Monday, January 22, 2007

Puerto Vallarta Restaurant Guide for Puerto Vallarta Vacationers


Banana Cantina
Amapas 147, at Pulpito.
Romantic Zone.
An innovation in Puerto Vallarta restaurants, Banana Cantina serves creative Contemporary Mexican Cuisine and International dishes that range from Hamburgers and Grilled Chicken Salad Sandwiches to Crab Ravioli and Almond Crusted Shrimp Cake & Shrimp Fritter with garlic jam.

Café de Olla
Basilio Badillo 168 OT/SS.
9am-11pm, Closed Tuesday and September 15 to October 15 and some holidays.
Family run spot for years has seen their place expand, overhead fans added and prices rise. Features large inside trees and whimsical artwork many times for sale. A great stopover for simple authentic Mexican fare in addition to its name, clay pot cinnamon coffee, breakfast chilaquiles, bbq or Mexican combo platter, huge seafood platter for 2, octopus in garlic, carne asada, pork ribs, chiles rellenos, tacos or tostadas, best combo enchiladas, pork tamales in banana leaf, twice-baked potatoes from the outside grill, tasty tortilla soup and guacamole. Includes good crispy chips, salsa fresca and nopales [cactus] salad. Loud and busy in high season with long lines which move quickly and are sociable! Partial A/C. No reservations or CC.

Fajita Republic
Basilio Badillo 201 at Pino Suárez OT/SS.
Since 1997, owner Don Julio's open-air palm and mango tree garden with glowing 'beehive basket' lights is great to watch the people stroll by while dining. Very popular and reasonable for the generous portions. Specializes in, you guessed it, fajitas of all shapes, flavors, combinations and sizes, a most popular handmade Mexican entrée served with many condiments. Also serve steak bravo, cheeseburger, guacamole, mambo combo, Caesar salad and Mayan cheese sticks, fondue, bbq ribs or chicken, fish Oaxaca, chimichangas, enchiladas and malcajetes.

Lazy Lizard Restaurant & Beach Bar
114-C Amapas - Los Muertos Beach in Zona Romantica
9-11 pm
Tastes like fine dining, but with a much lower price tag. Lazy Lizard has the best drink prices on the beach. Try their Lizardtini and their Lizard Margatini- bth included in their 2 for 1 happy hour ($35 pesos) and $55 pesos buckets of beer. All day margarita and beer bucket happy hour, free wireless on the beach, and known as the Canadian hangout in Puerto Vallarta. Call for reservations to enjoy their Sand, Surf and Skillet entrees including Margarita Shrimp, with every plate only $150 pesos. Live music nightly. Known for throwing great birthday parties (hat parties) and adding just the right touch for special occasions.
Lazy Lizard Restaurant & Beach Bar

La Bodeguita del Medio
Paseo Díaz Ordáz 858 DT.
Founded in Havana, Cuba in 1942, this one serves since 2000 on two floors at north end of the Malecón with great bay view offering unique Cuban and Creole cuisine. Pork loin or shrimp in tamarind sauce, paella for 2, appetizer sampler, fried plantains, black beans, banana chips, beef hash, fried plantains and rum mojitos. Caribbean spirit! Offers Cuban rum and cigars. Write your message on the walls if any room. Cuban music sextet performs 9pm-2am except Monday. Ask for the traditional "Mojito" drink: rum and lime served over ice with sugar and mint.

Mama Dolores
Olas Altas 534B near Púlpito OT/SS.
Colonia Emiliano Zapata
4-11pm Closed Monday.
Comfort food. Homestyle American and Mexican comfort food at very affordable prices. Friendly and fun atmosphere and the best margaritas in town. Part inside, part elevated sidewalk street café since 1996 now owned by Grant Hunermund and Kieran Justason from Toronto, Canada features homestyle Mexican and American fare as 1/3 lb. burger with French fries, chicken or shrimp burger, chef's salad, taco salad with choice of chicken or beef, meat loaf, fried chicken, lasagna vegetarian or meat, spaghetti and meat balls with Caesar salad, baby back pork ribs, fajitas, mahi mahi, whole fish. Oct.-Mar.: Sunday turkey dinner with all the trimmings 4pm-11pm 125p. Mama D´s Margarita Club - Buy 9, 10th is free. Happy hours 4-7pm. Friday night in high season meet Mama D! No reservations or CC.

FINE DINING Dining out in Vallarta is another important part of your experience here. There is stunning array of world class cuisine available; listed below are a few of our favorites.

