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Nuevo Vallarta, Grand Mayan - food report

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I am writing a bit of info on this location and resort due to the difficulty I found in locating info online in preparation for my own trip.

Grand Mayan is a magnificent and truly beautiful resort. It is not an all inclusive, but due to its location you are very limited as to outside dining choices as downtown PV is a $30-$45 round trip taxi ride. If you want Mexican charm, stay in Vallarta. Dont expect to travel to PV every day as it is not a brief jaunt.

The food at the Grand Mayan is ridiculous. A bountiful but standard breakfast buffet is $25 per person and the entire restaurant is buzzing with salespeople warming up their customers for a timeshare presentation. It was very annoying.

All restaurants at the resort seem to be moving towards removing all vestiges of Mexican cooking from menu, and what does remain is bland and not worth eating even before taking into consideration the high prices. One small beach bar still offers ceviche and seafood cocktails. At any price it was not worth eating... however at $20 a lunch plate it was pathetic. Even the wait staff understood the food situation. I don't expect to sit down at a beautiful open air restaurant in Mexico and have an insipid plate of plain unseasoned bruschetta placed on the table. Please bring me some fiery salsa and crisp homestyle chips!

Featured gourmet restaurant is Italian, but so called risotto was not edible, fish was overcooked, sauteed calamari was too chewy to begin to eat. Our table for two with just one shared appetizer two entrees, and one shared dessert was $150. We dont mind paying for excellent food but this was mediocre at best.

After three days of this, we were miserable. We chose this resort as I was recovering from a fractured leg and I knew in advance I would not be able to withstand sightseeing in cobblestoned Puerto Vallarta and the pace of our usual style of vacationing. I never imagined that a Mexican resort would have trouble preparing good quality Mexican food, but it appears that management has caved to demands of timeshare crowd clamoring for mild plain food. It was amusing that one night FOUR different dishes at the Italian grill restaurant had the same 'squid black ink sauce' on them. I am certain that they sold very very few of those dishes that evening.

We were fortunate to meet a Canadian traveler who took us to a local joint called 8 Tostadas Mariscos. It was just a few minute walk from our resort and we ate nearly all our remaining lunches and suppers there! This little restaurant is wonderful.

Tostadas de Ceviche, ummmm... a small crisp corn shell piled with chopped fresh mahi ceviche and covered with sliced avocado and a squeeze of lime. Tosdadas de Marlin made with smoked ceviche was delicious as well.

8 Tostadas is known for its octopus or pulpo but we didnt know this until our third meal when we spied a painted octopus sign with the red slash and circle over it... they were OUT that day! When they do have it... make sure you try one of the combination cocktails that includes the tender pulpo... it is fantastic. The special sauced Ceviche Hector is spicy, citrusy, flavorful, and the half portion offered on the menu is more seafood than one can comfortably eat when paired with a basket of crisp totopos or chips. Scallops or callo are also found locally and are delicious when 'cooked' with lime in the ceviches and seafood cocktails. Cold Mexican beer ($2), delicious fresh fish with lime, crisp tostadas... one doesnt care about the lack of a view. It doesnt get much better. I have attached a photo of our afternoon lunch of a half order of Ceviche Hector and a chico/small Cocteles de Mariscos, and order of guacamole.

The restaurant doesnt offer the ceviches at dinner... but changes to freshly grilled fish and seafood. The seafood soup, Sopa de Mariscos is a very large bowl just filled with seafood... shrimp scallops octopus conch and a large blue crab... the broth was infused with all the seafood goodness. It was the best Sopa de Mariscos I have had on any trip to Mexico in fact.

We were thankful to find this gem at the Nuevo Vallarta marina. I recommend to anyone staying at any of the beautiful but food challenged NV resorts to check this one out.

We left the Grand Mayan and extended our vacation for a few days at the Four Seasons in Punta Mita, which was beyond our expectations and an entirely different trip report... an incredible resort with spectacular food and service. It turned out to be a great vacation after all!

