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Puerto Vallarta, Jalisco [long - pics]

Puerto Vallarta, Jalisco [long - pics]
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  • Post #211 - January 5th, 2011, 3:57 pm
    Post #211 - January 5th, 2011, 3:57 pm Post #211 - January 5th, 2011, 3:57 pm
    Right now, I'm really ticked at anyone who is enjoying warm weather in any location, and having great food to boot. BAH :|
  • Post #212 - January 5th, 2011, 4:34 pm
    Post #212 - January 5th, 2011, 4:34 pm Post #212 - January 5th, 2011, 4:34 pm
    RevrendAndy wrote:We just returned from another fabulous New Years week in PV.


    Thanks for the report Andy. We're returning to PV this fall after a two year absence. This time we're renting a condo on the beach in the Zona Romantica, so I'll be sure to check out the bakery and a couple of the new places you mentioned.
    Steve Z.

    “Only the pure in heart can make a good soup.”
    ― Ludwig van Beethoven
  • Post #213 - January 5th, 2011, 6:50 pm
    Post #213 - January 5th, 2011, 6:50 pm Post #213 - January 5th, 2011, 6:50 pm
    RevrendAndy wrote:Our second night I'm sending great kudos to Gypsy Boy for recommending Cueto's. The seafood was spectacular and the family owners couldn't be nicer. Prices are great and they charged us a few dollars for corkage. We had snapper and those large shrimp mojo de ajo. Great ceviche. Don't remember what else but it was all good.


    Very pleased to see that someone finally took us up on our recommendation. Even more pleased to know that you were as impressed as we were. The warmth of the family can't be beat (after I asked about the marinade, they sent us home with a large jar of it fresh from the kitchen) and the food is just terrific. Given how empty it was when we were there and the concern evident in their voices, I'm even happier to know that they are still there. Thanks for the report.
    Gypsy Boy

    "I am not a glutton--I am an explorer of food." (Erma Bombeck)
  • Post #214 - January 25th, 2011, 5:25 pm
    Post #214 - January 25th, 2011, 5:25 pm Post #214 - January 25th, 2011, 5:25 pm
    I will be heading to Puerta Vallarta Feb. 17 for 5 nights. It’s a work promotion, so my husband and I will be there with about 7 other couples. I’ve read all 8 pages of this post and I see that several of you have stayed at the Fiesta Americana (where we’ll be) and at the Westin (where we stayed in 2005).
    I’m trying to remember one of the restaurants we went to in 2005. All I remember was that it was on a hill and the room was lined with huge arched windows overlooking the city. A group called Sol Latino was there playing bamboo flute music.
    The other place, I do remember. It was Le Kliff, a drive south of downtown. I can’t share any memory of food here, the setting was beautiful. Be warned however that whatever they put in their margaritas was so strong that about 5 of us ended up incapacitated after just one. (OK, they were bucket-sized. Luckily we weren’t driving.) There was a couple next to our group and after the man proposed to the woman across from him, he tipped over in his chair and passed out. (It’s worth a visit just for the view, but if we go back, I’ll stay away from the margaritas.)
    I’m looking for
    1. Nearby grocery store (Fiesta Americana is at Blvd. Francisco Ascencio, Zona Hotelera Norte)
    2. Inexpensive places within walking distance or a short ride from The Fiesta Americana (for breakfasts/lunches/dinners when not with group.
    3. Places that would be festive and moderately priced for our group (we’ll probably just have 1-2 group dinners).
    Again, I’ve read the complete post here going back to 2006. Many great ideas, just wondering if there are any updates or new ideas. Thanks
    Last edited by janeyb on January 25th, 2011, 5:38 pm, edited 1 time in total.
  • Post #215 - January 25th, 2011, 5:30 pm
    Post #215 - January 25th, 2011, 5:30 pm Post #215 - January 25th, 2011, 5:30 pm
    janeyb wrote:I’m trying to remember one of the restaurants we went to in 2005. All I remember was that it was on a hill and the room was lined with huge arched windows overlooking the city. A group called Sol Latino was there playing bamboo flute music.


    Was it La Vista?

    View From La Vista
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    Steve Z.

    “Only the pure in heart can make a good soup.”
    ― Ludwig van Beethoven
  • Post #216 - January 26th, 2011, 1:34 pm
    Post #216 - January 26th, 2011, 1:34 pm Post #216 - January 26th, 2011, 1:34 pm
    Hi Steve, no it wasn't that spot. But thanks for your guess based on my vague recollection. Any suggestions welcome!
  • Post #217 - January 27th, 2011, 1:05 pm
    Post #217 - January 27th, 2011, 1:05 pm Post #217 - January 27th, 2011, 1:05 pm
    Hacienda San Angel is on a hill with a beautiful view, but no arched windows.

    http://www.haciendasanangel.com/1-1.htm

    Hotel Suites La Siesta fits the bill.

