Whether you are arriving via a cruise ship or flying into Puerto Vallarta International Airport (PVR), Puerto Vallarta serves as the main point of entry not only into the states of Jalisco and Nayarit in Mexico but to the Pacific Coast. On the long stretches of beaches, activities range from ATVing and swimming in hidden beaches to an active nightlife. This welcoming environment has become a go-to destination for couples, small groups, retirees, the LGBT community, and especially individuals looking for a quick getaway.
One of the most attractive aspects of this destination is the food options within the city limits. Whether you are staying near the Marina Vallarta, Zona Romantica, or in the El Centro or 5 de Diciembre neighborhoods, you will have plenty of options.
Below are my personal favorites and suggestions on what to order.
1. Birrieria Gonzalez
Located at the intersection of C. Politécnico Nacional and Quimixto, Birrieria Gonzalez is a food stand with temporary seating, umbrellas for shade, and tables off to the side. Open from 7 a.m.–5:00 p.m., this stand attracts construction workers, passersby, families from the neighborhood, and wayward travelers such as myself.
I learned about this location by hearing more than a handful of locals mention it in conversations. The stand is the place to be if you are looking for a filling, inexpensive breakfast or lunch.
What To Order At Birrieria Gonzalez
The menu is simple: birria tacos. Order by quantity starting with a single taco at 20 pesos a pop (about $1.11). They also serve a range of soft drinks.
Pro Tip: It’s cash only. If you are low on cash, there is an ATM inside the Kiosk Convenience Store. You can also find a Banjercito Bank Branch at the end of C. Politécnico Nacional.
2. Blake’s Restaurant & Bar
Located on the second floor of Puerto Magico mall, which is connected to the Puerto Vallarta Cruise Port, Blake’s Restaurant & Bar will be your first restaurant option if you are entering the city via a cruise or taking one of the numerous water-based tours.
Blake’s features live local entertainment often playing covers of ‘50s, ‘60s, and ‘70s rock hits. Happy hour is from 2–5 p.m. It also has numerous televisions featuring hockey, football (soccer), and almost any other sport you would like to watch while eating.
Outdoor seating is available if you want to get some views of the area or a beautiful background for your photos. The sunset at the marina is worth waiting for.
What To Order At Blake’s Restaurant & Bar
Blake’s is a pub sports bar atmosphere for anyone looking for something closer to home. It offers comfort food in a comfortable environment among other travelers.
- Drinks: Pacifico Cerversa, rum & coke
- Starter: Dedos de queso (cheese fingers)
- Main Entrée: Camarones empanizados (fried calamari)
- Popular Entrée: Hamburguesa la clásica (hamburger)
3. Los Muertos Brewing
With two locations — one in Old Town and the other in Francisco Villa — I chose to spend most of my time at Old Town.
Officially opened on November 2, 2012, which fell on Día de los Muertos in Mexico, Los Muertos Brewing has plenty of space for big groups.
It offers a wide selection of beers and meals, including a pizza oven in the back. Most travelers stop in for a quick drink or bring friends. Locals go straight for the build-your-own pizza.
What To Order At Los Muertos Brewing
Lunch is the best time to visit if you want to avoid the crowds. Ladies Night Specials happen every Thursday from 5:00 p.m.–midnight. Discounted meal combos come with a beer or soda from 11 a.m.–5 p.m. Happy hour happens every day from 4–6 p.m.
- Drinks: Mexicana rubia, anillo de fuego (chili ale), and Chachalaca IPA
- Starter: Alitas (chicken wings) with either barbecue or buffalo sauce
- Entrée: Pizza with marinara sauce, Italian sausage and bacon, and cheese (fresh mozzarella)
4. Monzón Brewing Co.
Monzón was started by a couple who traveled to Puerto Vallarta from Seattle and fell in love with it. Monzón Brewing Co. feels like the type of bar where you can always meet up with your friends. The staff are relaxed and friendly, and it’s in the heart of the Romantic Zone.
What To Order At Monzón Brewing Co.
