When you spend any time at a culinary mecca such as Puerto Vallarta, it is inevitable, particularly for our international visitors, to develop curiosity about local food, beyond the offerings available at many established restaurants. At the same time, visitors have legitimate concerns about the legendary so-called "montezuma's revenge," and rightly so! After all, who wants to spend part of their well-deserved vacation recuperating from an unsolicited stomach-related illness?
Well, we have news for you: by exercising common sense and relying on the helping hand of your Vallartense friends, you can experience a variety of local delicacies that you may not have heard of back home. You'll be glad you did! And while we cannot guarantee a bug-free vacation, we can offer some tips as to some items you may want to check out, and how to go about it. Eating like a local at least once during your vacation will reward you with a truly authentic and cultural experience which you can enjoy with your entire family.
One of the unexpected benefits from the French intervention in México during the 1800s was the shared knowledge of time-honored baking techniques from french bakers that relocated to the New World. Today, this tradition has prevailed and evolved, drawing people to the scent of freshly baked bread at panaderías—as we call bakeries here—throughout México. Plus traditional baked goods are surprisingly inexpensive!
Cocktails you may be familiar with aside, there are several refreshing, alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages that are traditionally enjoyed locally, on a regular basis, and some on special occasions.
A trip to México would not be complete without sampling the local sweets, available at dulcerías, or candy shops, which you can find all over Puerto Vallarta and surrounding areas. In addition, as you head toward Nayarit on the highway, you will notice several candy stands, most of them coconut-based.
The term literally means "Mexican cravings," and it commonly refers to a variety of snacks designed to satisfy precisely that. This is casual food, usually available in mexican markets, street stands, and informal eateries. And although antojitos are not considered as a full meal, many are served as such. And while versions of these can be frequently found in established restaurants throughout Puerto Vallarta and surrounding areas as appetizers, nothing beats the experience of enjoying the humble originals, found at the aforementioned locations.
Pozole and birria are both rich, hearty stews. Pozole pre-dates pre-Colombian times and contains a large number of ingredients: vegetables, meat, seasonings, and whole hominy kernels (a large corn variety). Originally from Jalisco, birria is a spicy meat stew usually enjoyed during festive periods, such as Christmas, New Year's, and birthdays. Birria gets his smoky flavor from a base of dried, roasted peppers. Both pozole and birria are considered by Mexicans to be an excellent remedy to hangovers. As such, they are widely consumed on New Year's Day.
Believed to be at least 5,000 years old, tamales are one of México's favorite comfort foods. They are made by wrapping a corn-based dough in corn husks or banana leaves, which are then cooked in a double boiler, the vapor inside doing most of the work. Tamales can have savory fillings, usually chicken or pork, or sweet, raisins and other dried fruit.
Stuffed poblano peppers, visually similar to large, green peppers but very different in their flavor, originated in Puebla. They are usually prepared with a ground beef-based filling, covered with an egg batter and fried, served with a tomato-based sauce. A delicious seasonal variety, chiles en nogada, is prepared similarly, but with far more ingredients, and served with a unique walnut-based sauce and fresh pomegranate seeds.