Specialization is a key to successful street dining in Puerto Vallarta.
“Beware of vendors who offer everything!” I’m warned. “Be sure to go where there are plenty of Mexicans”.
It’s rare that I trust street food anywhere, never sure of what risk I might be taking, but today I’ve encountered a machete’-wielding man hacking coconuts under a palm tree, sampled fresh tortillas at a neighborhood tortilla factory, and entrusted my palate to a bustling family operation serving the local steak specialty called birria.
Vallarta Food Tours is the brainchild of Lindsey Prime, an enthusiastic American expat living in Mexico. Her love of local street food and Mexico itself prompted her to create a food tour in 2011.
“This is significant in Mexico,” says Lindsay, “because people are unsure of where they can eat and if they will get sick. Most people want to try a street taco but have no idea which one, where to go, what to order and therefore miss a lot of the really amazing food here.”
Each locale she works with has been interviewed and vetted with multiple quality assurance tastings (nice work, huh?). galleries. The city has a “melting pot” feel and embraces its expat and gay communities. You’ll find gay tours or gay bar hopping, boutique gay hotels, and you’ll meet artists and expats who run businesses.
This greatly affects the welcoming atmosphere of Puerto Vallarta. If your Spanish is rusty you’ll have no trouble communicating in English or paying with American or Canadian dollars.
The Puerto Vallarta Botanical Gardens sits on 20 acres of lush mountainside just 30 minutes away. Founded in 2005 by Americans Bob and Betty Price, the garden conserves and displays native plants with a significant focus on the hundreds of orchids native to Mexico’s western coast.
There is a lovely simplicity here. Many of the plants are casually displayed in groupings of mismatched pots, orchids grow out of tree bark or appear to dangle in the air, just as irregular as Mother Nature intended.
Although a small garden by some standards, it’s big on natural beauty. Numerous trails and a river walk allow visitors to observe orchids in their natural environment, surrounded by the forest’s silence. The restaurant serves up drinks and a wonderful lunch on the veranda.
What better way to end our visit than a sailing tour with Vallarta Adventures? Their sunset sail should be referred to as Vallarta Relaxation! We boarded and headed to Banderas Bay as cocktails were mixed.
Visiting the marina before our sail gave us time to wander around ogling the serious, sleek yachts in the harbor which in turn is surrounded by elegant condo complexes, everything in shades of white and blue.
There are about a dozen of us waiting to board our Beneteau sailboat which is no less elegant, albeit smaller than the yachts we’ve seen. The Vallarta Adventures crew is going to make sure we relax Mexican style; appetizers and drinks appear from the fully provisioned bar below deck.
Ahead is the wide, open sea; behind is a cityscape tucked against a purple mountain range – the Sierra Madre. The wind whips the sails, gulls watch from above, and laughter trails back to those of us sitting under the canopy.
For the next two hours as the sun begins to set and darkness settles in we experience Puerto Vallarta from the unique perspective of the Pacific waters.
We were wooed by reliably warm breezes and a spectacular sunset. There’s plenty of chatter, new friends, and romantic moments. Good night Puerto Vallarta.
For More information
www.visitpuertovallarta.com – PV Tourism board
www.Vallarta-adventures.com – Sunset sail
www.triopv.com – Trio Restaurant
Cindy Bigras is GoNOMAD’s expert on all things Italian, but she shows the same enthusiasm for Sweden or Austria or Virginia, or wherever else she decides to go. Cindy grew up in Vermont and studied and worked in Florence, Italy, for three years. It was there that her love for all things Italian was born.