I wrote about this a while back and, okay, I pretty much stick with the same things but in case you want to get off the beaten touristy path, here are a few places I like to eat. And, yeah, I'm not a orange salsa dribbled on top of walnuts grown in the rain forest and marinated in oyster's from the Baltic sea kind of girl, so the food I'm recommending is just good, plain, num food.
Hands down my two favorite places are:
1. Freddy Toucans...Basilio Badillo 245 in Old Town
It's just a staple of good breakfast and great service. My favorites are chilaquiles rojos which I usually add a couple of eggs to or if you love good beef, they make an awesome machaca. On Sat/Sundays this place gets crammed pretty quick and you may have to wait 15-20 minutes before you can get in - but I swear it's worth it.
2. Don't Know the Name .... Rio de La Plata - close to Brasilia in the Colonia 5 de Diciembre
This place is absolutely amazing and the price will blow your socks off. It's in the living room, backyard of the chef's house - the backyard is this small little garden oasis that you can't believe just looking at the front of the house. You'll know you're at the right place because there will be about 2 tables in the front with some chairs and, in this residential neighborhood, well, it stands out . Seriously great great food and the price is unbeatable.
Well, I stick to stuff I like. Which is:
1. Pipis ... Guadalupe S¡nchez #807, Downtown Vallarta
I'm not going to lie and say the food is absolutely amazing - it is a TexMex style food - but it is GOOD and it is PLENTIFUL. The chips and salsa are awesome and they make guacamole right at the table (it's customary to tip the guy making the complimentary guacamole - we usually give him $20.00 pesos). The margaritas are HUGE and YUMMY (I love peach, mango or banana). My favorite dish is nachos which I always ask them put carne desebrada (shredded beef) on it - for $60.00 pesos you can't beat it. But I also like their Mexican platter which is big enough to feed 3-4 people. Shell out $50.00 pesos for the Mexican Trio to sing my favorite which is Guadalajara or maybe La Bamba or Cancion del Mariachi or Besame Mucho.
2. Mayoyote ... Guatamala y Bolivia (thereabouts) in 5 de Diciembre
If you want some good carne asada, this is the place to go. Homemade tortillas and just really really good tacos and quesadillas. This place started out this little tiny place and every year they've added to it and it's grown to something pretty special.
3. El Brujo .... venustiano carranza 510 in Emiliano Zapata (close to Old Town)
This is where I send people when they tell me they want true Mexican food. Must order the Molcajate which is this amazing spiced beef which is served in a bowl of lava rock with cactus, onion and panela cheese, homemade tortillas to the side - absolutely YUM. Their margaritas are also nummy and I recommend the mango margarita.
4. Pollo Feliz .... all over the place ... it's a chain restaurant
Don't laugh. I know it's a chain. But their tortillas are made from hand. The chicken is grilled on a huge grill in the back and it's just yummy. If you like grilled chicken tacos, this is the place to go. Don't be shy . Get the guacamole and a quesadilla (which you will fill with the chicken) ... it comes with their amazing salsa.
They have several locations but for most of you the most convenient one is probably right downtown. I remember when they had only 2 places, so this little restaurant has grown . My favorite is shrimp cocktail but really any of their fish and shrimp is good. It's just a staple of good seafood .
A BIT DIFFERENT
1. Aqua Fresca .... they like to serve water down here that's been flavored naturally with fruit. My favorite place for this treat is the Michoacana (it's a chain) and my favorite one is located right smack downtown next to Los Arcos, right across the street from Starbucks. I love Naranja (orange), Jamaica (it's a kind of root of fruit - really refreshing on a hot day and you're thirsty), and horchata (which is a rice based, milk drink spiced with cinnamon).
2. Street sold corn. When you are walking around downtown (especially at night) you'll see a few street vendors selling corn in a cup. I will admit that this is a MUCH better treat in mexico city because the corn, for some reason, in Vallarta is a little on the dry side. But a good treat, nonetheless. I like mine with mayonnaise, cheese (it's a special kind of cheese - I swear this isn't as good without it), some lemon, some salt, a little dry pepper spice.... you mix it altogether and eat it - yummy.