Fancy yourself as a bit of a gourmand—Puerto Vallarta is second only to Mexico City as the country’s food mecca—from taco stands and beach vendors selling shrimp and fish on sticks to glamorous gourmet restaurants tucked in the hills with expansive views of the Bay of Banderas. Your only problem will be that you can’t possibly enjoy all of the city’s fine restaurants in one visit. So you’ll just have to come back. The leading restaurateurs of Puerto Vallarta and Nayarit host a ten-day culinary extravaganza in the middle of November every year called the International Gourmet Festival. Award-winning chefs from around the world join forces with local gastronomic gurus to demonstrate and create gourmet masterpieces. Gala dinners, cooking schools, wine and tequila tastings are all part of the epicurean fun.
You’ll find lots of restaurant reviews in the free local papers and magazines but here are a few recommendations to get you started on your epicurean escapades:
Join the locals and ex-pats at Puerto Vallarta’s ever-growing Saturday Farmers’ Markets. The Paradise Community Center, just steps from the beach in the Romantic Zone sells all kinds of goodies including freshly baked breads and pastries, granola, salsas, moles, savoury and sweet pies. There are also vendors selling inexpensive Thai and Indian dishes, plus burgers.
The Saturday Farmer’s Market continues just a few blocks away around Pino Suarez (between B. Badillo and V. Carranza). Memo’s Pancake House, a boisterous eatery on Basilio Badillo has become a Vallarta breakfast institution for both tourists and locals alike. A long-time favourite on the beach strip known as Olas Altas (high waves), Daiquiri Dick’s serves a combination of Mediterranean, Mexican and Asian dishes.
Cafe El Repollo Rojo (The Red Cabbage Cafe), an off-the-beaten path bohemian hideaway on the River Cuale specializes in classic Mexican fare, such as peanut soup, mole from Pueblo and chilies en nogada that were served at the wedding feast of flamboyant Mexican artists Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera. Archie was John Huston’s personal chef when the director of The Night of the Iguana lived in Puerto Vallarta. In 1986 Archie opened his restaurant, Archie’s Wok, just steps from the Los Muertos Beach. Archie has passed away but his family continues to run this much-loved establishment serving Asian-inspired cuisine.