexican breakfast specialties. One thing I can't recall the name of but it was basically melted cheese on sweet rolls served with beans...yum.
Also a great lunch in the second floor of the market, we ate at the first place as you come up the steps---I think it was called Meme's. Hubby said his chicken mole was the best of the trip and I had enchiladas which were delish.
Despite its cultural domination during the Golden Age of Mexican Cinema / PRI Mexicanization.... Mariachi music has both been bastardized since the 1940's and overemphasized (as it originally was just THE music of a triangle of small towns near Guadalajara... and not a national genre in any way).... and it has opaqued music that is a much more accurate representation of Mexican music... in your case Son Jarocho (which was a huge influence in Cuban Son.... and thus modern Cuban & Latin Jazz music). Here are some recommendations:
A very traditional band from Port of Veracruz: http://www.amazon.com/Music-Veracruz-...
A more contemporary band from Xalapa, Veracruz: http://www.amazon.com/Las-Orquestas-D...
You may also enjoy the guitar duos of Guerrero & Oaxaca's coastline:
The traditional music is different in each region.... just as is the food. Give those a listen if none of them sound like what you are looking for I have more ideas.... it could have been a mainstream Bolero Trio... or a Yucatecan Trova Trio (might be easy to confuse Veracruz with Yucatan no?)
We had the same experience at Xitomates 2 years ago and have not been back since then. I can't remember what we ordered--I DO remember that it wasn't bad but something just didn't work for us. I think the restaurant was sort of loudly echo-y or something off-putting like that also.
I wish we had gone to the market--we just didn't get to it and there is no excuse because we stayed close to it!! Rick Bayless featured a place to eat there--maybe on the 3rd floor? I am glad to know the food is good.
I forgot to mention Azul 96 in my first post. Carmen Porras at el Arrayan recommended it and we loved it. The interior itself is worth a visit--stunning, zen-like and surreal! Gorgeous soothing space. We did not go upstairs to the bar and now I wish we had. Sushi and Japanese cuisine complete the experience.
My fav in PV is My Reuda (The Wheel) up on the hill next to the church at the end of the malecon (behind the mcdonalds)
It's on a hill and the rest is a covered patio that overlooks the whole city shore front, the ocean and the rocks. The food is wonderful, the service is amazing.. and there fruity blender drinks are to die for!
re: hot tamale
it's weird.. i thought the same thing. It is only open for dinner (4pm-11).. and when you walk in at ground level, it looks like you have stepped into a closed down place... but you go up the stairs and there you find the dinning room and the panaramic view. the food and the service!
FYI My Rueda is on the corner of Venezuala & Columbia
I lived in PV for about 6 months... and My Rueda is the only place I ate at over and over again. That said... there is a great breakfast served at Passada de Roger on Basilio Badillo and when I was there last (years ago) there was a little late night pie shop and cafe also on Basilio Badillo that had divine pie and a really good cup of coffee...( not americano)
My PV stand-out is Los Arbolitos, a family run place with unparralled service. You sit upstairs, outside of town overlooking the Rio Cuale. It is a bit off the beaten path, but well worth the adventure. I have been going there since I was 16, and the place is just as amazing now as it was 13 years ago.
I also second La Palapa, put your feet in the sand and snack on shrimp pulled out of the water right by you. Last time I went I had 3 shrimp cocktails, just simple and fresh, with lime and salsa.
re: Mr. S
Los Arbolitos has been on our "list" for several years. This year a cab driver gave us a coupon for a discount there--that removed it from our list instantly. There are too locally owned places with great food and I always think the cab driver "recommendation" is a quick ticket to a tourist trap. In fact, many guide books warn against taking dining advice from cab drivers who are paid to lure tourists in.
re: Mr. S
I live in P.V. and was by there on Sunday, and spoke with a waiter who was outside. It is still family owned. THe prices are very high, many entrees over $200 pesos. It being very traditional Mexican, not fine dining, this is a little much. No gringos living here go there, havent for years. They are not doing well and have begun a special menu, for first floor only, special prices on about 12 items. Don't think it will work, as they are not adversizing it, and the food has become really mediocre.
re: Mr. S
We have been to PV a few times, the last time being June, 2006, for my daughter's wedding. Her father-in-law is Mexican, so we do a lot of cabbie conversation & tend to eat in out-of-the-way places. Los Arbolitos was a place we Gringos found, and is now a favorite. The food is very good, and the view of the canal is splendid.
Speaking of views, you cannot top Carmelitas. The last time we went, we were there during a thunder storm. Unbelieveable!!
Please don't laugh, but another favorite is Pollo Pepe -- a kind on Mexican version of KFC. We went with about 14 people, ordered a ton of Pollo that's broasted/charcoaled, and ate chicken and tortillas with various salsa for hours. Very messy, very simple, but boy did it hit the spot.
The best fish I ever had was a snapper cooked over coals in a sand pit at Mismaloya. It was in one of those "shack" restaurants, down the beach away from the stream, and sits up on a concrete kind of "patio".
There was one seafood place that we also frequented. Can't remember the name off the top of my head, but I'll dig through my files to find it. Nothing fancy, but great food. The 3 guys who come by to sing were so good that we ended up hiring them to play at the wedding's cocktail hour.
The first time we went to PV, my daughter's future Father-in-law took us to a place on the outskirts of town. A complete dinner, including a bottle of tequila for the table and plastic shot glasses, was less than $10 american. The tables were plastic, the chairs were plastic, and twe sat under a huge tent. Much fun!
