From top-notch, award-winning restaurants to simple family-style eateries, the restaurant scene in Puerto Vallarta, Riviera Nayarit and surrounding areas is so broad and diverse, you could easily dine out every evening for an entire year without returning to a previously-visited venue. In fact, few topics ignite conversation among visitors and locals as intensely as local restaurants do: what's open, what closed, new chefs, new dishes, and so forth.
With the knowledge that the outstanding gastronomy available in Puerto Vallarta and surrounding areas is as good as it gets, nation-wide, and second only to that available in Mexico City, it is no surprise that dining out is an extremely popular activity. Therefore, you'll want to explore as many restaurants as possible! Set yourself a dining budget of what you want to spend during your time in Vallarta, and then mix it up by trying some of the smaller restaurants some evenings to keep the bill down. This will allow you to splurge more the following evening, so you can experience some of Vallarta's more exotic and gourmet restaurants.
Many international cuisines are well represented in Puerto Vallarta. Throughout the entire bay, you can find restaurants focusing on a specific country's cuisine (French, Italian, Thai, Chinese and so forth) and many fine restaurants whose cuisine is more "international" in nature, offering a variety of dishes from many parts of the world. Given our location in Mexico's Pacific Riviera, there are a number of restaurants that specialize in seafood, offering the freshest catch. And, of course, we have a variety of Mexican restaurants.
Discussing Mexican restaurants in Mexico might seem redundant to some, particularly those visiting from other countries. However, the subject deserves some clarification. Many local restaurants serve Mexican food. That is, they offer typical staple items, such as guacamole, enchiladas or quesadillas, well known to many of our visitors.
A select number of local restaurants focus on Mexican specialties. That is, their goal is to research, honor and celebrate time-honored Mexican recipes, often times renewing them with contemporary twists. These eateries are not necessarily formal or elegant in nature. But let's face it, you are not likely to find toasted chapulines, or grasshoppers, in many local restaurants. (Yes, they are a popular Mexican specialty, most widely consumed in the state of Oaxaca!)
Finally, there is a number of simple Mexican eateries (often referred to as cenadurías) where the ambiance is familiar and the food tastes "like grandma used to make." Many of these places might seem to be intimidating to some visitors. However, it is worth finding a local mexicano to guide you through the pleasure of eating out like locals do.
While our region of Mexico is not known for many unique dishes, there is one local specialty that should be in your list if you are a foodie visiting Puerto Vallarta: pescado sarandeado.
Enjoying Puerto Vallarta and Riviera Nayarit's culinary scene is something you can easily do year-around. However, there are three important food festivals that take place in our destination: