The best way to experience a town is to enjoy some local food. Walking around a town we have yet to visit, trying local cuisine is one of our favorite things to do. We think this is the best way to familiarize yourself with the culture, and keep our bellies happy! We knew before we got to Puerto Vallarta that we had to try a food tour. Food is a huge part of the Mexican culture and celebrations and we couldn’t wait to explore more! Mexico does not disappoint when it comes to their food. Food tours are the best way to learn about the flavors of Puerto Vallarta and keep your belly happy!
Vallarta Food Tours has a variety of tours but we signed up for the downtown tour so we could see a little more of the town since it’s our first time visiting. All tours are 10 or less people, so it’s an intimate experience. They are great about dietary restrictions, just let the guide know ahead of time. There was a couple on our tour that were vegetarians, and every place we visited had an alternative for them. They seemed super happy with the other options as well. We met up with Manuel downtown and knew from the start we were in good hands. Manuel is a private chef, so we knew that he must know a thing or two about food. Manuel gave us a map and a list of all our stops on the tour. He did let us know that the order would be a little different today because it was the middle of the Lady of Guadalupe festival which lasts the first 12 days of December. And from here, we were off on the tour.
We started the tour off with a bang, at a little taco stand called Tacos El Cunado. This is one of the oldest taco stands in Puerto Vallarta. It’s family owned and operated for almost 50 years. It’s right downtown close to the malecon. The beef tacos are served on corn tortillas. Each taco stand has an array of salsa, from mild to fiery hot. Tacos El Cunado is known as the top carne asada tacos in town. We definitely agree that these were some of the best tacos.
The second stop was another taco stand, my personal favorite, Tacos Robles. We tried some birria (Spanish for slow braised meat) beef tacos, slow cooked for 8 hours and shredded with onion and cilantro on a fried corn tortilla. They use two tortillas, the bottom one keeps the juices in and the top one is fried and crispy. The juices just dripped off the taco. The meat was so tender and juicy then topped with onion and cilantro and your choice of salsa. This taco was absolutely delicious! I could have eaten there every day of vacation! There was a line when we got there, and it sounds like its such a popular place that there is usually always a line. Manuel said they usually sell out by the afternoon.
Sometimes its hard to tell one taco stand from another but Manuel shared with us two ways you can spot a great local taco stand. The first is if there is a long line of locals that usually means its delicious. And second the stands should use plastic bags over the plates, which is a way to reuse the plates but still be sanitary, and is actually a health requirement. A street taco runs anywhere from 11-35 pesos a piece (.50-$2 USD).
We could have been done with the tour after these 2 stops and be completely satisfied, but we still had 7 more stops to make! From there we headed to Mariscos Cisneros seafood restaurant, where we tried a stuffed jalapeno smoked marlin and shrimp taco. It was deep fried and sliced on a corn tortilla. Apparently this is the place to go for seafood.
Some other great places that we visited during our time with Vallarta Food Tours were a coconut stand, a tortilla factory, a chocolate factory, a candy store, and a stop on the malecon to meet Concepcion for a drink called “tuba”. Tuba is fermented coconut sap. Ever vendor makes their own version of Tuba. Concepcion mkes his with honey, apples, and pecans. A nice refreshing drink on a hot afternoon.
Check out our full tour here:
Towards the end of the tour we headed to Gaby’s for some tortilla soup, mole, and tequila shots. As we ate and drank Manuel told us more about the history of Gaby’s. They started selling homemade dinner from their house in 1999. When business started getting too big they had to move out of their home and make it their business. The tequila shots are called Banderas, meaning flag. It’s a set of 3 shot glasses, representing the colors of the Mexican flag. Here, we learned the correct way to enjoy tequila. And no, it’s not chasing the tequila with a lime. You start by drinking the lime juice, to prime your mouth of the tequila. Next you sip the tequila. Then you follow that with a sangrita, which is the chaser. The sangrita is a mixture of tomato juice, orange juice, lime juice, worcestershire sauce, tabasco sauce and salt and pepper, which actually tastes better than it sounds. It was a nice way to enjoy the tequila and to finish the tour.
The 3 hour downtown tour was the perfect mixture of great food, flavors and history. Walking through the town with Manuel, we were able to learn about the town, the culture, and the food. It was fun to learn the history of each restaurant. Most of the businesses started from the ground up and had to work hard to become as successful as they are now. We have a new appreciation for the people who have made the food here such an integral part of the town and the culture.
The food tour is a great way to check out the town and try some great local cuisines. We found some places that we wanted to visit again, and would definitely recommend to others visiting. I recommend doing the tour early in your visit to Puerto Vallarta, that way you have time to go back and visit some of the places you visit. Food is a big part of the culture. If you are visiting Mexico, make sure to fully immerse yourself in the culture and the food and book a tour with Vallarta Food Tours.
Price: Downtown Food Tour is $49
When: Everyday starting at 11am (other tours and times available)
Private tours are available
Contact Vallarta Food Tours at 1-888-457-2210 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Our bellies were completely satisfied and our brains filled with knowledge when we were done with the tour. Thanks to Manuel for being an awesome guide, we learned so much! Have you ever done a food tour while visiting a new town? Tell us about it in the comments below!
A big thank you to Vallarta Food Tours for hosting us on the tour. We really enjoyed our time with you. As always, all opinions and thoughts are our own.