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Mexico is famous around the world for its flavorful and spicy cuisine, and there’s no better place to explore the gastronomy of Mexico than Puerto Vallarta. On Mexico’s west coast, the best authentic Mexican food in Puerto Vallarta includes familiar classics, uniquely Mexican dishes, and fresh seafood. Exploring different restaurants in Puerto Vallarta and trying new dishes treats you to a rich taste of the local culture.

Al Pastor

While many cities across Mexico serve al pastor tacos, many argue that it’s best done within the gastronomy of Puerto Vallarta. Here, al pastor is pork meat that’s been marinated in spices and salsa for hours before being slowly roasted on a spit, and the meat is carved and served with pineapple on soft corn tortillas. The best restaurants in Puerto Vallarta are the street taco stands, where cooks slowly carve al pastor meat off the skewer all night long.

Mole


Mole sauce creates some of the best authentic Mexican food in Puerto Vallarta, and while it originally comes from the state of Oaxaca, several restaurants in Puerto Vallarta serve traditional mole dishes. This sauce is made from tomatoes, several varieties of chiles, and a long list of spices including cloves and cinnamon, but the star of the dish is chocolate. Legend has it that this staple in the gastronomy of Mexico was created when nuns threw together every ingredient they could find in order to quickly prepare a meal for a visiting archbishop. Wherever it comes from, the mix of unique ingredients mirrors the rich diversity of Mexico. If you see mole enchiladas or chicken at restaurants in Puerto Vallarta, be sure to order this traditional, flavorful dish.

Pescado Zarandeado

The gastronomy of Puerto Vallarta stands out from other regions for its abundance of seafood dishes, and much of the best authentic Mexican food in Puerto Vallarta comes from the sea. For delicious Puerto Vallarta Mexican food, order pescado zarandeado. To prepare this dish, chefs first butterfly a whole fish open and then marinate it in salsa, garlic, mustard, lime juice, and soy sauce. The fish is then laid in a grilling grate and cooked on both sides. For seafood lovers, a whole grilled fish is the best food in Puerto Vallarta. 

Ceviche


One of the most common Puerto Vallarta Mexican food dishes is ceviche, a light and cold mixture of lime juice, tomato, avocado, onion, cilantro, and any kind of seafood. The most common types of ceviche in the gastronomy of Puerto Vallarta are fish, shrimp, and octopus. What makes this dish unique is that the seafood isn’t cooked with heat. Rather, the acid in the lime juices denatures the meat, killing parasites and giving it both the appearance and texture of normally cooked seafood. Since it’s some of the best food in Puerto Vallarta, you can find it served everywhere from on the street to in the top gourmet restaurants. 

Desserts

The gastronomy of Mexico includes many fabulously sweet and decadent desserts. Churros coated in cinnamon sugar and dipped in chocolate or creamy flan dripping in caramel are two delicious ways to end a meal of Puerto Vallarta Mexican food. After dinner, a common drink served when family and friends are sitting around and savoring the final hours of the day is cafe carajillo, coffee with a sweet liquor. These treats put a rich final touch on a delicious day of exploring the best food in Puerto Vallarta.

From fresh seafood to the decadent desserts, authentic Mexican food extends far beyond the typical American fast food versions. While you could stick to burgers and fries on your Puerto Vallarta vacation, diving into the local gastronomy will surprise you with delicious flavors and authentic dishes you’ve never heard of. Make the most of your time in Mexico, and your taste buds will be sure to thank you!

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