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Feb 2, 2009 01:20 PM

Best values/spots in Puerto Vallarta???

Hi 'hounds,
Headed south for a week in PV, staying in the marina area. Please suggest the best food for the peso as value & authenticity are key. Top-of-the line recs are welcomed (for one dinner splurge) but really want the best "bang for the buck/"peso. All cuisines are welcome, particularly spots/taco stands that aren't on the Zagat radar. Thanks much for your help!

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  1. For starters, there's a spot at the West end of the Marina (it's a horseshoe shaped marina) that has a fairly simple menu (primarily shrimp and fish in 3 preparations, fried, sauteed in garlic and with hot sauce). Last time I was there it was about $10, including chips/salsa, a couple shots of rotgut tequila and a simple dessert. There's a touristy shrimp place in town that costs 2 or 3 times as much for the entree alone and is godawful.

    If you're in the mood for a stroll, then walk north along the beach past the airport (about 15 minutes north of the hotels at the marina). There are some open-air "restaurants" that serve ice-cold beer and whatever fish/seafood options they have on hand. It's pretty much the only time you'll be able to forget you're in a tourist haven (well out of sight of the hotels and condos). No ambience to speak of save for some cheap plastic furniture, an umbrella or two and the Pacific.

    13 Replies
    1. re: ferret

      Sounds like you're suggesting schaff1 walk up to Boca de Tomates. At a minimum it's a long beach walk and I would suggest that he looks at Google Earth to see what route he would take because it's not obvious. I don't recognize a shrimp place at the west end of the marina but there are several at the east end. At the west end the best relatively inexpensive place is Victor's and in the marina for a one night splurge there is Tikul.
      But for taco stands except for a couple on the outside of the marina you have to head into Puerto Vallarta.

      1. re: mexivilla

        It's not that long a walk -- and quite pleasant. As far as not being obvious, just walk to the Ocean, turn right and continue along the shore past the airport (chain link fence -- you'll know it when you see it). As far as the shrimp place in teh Marina, I stand corrected, it's at the East end. I agree that Tikul is very good (far better than it's sibling Vista Grill), but for a memorable meal you can't beat the River Cafe.

        1. re: mexivilla

          Thanks for your post, mexivilla. We will be in PV as well as around the marina, so any recs are helpful. How is Tikul & Barcelona tapas?
          Thanks much for your help.

          1. re: schaf1

            As I mentioned Tikul is very good and probably the best restaurant in the Marina (I haven't visited all the restaurants in the Marina).

            1. re: ferret

              Thanks. Where is the River Cafe? What type of food is served? Expensive? Have you been to Barcelona tapas?

              1. re: schaf1

                River Cafe is along the river (duh) downtown.


                It falls into the Tikul/Trio range for me. Depending on the night it meets or beats those places. The Vista Grill which is a sibling to Tikul has a spectacular view of town, but doesn't quite hit the mark on food (very expensive for the quality).

                I've never had a bad meal at Tikul, Trio or River Cafe. Can't say as much for Cafe des Artistes, where I've had great meals and meals that were nowhere near memorable - it's dropped off my list.

                And whatever you do, avoid Blue Shrimp like the plague. It's a crappy tourist trap.

                1. re: ferret

                  Ferret, you seem to be a wealth of information!! Can you also recommend places in Bucarias. I am going to PV (Grand Mayan Nuevo Vallarta) in a few weeks and are thinking probably wont make the trip to PV proper more than once or two. Was hoping to find some better options closer to the hotel (I refuse to eat on the property). Looking for all options from taco stand to casual sit down place to nicer restaurants. Thanks!

                  1. re: ESNY

                    Sorry, made it to Nuevo exactly once. Nice enough in a get-away-from-it-all way, but too out of it for me.

                    1. re: ESNY

                      In Nuevo Vallarta near Mayan Palace 8 Tostados-seafood tacos, on road from highway La Portena-steak, La Laguna-seafood.
                      In Bucerias on south side Adriatico, Mark's ( not my favorite but popular), Karens Place on beach.
                      On north side many casual restaurants on beach road, most popular Aduatos and more stylish Mezzogiorno-Italian.

