The time of year has come again, when dedicated gastronomes prepare to descend on Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, for the city’s 15th Festival Gourmet International. The festival is a 10-day celebration in which 20 guest chefs join talented local chefs to create special dinners, tastings, classes and demonstrations in more than 20 participating restaurants.
The 15th incarnation of the festival is scheduled to take place from Nov. 12-22 and calls into play the best restaurants in Puerto Vallarta’s bay area. There are only so many eateries a busy diner can frequent in such a brief span of time, so TravelAge West has taken some of the guesswork out by supplying a list of Puerto Vallarta’s 2009 International Star Diamond Award restaurants singled out by the American Academy of Hospitality Sciences (AAHS). The destination is rightfully proud of this year’s list, since this is the first year that eight Puerto Vallarta restaurants have received the award. In addition to receiving the AAHS recognition, the award places Puerto Vallarta’s eight acclaimed restaurants on the list of the 50 Best Restaurants in Mexico, a designation awarded by Visa.
The eight Puerto Vallarta restaurants given Five Star Diamond Award status include:
Cafe des Artistes
Accolade-laden Cafe des Artistes features high design, a romantic multi-level garden and a comprehensive wine list. Internationally acclaimed chef Thierry Blouet blends Mediterranean fare with traditional Mexican ingredients.
At Kaiser Maximilian, chef and owner Andreas Rupprechter has created a little corner of Austria in Puerto Vallarta’s Romantic Zone. Kaiser Maximilian’s menu merges New and Old World cuisines and features traditional Austrian dishes.
La Palapa has a casually elegant setting on Los Muertos Beach in the heart of Puerto Vallarta’s Old Town Romantic Zone. Here, diners can order Mexican cuisine for breakfast, lunch and dinner. The restaurant also has the La Palapa Beach Club where guests can relax on umbrella-shaded chaise lounges on the sand.
Le Kliff Restaurant and Bar
Perched on the edge of a cliff, a short drive south of downtown Puerto Vallarta, Le Kliff offers diners spectacular ocean views while enjoying some of the finest seafood in the city.
Executive chef Javier Fernandez Somellera uses traditional Mexican ingredients and ingenuity to create contemporary Mexican fare with influences from the Mediterranean, Asia and the Caribbean.
Thierry’s Prime Steak House
Thierry’s Prime Steak House is another Thierry Bouet venue. This one specializes in serving freshly selected cuts of prime, high-choice and Sonora beef in a contemporary environment.
Located on the Marina Vallarta boardwalk, Tikul offers great views of the marina and yacht slips. Tikul specializes in cuisine inspired by the Pacific Rim and is the latest hot spot from the proprietors of Vista Grill and La Palapa.
Vista Grill offers creative contemporary cuisine accented with regional flavors in a setting high above town, overlooking all of Puerto Vallarta and the Bay of Banderas. Menu highlights include salmon encrusted with a trio of peppers and tamarind essence, and baked Chilean sea bass filet with yuzu, olive oil emulsion and citrus foam.