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The Best Taco Spots in Puerto Vallarta

When someone hears the word taco, they think of Mexico. Tacos are traditionally Mexican and have been around for centuries.  The majority of the restaurants you visit in Mexico will have tacos on the menu and Puerto Vallarta is no different. From the little eatery on the corner to the most expensive restaurants, you will find that there is no shortage of delicious food options here.

Where can you find the best tacos?  

One of the best ways to find the best tacos is by taking a taco tour. Not only will your palate be delighted with the array of flavors as you take that first bite, but you will also be amazed to learn about all the different types and styles of tacos that are available.

Tacos in Puerto Vallarta

When you visit Puerto Vallarta, you will have the opportunity to indulge in delicious tacos as often as your heart desires.  You can venture out on your own or take a food tour with Vallarta Food Tours.  Either way, good food can be found at every turn.  On any street you venture down, you will likely see a taco stand.  

Some of the restaurants that many highly recommend for the best tacos in Puerto Vallarta include:

  • El Barracuda – Their motto is ‘seafood done Mexican style’.  The original location is just a few blocks off the Malecon right on the beach. They offer tacos with fillings of freshly caught seafood that are simply out of this world.  You have options of Baja style, octopus, smoked marlin and shrimp.  For those who prefer red meat, the steak tacos here are just as amazing. 
  • El Carboncito – A restaurant that offers a twist on a street food vibe, without actually eating on the street.  It is an authentic and reputable venue that provides you with a taste of how the locals eat tacos.  Offering freshly grilled meats, you can order your favorite along with great tequila or beer.  The added bonus is they are open late, so you can drop in on your way home from a night on the town.
  • Marisma Fish Taco – If you like fish, then you’ll enjoy the fish tacos at Marisma.  Although they offer several other menu options, the main go-to for most are the battered fried fish and shrimp.  The establishment is not fancy, but the food is one of kind.  It is the closest you can come to a street taco experience without eating at a taco stand. 
  • Pancho’s Takos – Known for their Al Pastor tacos, this venue is popular and is often lined up with people waiting for an open table.  Pancho’s is a hit with both the locals and those here for a visit.  They will not disappoint!
  • Tacos Revolucion – The name says it all.  It’s a revolution of tacos and a place where you can order any taco you desire…from seafood to beef or chicken.  The actual “taco revolucion” is a combination of meats including cheese and a three chili salsa.  Whatever you order, this restaurant will surpass your expectations.
  • Bocados STK – a modern steakhouse with a delectable twist. This restaurant is located on the Garza Blanca Preserve and offers gourmet food including authentic Mexican tacos. You will enjoy every bite within the comforts of this classy and highly esteemed restaurant.

Taco history

The word taco is derived from the Nahuatl word ‘tlahco’ which means “half or in the middle”.  This is referring to the way in which it is formed. A hand-sized, usually corn tortilla, is folded around a filling of different meats and eaten by hand.  

Some argue that tacos date back to the Aztec days where the tortillas were used as a spoon to hold the food.  As well as a way for the women to transport meals to the fields where the men were hard at work for extended hours.  Others say tacos emerged in the early 1900s.  Whichever is true, it can’t be denied that tacos are not only a staple food but also loved by the Mexican people.

Types of tacos

Most people are well aquatinted with North American style tacos also known as Tex-Mex tacos, consisting of a hard shell filled with ground beef, tomatoes, lettuce, salsa, and sour cream. 

You may be surprised to learn that a traditional Mexican taco is nothing of the sort. Here is a list of the taco varieties you can find on most menus:

  • Tacos de Birria: Tacos de Birria were originally made using goat meat, but now can be found made with beef, veal, lamb or pork.  Birria tacos, which are considered breakfast tacos, originated in the center of the state of Jalisco in the town of Cocula. They are often served with a small bowl of juices from the meat.    
  • Tacos al Pastor: Tacos al pastor are also known as “shepherd style.”  Thin strips of pork are marinated in dried chilies, spices, pineapple, and achiote paste and then stacked up and cooked on a spit. The method of cooking “al pastor” actually comes from Lebanon. As the meat rotates, cooked portions are thinly sliced off onto a warm corn tortilla served with onions, cilantro, and diced pineapple. 
  • Tacos de Pescado – A classic fish taco from Baja California, also referred to as Ensenada (from the Port in which they were discovered), is typically made with a fish that is battered and deep-fried and then wrapped in a tortilla.  You can also get tacos de Camarones (shrimp tacos) which are battered and fried.
  • Tacos de Carne Asada – Sometimes called carne asada, which translates to ‘grilled meat’.  These tacos are a simple, but very flavorful flank steak, that is grilled and served with onion, cilantro, and fresh lime.  Simple ingredients but a complex flavor will leave you wanting just one more.
  • Barbacoa – Made with lamb or beef, the meat is traditionally slow-cooked underground with a mixture of seasonings resulting in a delicious filling of shredded meat.  
  • Carnitas – The Mexican version of pulled pork, these tacos are super tender and juicy.  The meat is cooked slowly for several hours and then roasted in the oven until brown and crisp.  
  • Guisado -  aka guiso is known as braised, stewy, homey and delicious.  Most call them the “stewy king of all tacos.”  Although this meat is eaten in tacos, it is also used for many other Mexican dishes.  

Once you have had the opportunity to experience true authentic Mexican tacos, your palate will never be the same. Some lean towards a favorite style of taco, while others have a favorite venue.  Either way, once you return home, you will likely go through a “taco withdrawal” after indulging in so many delicious taco feasts during your stay in Mexico.