Published on February 9th, 2014 | by Mark Chesnut
6 Great Restaurants in Puerto Vallarta (& Tasty Food Tours, Too)
During my most recent trip to Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, during the annual Festival Gourmet International, I had the opportunity to sample a lot of mouthwatering Mexican cuisine. When I wasn’t swimming with dolphins, enjoying great live music and taking fascinating day trips to historic colonial towns, it seemed like most of my time was spent eating. (The next Festival Gourmet International takes place November 13-22, 2014, and will bring chefs from around Mexico and abroad to this Pacific coast vacation hotspot).
Here are some of my favorite Puerto Vallarta restaurants and dining experiences:
Cafe des Artistes: This upscale venue is one of Puerto Vallarta’s most legendary restaurants, thanks in no small part to the reputation of Chef Thierry Blouet. Cafe des Artistes is set partially in a historic old home in the center of the city, and each room offers a different ambiance. We enjoyed a stunning, multi-course dinner in a private dining room here, with dorado confit with szechuan pepper, roasted quail with foie gras and a bitter chocolate tart among the offerings.
Kaiser Maximilian: I felt a bit like I’d landed in Europe when I stepped into this old-fashioned bistro, where waiters dress like extras from a movie. Kaiser Maximilian is known for its European specialties, like wienerschnitzel and rack of lamb, but we stopped here for an especially tasty dessert, which included chocolate pot de creme, caramel mousse and chocolate pecan pie.
La Estancia Restaurant: This stylish restaurant, located at the CasaMagna Marriott Puerto Vallarta Resort & Spa, is open to hotel guests as well as the general public. offers Tequila tastings accompanied by lunch. Contact La Estancia for reservations; it’s a pleasant way to learn more about Tequila while sampling locally produced brands.
La Palapa: A true classic in Puerto Vallarta’s dining scene, this beachfront Puerto Vallarta restaurant has attracted celebrities over the years. Against the backdrop of a tropical setting on Los Muertos beach, La Palapa serves breakfast, lunch and dinner, with seafood items — like lobster taquitos and marinated octopus — a natural choice.
River Cafe: This open air venue is known for its scenic location in the heart of the city, on an island in the middle of the Río Cuale, reachable by stairs from a bridge. The River Cafe serves an international menu of items for breakfast, lunch and dinner; the grilled rack of lamb, served over spinach polenta, was among the best lamb I’ve ever eaten.
Trattoria Michel Restaurant: Elegant yet relaxed, Trattoria Michel sits on a prized corner location in the Zona Romántica section of Puerto Vallarta. We took a seat outside, which is great for people watching. A large selection of Mexican wine and rustic Italian cuisine are the draws here.
Vallarta Food Tours: For travelers looking for a fun overview of Mexican food and Puerto Vallarta’s culinary scene, Vallarta Food Tours offers a variety of three-hour food tasting and walking tours. The Original Downtown Tour explores the center of Puerto Vallarta, with tastings of authentic Mexican cuisine including fresh tortillas, traditional ceviche tostadas and tacos from a stand. For an after-dark experience, consider the “The Street — An Evening Taco Adventure Tour,” which heads downtown for samples of pozole, soles, churros and tacos from four different taco stands. The Taste of Pitillal food tour visits the community of the same name, for samples of carnitas tacos, churros and tamales.
MORE INFO: www.visitpuertovallarta.com
MORE MEXICO TRAVEL TIPS:
• Kiss, Shake Hands, Fly: How to Swim with Dolphins in Puerto Vallarta
• Bohemia Viva: Argentina Style & Latin Music in Puerto Vallarta
• PHOTOS: San Sebastian — A Historic Day Tour from Puerto Vallarta
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