When it comes to deciding where to eat in Puerto Vallarta, there’s definitely no shortage of delicious restaurants to choose from. Puerto Vallarta’s culinary scene is always changing. The food in Puerto Vallarta is some of the best I’ve eaten in Mexico. You’ll find every kind of restaurant in Puerto Vallarta – from fancy to uncomplicated – serving just about everything from fresh seafood to pizza, Asian to Mediterranean. And – of course – tacos.
The hardest part of dining in Puerto Vallarta is deciding which restaurant to try next. There are so many mouthwatering options that picking just a few Puerto Vallarta restaurants when visiting can be overwhelming. I’ve dedicated lot of my time eating in Puerto Vallarta. It’s one of my favorite pastimes 🙂 and one of the best things to do in Puerto Vallarta. So, here’s my suggestions of where to eat in Puerto Vallarta.
Choosing Where to Eat in the Puerto Vallarta
Puerto Vallarta’s is a big city. however, the more touristy area is divided into different neighborhoods or zones. Each area has it’s own distinctive qualities and characteristics. Since Puerto Vallarta is large, it’s helpful to know a little about these areas since it makes booking accommodations, getting around and choosing where to eat in Puerto Vallarta – based on your wants and needs – much easier.
To keep it simple, I’ve divided this list of the best restaurants in Puerto Vallarta the same way the info in my What’s the Best Area to Stay in Puerto Vallarta article is arranged. In that companion article you can find out more information about each neighborhoods. For ease, I also created a a Google Map of all the places on this restaurant list. You can save that map to your own Google Map account or your Google Drive for future reference.
Now for the restaurants. Just click on the restaurant name to go their website or Facebook page for addresses and the latest hours.
The Marina Zone
The commercial marina area of Puerto Vallarta is located just north of the tourist hotel zone and downtown. This area has more stand alone restaurants and less street food than some of the other neighborhoods. You’ll find some of the best restaurants in Puerto Vallarta in the shopping area around the marina itself. Here’s a few suggestions of where to eat in Puerto Vallarta and the Marina Zone -starting with a gem right by the airport:
Tacon de Marlin is the go to place for tacos as soon as you land in Puerto Vallarta. Just walk cross the pedestrian bridge and you’re on your way to a fish taco and a cold Pacifico.
D’ Santini serves Italian dishes, sandwiches and burgers but it’s the pizza that’s the star of the show. Theirs has one of thinnest, tastiest crusts I’ve ever eaten in my life.
Sonora Prime has steak, steak and more steak. If you are a meat eater then put this one on your list. The restaurant is a little bit fancy so it’s also the perfect place for a special occasion.
Cervezeria Chapultepec is one of the most fun places to eat in Puerto Vallarta. The restaurant has great service and a lively, casual atmosphere with tasty tacos, burger and their own craft beer.
The Hotel Zone
Even though the Hotel Zone is the area I know the least about in Puerto Vallarta, I’ve researched quite a few places for future visits. Restaurant options in this neighborhood range from local establishments to recognizable chain restaurants. Here’s the Puerto Vallarta restaurants I’m trying next time I visit and stay in the hotel zone.
La Vaca Argentina Steak House serves one of my favorite cuisines. It’s pretty common to find Argentine restaurants in Mexico. Steak and chicken is typically prepared over a fire pit. Also the tasty melted provolone cheese and chimichurri is to die for. I’m excited to try this one next time.
La Madalena is a trendy eatery serving a bit of everything. If the food is half as good as the bar is pretty – then it should be wonderful. I can’t wait to sip some cocktails here.
Oregano Caribbean Cuisine is a restaurant in the up and coming Colonia Versalles near the Hotel Zone. I’ve read really good things about it and the garlic shrimp looks divine.
Where to Eat in Puerto Vallarta Downtown
Restaurants and street food – which means plenty of tacos – can be found all over Downtown. There are traditional restaurants mixed in with restaurants that cater more to the tourists on the malecón. This area has so many eateries that shouldn’t be missed – I can’t include them all but here’s a few recommendations.
Gaby’s is a crowd favorite Mexican restaurant with a relaxing patio and endless views of the bay. They make a famous Caesar salad that’s prepared tableside.
