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Puerto Vallarta locals reveal their favorite secret restaurants

INSIDER SECRETS: Puerto Vallarta locals reveal their favorite spots!

Puerto Vallarta has a huge 'ex-patriot' community of USA and Canadian citizens who've either moved here full time or spend at least a few months here every winter.

Being here so much of the time, they can REALLY tell you where the best restaurants are, regardless of what the glossy ads in the tourist magazines say. This is 'insider information' which will lead you to excellent dining, some of which is not anywhere near the 'tourist zone', and therefore considerably lower priced!


"Hang Outs": There are a few places here where you're likely to meet a disportionately large number of 'gringos' who live here year round, and therefore are an excellent source of information on what to do and where to eat:

Lori's La Escondida is a friendly and casual little neighborhood sports bar that's not too hard to find and worth looking for: Next to the Hotel Via del Mar at the corner of Madero and Jacarandas in Viejo Vallarta, just two blocks towards the mountains from Insurgentes street. Lots of TVs and cable/satellite feeds; Ridiculous dice games and dominos are played here. Also a great place to stop "off the beaten track" to meet fellow tourists and local gringo residents who can answer your questions. Lori runs a great bar with great bartenders, friendly customers, and cold beer is just 18 lousy pesos. Happy hour 6 to 7 pm daily with two-for-one well drinks., but be sure to visit on Thursdays ("Thirsty Thursday") for 15 peso (approx. one measly dollar) beers all day, and Tuesdays ("Two-Fer Tuesdays") for two-for-one well drinks all day long!



Cuates y Cuetes is on Los Muertos beach just a few steps from the Los Muertos Pier and is the beach hang out for many local gringos. Great sunset congregation spot, with live jazz music many nights, and a good-sized menu of Mexican favorites. Tables on the beach as well, and open from breakfast til late night.


Monchi's Sports Bar: Here's a great little place to escape the heat...Monchis Sports Bar is just a couple blocks from the beach in beautiful "Old Town" Puerto Vallarta. Forget the big-chain tourist joints and sketchy local dive bars and stop in to Monchis for an icy cold Corona or Pacifico , or a cocktail for just 25 pesos (about 2 bucks!). By the way, these aren't pansy 1-ounce coctails...they don't even OWN a jigger...you get a good solid "8-count" pour.

A place where lots of the local gringos come to hang out and share news, you'll find new friends here and get the true scoop on your Puerto Vallarta questions...where to go (and where to avoid), the best restaurants that the typical tourists never even hear about, what's hot and what's not. Find Monchis in "Old Town" on Cardenas just a few doors west of Vallarta Street.





Cafe de Olla on Basilio Badillo street just east of Olas Altas Street in Viejo Vallarta. Everybody raves about their twice-baked potatoes, and their steaks and other cuts of beef are well-regarded. So popular there is often a line, so get there early or be prepared to hang out on the street with a cocktail and chat with your fellow travelers.

La Palapa
is by far one of the finest restaurants in town, perhaps even in all of Mexico. Right on the beach a couple blocks south of the Los Muertos Pier, with elegant tropical surroundings and an ever-changing gourmet menu. Expect to have your plate arrive looking like a piece of art; the presentations are exquisite, and the food delicious. Not inexpensive, but not over-priced either.


El Brujo is in old town, just west of the tunnel on Carranza. Only 6 or 7 tables, so lines often form (always a good indicator of a good restaurant). Great chicken dishes, tortilla soup, and huge fajitas. The portions here are large, the prices fair, and this author has never been disapointed.


Mariscos Polo is on Madero just a half-block east of Insurgentes in Viejo Vallarta. The coconut shrimp is to die for, the seafood chowder unbeatable, and the shrimp or seafood burritos are perhaps one of the best deals in town. Friendly service in a colorfull and traditional atmosphere. Open for lunch and dinner, closed Tuesdays, full bar.



Esquina de Caprichos ("Corner of Wishes") is a couple of blocks UP the mountain on Iturbide at the corner of Miramar. It's worth the climb to this 'tapas' restaurant, which has a large selection of small tapas plates that allow you to sample a lot of different flavors in one meal. Only 4 or 5 tables in this tiny restaurant.


Espresso Como Pizza
at the corner of Vallarta and Carranza in Viejo Vallarta is an as-yet undiscovered (to tourists) gem of Italian food. Pizzas baked in a real brick oven in dozens of creative topping options. Thick lasagna, interesting pasta dishes, and attentive service.


De Santos on Juarez Street in downtown ('El Centro') is well known as a late-night disco party spot, but also has a fine restaurant. The Chicken au Crut is one of the best items on the menu, and the least expensive as well.

Mauricio's is a lunch and early dinner favorite that is worth the trip to Ixtapa, a 'suburb' of Puerto Vallarta. Taxi fare will run you perhaps 100 pesos depending on your starting point, and it's right at the first speed bump on the road to Ixtapa. Come hungry because the portions are big. Surf and Turf is a well prepared steak and a pile of shrimp prepared to your liking. Your can of beer will come with a couple shrimp on top to tide you over till your meal arrives. Everything is around 100 pesos (less than $10 U.S.) and you'll be treated to roaming mariachi musicians as well.

Memo's Pancake House is pretty much an institution here, the first restaurant in Puerto Vallarta to specialize in breakfast and the recognized king. Pancakes of course, but also waffles, egg dishes, and mexican-style breakfasts. The real-fresh-squeezed orange juice will make you forget about having anything out of a carton or can when you return home.





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Puerto Vallarta Mexico is  home to some of the finest dining in the WORLD. No kidding, Puerto Vallarta's restaurants have been featured repeatedly in the most prestigeous culinary publications, and for good reason...the fine dining in Puerto Vallarta is WORLD CLASS! Some of Puerto Vallarta's best restaurants aren't on the normal 'tourist track', but that shouldn't keep you from finding them thanks to local residents who share their secrets with you! Puerto Vallarta Mexico's nightlife, filled with clubs, discos, and till-dawn cocktail bars will keep you out till the sun rises again, if you like.

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