    http://www.lasiestahotel.com/gallery_im ... aster.html
    "I feel sorry for people who don't drink. When they wake up in the morning, that's as good as they're going to feel all day." Frank Sinatra
  • Post #218 - January 28th, 2011, 6:06 pm
    Post #218 - January 28th, 2011, 6:06 pm Post #218 - January 28th, 2011, 6:06 pm
    janeyb wrote:I’m looking for
    1. Nearby grocery store (Fiesta Americana is at Blvd. Francisco Ascencio, Zona Hotelera Norte)
    2. Inexpensive places within walking distance or a short ride from The Fiesta Americana (for breakfasts/lunches/dinners when not with group.
    3. Places that would be festive and moderately priced for our group (we’ll probably just have 1-2 group dinners).
    Again, I’ve read the complete post here going back to 2006. Many great ideas, just wondering if there are any updates or new ideas. Thanks


    At least on first glance, Google Maps (Satellite) has the Fiesta Americana marked (A) at a misleading road entrance rather than where the hotel actually is (B), though it's the right general vicinity. In 2008, if you ignored private beach signs (there aren't really any at the water's edge, which is public thoroughfare), you could walk all the way to the Malecon / downtown on sand or gravel. It's a long and tiring walk (2 miles), but may still be theoretically possible, and obviously less hilly and trafficky than if you were trying to do this on the main drag. We instead mostly took cabs (which were under $5 each way) or the bus into town when we needed to be there. Staff and guests at the hotel were very friendly and it was easy to find transfers to share as well.

    Right across the road from the Fiesta Americana, easy walking distance - I think there's an overpass - is a gigantic modern supermarket / mall which was beautifully stocked. Right next to the bus stop was a trendy little chain tamaleria with good milkshakes I posted about, not the place for relaxing with a group, but solid.

    We thought the breakfasts at the FA were generally great, especially when the fresh tortilla cart was out (try an herb quesadilla!). Dinners, others have been more recently, but Trio, Cafe des Artistes / Thierry Blouet, and Tapas Barcelona were delightful on our visit. I've seen William Carballo in Chicago since then, and he lists his cell phone on the TB website, so if you're feeling bold, you can probably call him and mention you're from Chicago, make a reservation, and ask him about other special places. Too, your relationship with a hotel starts at the time of booking, so call them and ask to speak with the concierge about group dining options nearer the hotel, or get an e-mail address.

    Cueto's and Tino's sound like the don't-miss homegrown options these days; I have a co-worker visiting PV soon as well and hope to get some updated off-board intel on some of these places. As you likely saw in 2005, there are nice bakeries, tamalerias, and pozolerias throughout PV for fresh and inexpensive meals between feasts; find a new one for us and post about it here! Buen viaje.
  • Post #219 - January 28th, 2011, 8:24 pm
    Post #219 - January 28th, 2011, 8:24 pm Post #219 - January 28th, 2011, 8:24 pm
    janeyb wrote:1. Nearby grocery store (Fiesta Americana is at Blvd. Francisco Ascencio, Zona Hotelera Norte)
    2. Inexpensive places within walking distance or a short ride from The Fiesta Americana (for breakfasts/lunches/dinners when not with group.
    3. Places that would be festive and moderately priced for our group (we’ll probably just have 1-2 group dinners).
    Again, I’ve read the complete post here going back to 2006. Many great ideas, just wondering if there are any updates or new ideas. Thanks


    We have a timeshare in Los Tules, which is right next door to the Fiest Americana...

    1. Soriana is a giant grocery store right across the street (inside a mall) that'll have anything you could need. Almost like a Super Wal-Mart, with full grocery plus lots of housewares, clothing, hardware, toys, etc. Santander is mistaken, however, there is no overpass.

    2. The little temale stand Santander mentioned is gone. Up and closed one day while were were down there 2 years ago. Our group (we go down with a group that typically totals 20-30) would go regularly to grab tamales for lunch. One day, we went over and the place was completely stripped of all tables, equipment, etc. some of us had just been there maybe 2 days earlier and there was no indication they were about to close.

    Our favorite close, cheap lunch is the rotisserie chicken available outside of the Soriana mall. There are two different stands, one on each side of the main entrance. We prefer the El Pechugon to the Super Pollo. A chicken runs 85 pesos and comes with red salsa and some tortilla. Also get the amazing small potatoes that cook under the chickens so they get all coated with the drippings which are 10 pesos I believe. We typically also buy some additional tortillas, avacado, fresh guacamole and salsa Mexicana at the deli counter in Soriana to go with it, too. Lunch for 4 for about $10-12 with all the fixings.

    Also within walking distance but a bit more of a hike is Ernesto's Good Grub, which has great ribs and the consensus best tortilla soup in PV. La Piezetta is an Italian restaurant in the Fluvial area back behind Soriana that was quite good, reasonable and could accommodate a large group.

