During a recent visit, I was delighted to join “foodie” friends on a taco tour in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico led by an expert from Vallarta Food Tours.
The tour gave us a first-hand opportunity to eat, explore and experience the best food trucks, stands, restaurants, and points of interest in the downtown area.
The walking, food-tasting and cultural tour in the Zona Romantica-Centro (downtown Puerto Vallarta) neighborhood not only stimulates your taste buds but also offers a close-up and personal introduction to cooks and vendors who share their family recipes with visitors.
Tacos Birria Robles
Our taco-tasting tour began with a stop at Tacos Birria Robles, featuring fantastic dorado tacos. These tacos with origins in Jalisco contain beef deep-fried in oil with onions and spices, served with a sipping cup of hot beef juice. Huge lines form to taste Mama’s specialty each day and watch her prepare this signature dish.
Next stop: Mama Rosa’s sit-down restaurant featuring traditional and contemporary Mexican cuisine. On the way to the dining area, an open window offers guests a chance to view the chefs preparing food. This colorful family-style restaurant features a buffet of Mexican favorites and a variety of delicious health drinks, a perfect complement to the menu. The pozole soup, a Mexican favorite made with hominy topped with tiny tortilla strips, is paired with a freshly-made lime-basil beverage.
Tacos El Cunado
Tacos El Cunado is a food truck located just off the Malecon, where hungry patrons on wooden stools savor freshly-made tacos with ocean views at the end of the street. This is a delightful place to enjoy a quick taco topped with fresh, creamy guacamole and chopped onions while chatting with friends.
Cesar’s Coconut Stand
Founded in 1984, Cesar’s Coconut Stand offers an entertaining experience you won’t want to miss. Chopping freshly-picked coconut meats in the downtown area, Cesar offers a real show. After removing the coconut from the husk and opening it, he serves up the clear coconut juice (the coconuts are kept on ice, and the juice is very cold and refreshing). Tour members sit on plastic chairs to view him skillfully opening the coconuts and pouring the juice, cutting bite-size pieces and sprinkling them with chili peppers and fresh lime juice.
Cevicheria El Guero
For the best ceviche you’ll ever taste, visit Cevicheria El Guero where chefs serve an outstanding ceviche on a tostada with fresh lime, accompanied by popular Puerto Vallarta hot sauce products. No doubt, this is one of the best I’ve tasted. They also make micheladas, Mexican beer and tomato beverages served in tall cups with small fresh shrimp and avocado salad on top. They’re a fantastic whole lunch-to-go in a cup!
Gaby’s Mexican Restaurant
Gaby’s is run by three generations of delightful women. The colorful restaurant features a patio with a view of the ocean. Dining guests enjoy live Mariachi entertainment (check the schedule). Gaby is said by several critics to have the best mole dishes in Puerto Vallarta. Not only are they delicious, they’re also picture-perfect. A Mexican flag cocktail made for toasting during lunch was the perfect touch; it pairs a shot of tomato sangrita, a shot of tequila, and a shot of fresh lime juice to be sipped 1-2-3. Ole!
Tuba by Concepcion
This healthful drink is prepared by a charming man who established this elixir in 1998. The “Tuba Man” in a cool white hat can be found around Old Town or on the Malecon standing over a strange-looking, orange ceramic container. His 14-year old recipe contains juice from coconut palm, walnuts, apples, sugar and two secret ingredients.
Orgulio Azteca Candy Store
Next on our schedule is Orgulio Azteca Candy Store, an old Mexican candy factory and store owned by candymaker Geraldo Leal, who is considered the “Willy Wonka” of Puerto Vallarta. It specializes in amazing hand-made candy and baked goods, including tequila macaroons and colorful sweet candy creations for children. He also carries interesting sauce and hot sauce combo packages or salsa products to take home.
Taqueria El Carboncito Taco Stand
This stand wasn’t on our Taco Tour in Puerto Vallarta, but one night we happened upon what many locals and visitors consider to be the numero uno taco stand in Puerto Vallarta. It was fascinating to watch the owner spin and trim the meat, and then cut and flip roasted pineapple pieces to place on the tacos. At 10:30PM, this open stand was packed with people, mostly families, all enjoying the amazing tacos and selection of fresh vegetables to savor with them.
A one-of-a-kind food adventure
I highly recommend this fun one-of-a-kind food adventure.
You will be happy to note that no one on my tour had any digestive issues after an afternoon devouring this collection of Puerto Vallarta favorites.
The tour begins at Lazaro Cardenas Park in Old Town and ends at the Malecon. It was interesting and delicious!
What’s appealing to the over-50 luxury traveler?
- These tours are ideal for boomers and beyond. The walking isn’t difficult; the tour route is 1.5 miles with many stops along the way.
- Each location provides an area to sit, eat and listen to details given by the tour guide. Even the Tuba Man can usually be found in a location where there are benches on the Malecon.
- To accommodate handicapped persons, the company will create a tour (with a six-person minimum) to include handicapped people traveling with their families or friends.
- Tours cost $39 to $72 per person. Children are welcome on all tours (with special child rates) with the exception of the mixology tours.
- Tips should be given to the tour director at the end of the tour; 10-15% of the cost of your tour is appropriate.
- If you choose to visit the eateries independently, be sure to ask about opening hours.
- Additional food-related options I’ve experienced and recommend to those looking for unusual treats in Puerto Vallarta include the Vallarta Factory, offering Mexican chocolate, coffee and a viewing of hand-rolled cigars being made.
- Chocoholics may enjoy the Ki Xocolatl chocolate bars, that come in several flavors and are available in downtown shops. Due to the special history of Mexican chocolate and its use in religious ceremonies, several hotel spas in Puerto Vallarta now offer xocolatl body wraps, massages, and anti-depressant facials to keep guests feeling happy and blissful during their stay.
IF YOU GO
Vallarta Food Tours offer tastings in several zones, with different menus and schedules to meet travelers’ needs.
* All photo credits except lede photo and unless otherwise noted: Bonnie Carroll
The author’s food tour was hosted by Vallarta Food Tours.