Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, offers a magical and cultured experience that keeps travelers returning over and over again. Not only does the charming city exude romantic traditional features such as cobblestone streets, quaint artisan markets, and several art galleries and shows, you will also want to try the incredible and abundant variety of traditional food in Puerto Vallarta!
Whether the laughter from a taco stand tucked down one of the winding side streets attracts you or whether you decide to dine at one of the best restaurants in the city, you’re guaranteed to experience gastronomic excellence. This is why any guide to Puerto Vallarta will highly recommend one of the Vallarta food tours as one of the top things to do during your vacation.
As you seek out the best Puerto Vallarta restaurants and food spots to delight in traditional Mexican food and diverse culinary, don’t forget to try these traditional dishes!
Seafood served in Puerto Vallarta is guaranteed to be fresh and delicious, especially as most of it is locally caught by fisherman in the thriving ocean of Banderas Bay.
Ceviche is a popular seafood dish in Vallarta that’s made up of fresh raw fish, octopus or shrimp, that’s cured in citrus juices, herbs, chili peppers, chopped onions, coriander, and other seasonings. It’s then usually served with crispy tostadas and an array of spicy salsas.
You can find an exquisite ceviche at Joe Jack’s Fish Shack that’s located in the Romantic Zone of Downtown Vallarta.
Birria tacos are a traditional food in Puerto Vallarta and an ultimate breakfast favorite for locals within the region. Birria taco stands can be found on most street corners.
Birria is a meat stew that’s bathed and marinated in a mélange of herbs, spices, and chilis. The meat is soft and tender and brewed in an ambrosial red broth-like sauce, which is then served on a cooked tortilla. You can add coriander, chopped onions, lime and salsa to your taco to add even more of a kick.
The meat that’s usually served is beef, but it isn’t uncommon to find goat or lamb birria tacos. Note that birria is popularly served as a breakfast or brunch taco, so try to visit the stand before 2:00 pm.
Micheladas aren’t a food dish, but they’re definitely worth mentioning and trying! The michelada is a Mexican drink with a twist and the perfect exotic beverage to compliment your day at the beach!
A michelada is made with tomato juice, beer, lime juice, spices (which add a kick more than heat), and chili peppers. The drink is then served in a chilled glass which is rimmed with piquant chili flakes and lime.
Puerto Vallarta also added a twist to the traditional michelada! In Vallarta, a michelada is served it with a topping of fresh raw seafood and vegetables, most commonly being shrimp, cucumber, and carrot.
Tacos al Pastor
Tacos al Pastor can be found on most streets in Puerto Vallarta and are commonly an afternoon or evening delight. The delicious tacos were historically inspired by the culinary skills of Lebanese immigrants in Mexico, which is why the meat is uniquely marinated and slow cooked on a lamb Shawarma.
Tacos al Pastor are a quintessential Mexican dish. The succulent orange-colored meat (which is commonly pork meat) is slow roasted to perfection on a vertical shawarma spit and marinated in a series of lime juices, spices, herbs, and chilis. It’s then served on cooked tortillas with a side of onion, coriander, lime, and salsas.
Chilaquiles aren’t only a traditional food in Puerto Vallarta, but also throughout the whole of Mexico! The dish is usually served for breakfast and lunch and can come in either a red sauce or a green sauce. The red sauce offers a more earthy and warm flavor, while the green sauce gives a more tangy and bright tone. Both have an authentic kick of Mexican spice.
Chilaquiles are an appetizing dish that consist of cooked, crispy tortilla chips that are lathered in either the red or green sauce. They can be served with meats such as chicken and frayed beef and topped with fried eggs, onions, cream, avocado, Manchego cheese, and coriander.
You’ll find a delicious serving of chilaquiles at La Palapa! The stunning restaurant is located on the lively Los Muertos Beach. The menu specializes in traditional Mexican cuisine with a contemporary Caribbean influence. It’s also a great venue to visit during the evening, to delight in talented live music as the golden sun sets over the horizon!
We recommend that you do try the traditional food in Puerto Vallarta as well as experimenting with the more contemporary dishes, even if they sound a little unusual! It’s a fantastic way of immersing yourself in authentic Mexican culture and enriching your overall experience! Provecho!