    From the FA into town on the bus is a 15 min. ride and costs 6 1/2 pesos (about 50 cents). Tons of options for all meals once downtown. For moderately prices options, there's Maria Candalaria for tamales, Tino's for BBQ snapper, Barracuda or Jo Jacks's for shrimp, El Brujo for Mexican.

    Barcelo is great for tapas. Cafe des Artistes, in the bistro part (not the Autor room) is actually quite reasonable for the high quality of the meal (prix fixe meal is 390 pesos). Trio is a bit pricey ($45/person) but has been my favorite meal each of the past 4 years.
  • Post #220 - February 25th, 2011, 3:20 pm
    Post #220 - February 25th, 2011, 3:20 pm Post #220 - February 25th, 2011, 3:20 pm
    Just back from a week in PV...we stayed at the Westin up by the Marina, so we spent the vast majority of our time at the beach rather than in town. However, we did venture out for a few meals.

    Victor's Place on the Marina was a lot of fun. The proprietor seemed to greet every table like old friends and joined us (and everyone else) in several complementary shots of "tequlia"*. Good queso fundido, but the portion was not enough to share. We had an excellent mole that would have benefited from being served with some dark meat but it livened up an otherwise unremarkable chicken breast. Victor's Special, the catch of the day in a shrimp and lobster sauce, was the winner of the meal.

    Cueto's had tons of potential, but ultimately disappointed. I ordered a whole snapper (huachinango) "Vallarta style", which looked gorgeous when presented table-side. Unfortunately it was then taken in the kitchen and cooked to a pasty mess. Inedible with the exception of the crunchy skin and creamy green chile/butter sauce, which were really phenomenal. It makes me think that I was simply unlucky, as my wife's sea bass fillet was much better cooked. We finished with an excellent housemade flan. I wish we had time to give it a second chance.

    El Arrayan was terrific. The quesadilla with sautéed hibiscus flowers was an awesome flavor combination. Both the beef barbacoa and the duck carnitas were perfect. The flan and caramel ice cream were both crave worthy.

    We walked down the block to try and stop by Maria Candalaria afterward, but could find no sign of its existence...either they are closing earlier these days or they are gone.

    Also no longer there is Los Chilaquiles, mentioned above. However, we managed to find perfectly serviceable version of their namesake at Memo's Pancake House one morning. They even happily added chorizo to the mix, which brought a smile as I recalled the same request being flatly denied one morning at Nuevo Leon.

    *If this wasn't heavily water down, Victor's liver surely would have been pickled long ago...it was a friendly gesture, but I felt the desire to inquire if he had any mezcal. Free or not, watery tequila isn't my idea of a good time.
  • Post #221 - June 7th, 2011, 10:13 am
    Post #221 - June 7th, 2011, 10:13 am Post #221 - June 7th, 2011, 10:13 am
    Worth a mention in PV is Hacienda Allemana. Its a German boutique style hotel with a restaurant set in a biergarten-well it's chaper than going to Germany! Breakfast is served untill around 12:30 and the huevos rancheros and chilaquiles were some of the best I've ever had. They also have european breakfasts of meats and cheeses etc but it was the mexican breakfasts that really stood out for me. On a wednesday and a saturday night they have a german all you can eat bufett including unlimited draft beer for 225 pesos. I wouldn't call the buffet outstanding or anything, but its definetly very good, with plenty of choices and sitting in the lovely biergarten is a great way to spend an evening. This hotel is like a little oasis in downtown PV and definetly worth a look in. We stayed a the hotel for 4 nights and are looking forward to returning. They have a great website and plenty of good reviews on trip advisor.
  • Post #222 - June 7th, 2011, 10:49 am
    Post #222 - June 7th, 2011, 10:49 am Post #222 - June 7th, 2011, 10:49 am
    ..for future searches, I think it's Alemana with an "l". Thanks for the tip. I love biergartens in out-of-context tropic locales. Best meal I had in Orlando was in Epcot "Germany."
  • Post #223 - December 8th, 2011, 6:40 pm
    Post #223 - December 8th, 2011, 6:40 pm Post #223 - December 8th, 2011, 6:40 pm
    ¡Hola Amigos!

    Image

    It’s time for another report from Puerto Vallarta. The Chow Poodle and I once again spent Thanksgiving week in PV, only this time instead of staying at the Marriott, we rented a condo right on Los Muertos Beach to see what it would be like living like a local expat. I’ve got to say, I liked it a lot and probably won’t ever go back to PV again and not rent an apartment.

    Before I get started, let me apologize in advance for some of the pictures. We did a LOT of walking and I didn’t always take my camera with me. Sometimes I had my camera, but other times I took pictures with my cell phone or used some of the Poodle’s shots from her point and shoot (like the one above).

    A lot has changed in Puerto Vallarta since our last visit two years ago. The Malecon, the lovey boardwalk that runs along the bay, has been completely rebuilt and is greatly improved.