Barcelona Tapas serves Spanish small plates and tapas. They’re known for their sangria, amazing gin and tonics and the perfect paella. Also – from their perch above the city – the vistas are some of the best.
La Cappella is something special. It’s one of the best restaurants in Puerto Vallarta and if I could only pick one place where to eat in Puerto Vallarta it would be here. Located in the Bellview Historic Boutique Hotel, the restaurant overlooks the city and has the best view of the Bay of Banderas. It’s perfect for special occasion or splurge.
Julio’s Churros isn’t technically a restaurant in Puerto Vallarta but the churros are so delicious – it goes on the list.
Pipi’s specialty is their fajitas and margaritas. You really can’t say you’ve been to Puerto Vallarta without having at least one. Or several.
Tacos el Gato is a little taco stand near the beach in Downtown. They have a wide variety of all the popular taco fillings but the el pastor is my favorite. And don’t skip out on the grilled onions and peppers.
La Bodeguita del Medio has the best Cuban food in Vallarta. It’s a solid go-to for dinner, live music and dancing or to just hang out and have a drink. The bartenders – and all the staff – are great.
The Romantic Zone
The Romantic Zone – or Old Town – is my favorite neighborhood in all of Puerto Vallarta. Even though there are more newer buildings and condos than what I’d like to see, it still feels like a piece of old Mexico in a big city. It’s also where I’ve spent the most time and because of that, I’ve tried more food in this area than anywhere else. However, since it has more restaurants and bars than any of the other neighborhoods in Puerto Vallarta – I’ve still got a long way to go. Here’s just a sampling of my favorites.
Café de Olla hands down is my number one, go to spot for breakfast, lunch or dinner in the Romantic Zone and one of the best places to eat in Puerto Vallarta. I can always count on the food being amazing. And the margaritas are the best. Bonus points if you score a small table outside on the sidewalk. It’s perfect for people watching.
Margarita Grill is another one of those places that always comes through. They serve tasty food with generous portions and some of the best cocktails around in an enjoyable beachy atmosphere. The entertainment and live music are top notch as well.
Piazzetta offers pasta, pizza and other Italian food in the Romantic Zone. I love their outside patio. It’s very romantic and their tiramisu is out of this world good. The staff is super nice although I haven’t been anywhere in Puerto Vallarta where the staff was anything but welcoming.
Panchos Takos spells tacos with a “k”. Maybe they don’t know how to spell taco but trust me – the know how to make them. The tacos al pastor are life changing. Kudos for all the mouthwatering sauces that accompany the food. Be warned: there’s usually a line here so plan accordingly.
Serrano’s Meat House has just about every cut of fresh meat you could imagine. Popular items include steaks, burgers and ribs but they have other dishes too. They’re proof you don’t have to leave the Romantic Zone for a nice sit down steak dinner.
The South Zone
As you travel south out of Puerto Vallarta and down the coastal highway, you run into less of a city feel as a few luxury accommodations start to pop up here and there. This is the South Zone and the views alone are worth taking a drive out of town. I haven’t been to many restaurants in this area except when I traveled to Mismaloya and Yelapa. You can read more about my day trips from Puerto Vallarta in another article. Here’s where I’ve been and one recommendation.
Blanca Blue restaurant is located inside Garza Blanca – a luxury resort located approximated five miles from the Romantic Zone. They have three restaurants and a raw bar food truck on site. Blanca Blue serves traditional Mexican fare on a terrace with ocean views of some of the clearest water in all of Puerto Vallarta. This would be an excellent stop enroute to a beach day.
Le Kliff is the one place I see recommended more than any other place in Puerto Vallarta. Is it the food or the unique location perched high about the water? I don’t know but I hope to find out one day.
Best Restaurants in Puerto Vallarta
With up and coming neighborhoods and new restaurants opening all the time, it can be hard to make a decision of where to eat in Puerto Vallarta. My wish list is so long, it will take me forever – or moving to Vallarta permanently – to complete it. What restaurant do you swear by in Puerto Vallarta? Let me know so I can add it. Buen provecho!