Best Authentic Places to Eat & Drink in Puerto Vallarta
Where can you find authentic local food in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico? This list gives you the inside scoop on the best restaurants and bars in Puerto Vallarta!
When I Slow Travel I try to eat at my accommodation for at least one or two meals a day. As one of the many benefits of Slow Travel, it’s cheaper, it’s easier to stay healthy when traveling for extended periods, and I love to cook!
With that said though, I’m still human. I get tired of cooking sometimes and on top of that 90% of the reason I travel is to gain insider knowledge of the best food at my destination. I can’t do that if I’m eating at home all the time!
But this isn’t just any old list of restaurants and bars where the prices are jacked up and the food is… meh. The main concepts of Slow Travel encourage you to expand your horizons and do more “culture conscious travel”.
This means not just indulging in places that feel familiar to Mexican restaurants back but pushing yourself out your figurative and literal comfort zone.
The locations on this list will take you out of Puerto Vallarta’s touristic Centro to places where you can rub elbows with locals, try amazing AND authentic Mexican food, and feel like you aren’t just another tourist on holiday but instead an expert Slow Traveler enjoying Puerto Vallarta in its most authentic form!
Where to Eat Authentic Food in Puerto Vallarta
Something you’ll notice about this list of restaurants when you look them up on Google Maps is that they are almost ALL located in and around the neighborhood of Versalles. That is because there is a new Ruta Gastronomica (Gastronomic Route) made up of 19 restaurants and growing. The founders of this collective are various chefs in the area who wanted to “reactivate” the economy in Versalles and boost the gastro-cultural scene.
As a city that is overflowing with restaurants that cater to touristic palettes rather than offering authentic cultural gastronomic experiences, this is exactly what Puerto Vallarta needed. Without this, I doubt my boyfriend and I would have enjoyed our brief experience here as much as we did. These restaurants are all incredible!
This is probably the most successful project of its kind I’ve ever seen and I hope to see it repeated elsewhere! Check out the collective’s Instagram @rutaversalles.
Now for the best restaurants we ate at in Puerto Vallarta!
We randomly chose this place in our last week in Puerto Vallarta and it has shot up to the top of my best restaurants list!
Location: Aldanaca 130, Versalles
Hours: 18:00-23:00 Everyday – Closed Tuesdays!
What to Try: Braised Oxtail, Caribbean Curry, Coconut Flan
Tacos Sonorita Versalles
We ate here four… maybe five times! It impressed us every single time. This is the best place for a quick, inexpensive, and downright tasty meal.
Location: Hamburgo 155 A, Versalles
Hours: 13:00-2:00 Open Everyday
What to Try: Pastor tacos, Pastor ponte calambre , Steak tacos, any of the Tortugas (tortas)
Birriería el Tío Toño
Tio Toño is only the second place I’ve ever tried Birria simply because the dish is usually made with sesame, which I am extremely allergic to. But the chef assured me his Birria is made without so I gave it a shot and WOW. You have to try it! While Birria is made all over Mexico, it originates in Jalisco so there is truly no better place to try it than in Puerto Vallarta at Tío Toño’s.
Location: Berlín 108, Versalles
Hours: 8:00-16:00 Open Everyday
What to Try: Goat or Beef Birria, Quesabirria
Tortas Ahogadas Tony
So as mentioned before I’m pretty allergic to sesame so I was not able to try these sandwiches since there is sesame in the bread. However, my boyfriend said it’s the best Torta Ahogada he’s had in Mexico so it is well-deserving of a spot on this list!
Location: Lisboa 128, La Vena
Hours: 9:00-17:00 Open Everyday
What to Try: Torta Ahogada (duh)
El Puerco de Oro
Small menus almost always lead us in the right direction and El Puerco de Oro was no different. With three options for tacos and one torta, we didn’t take much time to choose what to order. One of everything, please! The ladies here are incredibly kind and it feels like you’re sitting at an abuela’s kitchen table.
Location: C. España 325 D, Versalles
Hours: 9:00-15:00 Weekdays, 9:00-16:00 Weekends, Closed on Monday
What to Try: I wasn’t kidding, just order one of everything!
El Chinelo Grill Puerto Vallarta
This was literally the first place we ate at in Puerto Vallarta and wow did it set our expectations high! The wait time was a little long but there was a large group order ahead of us and it’s just one guy cooking so have a little patience
Location: C. España 282, Díaz Ordaz
Hours: 13:00-22:00 Everday, Closed on Sunday!
What to Try: Molcajete (can do a veg/vegan version) or let them order for you like we did!
Best Bars in Puerto Vallarta
There are so many great bars in Puerto Vallarta that aren't on the Malecon. The main strip might be fun for cruisers and boozers but you'll probably get ripped off on bottom-of-the-barrel spirits and watered-down drinks!
Here are a couple of places to get you started on your bar-hopping journey:
El Colibri Cocktail Bar: This bar in Centro is located behind an old storefront to give you that hidden “speakeasy” vibe. Very cool interior design, good music, a laundry list of yummy drinks, you can’t go wrong!
Xaguar: My favorite part about Xaguar was the location, it’s on the way to Mirador el Cerro one of the best slow travel activities to do in Puerto Vallarta and the fact that they make their own Vermouth! As a lover of the classic Negroni, I couldn’t pass this one up.
Mezcal & Sal: This bar is unusual and way over the top… and that’s why I loved it. Not my usual scene but what can I say? I’m a sucker for fruity drinks and bomb presentation!
La Tatema Mezcaleria: A cute bar in Versalles that specializes in… yes, you guessed it, Mezcal :D
Bar 322: Called “coctelería de autor” this bar sits on a busy street corner in Versalles and has no shortage of drinks. They offer a different specialty drink daily!
If you’ve been to Puerto Vallarta or any similar city in the world, you know that authenticity can be hard to come by in a place that mainly caters to tourists. However, I think this list will be a good entry point for travelers seeking a more genuine side of the city.
So what do you think of this list? Would you pay a visit to any of these restaurants or bars to try a different side of Puerto Vallarta? Leave a comment below!