Where to eat in Puerto Vallarta

Puerto Vallarta has every class of food imaginable, from dirt cheap to Chicago expensive.  And, to be quite honest, we didn’t have a single bad meal the entire month we stayed in Puerto Vallarta.  So, where should you eat?

First, you have to try some tacos.  They seem to be the most popular dish in town and are cheap too — generally around 15 pesos (about 75 cents) a taco — although perhaps I should say cheap for us because the locals consider 15 pesos to be expensive for a taco.  I never knew I liked tacos until I had tacos in Puerto Vallarta….

There are two very important things to know about tacos in Puerto Vallarta.  First, the most famous tacos are “tacos al pastor.”  Basically, the chef takes slices of pork, stacks them on a vertical spit, and then slowly cooks them as they spin around next to a nice hot fire.  When the pork is done, the chef slices small pieces off the spit and puts them on a tortilla or two.  Voila!  An al pastor taco.  If you are familiar with schwarma, same concept, very different protein.

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Slicing the al pastor.

Second, if you are like me and think onion and cilantro are the perfect way to ruin an otherwise perfectly good taco (or, quite honestly, a way to ruin anything and everything), you need to learn this phrase:  “sin nada.”  Translated literally, it would mean “without nothing,” but colloquially it means you want your tacos plain.  “Con todo” on the other hand, means you want them with everything the kitchen normally puts on them (usually the dreaded onions and cilantro).  Every taco joint will have salsas, lime, and maybe some cucumbers and radish to add as you like.

Now, where should you eat them?

In spite of being annoyed at standing in line for 20 minutes (during low season no less) and then being seated very close to the very, very hot spit, Panchos Takos had absolutely the best al pastor tacos we had.  They were so good, we ate there three times.  But, when it comes to the beef tacos and the chicken tacos . . . no bueno!  So, eat the al pastor and skip everything else.  Make sure you try a glass of their hibiscus aqua fresca (agua de Jamaica) if they are pouring it, as it goes amazingly well with the tacos on a hot night.

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Al pastor tacos sin nada at Pancho’s Takos.  The white bits are pineapple.

If you prefer to eat your al pastor tacos at a street stand, then head to Taqueria Hormiga right near Farmacia Guadalajara in the Romantic Zone.  It is just a small little stand on the side of the road with some plastic chairs, but the al pastor tacos were excellent.  They are only open at night so we didn’t manage to get any decent photos, but they have a big awning with their name on it so you can’t miss it.

If you are looking for chicken tacos, try Sonorita.  No line, no wait, and cheap prices.    Sonorita had, by far, the best chicken tacos that we tried in Puerto Vallarta.  I actually really liked the al pastor tacos too, but mainly because they didn’t have any fat on them.  Robert did not like them nearly as much as I did.

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Al pastor taco at Sonorita.  Nice and plain, just the way I like it.

If you just want the best all around experience, try Tacos Revolucion.  All of their tacos were rock solid (and they even had decent wine!), but nothing stood out as phenomenal.

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Chicken breast, al pastor, and adobada (like al pastor, but not grilled on a spit) tacos at Tacos Revolucion.  Condiments were available, but these were amazingly flavorful without any extras.  A little lime, a little cucumber, and they were perfect.

Don’t worry, we didn’t eat only tacos while we were in town.  If you know anything about us, you know we had pizza.  You have at least two good choices for pizza in Puerto Vallarta.

The absolute, hands down best, is found at Los Muertos Brewing.  I’m going to tell you, this pizza was the bomb.  I’m pretty sure it will be in my top 5 pizza’s of the year.  We went four times during our visit and always got pizza with bacon and basil and sometimes with garlic.  Plus, they had craft beer for Robert.

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We never managed to get a photo of the pizza at Los Muertos.  Some nights, we dug in too fast.  Other nights, it was just too dark.  But the logo is pretty cool, no?

If you want more of a date night feel than a pizza night feel (with corresponding prices), try Florio.  This place specializes in both Italian and Argentinian food, which is the perfect combination for the two of us — I get pizza and Robert can have something completely different.  The pizza was delicious.

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The absolutely delicious pizza at Florio covered in yummy porky goodness.

If you just want a snack, you have to try the tamale lady.  She is just up the street from Iglesias Santa Cruz.  Look for a small table in the middle of the block below a sign taped to a wall that says “Amigas y cafe.”  She opens every night at 6 pm and her chicken tamales and her pork tamales are out of this world.  A word of caution though — she sells out early so get there promptly if you want some of the best tamales you will ever have.

Finally, if you want a romantic date night, we would suggest one of two places.  Vitea has solid Mediterranean food in a beautiful ocean-front setting with attentive service.  I will say, the view kind of made the place (even though we were there on a rainy night), but you also pay a pretty penny — at least for Mexico — for that view.  They have a cheese plate which always makes Robert happy.

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The cheese plate at Vitea.  Robert would return just for more cheese.  I would return for the beautiful views.

Alternatively, try Joe Jack’s.  Not cheap, but everything we ate was delicious.  They have lots of fish options plus sufficient non-fish options for those that don’t like fish.  Amazingly, they had some of the best green papaya salad we have ever had.  And, the desserts were pretty good too.

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Candied bacon, Mexican wedding cakes, and butterscotch budino at Joe Jack’s.

Speaking of dessert….  Walk yourself over to La Romantica. OMG!  The most amazing churros ever.  We tried one with Nutella and Oreos, but the classic dipped in caramel sauce was the one of the best things ever.  I’m just relieved we found this place near the end of our time in PV, or I would have gained 15 pounds.  A lot more expensive than the churro stands on the street, but well worth the price.

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Churros and caramel at La Romantica.

Bottom line, you won’t go hungry in Puerto Vallarta….and you probably will gain weight.

About theschneiduks

Lisa has a degree in biology and another in law and has spent the last 20 years working as a patent litigator. She is a voracious reader of young adult dystopian fiction and watches far too much bad tv. She loves pretty much anything to do with zombies, and doesn’t think there is anything weird about setting an alarm at 6 am on a weekend to stumble to a pub to watch her beloved Chelsea boys. Robert has had many professions, including a chef, a salesman, an IT guy and most recently, a stay at home dog dad. He speaks Italian and hopes to learn Spanish on this trip. He loves nothing more than a day spent sailing, hopes to do more scuba diving, and rues the day he introduced Lisa to football (i.e., soccer).
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