I spent the last month in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. Although there were plenty of things to do, and plenty of places to relax on a beach – the food is something you must not look past in this charming city. Because we spent an entire month here, we were very conscious of spending money so that we could be able to indulge in new cultural dishes as much as possible. Puerto Vallarta’s food scene is great, and extremely cheap for one not to take advantage.
I’ve rounded up the best places + dishes to try, if you ever get a chance to visit this remarkable city.
1. Birria: If you come to Puerto Vallarta and don’t at least try Birria once, you are messing up. Birria is something that Mexicans eat almost every day for breakfast/lunch. It’s goat or beef that is cooked in a spicy stew for hours on end. They serve you the meat on crispy tortillas and then you get a cup of stew on the side to drink as a soup. The soup is called consome, and it’s best known to cure hangovers. Most birria can be found at street vendor stands. Getting these cost you a total of $100 pesos for 2 people, that’s a $5 breakfast. Our favorite stand was on Calle Constitucion + Venustiano Carranza. TIP: Go on a weekday before 2PM (closing time), and order “Birria Dorado” which means the Crispy kind. ($)
2. Barracuda: Barracuda is a great spot to go for dinner if you want to enjoy a nice seafood dinner on the beach. This place has great cocktails and very fresh seafood cooked in very unique ways. Go around 6 or 7PM to watch the sunset. If I can say anything about this place, the Cheese Chicharron is to die for (a quesadilla that uses fried cheese on the outside instead of a tortilla). ($$$)
3. El Solar: El Solar is located right next to Barracuda. Also located on the beach, El Solar is a very “hip” bar with great music that lots of locals go to. Their blue tiled wallpaper is definitely worth a photo-op. Since it is also owned by the same people as Barracuda, you can order some of the same dishes off of Barracuda’s menu next door. ($)
4. Pepe’s or Pancho’s: I have to put these both on the same line because it is so hard to choose, and I love them both too much to discriminate. Pepe’s and Pancho’s are some of the best tacos we had in Puerto Vallarta, better yet some of the best tacos I’ve ever had… ever. The layered pork that is cooked over a charcoal pit is something America needs more of. Get the El Pastor tacos always, and definitely make sure to try a Volcan taco – which is a crispy tortilla topped with cheese, and then topped with a slab of that juicy pastor.
Pepe’s is located in El Centro downtown, and Pancho’s is located in the Zona Romantica. Both open late night for your drunken pleasures. ($)
5. Los Muertos Brewing Company: Los Muertos Brewing is a spot for Pizza and Beer, and english speaking waiters. They very much cater to Americans, and always have any professional sport game you’d like showing on their TV’s. The pizza is great and the beer they make there is very tasty. ($$)
6. Polos: Polos was recommended to us by a local, as he said it was his favorite place for seafood. Polo’s is in the Zona Romantica and serves up fresh seafood in a very home-y environment. The Red Snapper (Puerto Vallarta’s specialty) stuffed with cheese was pretty mind-blowing, as I’d never seen someone stuff fish with cheese and make it taste so good! Also worth ordering was the coconut shrimp – definitely ain’t no American coconut shrimp. Be careful, each plate is very filling. ($$)
7. Barcelona Tapas: Barcelona Tapas is located at the top of the hill, perfectly located to watch the sunset at night. We came here on our first night for small plates and our last night for dessert (we ate too many small plates the first time to have room for dessert). Barcelona Tapas has excellent Spanish tapas for sharing, or very large plates of paella if you were to come with a group. The waiters are very accommodating, especially our favorite – Juan. ($$$)
8. Fish / Shrimp on a Stick: You’ll notice lots of people walking the beach with shrimp and fish on a stick. Get it. Very flavorful and super cheap. Some of those fish and shrimp came out of the ocean that morning! ($)
9. La Palapa: La Palapa is another great place on the beach to enjoy a nice dinner and watch the beautiful sunset. We very much enjoyed our dinner and dessert here. Some of the highlights were the Pork Potstickers (pictured above) and Duck Enchiladas smothered in a chocolate mole sauce. Don’t skip dessert, the chocolate lava cake had us at the edge of our seats. And at the end of your meal, just for fun – get the flaming coffee and watch a guy light coffee on fire right in front of you.
10. Comida Corrida: We stayed in Puerto Vallarta for a whole month, so we couldn’t eat like kings and queens every single day. What we did to save money a lot (besides eat cheap tacos + birria) was opt for Comida Corrida. Comida Corrida is basically a two-course lunch for $50 or $60 pesos ($4-5 USD). It comes with fresh juice, a soup, and a big dish of your choice. People in Mexico eat some of their biggest meals between around 2-5PM and Comida Corrida is usually what they opt for.
11. Cafe De Olla: Lots of locals and tourists love this spot. Cafe De Olla (pictured above) has incredible service and is one of the best places to grab brunch in the Zona Romantica.
12. AGUA FRESCAS: I COULDN’T FORGET ABOUT THE MEXICAN FRESH JUICES. Sure, they call it fresh water, but it’s basically every fresh fruit lovers dream. Anywhere you go, street stand, casual dining, or fine dining, everyone has agua frescas. I couldn’t get enough, they were so much more refreshing than any fresh squeezed juice, and all super healthy for you. Hibiscus water (Agua Hamalca), Guava water, lime water, kiwi water, you name it. These fruit-infused waters got us through a lot of hot days.
Other pics of our dishes from the trip. Also check out my photo diary of our trip here.
If you have any questions regarding where a photo is taken or what else to do in Puerto Vallarta, please don’t hesitate to ask in the comments or send me an email!