La Palapa
Púlpito 103 on Playa Los Muertos OT/SS.
Breakfast 8am-Noon, Lunch Noon-5pm, Dinner 5-11:30pm Since 1959, owned by Alberto Perez, one of the top elegant tropical gourmet restaurants in Vallarta and best spots for sunset dining on Los Muertos Beach. 5* Diamond award winner is great for people-watching from this popular spot and features dining with some tables on the torch lit sandy beachfront. Chef Everardo Robles Soltero prepares breakfast treats, daytime beach food as nachos, wonderful chicken burrito [on request], chicken fajitas and creative dinners as pepper-crusted tuna, pan seared huachinango, pork tenderloin demy-glace and mushroom stuffed chicken breast. Live music nightly draws many patrons into the bar 8pm-11pm, call first. Is pricey but the quality is there and quite romantic. This is the original restaurant south of Río Cuale before any bridges were built. Check out their historic before and after photos in hallway.

Bruce's Back Alley Bistro
Francisco I. Madero 225 OT/SS.
5-11pm Closed Sunday.
Chef/owner Bruce's [El Pelón] beautiful steak and chop house with interior and rear garden seating provides top quality house-aged Angus and Kobe steaks as grilled rib eye 325p or New York with compound butter 245p, tropical citrus chops or chicken stuffed with fruit, almonds and spinach with warm citrus curry sauce 180p, pork or chicken stuffed with spinach, rosemary, garlic and mushrooms with forestierre sauce 180p, Mariposa prawns with glass noodles and maple curry cream sauce 240p, Alaskan king crab, signature rack of New Zealand lamb for 2 575p, butter maple salmon with tropical spiced apple and peppery butter maple reduction 195p, seared ahi tuna with citrus sesame soy 280p and ruby red snapper with smoky tomato cream 190p. Starters include baked brie with warm strawberry purée 145p, bistro salad with house dressing 75p, baby Louie with bacon-pear reduction and Parmesan shavings 65p, salmon or ahi tuna sashimi 140p and skirted prawns wrapped with bacon drizzled with warm citrus pepper sauce 165p. Extensive wine list representing 17 countries. Inside A/C. A jewel in the town's crown. No CC.

De Santos
Morelos 771 DT.
Great food at good prices, service and a wonderful martini menu make this a popular hot spot for locals and visitors. Since 1999, very hip spot with minimalist décor offers Mediterranean-inspired food as calamari aioli, mussels, paella marinara or Valenciana, thin-crust pizza as gamberi, lobster ravioli, chicken en croûte, rosemary garlic lamb chop, coconut custard cajeta, gelatos and fine tiramisú. Drummer Alex González of rock group Mana is a principal owner. Live DJ music with good sound system in roof top lounge next door, Club de Santos 10pm-5am. A/C.

Kaiser Maximilian Café
Olas Altas 380 OT/SS.
6-11pm Closed Sunday.
Since 1995, owner Andreas Rupprechter and chefs Carlos Palomera's and Pablo Medina's German, Viennese and Swiss cuisine elegantly served 5* Diamond award food is near the town's top. Beef filet, rosemary chicken, rack of lamb, lamb strips rosemary poblano, garlic bread soup, duck foie gras, raviolis with fennel, escargot in puff pastry, salmon carpaccio, sea bass and the usual European fare, all very well prepared. Great luscious desserts, of course, as warm chocolate cake, crème brulée and apple tart with cinnamon ice cream. Fine wine list. Sidewalk seating and inside A/C. His son operates a European café right next door [8am-12am, 222-5058] with outdoor seating featuring sandwiches, fine desserts and 20 special coffee drinks.

Le Bistro
Isla Río Cuale 16A OT/SS.
9-12am Closed Sunday and July to August.
Beautiful setting with black tiled bar, plants, frescos and tiny lights everywhere is a perfect backdrop for a special evening out with its signature jazz music and extensive menu. Since 1979, Roberto Cuevas and Humberto Esparza offer a great spot for a chic drink or stay for a meal [reserve a river view table]. Food is sometimes heavily sauced but service professional and efficient. Chef Adrián Castillo prepares crab potato cakes with caviar, hunter pâté, escargot, exotic quesadillas, shrimp fig salad, smoked salmon and marlin pear salad, coconut shrimp, huachinango tequila lime, mahi mahi with pineapple and mango, filet mignon Bordelaise, chicken blackberry, double fudge chocolate crêpes, mango sour cream flan and house special café with ice cream. Lunches highlight eggs Benedict, fish chipotle torta, enchiladas, vegetarian plates including pastas, crêpes au gratin and a fine omelet with smoked salmon, cream cheese and capers. Live piano music daytime. A top choice on many lists.

