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Sep 27, 2009 04:42 PM

Hey, CT: Let's talk about WHAT YOU'VE LIKED at Puerto Vallarta!

Let's talk about what you've found to be really good, better than average, quite tasty at Puerto Vallarta! I know of many other restaurants that serve Mexican and/or Tex-Mex. Here I'd like to focus on what works at PV. It's not my intention to start a discussion about authenticity, just what tastes good.

I've not been to all their locations (never been to Southington or Avon, but used to go to their Newington location on the pike with some regularity for a bite and a drink after work on Fridays). My local one is in downtown Middletown in the same plaza where Destinta (the movie theater) is.

Today, being a rainy day, I had planned to get tortilla soup for lunch, but instead noticed with interest "Albondigas Soup – A delicious Mexican soup made with fresh minted pork meatballs and seasonal vegetables in clear broth" (this according to their menu). I read right over the clear broth part and didn't care that, in fact, what arrived at the table was a thick tomato-based broth loaded with broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, yellow squash and zucchini. It was a very hearty portion of soup with three good-sized meatballs, and minced cilantro and onions on the side. I had asked if they could please include avocado in my soup, which they did. WOW, what a delicious meal--ALL IN ONE BIG BOWL. The meatballs were EXCELLENT! I couldn't taste the mint (nor did I see mint in them); however, they did include some rice and were moist and flavorful. It was very filling!

From the lunch specials menu, my partner had Carnitas de Res--steak with peppers and onions served with rice and beans, guac and tortillas. I had a bite and found it to be a very nice blend of flavors, though the meat was not terribly tender. We both thought it was good and he was pleased with his meal. But my takeaway from today's meal was THAT ALBONDIGAS SOUP. It makes me want to experiment in my home kitchen and try to make something just as tasty. I even have mint!

Oh, I had a Puerto Vallarta Cosmolita with Gran Centenario Plata, Grand Marnier, fresh lime juice and cranberry juice. Defintely packed a punch and was generous with the alcohol.

They are happy to share their special mushroom habanero salsa by special request. I took a break from the firing squad, having eaten a large chunk of chipotle pepper yesterday (against my better judgment); however, if you're a heat seeker, ask for their mushroom salsa. It ain't for sissies! ;) I like their regular salsa with cilantro and fresh onion just fine, but it's fun to play with fire sometimes.

Also, one of my tried and true favorites here is their "Popeye approved" (their words, not mine!) Enchiladas Rio Bravo, filled with spinach and shrooms, so delicious. I could deal with less sour cream on the top, but usually just scrape it off and put it to the side. Come to think of it, I'm sure they'd use less if only I asked.

Service here is friendly and efficient--always has been, in my experience, regardless of when or where. And, as their menu is quite substantial, I'm sure there are other tasty treasures to be found and discussed. So, now it's your turn...tell us what you've liked at PV!

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  1. Did the menu perhaps read or mean freshly-minted in the sense that they were freshly made? I'm not that familiar with Mexican cuisine but is mint a common flavor addition? Just asking.

    2 Replies
    1. re: philbkr

      HA HA HA! That's a good question. You never know. Certainly, mint is not a common flavor addition. Cilantro would be more like it. Maybe it's one of those "lost in translation" moments. In any case, if you get there, try the soup. Good stuff, mint or not! ;)

      Edit: I've researched recipes for this soup since I posted and found that mint is, in fact, an authentic ingredient. So, yes, they were freshly-minted, but also included mint. Perhaps the other flavors were so strong, they overtook the mint.

      1. re: kattyeyes

        Thanks for the Albondigas soup recommendation, katty. I had less than an hour for dinner today between rehearsal sessions and IR was closed, so I got the soup at PV as a take out. LARGE meatballs and many veggies in a quart container with sides of mint,onion plus chips and salsa. Carried me through the evening in fine style.

    2. Sounds like the food is much better than the West Hartford location. Maybe that's why they closed it. The Rio Bravo was the only thing worth ordering.

      1. I want to talk "authentic"! The Mexican owner calls their places a "Mexican restaurant".
        I'd call it Tex-Mex or AM-Mex, but very good Am-Mex. A little stretch for "authentic", but I like the food a lot!

        3 Replies
        1. re: Scargod

          So tell us what you especially liked there (I couldn't hear the rest of what you were typing). ;)

          1. re: kattyeyes

            I enjoyed the pulled beef enchilada, tamales and chile relleno. I thought the atmosphere was nice and the service very good.
            It is time to go back for a closer look at the menu! Also need to check for consistency and see if I can get any more of these yummy roasted serranos... One try is not definitive.

            1. re: Scargod

              Don't hate me--I had a tamale tonight at PV and didn't care for it much. I'll stick with Iguanas Ranas on Main St., Middletown from now on when I crava a tamale. Theirs are far superior--and are filled with much more meat than masa! I had a chile relleno, also, but haven't had enough of them to have an opinion one way or the other. It was tasty enough for me!

              The "rancho" (no cholesterol) beans with queso fresco were very satisfying. I like them better than refrieds. And apparently, they're good for me!

        2. I go often to the Avon location and enjoy their Chicken Mole Acapulco and their Chile Verde. They also do a nice tableside Guac preparation. I agree with Scargod that it's more Tex Mex than auathentic Mexican but I've generally had goods meals there.

          1. My family loved that place before they closed the W.H. CT location. I particularly liked the chili re llanos. The kids liked the children's menu. Now we go to a better Mex place on Farmington Ave (although it's really small and parking is dicey, the food is AWSOME!). Much better than Puerto Vallarta.

            3 Replies
            1. re: stuck in Hartford County

              You must be talking Monte Alban Restaurant. Whether or not it is please share, don't tease us!

              1. re: Scargod

                Yup, Monte Alban. Sorry, I just couldn't remember the name, even though we go quite regularly. The food is wonderful and reasonably priced. I get the rellanos with sides of rice (not sure about the mixed veggies in there...), refried beans and some kind of terrific, sweet corn cake mound. I'm not lucky with on-street parking, though, and the abandoned lot across the street is creepy-no home for a Volvo wagon. I love the restaurants in the West End (of Hartford)-there are several to choose from. although this is our favorite.

                1. re: stuck in Hartford County

                  HA HA, I love Monte Alban, too, and would pick it any day of the week over PV, except it's not close to home.

                  The terrific, sweet corn cake mound is just that--sweet corn cake. If you like it, here's a link to a recipe for it on Home Cooking:

                  Not to be immodest, I like my sweet corn cake even better than Monte Alban's! But they are the only restaurant around here I know that even makes them, so I am happy to see them on my plate when I go.