After nine days in Mexico City, my partner S and I went to Puerto Vallarta for seven days and nites. We stayed in a small hotel on the very south end of los muertos beach with a view of the ocean. This place was an anomoly in that the places by the sea were usually very, very large and very impersonal. Breakfast was served on a veranda overlooking the sea. We ate there several days, very simple mexican breakfast, nothing spectacular but easy and adequate. fruit, eggs, tea and coffee. tortillas or rolls. the hotel is transitioning to condos (as is everything it seems in PV) so the focus was not really on the few hotel guests.
It was so different being in PV after being in Mexico City. Once out of the Centro in DFor the major tourist destinations (eg the pyramids) , it is really unusual to see tourists. It is easy to be a fly on the wall. Moving through Mexico City is traveling. Everything about PV is geared to tourism. i think you really have to go way away from the zona romantica or downtown (and not to marina or nuevo vallarto etc) to really be in Mexico. There is no mercado in downtown PV (the municipal market is all pretty much tacky tourist items- the restaurant stalls are about as authentic as any food you will find in the town but it is not a mercado like you would find in any town or neighborhood in Mexico- with food products and daily living objects). There were very few Mexican people in the restaurants we frequented and we did mostly eat in the quadrant of town referred to as the Mexican section.
We had breakfast three times at La Palapa when not eating at our hotel. Great view. Attentive Service Good Latin jazz. and great interesting breakfast. Omelot with huitlacoche. Breakfast burrito with cheese, vegies, and bacon, drizzled with a basil sauce- very nice. About 20d for two including tea.
Cafe de Olla, Basillio Badillo 168, Zona Romantica. We had fish tacos. I don't know why but on our three taco dish plate only one taco had any flavor and any sauce or seasoning on it. People rave about this place. there are always lines. we didn't go back. didn't seem to warrant it.
Cafe el repollo Rojo, -Red Cabbage- we ate here twice. this is a very special place. you go to the corner of Lazaro Cardenas and Insurgentes (this street seems to be the center of the Mexican area downtown) and keep walking 5 blocks on Lazaro Cardenas until you get to calle rivera del rio. turn right and walk 1.5 blks to 204A. It is run by a very gracious woman, who introduced herself to diners on our second visit. it is clearly her invention. the restaurant is colorful and filled with souvenirs and art. there is a tasting menu of the meal that was served at diego and frida's wedding (300pesos, chile en nogrado, margarita, peanut soup, wine, a chicken mole or pipian, vegies, rice, flan- we shared it and ordered a totally unexpected interesting cooked spinach salad). other food is chosen by Lola brava (the owner) because it reflects her sensibility. A definite recommend. about 40-50d for two.
Polos- Madero 376. We had great fish and grilled shrimp here. very ample, very fresh. about 20d each including drinks.
El Brujo- no address remembered. very interesting "aztec" dish with steak, cheese, nopales, about 16d. great oysters- selection of rockafeller (so so) and garlic (amazing) 12 for i think 10d. we shared both dishes.
homemade candy store- nuestros dulces downtown north of rio cuale.
shrimp tacos- in sit down restaurant in the market overlooking the river. 15pesos each. if you don't like mayo specify.
jazz on the beach- next to blue chairs on los muertos beach is the ritmo club. good drinks and guacamole. free cuban jazz and latin jazz- check schedule.
food at mismaloya beach. be careful of the beach waiters here. ask them what everything costs. the waiter we had tried to charge us for the chips we had with our guacamole. he added a 5d fee to the people next to us just because. it made us wary and would advise that you have them write down the charges as you go. isolated situation- this was not true anywhere else.
yelapa. i got seasick from the water taxi trip (first time in my life and i grew up on boats) so i was in no mood to eat. the hotel lagunita had a very reasonable very varied menu and was quite low key compared to the other palapa restaurants on the main beach.
Le Bistro - on the island on rio cuale. there is jazz almost every nite in this very elegant restaurant from 8-9:30ish. you can have drinks or just coffee or dessert and enjoy the music and ambiance.
street food. we were in PV during the last 4 days and nites of the festival of the virgin of guadalupe. there was a lot of street food around the plaza near the cathedral. S tried some and raved. i was chicken and didn't.
The festival really enhanced our time in PV. It brought a very strong Mexican presence to the downtown area. at any time day or nite there were processions headed to the cathedral from various parts of the central districts. each procession was sponsored by a different store or hotel and the dancing and singing and chanting was very moving.
We had a great time but i would not recommend PV to someone like myself for a vacation. I much prefer Puerto Escondido or Isla de Mujeres. Even Playa del Carmen with forays into the Yucatan would for me be a more enjoyable recommendation. there are simply too many people (mostly americans and canadians), and too many condos and too much commercial activity geared toward tourism to make PV a place i would return to.