At Mismaloya the place at the end of the beach (El Mirador?) used to great. It was up on a patio above some arches. Last few years it was out and a massage place moved in. Arturo's on the beach is very good. Don't let the guys on the beach steer you. Also some good grilled snapper fish places at Boca Beach; take the Mismaloya bus to the end- 5.5pesos.
We ate at El Arrayan tonight and agree it is excellent. Also Archie's Wok on Francisco Rodreguiz is great Asian-Thai.
Christmas night we tried to go to La Palapa w/o a res. They got snobby and tried to sit us in Siberia even though they were 1/3 empty at 8:00 PM. Got ripped there N Y Eve three years ago. NY prices, LA attitude, amateur service. Still a lovely place and good for lunch and watching the beach scene.
We went to El Dorado next door. Same beach, friendly service, reasonable prices for a 100% beach location. Great drinks, fair food and great Brasilian singer. Dancing and nice unpretentious crowd.
February 2011. We just arrived in PV. In December we had a terrific New Year 2011 at No Way Jose and we will go back. That was a pleasant contrast to the rude service and bad food we had at El Arrayan New Years 2010. Don't miss Archie's Wok the terrific standby for Asian (no sushi) Thai or Phillipino food.
Has anyone tried Blanca Blue?
Allende #344, Puerto Vallarta, JAL 48304, MX
Just got back from PV and had a wonderful time, wanted to give my 2 cents...
We loved Barcelona Tapas. The tasting menu was great because we were overwhelmed by the choices. I thought the food was excellent (we had their potato salad, regular salad with pears, goat cheese, and pecans, a delicious shrimp bisque, arrechera kebobs, garlic shrimp, and creme brulee and profiterole for dessert)... the sangria was sweet and lived up to its reputation as one of their specialties, and of course the view is hard to beat.
Las Carmelitas does beat the view, although I didn't think the food was as good as BT at all. Getting up to Las C. is an adventure on its own, but the view is jaw-droppingly beautiful and affords you a gorgeous view of downtown PV, the mountains, and the ocean (of course). My boyfriend had the seafood stew, which was rather difficult to eat, a pile of seafood in a thin tomato based broth, much of it still in the shell. He enjoyed it, but I was glad I didn't order it. I had the skirt steak, which I discovered I liked while in Mexico, which was just fine (again, not excellent, better at BT) and a huge, huge delicious margarita. The desserts all sounded pretty boring, and all they had left was carrot cake, which was actually very good, nutty and nicely spiced. The prices are not bad at all and I'm so happy we went even though the food was not excellent because the experience was more than just the food.
We stayed in Nuevo Vallarta in one of the Mayan hotels, and I was nervous about the food options, but we fared all right there. While we didn't like our hotel's restaurant (Rumm-ba--expensive and mediocre), we did like the buffet at the Italian resturant at the Mayan Palace. Tacos Break on the El Tigre golf course had fine quesadillas, tacos, and an interesting Mexican twist on a philly cheese steak (I forget what they called it). The Paradise Village Mall (I know, I know, mall food, but we couldn't rationalize the $160 one way taxi fare to PV every day, and we couldn't, for the life of us, navigate the buses) has Brasil, an all you can eat Argentinian (I guess?) steakhouse, which we loved-- 13 kinds of meat including ribs, chicken, filet mignon, etc. It came with soup, salad, veggies, and a delicious dessert drink, $160 for gals and $190 for guys. We also had a quick lunch at Moon Star Cafe, which does a bustling brunch business and served up some mean pancakes and sandwiches, also reasonable.
We made our way up to Bucerias to try out Famar, recommended in the Fodor's guide, for breakfast, where I fell in love with chilaquiles. Yum!
My husband and I are going back to PV in September. We haven't been there since we honeymooned in '04. Has anyone found any good, clean restaurants/taco stands on the Nuevo Vallarta side? We're staying at the Playa Del Sol Grand & we don't want to eat at the on-site restaurants.
Wow, great reviews of a lot of restaurants. I've been to PV a few times now and there were a couple on that list I've eaten at, but more that I'll have to try next time I'm down there.
Another one to mention is Cafe Bohemio. It's located on the same block as the San Marino in the "Romantic District", I believe that's what the area is called. They have great salads, different kinds of seafoods, and the owner makes a delicious meatloaf. The service there is topnotch as well.
After the meal there, you can stop by the recently opened (mid January) gourmet chocolate and nuts store, Xocodiva, which is next to the San Marino Hotel. They have a huge selection of chocolates in white, milk, and dark, with a wide variety of flavors. Compared to any other chocolates I've eaten in Mexico, these are off the charts.
Have to disagree about the chocolates at Xocodiva. We passed by this shop every day walking to and from our hotel, and eventually stopped in based on the report here. The chocolates are *expensive*, 15 pesos each, or over $1 (with no discount for multiples). The four of us picked out two each, all different varieties, and none of us were impressed. They weren't bad, but at a dollar a piece I expected better.
Wow, good recommendations. I've saved the URL for El Arrayan and will definitely be eating there. Last time i was in PV we ate at La Palaypa due to some great internet reviews. We ate at lunch and it was just dead. We were a little nervous, but tried anyway. MAN, what a great meal. We absolutely loved it. Best food we had eaten all week and were devastated that we tried it last day. My friend had grilled fish (I think it was snapper) which was perfectly cooked with a scented risotto cake and some veggies--all of which were phenomenal. I had the lobster/crab enchilada and it was out of this world. Best i've ever had. We're going back in October when we arrive again.