    The Malecon
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    They have closed off the street to cars and have made the whole thing a pedestrian mall. They’ve also rebuilt the amphitheater and consolidated most of the street food vendors into a new area behind Los Arcos.

    Huichol Indians
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    These guys set up shop every day on the beach near our condo. I can’t think of one day when we didn’t encounter them marching to or from the beach at a high rate of speed. You could hear them coming from a block away. The wooden beads that they wore on their ankles made a pretty imposing sound as they marched up the street in unison. That, coupled with the fact that their drum was massive enough
    that it takes two of them to carry it, meant that when you heard them coming, you got out of the way. :wink:

    Hee-Haw
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    These guys were at the local XOXO (think 7-11) every morning for coffee before beginning their day of posing with tourists on the beach. It was always nice to run into them while they were “off duty” so to speak. Julie made friends with the burro.

    You can eat pretty good right on the beach. There are many guys like this one selling fish on a sick.

    Fish on a Stick
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    They sell both marlin and shrimp on these sticks. The fish is threaded on to the sticks by kids and then cooked over live coals. I actually never bought any FoaS from these vendors. Instead I went to one of the grills set up where these items were actually cooked and I bought them hot and fresh off the grill.

    Putting Marlin on the Stick
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    Grilling Shrimp
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    Another nice thing about living in the hood, is the fact that Xocodiva, an artisanal chocolatier, was right around the corner. They offered a full range of truffles and other chocolates all of which were made right in the store. I’d put their quality right up there with similar high end places in the States.

    Xocodiva
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    Xocodiva Chocolate Heart Box
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    Xocodiva Truffles
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    As good as the truffles were, the real star of the show were the dipped to order frozen bananas pictured on the sidewalk sign in the above picture. The bananas were available “natural”, which is a plain frozen banana dipped in light or dark chocolate and rolled in a mixture of nuts and toffee, or in flavors, which were bananas filled with a choice of several fillings. These were made in much the same way as a churro, with a tube of fruit (or other) flavor pumped into the center of the banana, then dipped in the same way as the “natural”. My favorite was filled with French Back Cherries in a light syrup. I stopped for one at least 3 – 4 times before heading back to the apartment for a siesta in the heat of the day.

    Xocodiva Frozen Banana
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    One of the first things I wanted to do when we got to town this time was to check out the new home of Tino’s, which I have posted about in glowing terms before. Tino’s has shuttered their original location in Pitiyal and moved to spiffy new digs on the northern edge of the Malecon. They also have two other locations up the coast in Nayarit. Sadly, although the pescado zarandeado is still as tasty as ever, the place has lost its charm and the feeling that you are visiting a family run business. It’s just another tourist joint now. I got into a conversation with the hostess trying to find out the origins of the chili oil-like salsa they offer and she ended up trying to sell me a time share. A major turn off. Sadly, I won’t be back.

    Tino’s Salsa
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    Tino’s Pescado Zarandeado
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    There were tons of restaurants in our neighborhood, so the next morning, I decided to walk around and see what I could see for breakfast. Among other places, I came across Andele’s, which is a hopping bar at night, but a quiet breakfast spot in the morning with street café seating. The thing that made me pick Andele’s was the breakfast special of Chiles en Nogada filled with ham and eggs. How could I not check that out?

    Andele’s Breakfast Chiles en Nogada
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    This was really good! It was one of the better versions of the nogada sauce I’ve ever had and the salty ham balanced it out nicely. The chiles en nogada, a cup of coffee and a really large of squeezed to order OJ set me back the princely sum of $120 pesos (approx. $8.50 American). They also offer free WiFi. I don’t know that I would choose Andele’s for any other meal, but breakfast is a winner.

    I’ve got a lot more to post about later on, including a culinary tour that I took and highly recommend to any LTHer going to PV. More later.

    Xocodiva
    Rodolfo Gomez 118
    Zona Romantica
    Puerto Vallarta, Mexico

    Tino’s
    Díaz Ordaz 920
    Puerto Vallarta Centro, Puerto Vallarta, Jalisco
    01 322 223 2803

    Andele’s
    Olas Altas 425
    Puerto Vallarta, Jalisco, Mexico 48380
    Local phone • (322) 222 1054
    US/Canada • (210) 858 6165
    Steve Z.

    “Only the pure in heart can make a good soup.”
    ― Ludwig van Beethoven
  • Post #224 - December 8th, 2011, 6:59 pm
    Post #224 - December 8th, 2011, 6:59 pm Post #224 - December 8th, 2011, 6:59 pm
    Great to see pictures and your reviews. We leave for PV the beginning of Feb for 3 weeks. Our place is right in the area you were staying at. Andale's has always been a favorite of ours for breakfast but I've never tried that particular dish. I'll put it on my list. I agree that Tino's is really no longer worthy of a visit. Too bad. Xocodiva is downright dangerous and it is on our path everyday when we head into town. Can't wait to hear about the culinary tour!!!
  • Post #225 - December 8th, 2011, 7:02 pm
    Post #225 - December 8th, 2011, 7:02 pm Post #225 - December 8th, 2011, 7:02 pm
    I made Mr. X trek with my to Xocodiva when we were in PV a few years ago. It was worth the trek.
    -Mary
  • Post #226 - December 8th, 2011, 7:10 pm
    Post #226 - December 8th, 2011, 7:10 pm Post #226 - December 8th, 2011, 7:10 pm
    The GP wrote:I made Mr. X trek with my to Xocodiva when we were in PV a few years ago. It was worth the trek.


