My husband and I stayed in Sayulita for a week and made a one-day trip to San Pancho in December of 2012.
In San Pancho:
Baja Takeria (spelling is correct) - great fish tacos, either fried or grilled. Friendly staff too.
Bistro Organico in the Hotel Cielo Rojo - fantastic dinner, unique, delicious, great ambience, friendly staff, great cocktails.
El Itacata - try the hibiscus flower quesadillas, the chicken with raja tacos, the mahi mahi tacos, the shrimp tacos, simple but delicious
Sayulita Cafe - we had pollo mole (the best negro mole I've EVER had and we've had moles in Oaxaca), the arrecherda (a kind of steak entree), the red snapper (whole fried), and the chili rellenos, all excellent, large portions, potent margaritas
Panino's - less than a block from the beach, excellent coffee and good pastries and breakfast sandwiches. Don't bother with other places for coffee if you are a coffee snob like we are, nothing even comes close.
Mariscos Purillo's - on Revolucion before the bridge as you're coming in to town; great ceviche, grilled shrimp tacos & mahi mahi tacos are superb
I know this thread is fairly old but I wanted to add to the list. In San Pancho: Baja Taqueria - Small menu but everything is excellent. Owners are great and tacos are sublime. Casa Emillia (Spelling?) We had breakfast there twice and it was one of the better breakfasts I've ever had. Eggs Benedict with asparagus and caviar was so delicious. La Palama (beach restaurant) has great margaritas and guacamole. I have to say that Ola Rica and Maria's are two of my least favorite restaurants in San Pancho. Both times we have been to Ola rica the food has been overcooked and uninspired (think dry salmon/tilapia with white rice) Although, Maria's does make a nice coconut margarita. In Lo De Marcos - try Luna. Italian. Great crepes and pizza.
I'd like to add the Blue Pig in San Pancho. The owner and chef is the brother of a friend of mine who lives in San Pancho. I met l Greg, the owner, last Sept when I was there visiting my friend.
It's a barbeque place - barbecued ribs and chicken, pulled pork and pulled chicken sandwiches, and the Blue Pig Special, a cheeseburger with cheddar and blue cheese, along with side orders and all the libations you could possibly desire. On weekends they have live music.
I checked out the reviews on line since I haven't eaten there and the posts rave about the place. Check it out.
Definitely recommend the following:
Bistro Organico is in the small and friendly Hotel Cielo Rojo -indoor/outdoor patio seating..NOT off the street, very quiet, private and pleasant. Open all day long - with the best breakfast, lunch and dinner menus you can find in ONE place. Seafood and veggies (no meat dishes)- elegant but NOT pricey nor too upscale. Dinner starts from $7 appetizers to the most pricey main dish at $18. Put this one on your list for sure! ....from the food, ambience, specialty tequila, homemade everything ! (bread, scones, yoghurt, alfafa sprouts, desserts, even the wheat crackers/tortillas are all made by the staff in their kitchen). The promotions claim "food made with love" and definitely tastes like it is....you can find them on a side street off the main road of this little town - 4 blocks before hitting the ocean.
other town options:
Los Milagros - traditional mexican dishes (i hear the mole is great)
Los Delfines - a favorite off the street (taco stand - that now sells shrimp/fish tacos!)
Have fun discovering the delicous options in San Pancho !!!!
I'll third Bistro Organico at the Hotel Cielo Rojo! We went there for dinner in December 2012 and it was excellent. Beautiful spot, very friendly staff, creative and delicious cocktails, and food was amazing. A MUST as far as we're concerned. Breakfast menu looked equally tasty and unique.
This is Mexican Food. If you have ever eaten at the Cafe Taxco in Mexico City and knew that you had just had an authentic meal made as someone's mother made than you should definitely eat at La Fiesta when in Sayulita. We enjoyed ourselves listening to a true Cantador-if you love food and song this is a blast from the families of Mexico. Thank you for such a great meal.
Owners: Familia Perez
Mexico Telephone: 011-52-329-291-3042 and 3109
Address: (Map) Ave Revolucion #10
Email: La Fiesta
"La Fiesta is a family-owned and family run restaurant in Sayulita, Nayarit, Mexico. Opened in 2003 by highly respected Sayulita local, Vicente Perez, La Fiesta has catered to both locals and tourists by providing an excellent atmosphere in which to enjoy excellent food brought to you with excellent service. In other words, La Fiesta in an excellent all around restaurant in Sayulita Mexico.
Without a doubt, the gigante "giant" shrimp plate and carne asada "grilled beef" platters are two of the best dishes in town. The shrimp are the biggest in town and are flayed down the middle and cooked in your choice of a variety of authentic methods.
The restaurant is located just south of the bridge on the right-hand side of the road as you enter "downtown" Sayulita. Colorful lights decorate the front of the building and menus are presented in stands, just off of the sidewalk. A small gift/souvenir shop with hats and t-shirts is located just inside the building.