My husband and I have traveled to PV three out of the past four years and are going back for a fourth trip this December. We love the combination of tropical location + amazing restaurants and local food. A few of our favorites:
Chilquiles for breakfast at the market
Daquri Dicks for banana daquiris and lobster tacos (never had a full meal there)
El Arayan - could not agree more with all of the other reviews
Pork tacos from the street
Has anyone been to Cafe Des Artists? I've heard that it's excellent, but we've always stayed away from it.
Just got back from PV and had a lovely time at Cafe des Artistes. I had the carpaccio, salmon with horseradish crust, and mango and passion fruit creme brulee - all outstanding. It's a really great restaurant. Also had good food at Si Senor, Blue Shrimp, Azul, El Dorado (right by La Palapa) and El Panorama in the SIesta Suites Hotel, the view is unprecedented and must be the very best in the city - they do lots of stuff table-side which is nice.
I have never been a fan of Blue Shrimp but seem to be alone in that opinion. I thought it overpriced and don't really like the cloyinly sweet or thick sauces that coated whatever we ordered. Also, it is one of the few places in town highly recommended by the cruise ships--that takes it off my list in addition to the soupy shrimp dishes.
el arrayan is our favorite
we ate there about a month after it first opened and went back two times during our stay
every time in vallarta we make sure to go there at least once
boca bento is very good as well next door to it is pacifica grill with all you can eat shrimp
casa naranjo is very nice
river cafe is wonderful
marisma fish taco is great
la pirata at the end of los muertos also makes great fish tacos
hands down best place in pv is cafe des artistes in nyc it would be one of the top five
phenominal dining experience all around and i hear they will be opening on the beach somewhere in november
I have to second Boca Bento -- asian/latin fusion. We got to talking to the owner Steward Haverlack who sent us to Agabe Grill which was also wonderful. He recommended Daiquiri Dick's (not the bar scene it sounds like) -- but only got there for breakfast.
There's also a fabulous B&B with a wonderful restaurant called Hacienda San Angel. It's several homes put together, one of which was owned by Richard Burton's first (?) wife -- the one who preceded Liz Taylor. She lived there when they were filming Night of the Iguna ... and Liz lived across the street, which evidently made it convenient for Richard. Anyway, great food and great hospitality, but pricey.
Has anyone spent anytime in Punta Mita? We're headed back to PV for the 4th time in December and are spending a portion of the trip in Punta Mita. We won't want to make the trip into PV for dinner each night and also don't want to eat at the hotel all of the time. Does anyone know if there are restaurants that are a quick cab ride away? We are fine with casual beach places.
We are in PV for the week, our first trip. Ate at La Palapa last night and it was very, very disappointing. The tortilla soup was boring. The ahi, sea bass and snapper were awful and I am pretty certain were frozen. The sea bass was watery and tasteless, the snapper tough and the ahi was inedible. I sent the ahi back to the kitchen. One of the few times I have ever done so. On the other hand the restaurant, location, sunset and service were excellent.
W ate lunch at Barcelona Tapas today. It was pretty good and the snapper was firm and tasted fresh. Again great service, fabulous view.
I've asked around for the best mexican cuisine, but have been told there isn't any. Hard to believe. We have a cook at our villa and are eating in tonight with the promise of good authentic mexican fare. We are hopeful.
Read through the above posts for excellent recomendations. I highly recommend El Arrayan for mexican - it is outstanding. La Palapa is better known for the view and not the food. If you want really authentic mexican, visit the market in downtown PV - the food it outstanding and a great value. Red Cabbage is another one that is supposed to be outstanding.
Another place that you should check out is Agave Grill at La Casa de Tequilla. This is a sister restaurant of Barcelona and is also very good. One thing you may want to keep in mind is that a large part of the appeal of Puerta Vallarta is that the restaurant scene is very diverse. You can get excellent Italian food, new American, Spanish, and Asian as well as Mexican. My husband and I have such a tough time deciding between the restaurant options that we often find ourselves visiting multiple restaurants in a day and trying one or two small items on the menu so that we don't miss anything.
Other food items that you won't want to miss - tacos from street vendors (carnitas in PV, and if you go to Sayulita for the day, the fish tacos) - chilaquiles for breakfast from anywhere, but there are several places around downtown and the market that are just fabulous. If you're in the mood for casual Italian - try Rito's Baci. Hope that this gives you some guideance - it's easy to get stuck eating in touristy, below average places, but if you do the research, you won't be disapointed.
You may also want to check out this guide: http://todopuertovallarta.homestead.c...
Hi, my husband and I are leaving tomorrow and can't wait! We've been to PV several times and have always opted to stay out of the more formal restuarants like Trio and Cafe Des Artistes. But, after a family member raved about a meal at Cafe Des Artistes, we decided to make a reservation for Saturday night. Of course, now that it's close, I'm questioning if this is truly a good option for us.
Has anyone eaten here recently that can give me their take on it? Thanks!
I hate to criticize a restaurant that receives such high praise but generally I have been disappointed by the service, the food and the high prices. So I stay away and then read all the glowing reviews and decide I have to try it once more to be fair and I'm disappointed again. But when I'm there there are always a lot of people who seem to think it's great. So maybe you should try it and report on your experience.
On the other hand La Palapa has opened a new restaurant in the Marina called Tikul and I think it's excellent.
Thanks for your input. We did end up keeping our reservation and were not disapointed. I will draft a full report on all of our eating activities later, but wanted to report back that we really enjoyed Cafe Des Artistes. The service was fine, the only issue being that they put us in a back room initially and it was too warm so we asked to be moved. We started with the soft shell crab app and the goat cheese salad, and both were delicious. For entrees my husband got the ribeye medalions with gorgonzola sauce which was very good, and I had the duck which was absolutely phenomenal. We didn't have room for dessert, unfortunately! More to come on our other eating adventures.