 
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  1. I stayed at the Grand Mayan in the MexRiv, south of Cancun, last month. Same deal: $25 buffet that seems to go all day. I went once for breakfast, and saw the same parade of time share salespeople with their prospects in tow. And bacon was a special order! Thereafter I commuted (only 12 kilometers) to Playa del Carmen for almost all my meals. Huge complex; way too gladiator scale for me. Difficult to get in and out and around. I had a car, and the puny parking lot by my building was always full by early evening, so I had to drive to the main reception area every night to valet the car and walk hundreds of meters back to my building. And only one day in 8 did the concierge in my building have a morning newspaper for me. The 3-room suite was beautiful and spacious with marble everywhere, my own little pool on my terrace, etc, but not even a water view. My view was a construction site of their next phase, and the appurtenent morning construction noise There were some pleasant aspects, but for almost 2 grand a night? Gong.

    1. It's too bad you didn't ask for help on the board. There are a number of other restaurants in the area and relatively close that would have been good additions to 8 Tostados.

      4 Replies
      1. re: mexivilla

        I AM asking for help-I will be staying at the Grand Mayan Nueva Vallarta in April and I don't want to eat expensive and bland food. Does anyone have any suggestions?

        1. re: erago

          I assume you don't want to go all the way into PV. In Nuevo Vallarta ther are a few good alternative restaurants. For steak La Portena, for seafood (in addition to 8 Tostados) La Laguna both of these are on the main road from the highway. On the beach a French restaurant-Bernardo's. There's also a Fahita Republic that's very busy.
          A short taxi ride away in Bucerias there is Mark's Bar and Grill, a number on the beach including Karen's Place, Adauto (most recommended) and Mezzogiorno (upscale Italian).
          And a little further away in La Cruz-Frascati.
          Take a look at http://www.vallartaonline.com/restaur... for more information.

          1. re: mexivilla

            thank you so much for the advice-i really appreciate it

        2. re: mexivilla

          I never dreamed that I would need help with food recommendations as we lived in Cancun in the early 1980's wayyyyy before it turned into a Miami Spring Break bad dream... and I know my way around Mexican food.

          I did a few searches before the trip but assumed that because I had a broken leg and was hobbling on crutches we would just stay on resort grounds. For the first time ever we planned to stay put.

          After a couple of days I finally caved and paid the twenty dollars for a half hour of internet but spent it trying to find another resort to move to... in the meantime we found Ocho 8 and it kept us happy until our week was over and we could move to Punta Mita.

          Grand Mayan was such a magnificent resort... and our condo was superb... but we are all about the food! Nothing like a cold Modelo and a bowl of freshly prepared ceviche with some totopos right out of the fryer... a shot of Buffalo hot sauce... good eats!

          I am happy that those of you who know the area posted a few additional local eateries as I am sure there are many who love to eat who will be very unhappy at the these mega resorts.

        3. Are the prices you mention in your post in US dollars, or in Mexican pesos? If the prices are in dollars, you were ripped off in a major way. Mexivilla is right: you should have asked here before making your choice.

          Link: http://www.mexicocooks.typepad.com

          1 Reply
          1. re: cristina

            All of their resorts are cookie-cutter in theme, architecture, and on-premises F&B. These prices are dollars, not pesos. I would describe it as SoCal plus 20%.

          2. I just returned from the Grand Mayan in Acapulco yesterday. The food program there leaves much to be desired. In PV, there was a stand called Taco Break (or something similar) at the entrance ot the resort which served serviceable tacos at a reasonable price. Other than that, I head to the grocery store and prepare most all of my meals in the kitchen in the apartment there.

            When I stayed in the Grand Mayan in PV, I took a cab downtown several times, as there were a number of good dining choices in PV.

            I noticed that The Grupo Mayan has teamed with Rick Tramonto to open a steak and seafood restaurant at several of their facilities. While this isn't particularly interesting to me, maybe they are trying to upgrade their food service. Our only meal at the Grand Mayan in Acapulco was a brunch on Sunday to kill time between checkout and our trip to the airport. It was $90 (US) for the three of us.