Vallarta Food Tours stops at local food trucks for authentic Mexican cuisine. // © 2014 LatinFlyer.com
Feature image (above): The beautiful Cafe de Artistes is a culinary favorite with international food and a lush patio for alfresco dining. // © 2014 Cafe de Artistes
Puerto Vallarta is known for its cuisine. Maybe that’s one reason why a lot of visitors here opt to stay at European-plan hotels, where only lodging is provided in the hotel quote. But even those who prefer the all-inclusive style of accommodations will do well to head into town to sample some of the diverse dishes that await.
There’s something for just about every palate here, including sophisticated international cuisine and simply delicious traditional Mexican food. Here are a few places to satisfy the taste buds — from the best-known to the more obscure.
Cafe des Artistes
Chef Thierry Blouet presides over what is one of Puerto Vallarta’s most celebrated restaurants. Each room — as well as the lush outdoor patio — provides a unique, elegant ambiance to savor international cuisine such as Chilean sea bass and foie gras.
This Mexican eatery blends colorful style with flavorful cuisine. Amid vibrant decor accented by Mexican artwork and artisan creations, patrons choose from a wide variety of expertly prepared dishes from the state of Jalisco, using ingredients such as chilies, corn, cactus, beans and avocado.
The restaurant is also known for its cooking classes; the Monday cooking class (taught in English) includes a visit to a local market as well as lunch with a cocktail or glass of Mexican wine. A shorter class is offered on Thursdays and Saturdays as well. Prices start at $85 per person.
Traditional Mexican cuisine is in the spotlight at this casual, semi-open-air eatery. Savory soups and tasty main courses — such as chicken breast stuffed with poblano peppers — are among the offerings here. The venue also serves a three-course prix-fixe dinner and a breakfast buffet every Friday, Saturday and Sunday.
Located on a picturesque stretch of an island in the Cuale River area of downtown, this esteemed Puerto Vallarta restaurant serves breakfast, lunch and dinner with gourmet flair and also offers a wide variety of vegetarian and gluten-free dishes. Pasta, seafood, beef, lamb and poultry are among the favorites on the extensive dinner menu; live music often enhances the dining experience after dark.
Vallarta Food Tours
Discovering the hidden culinary gems of an unknown destination (or a country you have never visited before, for that matter) can be daunting. But Vallarta Food Tours makes it easy, with its three-hour food tasting and walking tours. Participants stop at venues ranging from humble food trucks to stylish, small restaurants and unique candy shops.
The Original Downtown Tour covers the historic part of the city (with plenty of walking to work off the calories) while the Evening Taco Adventure is an after-dark excursion with the chance to sample Mexican beers. The Taste of Pitillal tour scours the neighborhood called Pitillal, which is near the cruise ship terminal, for the best Mexican cuisine.
The view is as important as the cuisine at this upscale restaurant, and both are equally recommended. Billed as the only AAA Four Diamond-awarded, non-hotel restaurant in Puerto Vallarta, Vista Grill is perched in the hills overlooking downtown and the Pacific Ocean.
The menu is a sophisticated blend of international influences, with appetizers, such as duck confit salpicon and chile rellenos, and entrees including oven-roasted red snapper with rutabaga puree and pork tenderloin with pine nuts.
Where do gourmands go in Puerto Vallarta to satisfy the sweet tooth? Xocodiva is perhaps the city’s most upscale candy shop, with artisanal chocolate made from Mexican cacao beans. Next door, Lix by Xocodiva satisfies local cravings for tasty ice cream.