                      1. re: ESNY

                        We typically stay in Nuevo and eat as many meals as possible in Bucerias. I have 2 favorites. Claudio's Meson Bay is a palapa on the beach and has incredible seafood... their salsa verde is the best I've ever had. It is near the footbridge in Bucerias. In the town square, I recommend Miguel Angel Restaurant. Everything is incredibly fresh and service is second to none.

                        1. re: kmallett78

                          ERNESTO'S GOOD GRUB has opened its second restaurant, in Nuevo. I would strongly recommend it. I discovered that unless you plan to eat more than 2 racks of baby back ribs, you don't have to wait for all-you-can-eat night (Thursdays on Francisco Villa Versailles); the pricing is actually not worth only going on that night. Ernesto's has wonderful food otherwise too, and an atmosphere all its own, except you can find parties of 35 eating baby backs speaking French or English.

                          Barcelona Tapas is great fun and the food is really good. Boca Bento moved from downtown to Mismaloya, so it's quite a haul and probably not worth it unless you want to investigate Mismaloya.

                          I also recommend 100% Natural directly across from the Sheraton. Open all day til 10pm or so. Their Mamut Vikingo sandwich is incredible, with a huge amount of fresh (seriously) grilled salmon (not smoked; none of the menus items of salmon are smoked). They have incredible juices and make agua de sandia (watermelon juice) by the pitcher. In fact, if you order that and the Vikingo, they will assume you are related to me. :)

                          Of course, Pepe's Tacos (do not confuse with restaurant Pipi's) is great for tacos al pastor. It's on the north end of downtown, after the Sheraton, across from the Pemex station. They are now open every day, from 1pm on.

                          Another really good restaurant is El Barracuda. It is directly on the beach, on the street which is the south boundary of the Hotel Buenaventura, again, in the same area as Pepe's etc. Opens at 1:30 for lunch, and has amazing Ceviche Peruana, and shrimp al pastor tacos, but everything is good. Their prices do not exceed 10USD for anything at dinner. (The exchange rate if you use an ATM is currently around 14.5, which is amazing.)

                          La Lorraine has survived, expanded, and moved. It used to be 3 tables, on a street off the Malecon. Now it's about 12 tables, a rooftop thing planned, and it's in Amapas, at the corner of Amapas and Pilitas, not to be confused with the street before it, which looks like Polpot street. :) Walk down Olas Altas to Pilitas and turn right.

                          Talento has closed. No more chocolate wontons.

                          Lots of places have gone non-smoking completely. Including, Saints preserve us, Emperor Maximilian on Olas Altas, which was completely unbearable in years past. Also, Pollo Feliz chicken joints are now smoke-free.

                          Have a great time!

                2. re: schaf1

                  Tikul is an excellent restaurant. (As has been mentioned elsewhere the only drawback is their saxaphone player.)
                  Barcelona Tapas is an interesting place with a great view however portion sizes are a lot larger than Spanish tapas. You have probably also read that its big problem is that it can only be reached at the top of 70 steps.

                  1. re: mexivilla

                    Thanks for the info on Barcelonas tapas. We'll just order less! Any other places you like "in town"? Local joints or taco stands?
                    thanks much

            2. I used to live in PV many years ago. You can't miss going downtown around "siesta" time (late afternoon) and get some "elote" (ears of corn) from a street vendor, slather on the mayo and powdered cheese and lime (and chili if you can take the heat) and wander around watching the sunset from the zocalo.

              PS. I practically lived at at little juice bar called Tuti Fruti for their incredible fruit "aguas" and chicken tortas. It's kind of off the beaten path behind the main drag in downtown (if it's still there--you can ask a cab driver) but very popular w/ locals, fresh fruits, amazing breads and inexpensive (back in the day I got a huge "agua de mango" with a side car for 65 cents! yes a few years ago...).

              1. Thanks much to all the hounds who made recs for chow in PV. We had a great time & great chow! Thanks again!