Just got back from my 3rd trip in 3 months to PV and added a new restaurant to the list: Trio. This restaurant was voted one of the top 3 restaurants of PV. After savoring New Years Eve dinner there, i can definitely see why.
We started with the venison salad. The venison was a carpaccio-style, drifting through mounds of arugula and walnut dressing. I will say that its one of the most complex and delicious salads i've ever eaten. I was amazed.
The next course was the lobster raviolis with shrimp. This, too, was cooked well and had a nice taste, although the lobster was hard to distinguish.
The 3rd course was the sea bass in mediterranean herbs (mainly basil) with balsalmic'd tomatoes. When I dug in the fish was dry and obviously overcooked. It had the texture of talapia...something was wrong. The waiter was judging our faces for any sour expressions and immediately swung by to ask the problem. I let him know that the fish was overcooked and asked if he may bring me another one. He obliged swiftly, and within minutes a new entree was on the table. Bliss! It was superb. My date literally said, "it's like a mouth orgasm". We were in heaven.
We thought dessert was next, as the waiter had indicated it was a choice between the duck/root vegetables and the sea bass. But he was wrong! The duck breast arrived next, immersed in a mushroom ragout and root vegetables. The serving size was beyond plentiful, but i will say we were least happy with the duck, of all courses. It was cooked to perfection, but the flavor was a tad off. I'd rate it "good".
The final course was just wonderful. Homemade cranberry ice cream with mounds of smashed cranberries, with pumpkin chunks expertly sweetened. A chocolate flourless cake sat to its right, but was entirely overshadowed by the pumpkin and ice cream.
We were very happy with the dinner and the romantic atmosphere. We'll be back! Thanks to Paula, et al. at Trio's!
Thanks for this great run-down of the restaurants in PV. Based on your glowing review, my husband and I checked out El Arrrayan and loved it. I had the plantain empanadas, the chicken stuffed with zucchini blossoms, and the roasted pumpkin with ice cream. The meal was wonderful - even the coffee with cinnamon at the end of the meal was great. I also had the house specialty drink - the margarita made with the arrayan fruit. It was quite good.
They also had crickets on the menu as an appetizer. I really wanted to give them a try but couldn't quite stomach it. Has anyone tried them?
i tried the crickets. They were only $100 pesos and i thought "why not? you'll never have the opportunity again, probably". They were not bad. Didn't have the smelly cricket flavor I was wary of. Also had the duck. It was just "good" for me, though. I had much better dinners at much smaller prices elsewhere.
I am new to Chowhound and am so incredibly impressed with everyone's input! I would appreciate any advice any of you could give in helping me plan a rehearsal dinner and choose a caterer for my wedding (of about 50 guests) at the VIlla Mia in Mislamoya for October 2008. I am searching for a fun, yummy, Mexican restaurant to hold the rehearsal dinner, and based on what I've read, El Arrayan seems to be the perfect place. I am also searching for a restaurant to cater the wedding reception and am looking for food that is Mexican, but with a little flair for a more formal occastion. I would also prefer for the food to be different from what people will be eating at El Arrayan. Based on my research, I'm considering Agave Grill, Cilantro's, Epoca, Mestizo and Si Senor, but have read little about these restaurants from these Chowhound Boards. Does anyone have any suggestions for a caterer for the wedding reception or have any opinions about the restaurants I just listed? I would need a caterer to do both the cocktail hour and the dinner.
I hate to be a dissenter but my meal at El Arrayan was one of my most dissapointing this trip. Perhaps the expectations were so high due to the feedback read, but it just wasn't up to snuff on several levels. I had the prix fixe Restaurant Menu. My steak in mole was way undercooked on the inside and over charred on the outside, served with some dried papas on the side. The pineapple/yam dessert sounded good on paper, but underwhelmed. I did over hear one things from the staff to another table: they have a new chef who is working the old menu, but is eager to get his own vision up and running soon. Perhaps next time (I will always give benefit of the doubt), I will need some more concrete guidance.
Three things stand out this time for me:
1. Dianita on Francisco I Madero, between Constitucion and Vallarta. A loncheria - lunch (comida corrida) was a whopping 45 pesos! Comes with a pitcher of agua fresca, choice of three soups, choice of at least 8 entrees. Best lunch deal in the city and really down home style.
2. El Brujo at Naranjo/Carranza - great fish and seafood and off the beaten track. Baked fish with crab meal came out to about $13 US - would have cost twice as much in the States. Excellent service to boot.
3. Marisma - right across the street from El Brujo - best fish/shrimp tacos in town, by far. This is my new fave taco stand - a bit out of the way, but worth the shlep when I get the craving. The fish was perfectly cooked, but the flavor of the shrimp was a knockout.
Sad to say my favorite 6am asada quesadilla at the taco stand near the Farmacia Guadalajara did not hold up since my last trip, but there are always new things to dig up.
re: hot tamale
hot tamale........sorry no address, but it is in old town. Ask a local, I found out from a bus driver. If you have a little adventure in you also try:El Fondo Patio on Calle Francia Versailles not far from Plaza Las Gloria's. Other places:
Birria Robles - opens at 8 and closes when food is gone
Cafe de Artiste
Dona Dalu - best at night, North of town at Berlin #22
El Moreno - taco stand
Fish Tacos and Ceviche outside #351 F. Madero
La Calderon - Mexican food just off Vallarta, one/two blocks of bridge
Juanita - Mexican food/seafood across from Hidalgo on Mexico
La Horniga - tacos and quesadillas
Pepe's Tacos - Calle Honduras 173, colonia 5 de Dicmbre, hot pink and white sign
Polo - seafood across from movie theater on Medero, just off Insurgentes
Restaurant Gaby - Calle Mina 252, lunch 40 pesos 1 to 6
Pico Mac Taco - Mexican fast food, open 24 hours, across from Lay's on Mexico
Taco de Mariseos - taco stand
Tacos Los Arcos - Below Hooters, great tacos, clean
Yellow door - Lunch only, just off Juarez, several blocks South of Woolsworth
Great list. We should go out to dinner sometime.
