Every large tourist destination has a large number and wide range of restaurants, for obvious reasons. Eating out and trying new dishes is an integral part of the travelling and vacation experience; you want to get out and see the place, you have time to enjoy meals in a leisurely fashion, you’ve put money aside for it, you want to try local cuisine, and you don’t usually have a kitchen handy. However, Puerto Vallarta is actually famous for its restaurants; they are not just there to cater for the vacation experience but are an integral part of the local and regional culture, where food and its preparation are very important. Think of Cancun, for example; it has plenty of restaurants, just imagine how many, but it’s not famous for its restaurants. Of course, Puerto Vallarta became a top destination mainly due to its lovely beaches, dramatic landscapes, and great weather.
It has all the attractions and activities that every Mexican resort has, but it also has things that set it apart, such as colonial architecture, outstanding art galleries, a vibrant cultural life, and the quality of its restaurants. Just take a walk around town and you’ll see what I mean. From the small street stalls to the cozy bistro-cafés, to the luxurious and elegant restaurants, the one thing you notice is that there is a special pride in the quality of food offered –its function is not merely to stop you being hungry, but primarily to be enjoyed and savored. Hacienda San Angel Gourmet is a good example of this.
Set on the rooftop of the hotel and enjoying city, sierra, and ocean views, this upscale dining spot offers a wide range of international cuisine and good wines, but the best thing on the menu is the sea food; try the seared tuna or the Pacific lobster, each in its own delicious regional sauce.
The sunset views are breathtaking and the mariachis are very popular, though if live mariachi music is not your scene this may not be the place for you. If you’re looking for some excellent regional fare that is a little easier on the pocketbook, visit Restaurant La Luna, where they serve a range of dishes in simple and pleasant surroundings. In a singular white building next to the Fiesta Americana you can find La Leche Restaurant. It is a great find for creative and personalized Mexican-French cuisine in a minimalist setting; the sea bass is really quite special and the service is probably the best in town.
For some classy and authentic, though not cheap, Mexican cuisine in a charming ‘old Mexico’ setting, El Arrayán is a great choice and serves a nice variety of traditional regional fare; the shrimp ceviche, duck carnitas, and cochinita pibil are highly recommended. With its fascination for food, Puerto Vallarta is also a great place for food festivals, including the Traditional Popular Food Festival on and the Gourmet Festival, which takes in the best restaurants in Vallarta.
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