    Imagine having it right around the corner. I'm glad I was only there a week. :wink:
    Steve Z.

    “Only the pure in heart can make a good soup.”
    ― Ludwig van Beethoven
  • Post #227 - December 8th, 2011, 7:14 pm
    Post #227 - December 8th, 2011, 7:14 pm Post #227 - December 8th, 2011, 7:14 pm
    Jean Blanchard wrote:Great to see pictures and your reviews. We leave for PV the beginning of Feb for 3 weeks. Our place is right in the area you were staying at. Andale's has always been a favorite of ours for breakfast but I've never tried that particular dish. I'll put it on my list.


    It was a special, and I'm not sure if they will still be serving it in February. Chile en nogada season is traditionally right around this time of year when the pomegranates are in season.
    Steve Z.

    “Only the pure in heart can make a good soup.”
    ― Ludwig van Beethoven
  • Post #228 - December 8th, 2011, 11:49 pm
    Post #228 - December 8th, 2011, 11:49 pm Post #228 - December 8th, 2011, 11:49 pm
    stevez wrote:
    The GP wrote:I made Mr. X trek with my to Xocodiva when we were in PV a few years ago. It was worth the trek.


    Imagine having it right around the corner. I'm glad I was only there a week. :wink:

    I'm sure the next time we're in PV, we will be closer. I'm not worried though, it's a tradition to have to trek for at least one meal a day. That will make the chocolate a bonus.
    -Mary
  • Post #229 - December 9th, 2011, 8:14 am
    Post #229 - December 9th, 2011, 8:14 am Post #229 - December 9th, 2011, 8:14 am
    Steve,
    Great post as always. As (apparently) one of the first LTHers to discover Tino's in its new digs, I am sorry to hear your report--but feel somewhat vindicated: we were puzzled, given the, um, atmosphere, why it was so clearly a favorite. Ordering the wrong things assuredly didn't help, but I think you hit the nail on the head: it's just like any other tourist joint now.
    Gypsy Boy

    "I am not a glutton--I am an explorer of food." (Erma Bombeck)
  • Post #230 - December 9th, 2011, 9:39 am
    Post #230 - December 9th, 2011, 9:39 am Post #230 - December 9th, 2011, 9:39 am
    Restaurants

    Here are some more places we went in no particular order:

    Breakfast

    Some days, breakfast was just some pastries from a local bakery or a taco, but being the breakfast lover that I am, I managed to get in my fair share of sit down meals.

    Johnny’s Diner
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    I passed this place nearly every day as I was walking through Gringo Gulch on my way to somewhere else. Finally, towards the end of the trip, I had a taste for an American breakfast so we went to Johnny’s. It fit the bill nicely. It certainly wasn’t the best diner I’ve ever been to (or the cleanest), but the saving grace was that they had Joe’s Special on the menu, which is one of my favorite breakfast items and is seldom found outside of the SF Bay Area.

    Joe’s special, for those who do not know, is scrambled eggs, spinach, ground beef, onions, parmesan and, in this case, jalapenos. This was a decent version. The Chow Poodle ordered scrambled eggs and hash browns.

    Joe’s Special
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    Scrambled Eggs and Hash Browns
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    A nice table salsa packing a decent amount of heat was served on the side.

    Johnny’s Hot Salsa
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    River Café
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    This is where the Rio Caule meets Bandaras Bay, and just behind where I am standing to take this picture is a small island that stretches around ¼ mile upriver. The island is home to a flea market and a few restaurants including River Café, where you will find one of the most tranquil and romantic settings you can imagine.

    River Café Veranda
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    This is a classy joint! Service is refined and they cater to both tourists and the expat trade. Just sitting on the river and watching the world go by was very relaxing, but the nice thing is that they coupled the ideal setting with really good food.

    “Egg Whites Omelet at Mexican Style”
    With Panela Cheese and Tomato
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    Banana & Walnut Waffle W/Fresh Whipped Cream
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    Besides these items, there is a pretty extensive menu of Mexican favorites including Chilaquiles, Enfrijoladas de Chicharron, Machaca and a bunch of other stuff.

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    River Café is a place that I wanted to get back to for dinner. The cooking there seems to be a cut above a lot of other places we’ve been to. Unfortunately, I ran out of days before I had a chance. Now I have something to look forward to for my next trip.