Jalapeno do you mean on Basilio Badillo years ago then Asadero's Grill?
Also Dona Salu.
Rico Mac Tacos.
Los Pibes is closed.
Don't forget River Cafe
Add El Barracuda, Mestizo, Teatro Limon, Back Alley Steakhouse, Cafe Bohemio, Mama Rosa and Planeta Vegetariano.
re: hot tamale
"El Moro II, a traditional Botana Bar, free botanas from 2-5 p.m. with purchase of 3 beers per person. Not a bad deal if you like beer. For example on Monday botanas are pork carnitas, Wednesday BBQ ribs and Friday ceviche, fish soup and fried fish. House speciality drinks include Sangria, 'Bloody Mary, Caesar or Bull' Try it, it's fun! For early risers El Moro II begins serving breakfast at 6:30 a.m. offering the traditional Mexican hangover cure, Menudo, machaca, 28 pesos, or eggs as you like them, 18 pesos. El Moro II located at 625 Aquiles Serdan, Col. Emiliano Zapata, is open 6:30 am until 11 p.m." Also, a second place up river, past Paso Ancho.
we just got back last week and i can tell you that the food is as good as always
el arrayan is slipping a bit but their drinks are outstanding always
maria candelaria for awesome tamales allende and sanchez
panchos takos best al pastor you can have badillo near olas altas
gorditas chihua new and just great constitucion near carranza
teatro limon for a great group experience off the beaten path need a cab
the beach house for lunch on the beach-
(pricey but a great experience) huge salads and great drinks
dmikes hot dog cart badillo and rodriguez
Cafe catedral badillo
la hacienda for breakfast cardenas and aguacate
marisma fish taco I naranjo between carranza and badillo
marisma fish taco II marina vallarta
100% natural across from the sheraton
hacinda xochitl rio naza (need a cab
)agave grill morelos between aldama and corona
la playita saturday and sunday brunch on the beach at lindo mar resort
vitea malecon extension at libertad
i would definitely do la playita brunch 118 pesos all you can eat or go there for a nice dinner as well the food is consistently good and reasonably priced
panchos takos is just ridiculous for al pastor 8 pesos each
shrimp tacos at marisma 13 pesos each just incredible
gorditas chihuas is new and awesome for lunch or dinner
hard to spend over $10 for 2 people
vitea has big and small portions for most dishes and is reasonable for what you get
do yourself a favor and stay away from obvious tourist places or places that fajitas are the big draw try some local mexican
We were just in PV this past week and had a terrible experience at The Red Cabbage. We ordered the chef's choice which was paired with a tequila first and glass of red wine with the second course. The waiter literally slammed the drinks on the table unceremoniously together before the tepid and overly salted "peanut soup" arrived. When I asked what kind of wine was being offered, we got curt, uneducated answer - "from Chile." Thinking that wine wasn't something they focused on, we asked what tequila they served us and the response was a bottle being thumped on the table angrily. We had local friends upstairs and when we approached the stairway to visit them, we were stopped by Madame Lola who refused passage. In short, it felt like a tourist trap where gringos are sequestered to the downstairs, and locals the hallowed upstairs. So we asked for the bill and left before the second course was served. Very disappointing, considering the reputation. The best restaurant we did find in PV, however was a tiny 6 table Spanish Tapas bar 2 blocks up from Matamoros....will find the card and list the name here tomorrow. Stunning, authentic and worth the hour wait. We also experienced Barcelona Tapas. The paella was outstanding, the sangria good, but the tapas, were huge plates and not memorable. The view was incredible. The service; our server was Juan.....was truly some of the best we've experienced anywhere in the world (and we are big travelers). We also liked Casa Elena. It's the oldest continuous service restaurant in Old Towne. romantic patio. The Conchita Pibil (sp?) was piquant, balanced and absolutely gorgeous. The ceviche served on the beach at Jalapa was also memorable, even though Don Julio was dancing under our palapa all afternoon. :)
My experiences from four trips to Puerto Vallarta:
Red Cabbage Cafe - This is a really good restaurant. I highly recommend the chiles en nogada. They do an excellent version here (note: served cold) with a slight kick of heat. Also very good are the chiles de picadillo. I bought the cookbook from the restaurant and made both at home. The cream of peanut soup is just ok, but I really loved the queso rebeccah, which is panela cheese served with an ancho-chipotle mixture and corn tortillas. They were nice enough to bring us a sampling of their mole poblano and mole negro with corn tortillas for dipping -- very good, although not the best of either that I've tasted. I should also mention that Red Cabbage Cafe's service is outstanding, but make sure you have good directions to get there because I understand it can be difficult to find (of course, cabs are the way to go in PV since they're so cheap).
Tino's has a few locations in the Puerto Vallarta area, and the highlight here is Pescado Zarandeado (spice marinated/rubbed and then grilled red snapper). Rick Bayless speaks glowingly of this dish at Tino's on his website where he provides a recipe. Yes, it is that good. The salsas to begin the meal are also fantastic -- loved the arbol-garlic one, but the salsa verde packed a great kick. The shrimp tacos, however, should be ignored . . . tasteless. The bacon wrapped, cheese stuffed shrimp with the pineapple-mustard cream sauce was also delicious, but very heavy
El Arrayan - This is a very popular restaurant and I see why. Great service, colorful artwork, some open air seating, what's not to like. The homemade corn tortillas are excellent, but outdone by what might be the best dish in all of Puerto Vallarta: the duck carnitas. The duck was perfectly crispy and amazingly moist. And the sauce might have even been better than the duck itself. It was an orange-chile sauce (pasilla?). I wanted to drink the sauce with a straw. The cochinita pibil was almost excellent, but for the fact that it was a little too watery . . . not sure how this happened. Was it sitting around and kept warm? At least it was tender and flavorful and the habanero tainted onions were threatening to say the least.
Si Senor - If you sit outside in the beautiful courtyard, you'll love the fun surroundings. Otherwise, it could be a bit sterile. So make sure to ask to sit outside. Service on two visits has been disastrous in multiple respects (slow, wrong food, incorrect check, you name it), so be warned. I don't know if I would be willing to put up with a third visit. But it's warm and it's Mexico so we were patient. We were able to sample several of their moles (they offer several, including a pink mole made from beats which was unfortunately not available). I generally thought all of the moles were decent, but found that all lacked a little of the earthiness and smoky flavor that moles typically deliver and I thought that all of them were a little too sweet. The table salsas to start the meal were decent, but the real star to me is the perfectly grilled and delicious Carne Asada Tampiquena.
Cafe de Olla - You'll here lots about this place . . . how great it is. You'll get there and see the line (no reservations). And you'll be sucked in . . . I was twice. But I thought the food was mediocre on both visits and the place screams Chi Chi's. Seasonings that scream McCormick's, shrimp that could bounce 10 feet off of the floor . . . you get what I'm saying. I guess people just love their fajitas, but if you want authentic Mexican and not Tex-Mex, stay away. And if you do go, specify corn tortillas because the standard here is strangely flour.
Las Cazuelas - MIA - It seems to be closed down now (has been on my last few visits) and this is too bad because it was the best Mexican meal I ever had. A lamb dish with masa crust served in the earthenware dish in which it was cooked was mind blowing. I wish it would reopen.
Mestizo - This is a cute little restaurant with some of the best service I have experienced in Puerto Vallarta (and the best margarita in PVR). And the food was very good too, particularly the beautiful plating. There were a number of clever twists on well known dishes, such as shrimp "al pastor" style and Pibil-style lamb chops. There were skilled hands in the kitchen as all seafood was cooked perfectly and meat cooked to the temperature ordered.
El Brujo, in the southeastern portion of the Romantic Zone, proved to be a pretty good meal. My sizzling molcajete was a tad salty but still pretty good. But my dining companions were universally pleased with the inexpensive and large portions of food (mostly rich), particularly the stuffed shrimp, and some enjoyed this meal as much or more than Red Cabbage or El Arrayan.
But far better than El Brujo was the little taco stand across the street (intersection of Venustiano Carranza and Naranjo). The wait at El Brujo was 45 minutes and I was hungry. I stared at the gentleman tending the wood burning fire. He was making sure to maintain a precise temperature, working the flames carefully and constantly while the beautiful pastor spit topped with a huge chunk of pineapple turned, exposing some beautifully charred, crispy bits of pork goodness. I've never seen anyone tend a fire so carefully. He must have been burning up. Well, my visit paid off . . . of the ten or so tastes of al pastor on this trip, this was by far my favorite . . . crispy, charred, juicy and great flavor. A couple of locals who spoke English started chatting with me and told me that this was their favorite al pastor in Puerto Vallarta. I see why.
My next favorite al pastor was a small stand located near Cardenas and Ignacio Vallarta where the al pastor was almost as good, and the freshly made tortillas excellent.
And then a tiny hole in the wall, unnamed, about the size of a deep broom closet, and next door to a place called Mariachi Burger?, located I believe on Ignacio Vallarta near Dieguez. There's no way I could have prepared a meal in this place . . . there was barely room to turn around. I peered in to say one lady, several pots, a small grill, a griddle, salsas, cilantro, and a small chalkboard menu listing chicarrons, tongue, carne asada, pork, chicken etc. . . and a bowl of masa overflowing. I ordered a few tacos and the woman went to work, using her tortilla press and griddle to freshly prepare the tortillas. All of the tacos were excellent, but the tongue was the best . . . great flavor and amazingly tender. If you're in the area, this would be a great spot to pop in for a late night bite. I wish I could better direct you, but you'll find it if you really want to.
Please note however that most of the taco stands open later in the evening, so don't show up at 7:30 expecting to find these places operating.
As for breakfast, La Palapa and Daiquiri Dick's proved to be my favorites, and both are very, very good and right on the water. With the beautiful plating at La Palapa, you would not expect such cheap prices and great food, but that's what you get. Daiquiri Dick's does a small non-buffet Sunday brunch which includes juice, an entree and a scone . . . the breakfast was very good, but the scone (apricot) was one of the best I've ever had and almost worth breakfast here all by itself. The scones were served with what they claimed was a Mexican whipped creme fraiche . . . not sure if that's exactly what it was, but it was excellent.
This thread was terrific for me and my family-- we just returned from PV Friday night. We'd never been there and knew nothing about the food scene there. Each night we ate at a different restaurant (6 in all) with generally good experiences.
