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Behold the Battle of the Budget Brunch!

Published Jun 3, 2013, 1:58pm - (Updated Jun 6, 2013, 3:22pm)

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Enjoying a relaxing Sunday brunch is a tradition in many places throughout the world, and Puerto Vallarta is no exception. Fortunately for us, there are as many brunch options in town as there are Sundays, from the elaborate, limitless champagne brunches at the Sheraton—with live mariachi performers—to the budget brunches we've chosen to concentrate on here.

Two established restaurants in the south side of town, The River Cafe in Isla Río Cuale, and Taste Restaurant @ Casa Cupula in Amapas, have chosen to substantially lower the price of their all-you-can-eat brunches without compromising their commitment to top culinary quality and service. Is this even possible? Given today's competitiveness among Puerto Vallarta restaurants, all of which are eager to captivate Summer audiences,  the question may not be as relevant as: Is there any other choice?

Taste Restaurant @ Casa Cupula: $145 Pesos per Person

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When Taste Restaurant first began serving Sunday brunch under careful supervision by executive chef, Oscar Rito, it was a true feast for the senses, with elaborate food displays and even a decadent chocolate fountain to the delight of chocoholics out there. Of course, times were different then. During the Summer months, restaurants are charged with the challenge of working smartly, watching costs carefully, yet maintaining the quality their customers have come to expect.

Taste's approach is beautiful: instead of producing huge displays of food, they've narrowed down the brunch choices to a few, well-chosen items, all of which can be ordered as many times as you want. "It's all-you-can-eat, but you don't even have to get up to serve yourself," explained Taste manager, Erica Manuale. Brunch standards such as eggs (most styles), chilaquiles, pancakes, juice, etc. can be had for $145 per person. Upgrade to a premium $235 brunch and a handful other options—such as omelets, eggs benedict and waffles—become available, one mimosa or bloody mary included as well.

The River Cafe: $160 Pesos per Person

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A long-standing Puerto Vallarta tradition, The River Cafe is one of those unique restaurants in town that equally appeals to foreigners and locals. Furthermore, each meal—they are open for breakfast, lunch and dinner—has a personality of its own; the former a peaceful experience accompanied by the rustling sound of surrounding tree branches and the Cuale River stream, and the latter frequently enhanced through live jazz performances.

The River Cafe's spectacular location, right on Isla Rio Cuale, is difficult to beat. Anybody looking to explore the surrounding neighborhoods (El Centro to the north, and Emiliano Zapata to the south) can easily do so and schedule a stop at River Cafe in the process. Their Sunday Brunch is a true smorgasbord of Mexican specialties, dessert options and fresh fruit, all of which you can enjoy to your heart's delight. The atmosphere is lively, almost too lively if you're looking to sit back and take your time reading the proverbial Sunday paper on your iPad (both locations provide free access to their protected Internet networks).

The Bottom Line

Both venues provide a truly satisfying brunch experience, each with its own unique personality and style, with impeccable service and attention to detail. The River Cafe is more of a family restaurant. As such, its surroundings are ideal to keep young ones entertained, spotting iguanas and squirrels in the nearby trees. The River Cafe also seems to have developed a knack at hosting birthday celebrations—Las Mañanitas, Mexico's popular birthday song was heard through their speakers no less than three times in an hour this past Sunday. Their food choices are plentiful, and include the whole gamut of Mexican specialties we've grown accustomed to enjoying in more elaborate brunches.

But just as The River Cafe is festive, bordering on boisterous, Taste Restaurant @ Casa Cupula excels at providing its brunch guests with a peaceful, private experience. In fact, Taste could easily capitalize further on their privileged location and surroundings by paying even closer attention to their background music choices during brunch, concentrating on new age or meditation music exclusively. It is that peaceful up in the Amapas hills! The food options, while not as varied as those at The River Cafe, are carefully chosen. You can still order as much as you want, even while the choices are not on display in standard brunch style, a fact that may actually be advantageous to health-conscious folks that fear succumbing to buffet binge eating.

Where should you brunch? In both restaurants, actually!


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