    Lunch/Dinner

    El Pechugón
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    This was some damn fine chicken. You couldn’t walk down the street without having the smell of these roasting chickens stop you in your tracks.

    Barcelona Tapas

    We finally made it to Barcelona Tapas after having it recommended to us nearly every time we have gone to PV. We had a Burt’s-like experience when we arrived to an empty restaurant. The hostess asked us if we had reservations. When I told her that we didn’t, she looked concerned and explained that they were booked up on the main floor, but apologetically led us upstairs to a middle level room that overlooked the street and said that we could sit there. I thought it was perfectly lovely and had no problem sitting there. I’m not sure why the hostess was concerned. Maybe her concern was for the waiter who had to climb the stairs to serve only our single table, although by the time we left, there were two other parties seated in this area.

    The food ranged from good to very good. In fact, one of the dishes we had, Spicy Garlic Shrimp, inspired us to buy some more earthenware cooking vessels so we could duplicate this dish at home (which we did the first night back from PV).

    Barcelona Tapas Spanish Tortilla
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    Good, but I’ve had much better. The garlic aioli was nicely made, with an assertive garlic bite.

    Barcelona Tapas Mixed Vegetable Timbal
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    This was made with eggplant, zucchini, red bell peppers, caramelized onion, tomato, raspberry vinaigrette and balsamic reduction. An excellent dish.

    Barcelona Tapas Tri-grilled Mushrooms
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    This was a nice mixture of button, shitake and portobello mushrooms sautéed with small pieces of Spanish chorizo and topped with a saffron cream sauce.

    Barcelona Tapas Gambas
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    This version of the classic dish featured shrimp sizzling in an earthenware dish along with some sliced garlic and chiles de arbol. This was outstanding, although I wished there were a few more shrimp in the order. We used the delicious house baked bread to sop up every last bit of the garlic chile oil in the bottom of the dish.

    Joe Jack’s Fish Shack
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    I had to try the legendary Joe Jack’s Baja Fish Tacos. Two words…skip it. This poor excuse for fish tacos would be more at home in an Applebee’s then on the streets of Puerto Vallarta. The all you can eat fish and chips special on Friday might be a draw for some, but I’d take a pass. This was such a bad meal, that I left without trying the highly recommended Coconut Cream Pie.

    Joe Jack’s Baja Fish Tacos
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    La Dolce Vita
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    One night, we were strolling the Malecon and feeling a bit peckish. The smell of a wood fire was in the air and I followed my nose to La Dolce Vita. Wood oven cooked pizza was sounding pretty good to us, so we decided to break my “never eat pizza outside of Chicago, Wisconsin or New York” rule. There was quite a line of people waiting to get in, but there was a small table for two available, so we took it.

    La Dolce Vita turned out to be a surprise hit. They were turning out pizzas as fast as the oven could cook them.

    La Dolce Vita Wood Burning Oven
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    We ordered a bacon, sausage mushroom pizza (I forgot what they called it on the menu). The pizza didn’t reach the heights of a Coalfire or Stop 50, but it really hit the spot. Some of the pasta dishes that we saw being delivered to other tables looked pretty good, too. This is not the first time I’ve been surprised by the quality and quantity of good Italian restaurants in PV.

    La Dolce Vita Pizza
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    Coco’s Kitchen

    Coco’s Kitchen was located around the corner from our condo and we ate there twice; once for breakfast and a second time for Thanksgiving dinner. The Thanksgiving dinner was very good and included turkey and all the trimmings (2 kinds of dressing, real mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, green beans & house made cranberry sauce). Dessert was a choice of pumpkin pie or a wine poached pear. Portions were very generous, and we had enough left over to take home for turkey tortas the next day. Sorry, I have no pictures. We were literally dining by starlight.

    Coco’s Kitchen was something of a neighborhood hangout where we saw the same people eating almost every day. Everyone seemed to know each other and it was very welcoming.

    El Brujo
    Image

    El Brujo was one of the best restaurant finds of our trip. Tipped off by one of our neighbors, an expat from Texas, we made the trip to El Brujo. It’s a nice little family run restaurant somewhat off the beaten path, but still within walking distance of the Malecon and our apartment. We cabbed it there, but ended up walking back after dinner. El Brujo has the feel of the old Tino’s and will take its place in my rotation. It caters to Americans and Canadians, but most of the clientele seemed to be expat residents rather than tourists.

    Our neighbor recommended the fish stuffed with shrimp and squid, which I ordered, and the Chow Poodle got garlic shrimp. Both dishes were excellent, but the nod goes to the garlic shrimp.

    El Brujo Stuffed Fish
    Image

    El Brujo Garlic Shrimp
    Image


    Pancho’s Takos [SIC]
    Image

    As has been mentioned upthread, tacos al pastor is not one of the specialties of Puerto Vallarta. You can find them around town at night (I learned they are considered a nighttime food), but none of them reach the heights of what we can find right here in Chicago. Even so, it’s tough to pass up the lure of a trompo spinning in front of a lump charcoal fire.

