A Taco-Lover’s Guide to Puerto Vallarta, Mexico

Taking a trip to Puerto Vallarta? Love tacos? Looking for the very best places to get tacos in Puerto Vallarta? Well, I wrote this post for you.

Tacos are universally appealing—whether you love meat (carne asada, carnitas, or even cabeza), or mushrooms. They are endlessly customizable with salsa and toppings… and I love them.

Just feed me tacos and I’ll be happy.

On vacation, it’s easy to get overwhelmed with researching destinations, airfare, hotels, and activities—so I did the research, talked to the locals, went on a taco tour, and ate a lot of tacos to create this Puerto Vallarta taco guide for you. Enjoy!

Pancho’s Takos

I waited in line for 30 minutes at 9pm, inhaling the intoxicating aroma of the al pastor as it rotated on a spit. Its edges caramelizing on the open flame, which creates a juicy, tender pork, seasoned with achiote paste and pineapple. The resulting dish is moist, juicy pork, that’s slightly sweet and slightly spicy. Traditionally, al pastor tacos are served in corn tortillas with raw chopped onions and cilantro, but feel free to order them to your liking.

Did you know al pastor actually comes from the Middle East? Yes, al pastor is inspired by shawarma! Lebanese immigrants moved to Mexico in the early 1900s and they brought their spit-roasted meat with them.

I’m one of those people that likes to return to a restaurant as soon as I discover it because we just want more. My husband and I returned to Pancho’s Takos twice in our six day vacation to Puerto Vallarta. You’ll have to wait in line for these tacos, but I promise it’s worth it.

Order this: If you like cheese, order the al pastor quesadillas—the creamy melted cheese plays nicely with the sweet pineapple and spicy al pastor.

Pepe’s Tacos

Every single local we asked about tacos told us to go to Pepe’s, so it’s no wonder they are known as “Puerto Vallarta’s Best Tacos”. Like Pancho’s, Pepe’s is known for their al pastor tacos, which do not disappoint. Their salsas (ranging from creamy avocado to spicy habanero), add an additional layer of depth to these tasty tacos. Add a slice of on-the-house marinated grilled onion to your taco.

Order this: al pastor tacos. Just do it.

Marisco’s La Tia

Aptly named Marisco’s La Tia—Tia means aunt in Spanish—which basically means these tacos are family heirlooms. Marisco’s La Tia is a small stand, adjacent from the Pemex- the only gas station in downtown. Look for the red tile roof with a red tarp under. Originally started in 1975, La Tia now has two restaurants and three stands.

Order this: Marisco’s La Tia’s crown jewel is their taco de marlin, which highlights a locally caught blue marlin that’s been smoked with mangrove wood, marinated in soy sauce and salsa verde, then flash crisped on the flat top grill with onions, then served on a fresh flour tortilla, topped with shredded lettuce and a creamy chipotle sauce. The result is a salty, crispy, savory taco with a similar taste to jerky.

 

More Tacos To Enjoy

Cabeza Tacos–head tacos are made on a flat-top grill, covered with a towel and steamed. This creates a super moist, delicate, fall apart meat.  I know eating “head” sounds gross, but I promise it’s delicious.  I loved the cabeza tacos at  Tacos Don Juan on Aguacate located at 400 Cardenas.

Tacos Asada– the most common taco type.  Carne Asada is beef, usually skirt steak or flank steak, topped with grilled onions, cilantro and salsa.  Most taco stands will have these delicious tacos, but some of the best are the pier at a stand called Taqueria El Cunado that starts serving up tacos at 10am. You can find it between Olas Atlas and Francisca Rodriguez streets. 

Visit Tacos Memos Grill (near Aguacate and Basilio Badillo streets) is one of the oldest taco stands in the city. Try their Volcan salsa with the avocado cucumber salsa mixed with extra hot pepper paste.

Birria Tacos–Birria is a popular stew from Guadalajara, made with marinated goat and served with cilantro, onions and corn tortillas. Try the birria tacos at the Robles taco stand in Romantic Zone on Constitution and Cardenas.

Go on a walking taco tour with Vallarta Food Tours

If you really want a true taco tour of Puerto Vallarta, then my recommendation is simple: Vallarta Food Tours. One night on our vacation to Puerto Vallarta, we met up with a small group of other foodie travelers and went on a walking taco tour of Zona Romantica. We tried several of the tacos above, but also a total of 8 different tacos: all better than the next. I’ve never been so happy to walk for three hours!

Our Vallarta Food Tours guide Manu was a dapper personal chef (hire him in Puerto Vallarta!) who loves giving tours of taquerias on his nights off. I got like five DMs about how handsome he was on my Instagram DMs after he appeared in my Instagram stories. He was one of those people that everyone around town knows, and everyone adores. I had such a great time roaming around town, eating tacos, and learning all about Puerto Vallarta and tacos. Like, the last time they issued a license for a food stand was in 1975.

For an after taco treat, there’s a Churro stand at night in Zona Romantica, near a school… I don’t know what it’s called but ask a cab driver and they’ll know.

If you’re looking for an experience outside of your resort in Puerto Vallarta, I recommend getting an Uber from your hotel (it’s cheaper than a Taxi), and getting some authentic Mexican tacos. Enjoy a stroll along the beach and the Malecon—the main shopping/entertainment/restaurant district—mainly popular with tourists and vendors in the afternoon and evening.

And another thing… many people told me to be careful when visiting Mexico, but to that, I’d say: Puerto Vallarta is very safe. There was noticeable police presence and security around. As always, practice common sense and be smart: don’t go places alone, don’t flash money or valuables or your phone around, etc. Everyone I spoke to (especially at our resort, Now Amber), was very friendly and happy we were visiting Mexico. I can’t wait to go back again.

Via con dios and enjoy your tacos!

Salud,

Becca Risa Luna

The best places to get tacos in Puerto Vallarta

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Author: Becca Risa Luna

Seattle-based fashion writer and personal essayist. Likes designer handbags, glaring openness, and subtle vulgarity.

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