Café des Artistes
Guadalupe Sánchez 740 DT.
6-11:30pm Closed Sunday and September.
Reputed by many as Vallarta's top spot with Star Diamond winner owner/chef Thierry Blouet presenting Mexican and French cuisine since 1990. World renowned, Condé Nast Traveler Magazine 2005 Hot Tables and named by the Nestle Food Group as one of the 80 best restaurants in the world, is formal, very expensive with attentive but unobtrusive service. Many exquisite choices as salmon wasabi 190p, sea bass fine herbs 245p, grilled tuna with tomatillo 195p, half roasted ginger duck 275p, filet mignon with red wine onion stew 265p, baked osso buco with mascarpone polenta and garlic 250p, pumpkin shrimp bisque 99p, tuna sashimi salad 115p, escargot with basil cream ravioli 115p, artichoke and potato aioli terrine 110p, pumpkin prawn soup 95p, fine desserts as apple and pear pecan strudel with caramel ice cream 81p, tropical baba au rhum 85p and chocolate crème brulée 85p. Three course bistro menu 375p or with wine 435p. Dine inside [A/C], in a 50+-year-old garden or outside on hillside [open Nov.-June]. Cocina de Autor dining room built in levels, backed by a flowing waterfall with a ficus tree centerpiece, [closed Sunday and September, manager Polo] with signature 3-5 course menus 590-750p. Number one for many worldwide travelers. City ‘landmark’ with world famous reputation. Splendid list of 400 wines by the glass 65-95p and bottle 200-4500p. Live music many times 8-11pm, as piano or blues in relaxed but elegant Costantini Bar Lounge at entrance. Reservations advised/required. Valet parking. Virtual Vallarta 2006 "Best Gourmet, Wine List, Overall, Service, Salad and Dessert." Ask about the chef's open kitchen view cooking classes.

El Arrayán
Allende 344 near Miramar DT.
6pm-10pm Closed Tuesday and August.
Delightful owner Carmen Porras E.'s and Chef Juan Manuel Cruz J.'s traditional menu choices of appetizers are plentiful to share for dinner. Named for the Jaliscan flowering treefound in the restaurant's courtyard, since 2003 this spot offers old Mexican family recipe specialties including impressive pozole de camarón 75-80p, black bean soup 45p, celebrated 4 plantain empanadas with black bean and cheese 60p, ceviche Colima with baby scallops 90p, shrimp and mango aguachile 95p, 2 duck [pato] tostaditas 45p, nopal cactus pad salad with panela 60p, chapulines: tiny crickets sauteed in onion, avocado, cilantro with tomatillo sauce 110p, chicken breast pasilla and tomatillo 130p, chiles en nogada, very fine beef tenderloin mole 160p, pork Pibil with habañero and black bean escabeche 180p, crispy duck carnitas 195p, grilled fish fillet achiote 150p and cajeta flan 50p. Seafood enchiladas with hazelnut mole and chiles rellenos de jaiba [crab, seasonal] are among specials 170-210p. Open kitchen and a very lovely romantic partially covered courtyard, featuring an array of art, including local Huichol work, with traditional Mexican influence. Attentive service with abundant portions. Sat. 7:30pm features live music, Los Frijoleros [Danny and Camila], call first. In 2006, again voted by Virtual Vallarta readers "Best Mexican", "Moderately Priced" and "Best Tacos."

River Café
Isla Río Cuale local 4 OT/SS.
One of the most beautiful settings in Vallarta, owned by Margarito Larios and Eva Sanchez. Tiny white lights on trees overhanging the Río Cuale, open air seating with ample room and friendly, fast service by handsome meseros. Menu changes often featuring the finest chef Eusebio Cuevas Peréz has to offer. Starters include tasty calamari 95p, mussels chipotle cream 145p, farmer's soup in puff pastry 72p, Thai cream of crab and coconut soup, smoked salmon blini 110p, seafood fettuccine 179p and tuna carpaccio 92p. Favorite entrées are grilled tuna with papaya 185p, mahi mahi garlic herb 189p, pecan coconut shrimp 225p, chicken breast with wild mushrooms 182p, duck with pear and blueberry 225p, filet mignon with wild mushrooms and chile Colorado 192p and rib eye Bordelaise 240p. Very creative dishes and impressive food presentation. Desserts not to be missed as warm choco cake with ice cream, cinnamon apple pastry, superb rosemary crème brulée 62-75p or the famous dessert coffees. Some paintings are by local artist Marta Gilbert, a friend and regular here. Her posters are available. Jazz by Beverly and Willow, Latcho and Andrea and sometimes Willie and Lobo Thur.-Sun. 8-11pm. Tropical elegance, a top treat and high choice on many lists! Virtual Vallarta 2006 "Best Live Music Venue." Reservations recommended.


