Vallarta Food Tours offers a number of food walks to help visitors sample local street fare. // © 2014 Vallarta Food Tours
Feature image (above): At upscale Cafe de Artistes, Chef Thierry Blouet impresses guests with artful dishes. // © 2014 Cafe de Artistes
Puerto Vallarta is a must-go destination for foodies, thanks to its array of interesting cuisine that can satisfy the palates of the pickiest international gourmand as well as the most die-hard fan of authentic Mexican specialties.
As the peak travel season of fall approaches, foodies have a wide range of opportunities for enjoying Puerto Vallarta’s culinary offerings, including food festivals and tours, cooking classes and upscale dining.
Festival Gourmet International
Puerto Vallarta — along with nearby Riviera Nayarit and Tepic — will host the 20th annual Festival Gourmet International on Nov. 13-23. More than two dozen restaurants (including independent and hotel eateries) will participate in the culinary celebration.
The Westin Resort & Spa Puerto Vallarta will host an opening night gala with cuisine from top local and visiting chefs in a specially constructed Gourmet Village. Additional events during the festival include a progressive dinner spread across four different restaurants in Puerto Vallarta as well as a jazz, wine and cheese reception. Rounding out the offerings are theme nights at some of the city’s best-known restaurants including Michel’s, Kaiser Maximilian, the River Cafe, Trio and Coco Tropical.
Culinary tours make it easy for visitors to taste a wide variety of local treats in a short amount of time. A company called Vallarta Eats offers tours of the city with stops at Mexican food venues patronized by locals. Its “Signature Taco and More” tour is designed for travelers who want to sample some of the most popular local foods, including tacos, chicharrones and tortillas, while the “Mole Pozole and More” tour focuses on other favorites with stops at up to six different dining venues.
Vallarta Food Tours offers a variety of three-hour food tasting and walking tours. Options include an excursion that explores downtown, an evening outing that hits some of the best taco spots in town and a day tour to Pitillal, a neighborhood known for its authentic cuisine.
Cookin’ Vallarta offers food tours and cooking classes, in which participants can visit local markets and learn to make some of the tasty dishes they’ve sampled. A popular “Flavors of Vallarta” walking tour focuses on indigenous culinary traditions.
Cookin’ Vallarta isn’t the only company offering cooking classes in Puerto Vallarta. Visitors can also learn the secrets of local cuisine by joining classes at La Luna, a restaurant and cooking school that offers classes between November and April. Bridgestone Award-winning Chef Miriam Flores — a Le Cordon Bleu-certified chef with more than 10 years of experience — teaches the classes. Sessions often begin with a hands-on experience in the bakery, where participants learn to create Mexican wedding cakes, baguettes and flatbreads.
Arte Culinario, located in the Marina Vallarta neighborhood of Puerto Vallarta, offers three-course classes that highlight both traditional and contemporary Mexican cuisine from all 32 states in the country. Each class lasts about six hours and includes a craft cocktail with appetizers and a glass of wine with the final entree.
Top Upscale Dining Options
Puerto Vallarta is one of Mexico’s most rewarding destinations for travelers who want to experience upscale, creative cuisine in a beach vacation destination. One top downtown choice is River Cafe, set on an island along River Cuale, where an international menu is served by candlelight after dark. Another is Cafe des Artistes, where stylish décor enhances the gourmet creations of Chef Thierry Blouet, and every room provides a different ambiance.
La Leche, which sits in front of the Fiesta Americana hotel, is a visually striking venue. There, a milk-white decor provides a super-clean backdrop for sophisticated Mexican and international dishes. For a faster version of the La Leche experience, take a seat at the stylishly painted food truck parked in front of the main restaurant.