    Pancho’s Takos Trompo
    Image


    Pancho’s is located directly next door to the overrated Café de Olla where you will see long lines of tourists nightly. Don’t be put off by the long lines; they are not waiting to get into Pancho’s. There is a dim sum-like paper menu and a pencil given to you when you sit down and filling it out is how you place your order. There are many menu choices, but 99% of the customers order the tacos al pastor for good reason. Tacos are served with a typical selection of salsas and, of course, there is hot sauce available as well.

    Pancho’s Takos Salsa Selection
    Image

    The guy carving the trompo is a master. He made tacos nonstop the entire time we were there and every time I walked by at other times, he was working at top speed to keep up with demand. Here’s a video I shot with my cell phone showing this guy in action. My favorite part is the expert flick of the knife to make sure a couple slivers of pineapple land in every taco.



    Like I said, these aren’t world class tacos al pastor, but they are pretty good and it’s worth a visit just to see this guy in action. Pancho's is only open at night.

    I’ll have another post real soon concentrating on street food and the “Tacos & More” tour that I took.

    Johnny’s Diner
    Basilio Badillo 336,
    Puerto Vallarta
    (322) 2225679

    River Café
    Isla Río Cuale #4,
    Colonia Centro, 48300
    Puerto Vallarta Jalisco
    Phone Number : (322) 2230788
    From USA & Canadá: (011) (52) (322) 2230788

    El Pechugón
    Plaza Cir. Comercial Caracol
    11 Lázaro Cárdenas
    Puerto Vallarta, Jalisco
    01 322 225 4208

    Barcelona Tapas
    Matamoros & de Octubre, Downtown
    Puerto Vallarta, México
    +52 (322 )222 – 0510
    From Chicago: (708) 428 – 4500

    Joe Jack’s Fish Shack
    Basilio Badillo 212
    Puerto Vallarta, Jalisco
    322-222-2099

    La Dolce Vita
    Paseo Diaz Ordaz # 674
    Col. Centro (Malecon)
    Puerto Vallarta, Jalisco, Mexico
    (322) 2223852

    Coco’s Kitchen
    Pulpito No.122 @ Olas Altas
    Puerto Vallarta, Jalisco, Mexico
    (322) 223-0373

    El Brujo
    Venustiano Carranza 510
    48380 Puerto Vallarta, Jalisco, Mexico
    (322) 223 2036

    Pancho’s Takos
    Basilio Badillo 162
    Puerto Vallarta, Jalisco
    Steve Z.

    “Only the pure in heart can make a good soup.”
    ― Ludwig van Beethoven
  • Post #231 - December 9th, 2011, 10:22 am
    Post #231 - December 9th, 2011, 10:22 am Post #231 - December 9th, 2011, 10:22 am
    Can't tell you how much I'm enjoying reading your posts! Johnny's Diner is a favorite of my husbands. I don't usually do breakfast. I've never done breakfast at River Cafe but I have done dinner. It is just as you describe and the food is very reasonable. Barcelona Tapas is a favorite of ours and we usually manage to get there 2 to 3 times. We stop at Chez Elena first for a beautiful sunset and monster margarita. Joe Jack's is very touristy and the food (I think) has slowly gone downhill. Again, my husband loves it and he usually does a couple of lunches with the guys. I haven't been to La Dolce Vita in years but maybe we'll give a shot this year again. Coco's seemed to get a lot better last year. It has changed hands a few times. El Brujo is a definite hit. Great Mexican, fun atmosphere. I think you found the best place for pastor in PV although there is another place that rivals it. I'll make note of the corner it is on this year for future reference. Seems to me that you hit some of the best places in PV! Really fun looking at the pics and making me very anxious to get there myself.
  • Post #232 - December 9th, 2011, 10:40 am
    Post #232 - December 9th, 2011, 10:40 am Post #232 - December 9th, 2011, 10:40 am
    Gypsy Boy wrote:Steve,
    Great post as always. As (apparently) one of the first LTHers to discover Tino's in its new digs, I am sorry to hear your report--but feel somewhat vindicated: we were puzzled, given the, um, atmosphere, why it was so clearly a favorite. Ordering the wrong things assuredly didn't help, but I think you hit the nail on the head: it's just like any other tourist joint now.



    Yes. it's really sad what has happened to Tino's, although in fairness, the food we ordered was just as good as the old place. It's too bad you missed Tino's when it was still in Pitiyal. It was really someplace special. I'm sure they are doing much more business now than when they were in the sticks and you had to know about the place to get there, but they have lost their soul.
    Steve Z.

    “Only the pure in heart can make a good soup.”
    ― Ludwig van Beethoven
  • Post #233 - December 9th, 2011, 10:50 am
    Post #233 - December 9th, 2011, 10:50 am Post #233 - December 9th, 2011, 10:50 am
    Steve, sounds like you enjoyed El Brujo a little more than me (I liked it though), but did you make it to the nearby taco stand? That taco stand was excellent.
  • Post #234 - December 9th, 2011, 10:54 am
    Post #234 - December 9th, 2011, 10:54 am Post #234 - December 9th, 2011, 10:54 am
    BR wrote:Steve, sounds like you enjoyed El Brujo a little more than me (I liked it though), but did you make it to the nearby taco stand? That taco stand was excellent.


    No. I don't think that place was open when we visited. I would have noticed and stopped for a taco for sure! Although I didn't make it to that taco stand, I made it to plenty of others. Those will be in my next post.
    Steve Z.

    “Only the pure in heart can make a good soup.”
    ― Ludwig van Beethoven
  • Post #235 - December 9th, 2011, 3:05 pm
    Post #235 - December 9th, 2011, 3:05 pm Post #235 - December 9th, 2011, 3:05 pm
    Very helpful post Steve, as we are headed back for our 3rd year in a few weeks over New Years, staying yet again at Molino de Agua, which was not far from you right on the Malecon at the Rio de la Cuale. Last year I found the found the food very good at Tino's but I agree that the atmosphere had changed. We were considering skipping it this year and you have solidified our position. Cueto's had such great seafood and wonderful friendly atmosphere we will return there. We were thinking of trying Barcelona Tapas and from your writeup it sounds like a go. The last 2 years we wanted to go to La Dolce Vita but were always scared away by the crowds. The pizza looks good so maybe we will bite the bullet this year and just wait, hopefully with a fistful of drinks. The other recommendation we had was Coco's Kitchen but the online menu looks pretty continental and not of great interest. Maybe we will go for lunch or breakfast.
    "I feel sorry for people who don't drink. When they wake up in the morning, that's as good as they're going to feel all day." Frank Sinatra
  • Post #236 - December 9th, 2011, 3:27 pm
    Post #236 - December 9th, 2011, 3:27 pm Post #236 - December 9th, 2011, 3:27 pm
    RevrendAndy wrote:The other recommendation we had was Coco's Kitchen but the online menu looks pretty continental and not of great interest. Maybe we will go for lunch or breakfast.


    I like the atmosphere and the people at Coco's, but you're right. Breakfast is a good call. There are more interesting places to go for dinner. BTW, I had the worst rendition of eggs benedict in my life at La Palapa. I wouldn't consider that place for breakfast at all. Dinners are better, but you're paying for the beachfront seating.

    La Palapa Eggs Benedict
    A Lesson in Bad Cooking
    Image
    Steve Z.

    “Only the pure in heart can make a good soup.”
    ― Ludwig van Beethoven
  • Post #237 - December 9th, 2011, 4:09 pm
    Post #237 - December 9th, 2011, 4:09 pm Post #237 - December 9th, 2011, 4:09 pm
    IMO, La Palapa can be a great place for a drink on the beach on your way home, especially if they have a decent group playing in the lounge. Otherwise, they are extremely overpriced and the food is not great. Even a glass of wine is expensive there.
  • Post #238 - December 9th, 2011, 5:39 pm
    Post #238 - December 9th, 2011, 5:39 pm Post #238 - December 9th, 2011, 5:39 pm
    Funny -- different experiences I guess. I've found breakfast at La Palapa to be quite good, and more creative/interesting than others in the area (not to mention the beautiful setting).
  • Post #239 - December 9th, 2011, 5:49 pm
    Post #239 - December 9th, 2011, 5:49 pm Post #239 - December 9th, 2011, 5:49 pm
    BR wrote:Funny -- different experiences I guess. I've found breakfast at La Palapa to be quite good, and more creative/interesting than others in the area (not to mention the beautiful setting).


    I was hoping for that to be the case, since our condo was in the La Palapa building, but, as you can see from the cold, curdled hollandaise sauce and the cooked-till-hard poached egg (after being asked twice how I wanted the poaced egg prepared), that didn't quite work out the way I wanted.
    Steve Z.

    “Only the pure in heart can make a good soup.”
    ― Ludwig van Beethoven
  • Post #240 - December 9th, 2011, 6:07 pm
    Post #240 - December 9th, 2011, 6:07 pm Post #240 - December 9th, 2011, 6:07 pm
    stevez wrote:
    BR wrote:Funny -- different experiences I guess. I've found breakfast at La Palapa to be quite good, and more creative/interesting than others in the area (not to mention the beautiful setting).


    I was hoping for that to be the case, since our condo was in the La Palapa building, but, as you can see from the cold, curdled hollandaise sauce and the cooked-till-hard poached egg (after being asked twice how I wanted the poaced egg prepared), that didn't quite work out the way I wanted.

    Problems indeed - either an off day, or changes in the kitchen ... it's been more than two years since I've been there.

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