Since Sr. Perez (pictured) has been a lifelong musician, La Fiesta restaurant was built with acoustics in mind and the stage in the center. If you are fortunate enough, you may even get the pleasure of listing to Vicente sing and play the guitar. Usually his incredibly talented daughter will sing a few songs as well. Plus, you never know who else may show up for a song or too. Feel free to bring your guitar."
A Bicyclette in Sayulita is a great splurge. I am a vegetarian and I have been there twice for dinner, both times having the warm goat cheese salad (yummm...) followed by the vegetable charlotte (yummm...). They make their own bread daily and I also think they have live music some evenings. Another good splurge is Don Pedros- they have a really great grilled vegetable plate as a vegetarian entree. Their breakfasts were also quite good- I recall enjoying the cornmeal-banana pancakes. Sayulita Cafe does have really good chiles rellenos, but a combination of MASSIVE portion sizes and so-yummy-I-couldn't-stop eating food meant that I left feeling a bit ill. I was really partial to Chocobanana for both breakfasts and chocolate-dipped frozen bananas, but it's very American, so not a top spot for people looking for authentic Mexican cuisine. I had an amazing salad at Tierra Viva, and El Iguana Azul is a good stop for breakfasts and lunches (especially with kids, as the restaurant backs onto an iguana sanctuary and you can go outside to get up close and personal with iguanas). My only real thumbs down would be Calypso (grossly overpriced when you consider the quality relative to other Sayulita fine dining spots), Burrito Revolution (famous for the bad hygiene of the cook- see for yourself as he prepares your burrito) and Bre@kfast.net or whatever that cafe by Luna Azul surf shop is called (absolutely disgusting breakfasts). Oh, I also had a couple lunches at Sayulita Fish Taco, and although I usually don't eat meat (and therefore can't compare it other fish taco places) I was glad I temporarily crossed over to the dark side as their fish tacos are lovely.
Hola, most of the restaurants recommended are great, but pretty upscale. If you are interested in local food in Sayulita, try Taco Cheos at the Av. Revoluccion bridge-- one of the few places for good veggie taco/burros if you don't do meat--- Everywhere else will make you a cheese quesadilla ---Crusty Crab is to the right of the bridge and the end of the row of counters, has tortillas made by hand and smoked chicken that is much loved. Tacos Ivan is the best Pastor in town and is on the right hand side of the road into the zocalo just across from the Telcel shop. They set up on the street at 6ish closed on Wednesdays. buen provecho!
In case you haven't come across it there's lots of information on Sayulita at
You probably know that Cafe des Artistes is in Punta de Mita. It's very good but as expensive as its sister in Puerto Vallarta. It's especially incongruous since it's next to the very inexpensive beach restaurants.
I have a ton of entries for Sayulita and a few for San Pancho [San Francisco] in my dining guide but have my copies out right now in PV. It is online though, cafepress
I edit and update at least 4 times a year in order to keep all info current. I am heading up to Rincon de G. in a few weeks as that is a growing community with quite a few good places to eat.
If you have the time and a car, take the time to go about 30 minutes north of San Francisco (San Pancho) to the Playas Chacala. The tourist infrastructure is less sophisticated than Sayulita or SF (but there are tourists and ex-pats with some serious homes in the area). The distance from more established places means the food served under the palm thatched restaurants on the beautiful, crescent-shaped beach reflects the genius of simple, Nayarit seafood. They do some amazing things with shrimp and whole fried fish. The ceviche is great too. I had an unusual seafood stew with fruit, served in a hollowed-out pineapple. At the north end of the beach is a tiny harbor where fishermen in pangas return with the day’s fresh catch. Hard to beat.
The local cheeses in the village of La Peñita (if I recall correctly) are great. La Peñita is on the way to Chacala.
I don’t recall the names of the beach front restaurants. They may not have any signs but if you want an eating adventure with authentic food, Chacala is a good place to spend an afternoon.
Just returned from San Pancho. Given the size of this little town, the food is amazing. No doubt due in part to the ex-pat population. The nicer places seem to cater to tourists and the foreigners who have homes there, but are definitely of high quality. We have enjoyed La Ola Rica which is probably the most popular. Cafe del Mar has great spring rolls and a delicious shrimp curry dish. We've been twice over several years and not been disappointed. San Pancho Cafe - recommend trying the chile rellenos con queso! They have steak, fish and bbq on the menu too - sit upstairs. Nopalito for the incredible breakfast crepes and fresh fruit drinks. You can watch it all being made by the lovely women working at this tiny place with counter stools. My husband had a crepe with eggs and mole sauce that was delicious. Cielito Rojo - the best dish we had was the fresh shrimp, grilled and skewered - with heads and shells on and served on top of the sweetest, juiciest grilled pineapple. Superb.