Puerto Vallarta Restaurants

First-time travelers come for the sun and sea, but it's PV's wonderful restaurants that create legions of long-term fans. You can pay L.A. prices for perfectly decorated plates but also get fresh-caught fish and hot-off-the-griddle tortillas for scandalously little dough. Enjoy a 300-degree bay view from a cliff-top aerie or bury your toes in the sand. Dress up or go completely casual. It's the destination’s great variety of venues and cuisine that keeps returning foodies blissfully content.

During the past 30 years, immigrant chefs have expanded the culinary horizons beyond seafood and Mexican fare. You'll find everything from haute cuisine to fish kebabs. Some of the most rewarding culinary experiences are found outside of fancy restaurants and familiar chain eateries at the street-side tacos stalls and neighborhood fondas, humble spots serving bowls of chili-laced pozole and seafood-heavy Mexican comfort food.

The trend of the day is restaurant-lounges. Ten years ago, DeSantos (co-owned by the drummer of the Mexican rock band Maná) was the first to combine dining and dancing in a hip new way, with its noisy ground-floor bar-restaurant and pulsing dance club above. Today DeSantos, Mandala, and other lounges provide places to party with the locals beyond the cool and chill dining rooms.

For those who prefer dining alfresco (and wearing flip-flops) over the glamour scene, almost every popular beach has a palapa shanty or two selling fish fillets and snacks, sodas, and beer. Some offer the Pacific Coast specialty pescado sarandeado (butterflied red snapper rubbed with salt and spices and grilled over a wood fire) or the devilishly simple (and fiery hot) dish aguachile, which is a ceviche salad. The catch of the day may vary, but the white plastic tables and chairs in the sand are permanent fixtures.

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  • 1. ChocoBanana

    $$ | American

    One of Sayulita's pioneer restaurants has really gotten spiffy, adding tile mosaic accents and generally beautifying its terrace restaurant...Read More

  • 2. El Arrayán

    $$ | El Centro | Mexican

    The oilcloth table covers, enameled tin plates, exposed rafters, and red roof tiles of this patio-restaurant conjure up nostalgia for the quaint...Read More

  • 3. La Ola Rica

    $$ | International

    One of San Pancho's first upscale restaurants, "The Delicious Wave," has still got it goin'. Small, medium-crust, wood-fired pizzas are just...Read More

  • 4. Sonora al Sur

    $ | Barbecue

    Throw in prime cuts from Mexico's finest meat producing state, Sonora, a chef that has found the secret to grilling perfect BBQ, and very affordable...Read More

  • 5. Café de María

    $ | Café

    There are three distinct menus for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. In the morning order one of an army of different omelets, a smoothie, or an...Read More

  • 6. Café des Artistes del Mar

    $$$ | International

    A more casual and beachy interpretation of the downtown Puerto Vallarta brand faces the water at the north end of Playa El Anclote. If you sit...Read More

  • 7. Casa Grande

    $$ | Steakhouse

    This steakhouse also serves grilled chicken and seafood. Under a roof but open on all sides and with an incredible view, it's highly recommended...Read More

  • 8. Comedor de Sra. Heladia

    $ | El Centro | Mexican

    Here you can glimpse the real Old Vallarta. A short but steep walk up from the malecón is this neighborhood dining room, which serves construction...Read More

  • 9. Cueto's

    $$ | El Centro | Seafood

    Teams of engaging waiters, all family members, squeeze past the trio that croons romantic tunes throughout the day to refill beer glasses, remove...Read More

  • 10. Dolce Vita

    $$ | Italian

    Fine Italian food is to be found at any of the two locations of this well-known local business. Pizzas are thin-crusted and baked in a traditional...Read More

  • 11. El Andariego

    $$ | El Centro | Mexican

    A few blocks past the north end of the malecón is this lively Mexican restaurant. Paintings of the city brighten the walls; at night the lighting...Read More

  • 12. El Campanario

    $ | El Centro | Mexican

    Fans swirl in the air, doors are open to the street, and cheerful oilcloths cover wooden tables at this no-frills spot across from the cathedral...Read More

  • 13. El Coleguita

    $ | Zona Hotelera | Mexican

    Just what you needed in the middle of the day: free tequila shots. Waiters at this super-popular family- and businessperson-oriented restaurant...Read More

  • 14. El Dorado

    $ | Seafood

    This is the best place in town for seafood; the ocean view from under the tall, peaked palapa roof isn't bad either. In addition to the garlic...Read More

  • 15. El Herradero

    $ | Mexican

    The Blacksmith" will win no awards for cuisine or, for that matter, decoration. But it's often filled with families of pilgrims, and the locals...Read More

  • 16. Fonda de Doña Lupita

    $ | Mexican

    Typical food of the countryside—enchiladas, tamales, pozole, beefsteak with beans and tortillas, and so on—is served in an equally typical family...Read More

  • 17. La Casa de Mi Abuelita

    $ | Mexican

    Everyone and his mother likes "Grandma's House," which is conveniently open all day (and evening), every day, starting at around 8 [am] with...Read More

  • 18. La Isla

    $ | Seafood

    Shell lamps; pictures made entirely of scallops, bivalves, and starfish; shell-drenched chandeliers—every inch of wall space is decorated in...Read More

  • 19. La Palapa

    $$$ | Zona Romántica | International

    This large, welcoming, thatched-roof eatery is open to the breezes of Playa Los Muertos and filled with wicker-covered chandeliers, art-glass...Read More

  • 20. La Piazzetta

    $$ | Zona Romántica | Italian

    Locals come for the Naples-style pizza, cooked in a brick oven and with a crust that's not too thick, not too thin. There's also great pasta...Read More

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