Archie's Wok
Francisca Rodríguez 130 OT/SS.
2-11pm Closed Sunday and September.
Hungry for Asian cuisine? In 1986, the personal chef of John Huston founded this place featuring a combination of Thai, Filipino and Chinese cuisines reflecting his heritage. Now his widow Cyndi Alpenia, trained chef son Sergio and lovely daughter Kiyoki run it and the food is very good. Fork-tender beef tongue is a simple dish in coconut milk and mild spices, sizzling mahi mahi fillet in banana leaves, lemongrass, garlic, chiles and cilantro, Chinese sesame cucumbers, crisp spring rolls, lumpia, chicken sate, shrimp coconut soup, Thai hot and sour soup, red or green curry chicken, ginger-stir-fried vegetables with chicken or beef, pad Thai, pancit, lime cheese pie, triple chocolate fudge brownie and exotic drinks as Mint Cascade Drink. Sometimes live quiet soothing music of D'Rachael on vocals, harp and flute [Thurs.-Sat. 7:30-10:30pm]. Ceiling fans and lovely plants abound. Legendary among locals.


La Dolce Vita
Paseo Díaz Ordáz 674 [Malecón] DT.
Noon-2am, 6pm-12am Sunday.
Since 1969, two story favorite on the Malecón serving well-priced Northern Italian pastas, 18 wood-burning oven pizzas, beef carpaccio, garlic shrimp, chicken cacciatore or Parmigiana, 10 spaghettis [like pesto, vongole, Bolognese], penne, fusilli, cannelloni, lasagna, fettuccine Alfredo, osso buco, saltimbocca, fish fillets, tiramisú and gelato. Loved by many locals and visitors. Often features live jazz music.

La Piazzetta
Rodolfo Gómez 143 near Olas Altas OT/SS.
4pm-12am Closed Sunday.
Corner of a small building, since 1995 Dommenico 'Mimmo' Lorusso's place serves up very fine small wood-fired oven pizzas [24 types including calzone], pastas [pesto, Arrabiata or four cheeses]. Good ravioli and lasagna, spaghetti 7 styles, cannelloni, Bolognesa, fusilli, penne, shrimp pesto or Diavolo, chicken funghi, beef medallions 4 styles, scaloppini Sorrintina, a mix of tomato, garlic oil, white wine and cheese and starters as fried calamari, antipasto, garlic mushrooms, insalatas and tasty bruschetta. Order several items and share. Close your eyes and you are dining in Italia. Very friendly and attentive service coupled with good prices. A cozy spot, mostly outdoors, indoor A/C, with wonderful food and great local scenery.


Barcelona Tapas
Corner of Matamoros and 31 de Octubre DT.
5-11:30pm; F, S: 5:30pm-1:30am Closed August and September.
Take a party and share a dozen cold and hot tapas for about 200p per guest. Since 2000, owner/chef Bill Carballo, from Chicago and trained in Spain, and wife Yesenia offer sizzling spicy shrimp ajillo, goat cheese, grilled garlic lemon calamari, cured Spanish ham and La Mancha cheese, rosemary chicken, saffron cream seafood, marinated pork or pepper beef brochettes, creamy garlic potato salad, marinated Spanish olives, mushrooms with chorizo, cannelloni filled with tuna and asparagus, layered vegetable torta, duck paella on saffron rice, tortilla Española [omelet torta with potato, onion and garlic], sopa de fríjol negro, crema de langosta, housemade breads and ice cream as rich, soft coconut, créme brulée, caramel fried bananas and housemade red or white sangría. Lovely terrace up staircase on 4th floor with wide Bahía and cityscape or inside A/C 3rd floor dining room. Ask about cooking classes. No CC.

Excerpts from "Puerto Vallarta Restaurant Guide Beck's Best", reprinted by PVRPV with permission.

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and PVRPV Office