By far our favorite was Trio. Just perfect. Everything was "special" and perfectly prepared. The setting was beautiful (we sat on the roof) . It was also the most expensive meal :)
Also very good was Barcelona Tapas. We weren't on the tippy-top, and I guess I wouldn't rave about the view as much as others (since there's a lot of "city" between the restaurant and the bay) but the food was terrific and very nicely priced.
The first night we were tired and went to Daquiri Dicks since it was close to our hotel. Quite nice and you can't beat the setting on the beach.
Another night the kids insisted on Piazetta in the Romantic District. It was far better than my husband and expected. Really good Italian food. I loved my cooked salad of spinach, lemon and parmesan.
River Cafe was also quite nice, and a beautiful and elegant setting.
Our biggest disappointment was the final evening at El Arrayan. Just that nothing seemed all that special. I had the cactus salad which I thought had too much dressing (more cheese would have helped); my son had the Escabeche of duck which he didn't like much at all; I tried it and can't say I blame him. It was also very tart and had unpleasant texture and temperature. My husband sprang (ha) for the roasted crickets, which to his credit he finished with my son and I giving him only very token help. (my daughter refused). They were very crunchy, tart and salty, not bad at all, but they looked too much like crickets for me to get my head past it. For our main courses my husband and son had the duck (one of their specialities) -- they found it just ok; I had the slow cooked pork which I enjoyed; my daughter the chili relleno, which I think she enjoyed. But all in all we were disappointed. Also my husband and I didn't much like the Arrayan Margarita (their specialty). Too sweet.
for lunch three of us very much enjoyed the Calamari Adventura right next to the GR grocery store in old town. Great meal for the pesos. The ceviche tostada for about one dollar was a steal, and the calamari frito were also really good.
You might guess we stayed in the romantic district which is a terrific location for wandering around and eating. I can't imagine staying anywhere else now that we've been there (and have driven past the seemingly bland hotel and marina districts-- but I could be wrong so don't get mad!)
hot tamale - this is a little off thread - but how do you handle the time-share people?
We went 20 years ago and they weren't there. We went two years ago and couldn't get away from them - very very aggravating. Decided not to go back b/c of that. We normally go to Manzanillo, which is very peaceful. Do they just not bother you?
Good report. We should travel around town and sample food. I edit and publish the largest most up to date PV dining guide on cafepress and have been promo'ing local spots for the current restaurant festival and having some video taken too! Lots of fun but work too and I do not get paid. Labor of Love. They have been uploaded daily to BanderasNews online. Take care and happy eating!
I will second Vitea - we had a marvelous breakfast here, eggs benedict with smoked salmon, warm banaa bread with whipped cream, mimosas. Wonderful service too. Also went to Le Kliff and while I cannot rave about the food (though the presentation is fantastic), the view is unbelievable and I can believe some people call it the prettiest restaurant in Mexico. PV has really become a restaurant destination. I really wanted to try Los Xitamates - next time!
El Arrayan I commented on above. I think it's excellent and one of my favorite Mexican restaurants in PV. My favorite dishes here are the duck carnitas, the chiles en nogada and the cochinita pibil.
By la oya, do you mean Cafe de Olla? If so, stay away. Americanized Mexican food (e.g., fajitas) and it's ok, but nothing more. Long lines of tourists will pull you in; mediocre food will make you not want to return.
I've been to Cafe des Artistes but it's been so long that I don't feel comfortable commenting.
La Palapa is very nice for breakfast and lunch . . . tried it once for dinner but can't recall what I thought.
One place you don't mention which I think is a must is Red Cabbage Cafe. It might be my favorite restaurant in PV. Have fun and eat well.
El Arrayan. Fabulous. I love the fried crickets appetizer. I took a picture and copied to my Iphone to show people a gross-out example of my culinary bravery.
Cafe de Olla. I demur. It is great. Double Margharita and I can hardly walk to the bus stop up the street. Not for the fancy food set.
La Palapa: We went there Christmas night two years ago and it was empty. The hostess told us we could not be seated without a reservation. She then pretended she would do us a favor and squeeze us in. She tried to seat us in Siberia behind a cash register. We refused that table and she let us walk. That was before the recession. Now they can kiss mien touch-as. I am from NY not CA. We don't take that doodoo.
Boca Bento moved to Mismaloya Village and is worth a long bus ride. 5.5 centavos. Great outdoor dining venue.
Be back Christmas New Years.
Casa Naranjo is, by far, our favorite restaurant in PV. We travel to PV several times a year, and always eat there at least once (the last trip, it was twice!). The chef/owner was at Cafe des Artistes, and the place is staffed by her family. It is like you are a guest in their home. It is on Naranjo Street at Cardenas, about four blocks toward the mountains from Insurgentes. The place is super-clean, deciorated with a minimalaist modern touch, is pleasantly air conditioned, has a full bar with good wines, and has food to die for.
Try their signature pork chop, with a delightful orange sauce. Or their beef filet - a piece of meat that will make you swoon. Or their crusted sea bass. Or --- heck, try anything on the menu! It is really, really good, and you'll want to return the next night!
This restaurant has "CAN'T MISS" written all over it. Call first to confirm they are open (they are closed Sundays in the summer) - 322-222-3518.
I just got back from a brief visit to PV a week ago. Barcelona Tapas was the highlight of the whole affair. My brother and I had seriously fine meal there, which we'll remember for years to come. Service was great, food was great (particularly the garlic shrimp and the tomato toasts with serrano ham), view was great... highly recommended!