The main bar gets crowded fairly quickly. Expect a mix of expats who, just like the owners, fell in love with the city and travelers who found their way in. There are two floors, so you have plenty of space to spread out once the regular patrons come in.
- Drinks: Los Arcos American Amber Ale, Peachy Gringo Wheat Ale, Hazy Bay IPA, and sangria
- Starters: Boneless tenders with barbecue-beer sauce and sriracha-soya served with fries and house ranch dressing
- Entrée: Candied pork belly tacos with a beer-maple sesame glaze
5. La Langosta Loca Beach Club
Built on Playa Olas Atlas, La Langosta Loca Beach Club is in the middle of where all the nightlife converges.
Come in the evening to hear live music on the beach where you will be prompted to dance and have a good time as the sun sets behind you.
What To Order At La Langosta Loca Beach Club
- Starter: Ceviche de La Casa Clásico is a mix of fish, shrimp, and octopus with purple onions, tomatoes, and peppers
- Entrée: Molcajete de Mariscos is a mix of grilled shrimp, octopus, fillet of fish, and mussels piled on a hot molcajete and bathed in a morita and tomatillo chili sauce.
6. Los Del Coapi – Casa Pública
Located in the El Coapinole (Coapi) neighborhood, Los del Coapi’s goal is to take travelers away from the more touristy areas of the city so they can experience Puerto Vallarta like a local.
A selection of mixed and craft beers is in the front and the kitchen in the back offers light fare.
What To Order At Los Del Coapi – Casa Pública
Take a taxi or Uber/Lyft to the location and grab a seat at one of the few tables. The location is fairly small and most of the staff speak only Spanish. This is more of a late-night hangout.
- Drinks: Pitiyork–Vienna Lager and Blue Magic/Blueberries Ale
- Starters: Papas gajo (potato wedges with seasoning), poutine, and flautas filled with either beer, chicken, or vegetables wrapped in a tortilla and deep fried
7. Food Park PV
This is where you bring your group if no one can decide what to eat.
Located in the Hotel Zone, Food Park PV has perhaps the greatest selection of food stands, stores, bars, seating areas, and kids’ sections in the area.
Options include sushi, wings, pastries, pizza, and everything in between. With an open layout that accommodates anyone with mobility issues, a wheelchair, or a stroller, other visitors can walk in and grab a seat.
What To Order At Food Park RV
After finding a place to sit, you can order drinks from any of the roving staff. In the meantime, do a lap around to view the food options.
- Starter: Cluck & Co. boneless lemon pepper wings and criss-cross fries
- Entrée: Park grill container with papa con carne (various grilled meats and potatoes with a creamy sauce)
8. Restaurante Lolita
Opening its doors in 1958, Restaurante Lolita serves a mix of locals and travelers who happen to pass by. Located right in 5 de Diciembre, this is where you come to try popular local foods ranging from alambres and chilaquiles to molletes.
What To Order At Restaurante Lolita
Lolita’s has a huge menu so it may take you a while to narrow in on what you want. There is no particular item that tastes better than the others. Most travelers go to the taco gorditas, dorado, or enchiladas.
My recommendations based on what I tried are:
- Breakfast: Huevos Mexicana (Mexican-style eggs with tomatoes, onions, and jalapeños)
- Lunch: Platillo Mexicano (chile reileno, bistec, quesadilla, sopa, and enchiladas)
Pro Tip: This restaurant is cash only.
9. La Tia Ñaña Mariscos
Also located in 5 de Diciembre, the mostly locals-only La Tia Ñaña Mariscos seafood restaurant has been around since 1975. Brought to my attention by a local, I invited him to dinner so we could discuss food.
Since it is a seafood restaurant, you will find a wide range of seafood dishes. A lot of local families come out for dinner on the weekend before heading home.
What To Order At La Tia Ñaña Mariscos
Anxious to try the soup that was highly recommended, I went right for it after a few chips. After starting with the small bowl, I followed up with another.
- Entrée: Cazuela Especial “La Tia” (soup filled with octopus, shrimp, fish, onions, and guacamole) — absolutely delicious!