Puerto Vallarta is a beach destination with an abundance of attractions. Its superb location on the lovely Banderas Bay makes for fantastic beaches, picturesque landscapes and spectacular sunset; its active arts community ensures there’s interesting art almost everywhere you look; and the city’s thriving world-class gourmet scene means that all your meals here can be stellar.
As a foodie hotspot, Puerto Vallarta has a host of excellent restaurants for all tastes and budgets. You’ll find something to delight your tastebuds in almost any setting, be it on the beach, at a roadside stand, or in one of the city’s many fine restaurants.
You can have a romantic candlelit meal with your toes in the sand at La Palapa. Part sophisticated gourmet restaurant, part rustic beachside hut, this restaurant has been in the same location on Los Muertos beach since Liz Taylor and Richard Burton romped in Puerto Vallarta. Order the corn risotto with shrimp, baby scallops and octopus, or beef tenderloin served with huitlacoche (a delectable corn fungus that’s considered a delicacy in Mexico).
For a casual, fun atmosphere and tasty Baja-style fish tacos, head to Joe Jack’s Fish Shack. Their fish and chips are outstanding and they have two-for-one mojitos (in a variety of flavors) every afternoon. Sit downstairs at the bar or enjoy the breeze and views from the rooftop terrace.
For outstanding haute cuisine, make a reservation at Cafe des Artistes. Chef Thierry Blouet fuses fresh Mexican ingredients and European techniques to produce dishes that are pleasing to the eye as well as the palate. Choose to sit in one of the elegant interior dining rooms or outside in the multi-level patio garden surrounded by twinkling lights.
Dining by the water doesn’t have to mean by the ocean. River Café has beautiful, tranquil views of the Río Cuale, which divides downtown Puerto Vallarta from the Romantic Zone. River Café is open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. In the evenings, the ambience is made even more romantic with candlelight and live music. The menu features international and Mexican specialties, with an emphasis on seafood, including ceviche, grilled octopus, and coconut shrimp.
El Arrayán serves traditional Mexican food from around the country in a cheery setting with colorful tablecloths and Mexican folk art. You can try cochinita pibil from the Yucatán, goat birria from Jalisco, and tostadas de chapulín from Oaxaca.
Street Food to Savor
Street food options abound in Puerto Vallarta, from peddlers selling fresh coconuts or grilled shrimp on a stick along the beach, to tacos al pastor stands with crowds of locals. If you’re unfamiliar with the offerings, it can be a bit overwhelming. Street vendors tend to be friendly, so feel free to ask questions.
If you prefer a deep-dive immersion to choosing the best spots and what to order, a taco or street food tour is an excellent way to get an introduction. Book a tour with Vallarta Food Tours at the beginning of your trip, and you’ll have your own favorite street food stands to return to throughout your stay.
There are two important events foodies should keep in mind when planning a trip to Puerto Vallarta. The Gourmet Festival takes place every November and offers an opportunity for food lovers to sample the offerings of visiting master chefs, participate in workshops, and take cooking classes.
During Restaurant Week, held the last two weeks of May, many of Puerto Vallarta’s best restaurants offer innovative three-course menus at a reduced price.