Here's a list of places we ate in an October 2008 trip to Puerto Vallarta with some commentary. In general, we would say that the place is a foodie paradise. Not only was the food good, the prices were reasonable, and service was first rate.
Nite 1. We ate at Tikul in the Marina. Starters: tuna carpaccio, asian pear, and lemon salad; lovely and light. Salmon, tuna, and avocado tartare; rich, and each element maintained its own identity – artful composition. Entrees: Snapper Veracruz, and pecan-crusted mahi-mahi with cilantro mashed potatoes; both were excellent. Shared desert was tequila ice cream with caramel sauce. An outstanding meal at a truly high-end place. We probably spent $60 US with no regrets.
Lunch 1. Off to the romantic zone, south of Rio Cuale to Tacos de Mariscos. This taco stand has not only the “in the street” dining option, but they also have a good size alcove with plastic lawn chairs. We had the smoked marlin tacos and ceviche tostadas. With an agua fresca and a bottle of water, we probably spent $8 or less. The only tourists there.
Nite 2. Victor's/Cafe Tacuba in the Marina. Caesar salad and tortilla soup were our starters, chili relleno and garlic shrimp, the entrees. Good food, better, in fact, than we expected considering the free tequila shots you get with every drink you order – this sounded too gimicky/touristy for our taste. The tortilla soup was just great, creamy with cheese, complex and very satisfying. Everything else was well done, enough so that we returned later in the week.
Lunch 2. Mariscos 8 Tostadas on the first street in the Marina. Shrimp and cheese empanandas, acapulco ceviche, and chunky raw tuna slices in soy, sesame oil, sesame seeds, onion. The tuna was lovely, fresh and meaty. We never identified any other tourists here. We did get a great gelato in a little bakery/gelato shop in the marina arcade.
Nite 3. Mariscos Tinos downtown, 2nd floor over a parking garage. Best margaritas on our trip. Entrees were garlic shrimp and oysters Nuevo Vallarta. The oysters were outstanding, tiny, not too strong, and not overcooked.
Breakfast 1. Mr. Cream in the Marina. (Three cruise ships were in – not a good day to go to town.) Chilaquiles rojos with eggs, and beans and cheese rolled in tortillas. Very good, but we were usually microwaving leftovers from the night before in our room – not many breakfasts to report.
Lunch – Around the pool with a sandwich from the Deli and sangria from the pool bar.
Nite 4. Dinner at La Palapa, Romantic zone, south of Rio Cuale. Elegant food, sat at the tables on the sand, watched the parade of people, the sun setting in the Pacific, and really enjoyed. It is hard to believe that this restaurant was here in the 1950s! Check the photos in the corridor leading to the restrooms – they have side-by-side photos from 1960s to 1997.
Lunch 4. Marismas Fish Tacos in the Marina. We had fried fish and fried shrimp tacos plus smoked marlin taco, all excellent. The red salsa with onions had great depth of flavor, not hot just complex essence of chilies. Food at these street taco stands/casual restaurants has been of much higher quality than we would have anticipated.
Nite 5. Dinner at El Aryan in Old Town. This is a very worthwhile experience. The restaurant is charming, the dinnerware artistic, even the oilcloth table covers were special. My wife asked where they got the oilcloth and was told they special ordered it from Guadalajara. I had to have the duck confit and it lived up to all the praise I had heard. Pork with achiote sauce was also excellent. Ceviche, in a regional style I think was Peruvian was great. I was not particularly interested in having cricket starter, but had to try the pigs feet tacos. Don't have to do that again. The cooking here is inspired, each salsa had its own taste profile and each had great depth of flavor. Should have done this one twice.
Lunch 5. River Cafe on the island in Rio Cuale. We had chicken enchiladas ½ red and ½ green sauce and quesadillas with rajas and squash blossoms.
Dinner 6. Back to Victor's Cafe Tacuba. Garlic mahi-mahi filets and beer battered fish.
Dinner 7. Porto-Bello in the Marina. Risotto with scallops and tempura shrimp and lobster ravioli. Excellent, but we were probably ready for a hamburger.
30 something here that just got back from a short trip to PV with girlfriend. I wanted to thank everyone for their helpful input. On our three nights there my girlfriend and I had dinner at Trio, La Palapa and Barcelona. Trio was great: the food was delicious and the ambience was charming. La Palapa is a great place for a romantic dinner but the food was nothing spectacular. At Barcelona we must have ordered the wrong things as we thought the food was just ok. Too many dishes had emulsified sauces (too much mayo!). I must say however that the best dining experience on our short trip was simply having tacos at Pepe's tacos. The tacos al pastor is a must! Oh how I miss those tacos!
Just back from PV. A few quick observations... based on the reviews tried El Arrayan. While I can see that it might once have been worth the effort it seemed tired and the cooking seemed complacent. Overpriced, small portions, moderate quality ingredients and an overall poor dining experience. Sorry to the fans out there.
Tried Porto Bello at their new location in Nuevo Vallarta. While spendy it was a fine meal. Decent wine list, excellent service. I'd recommend them for sure.
All of the restaurants we were forced to try in the Grand Mayan complex were very poor. Poor service, cheap ingredients, not recommended at all. Bummer.
As always, Tacon de Marlin across the pedestrian bridge from the airport was amazing. After numerous visits I still think they're my favorite place in the PV / Nayarit area. You gotta do it!
Allende #344, Puerto Vallarta, JAL 48304, MX
El Arrayan is no longer what it once might have been. We found recently that what used to be fresh vegetables are now canned and sauces tasted like they have been held too long. Management is clearly resting on their/her old press clippings.
Allende #344, Puerto Vallarta, JAL 48304, MX