Who knew Puerto Vallarta, Mexico had such a good food scene?? I sure didn’t. Imagine my surprise when I started researching restaurants before our trip and pages of highly rated spots popped up for breakfast, lunch and dinner! I was overwhelmed. I persevered determined to find my favorite Puerto Vallarta restaurant! I went through multiple pages and made a short list of restaurants that I definitely wanted to try. I also made an extended list of possible alternatives if we couldn’t get into the ones on the short list.
During this trip to Puerto Vallarta, we stayed at an all inclusive so breakfast and lunch were eaten at the resort so most of these restaurants below are for dinner. It also made sense to try and stay away from downtown as our trip was taken during the COVID-19 pandemic and we wanted to be safe as possible.
If you’re curious what it’s like traveling to Puerto Vallarta during the pandemic, I recently wrote a blog post about my experience at the airport, resorts and downtown. In the meantime, below are the four restaurants in Puerto Vallarta we dined at and my thoughts on each one!
The Iguana Restaurant and Tequila Bar
Looking for stunning views of Puerto Vallarta and Banderas Bay while eating delicious contemporary Mexican cuisine and sipping some of the finest tequilas from the Jalisco region? This is your place. The menu is definitely on the more traditional side of Mexican cuisine but there’s a little personal touch in each dish that Executive Chef Jesus Suastegui incorporates to have a more modern flare.
For example, their Poblano Chile in Puff Pastry stuffed with squash blossoms and cream cheese topped with a roasted pepper and goat cheese sauce. The puff pastry was such a great complimentary crunch to the poblano and the squash blossoms were a pleasant surprise! I loved the subtle creativity in each dish and of course, the cocktails.
I honestly had no idea until we arrived, but Casa Kimberly, where The Iguana Restaurant is located, was actually gifted to Elizabeth Taylor for her 32nd birthday by Richard Burton. During their early romance while both were still married to others, Burton arranged for Elizabeth to stay in Casa Kimberly. The Casa is located across the street from his own house while filming The Night of the Iguana. He even had a bridge built connecting the two casitas to avoid paparazzi. When dining here, you’ll definitely feel the extravagance of the many crystal chandeliers and antique sculptures located throughout the dining room. However, there’s extra charm added knowing that Elizabeth Taylor once roamed these very walls.
Recommendations: Basil Cucumber Margarita, Lobster Tacos, Squash Blossoms, Poblano Chile in Puff Pastry, Diablo Shrimp and of course to top it all off, a Mexican Coffee.
Café Des Artistes Restaurant Puerto Vallarta
A French inspired Puerto Vallarta Mexican restaurant. Can you imagine it? Ok, now take that thought and multiply it by 100 because this meal was better than I could have ever imagined. Chef Thierry Blouet, born in Puerto Rico, is trained in both French and Mexican cuisine. He has taken his love of both cultures and has thrived in Puerto Vallarta where he owns multiple restaurants with Café Des Artistes being the most prominent. And of course, when a chef is given the most prestigious award in the industry and is officially included in the “Maitres Cuisiniers de France,” you can expect anything with his name attached to it to be quite the experience for all of the senses.
Café Des Artistes is most known for their exterior garden dining area. What started 22 years ago has developed into a lush and almost forest like atmosphere. Tall trees and all variety of plants have enveloped the terraces. Add in stringed lights throughout the garden and this combination makes for one of the most romantic dining scenes I’ve ever seen with my own two eyes.
With a good-sized menu and an option for the current tasting menu and wine pairing, there is much to try but only so much room in the stomach unfortunately. I can’t wait to go back and try some of the other items that were calling my name but didn’t get to.
I have to say if I had to choose now, I would choose Café des Artistes as one of the best restaurants in Puerto Vallarta!
- Seared Rougie Foie Gras in Mole with truffled potato siphon, black mole and vinegar sauce, spice bread, tropical salpicon
- Tuna and Avocado Over Salt Block with bread chips, habanero mayonnaise, seaweed, radish and salmon roe, Itsmenas chips
- Suckling Lamb crusted with pistachios, crunchy ossobuco, eggplant cloud, braised carrot, cruncy garlic
- Milk Caramel Fondant with pecan crumble, banana ice cream, caramelized banana
De Mita Restaurant Punta Mita
De Mita in Punta Mita was one of the more casual restaurants we ate at on this trip. However, it was still a delicious meal none the less! De Mita has prime real estate right on the beach in downtown Punta Mita so sunsets here are a must. We were lucky enough to snag a table at opening and the restaurant quickly filled up after us so. I highly recommend calling and making reservations ahead of time.
The motto here is, “fresh ingredients, high quality standards and providing an unforgettable experience.” Their selection of fish for the night is brought in daily by local fishermen so have no doubt that your fish selection is as fresh as it gets!
One of my favorite parts about this restaurant is the freshness of their margaritas. There is nothing pre-made about these. All margaritas are made to order with fresh squeezed lime juice and your choice of tequila. Just the way I like them! Combined with the lively atmosphere and traditional décor, DeMita makes for perfect restaurant in Punta Mita for dinner with friends and family. It would even make a good spot for a date night if you can snag one of the two seaters on the beach.
Recommendations: Fresh Margarita, whatever fresh sashimi they have that day (we got yellowtail and it was delicious), Grilled Chile Relleno stuffed with cheese and shrimp and the jumbo prawns.
SeaBreeze Restaurant at St Regis Punta Mita
SeaBreeze is located at the St Regis Punta Mita which is where we stayed the first few nights before heading into Puerto Vallarta. One of the more casual restaurants on property, SeaBreeze has something for everyone. Chef Julio Curiel has curated a Latin bistro concept that ranges from ceviche to empanadas to pizza to Argentinean-style steaks! Like I said before, something for everyone!
Now most places that have a wide range of items on their menu doesn’t usually execute them all very well. SeaBreeze is not most places. Every single item we had was cooked beautifully and the flavors were spot on. I was truly impressed. I definitely recommend this restaurant in Punta Mita if you’re staying on property or even if you happen to be in the area and you’re looking for a nice casual dinner overlooking the ocean or at their beautiful outdoor bar. Now disclaimer, the food is pricey here, but that is usually expected at a restaurant located on a St Regis property.
Recommendations: Ceviche, empanadas and the Argentinean-style steaks.
Out of these four restaurants, Café Des Artistes has officially won my award for best Puerto Vallarta restaurant! The flavors, the ambiance, the cocktails and the wine list were perfect. It was an experience I’ll never forget and I’ll definitely be back next time I’m in PV.
I’m curious, if you’ve been to Puerto Vallarta and Punta Mita, what are your favorite restaurants? I’m always looking to add to my list! Oh, and let me know if you try any of these. Or if you’ve added them to your own list.