Puerto Vallarta is well known for its beautiful beaches, luxurious resorts and crystal blue sea but don’t let your exploration of this vibrant Mexican city stop at the sand. Vallarta, as the locals call it, has an array of dining options to tantalise the taste buds and excite the senses.
On my first trip to the lovely island, I was teased and tempted by the siren of the sea as she whispered, “Stay with me under the shade of this palm tree and sleep the day away” but, find the strength as I did to resist the siren sound and seek that which is new.
Take to the hills of Vallarta to the Vista Grill. Worthy of a visit for the views alone, this fine dining establishment is situated high atop the city overlooking the historic old town. With views of the Bahía de Banderas and the Church of Our Lady of Guadalupe below, it’s the perfect romantic spot to enjoy a margarita at sunset as you dine on the freshest fish ceviche with mango coconut vinaigrette and red snapper marinated in red chilli sauce “adobado” style, served with tomatillo sauce.
Become a Mexican cowboy at Asador La Vaca Argentina, a steakhouse that congers up images of what would happen at a wedding reception between a Mexican Mariachi Band and an Argentinian gaucho. The aroma of the delicious selections of beef grilled to a perfect medium rare served on a heated lava rock platter draw you in, and the chimichurri sauce and green tomato salsa to slather on top of the succulent meat keep you coming back for more. It’s a meat lovers dream! Try the house-made sausages; spicy and full of flavour; you won’t regret it.
After strolling along the famous Malecón Promenade visiting with local artisans and shopping for souvenirs, pop into La Cervecería Unión to relax and cool off with their signature frosty cold craft beer, the Union Cervesa, and listen to the sound of the surf coming off the Bahía de Banderas. Seafood is the draw at Unión with oysters on the half shell, tender grilled octopus and tuna sashimi — all so fresh that resistance to try them all is futile.
Get off the tourist trail and eat as the locals do standing on the corner of an intersection at a roadside taqueria at dusk. Wander through the cobble-stoned streets and down secluded alleys as you tour the downtown neighbourhoods on a Taco Tour with Vallarta Food Tours. You’ll learn about the history and food culture of Vallarta as you visit the best street vendors and mum and pop taquerias in town sampling traditional sope made with a base of fried masa, crab enchiladas, a variety of tacos, too many to name. The tour comes to a sweet end with donut-like churros and a shot of agave Mezcal to wash it all down.
A visit to Puerto Vallarta is not just a beach getaway — it’s a journey for all the senses.