Posted by Vi Warkentin on
Vallarta Food Tours, Puerto Vallarta, Mexico - one of the best ways to get to know a place is to check out its neighbourhood food offerings and what better way than to take a food tour the morning of your first day there! This way you can revisit the places you loved.
And so it was that we booked Vallarta Food Tours - a 3 1/2 hour food tasting tour which highlights some of Puerto Vallarta’s best regional flavours. And flavourful it was! It was a great way to get to know the neighbourhood we’re staying in for the next six weeks. Alex was our guide - informative with a good dose of humour added in made this a memorable and fantastic tour!
Our first stop on the tour was ROBLES BIRRIA TACOS located on Constitución between Lazaro Cardenas and Carranza, a Puerto Vallarta taco stand staple since 1986. The crowds and line-ups still continue - it’s that good. Birria is a slow-cooked stewed spicy beef (or goat) dish made with aromatic red chiles. The birria tacos made by Robles are definitely a Jalisco specialty and after tasting them, I can see why.The aroma from this food stand on Constitución was amazing and then it was our turn to taste these birria tacos. So rich with flavour. Definite YUM! Now I understand why people keep returning day after day and year after year to eat these delicious tacos!
When my beef order arrived on a plastic plate covered in a disposable covering (clever and practical idea), it smelled so good that I finished one of my tacos before I realized that I should capture a photo of this goodness. The slow-cooked tender beef sandwiched between two corn tortillas was covered in onion and cilantro. I had always wondered why two tortillas are used and this I learned - the inner soft shell holds in the juices and the outer one is crispy - having been fried in the birria fat. Melt in your mouth beef with all its flavour and a crispy outside to add the crunch. A perfect combination. Absolutely delicious. Our next stop was TACOS EL CUÑADO on Francisco Rodriguez, just up the street from the Los Muertos pier. This taco stand is run by the same family since 1968! It’s currently run by the original owner’s sons. They specialize in grilled beef and marinated pork tacos. On the side is the freshly-made ‘salsa bar’ with numerous options to top your tasty tacos with - ranging from mild to hot-hot-hot! For me, the pineapple habernero salsa was amazingly tasty (and hot)!
After having two savoury stops, we stepped into a very sweet place! XOCODIVA ARTISAN CHOCOLATES on Basilio Badillo #168. We were given a choice of chocolates to taste from their decadent assortment of artisan chocolates. I chose a dark chocolate with chile - it had a delicious ending with a slight hint of heat - so tasty that I had completely eaten it before I realized I hadn’t taken any photos of the chocolates! Go there and find out for yourself just how tasty these chocolates are! Oh, and next door is Lix by Xocodiva - a fabulous ice cream shop!
I really love ceviche so having a stop on the Vallarta Food Tour at EL GUERO (Francisco I. Madero #294) was a definite treat! Made with only the freshest ingredients, the ceviche made here at El Guero is definitely delicious! While waiting for our ceviche, we sampled freshly made Jamaica (Hibiscus Tea). This agua fresca is made by pouring hot water over hibiscus flowers and letting it steep - it’s tartness and taste reminded me of cranberry juice - very delicious and refreshing.
Our freshly made to order ceviche tostada arrived and definitely tasted as good as it looked.A stop listed on the Vallarta Food Tours itinerary is CESAR’S COCONUT STAND (Aquiles Serdán #255) operating since 1984 - unfortunately for us, the stand wasn’t open when we were there - we hope Cesar is feeling better and back at his stand that he run’s by himself. One of the things that Cesar does at his stand is empty the coconut water into a cup and then slits the coconut open and carves out the delicious flesh, chopping it into pieces and putting it into a plastic bag, sprinkling a combination of tajin (a combination of spices), a dash of salt and a squirt of fresh lime on top - a quick shake of the bag and voila! - a two-for-one coconut treat. Although we couldn’t try Cesar’s coconut delectables, I did try some coconut flesh topped with spices elsewhere during our visit to PV. As advertised by Vallarta Food Tours - Cesar’s has been copied but not replicated!
Next we stopped at LA GLORIA TORTILLA FACTORY located at 5 de Febrero. La Gloria has been in the region for 40 years - the oldest, and, dare I say, probably the busiest as well. Warm, freshly made tortillas - absolutely wonderfull We watched the entire process - from the mound of dough through the various machines until the final perfectly made hot tortillas arrived off the conveyor belt and then scooped up into a pile ready for packaging. A steady stream of customers filed in to pick up their purchases as we observed this factory pump out the tortillas!
Almost two hours into the tour, it must be time for another beverage on this walking tour, don’t you think?! Let’s find the Tuba Water man! We walked down to the Malecon and found him there. This particular tuba water (a fermented coconut palm drink) vendor’s recipe created by a gentleman named Concepcion has a secret ingredient that sets their tuba water apart from the other tuba vendors in town. Their tuba water is made with purified water, juice (sap) from coconut palm, palm sugar, apples and walnuts (oh, and that secret ingredient!).
It’s served from a gourd which keeps it chilled and is definitely refreshing AND delicious!
We took the Vallarta Food Tour on a Monday and one of the stops on the tour (Mole Rosa) is closed on Monday’s so we’ll be tasting molé at our next stop on the tour. We walked along the Malecon crossing over the RIo Cuale into Col. Centro and headed over to our next stop, GABY’S (Mina #252). Gaby’s is a mexican restaurant established in 1989. We took the eleven steps up into the very colourful Gaby’s and headed through one of their dining rooms and into their back garden courtyard to enjoy a number of mexican specialities!As we settled into the courtyard surrounded by a lush garden, we were presented with a trio of glasses and educated on the mexican custom of drinking tequila. First, take the shot of lime juice to cleanse your palate, follow by sipping (yes, sipping we were told) the tequila and end off with a shot of the sangrita. Ahhhh, it was lovely!Next we were served a huge bowl of tortilla soup topped off with fried tortilla strips, some avocado and bits of hard and crumbly cotija cheese (made from cow’s milk). Definitely a very flavourful soup! I was halfway through eating the soup before I remembered to capture a photo of it!Just when I thought I couldn’t eat anything else, we were served Gaby’s molé - a plate with two tortillas filled with chicken covered in two colourful and flavourful sauces (molé).From left to right, molé verde (green tomatillos, coriander, serrano and jalapeno peppers) and molé roja (chiles, garlic and mexican chocolate).And why not end the tour by stopping in at a candy store - not just any candy store - CON ORGULLO AZTECA CANDY STORE (Avenida Juáez #449). This place is located just down the street from The Church of Our Lady of Guadalupe and is an authentic mexican candy factory and store. A definite sweet aroma to this place!
Hundreds of sweet options - these are coconut sweets. YUM. We also tasted several of their other specialties including their sesame covered peanuts which I loved. We dropped by on our way back home with treats for family and friends.Going on Vallarta Food Tours was definitely worth while and I highly recommend this tour - a great way to taste some of Puerto Vallarta’s specialties and a great way to get oriented and get a good feel for this amazing town!
More on the wonderful region in and around Puerto Vallarta to come.