Dining in Puerto VallartaVallarta offers many options for dining well, if not particularly cheaply. A plus for foreign visitors is the purified water—including ice—that is universally used by licensed food and beverage establishments. (If in doubt, ask for bottled water, juice, beer or a soft drink.) While food quality is dependable, it is the striking ocean views that distinguish many local restaurants.
Most places to eat at hotels offer a standard steak and seafood menu. Seafood, Mexican and Argentinian are some of the choices at eateries along the 3 blocks of Calle Basilio Badillo between Pino Suárez and Insurgentes.
If you want to sample authentic Mexican cooking and rub elbows with locals, try Cenaduria Doña Raquel, at Leona Vicario #131 (half a block east of the malecón). Along the back wall of a small, simple dining room, Mexican women whip up delicious flautas, enchiladas and tostadas in an open kitchen. The pozole (pork, cabbage and hominy stew) is excellent—and for the adventurous eater, also available with a “triple portion of head meat.”
For some of the city's tastiest and cheapest cuisine, grab a quick lunch at a sidewalk taco stand. You'll find them all over town, with an especially high concentration on the streets south of the Río Cuale in the Zona Romantica. Food vendor carts at the southern end of the malecón sell everything from fish on a stick to fresh-cut fruit. As is the usual case with street food and hygiene, use your best judgment. Does the operation look clean? Is it busy? If so, it's usually fine.
A casual dress code is the rule, although wearing shorts to dinner may be frowned on at some of the nicer places. Some local restaurants shut down for a month during the summer. See the Lodgings & Restaurants section for AAA Diamond designated dining establishments.
Puerto Vallarta, JA
AAA’s in-person hotel evaluations are unscheduled to ensure the inspector has an experience similar to that of members. To pass inspection, all hotels must meet the same rigorous standards for cleanliness, comfort and hospitality. These hotels receive a AAA Diamond designation that tells members what type of experience to expect.
6 meters (20 feet)
In case of emergency, dial 060 and ask to be connected to an English-speaking operator. For non-emergencies phone (322) 290-0507.
Avenida Francisco Villa #900 (second floor); phone (322) 225-0000 (English may not be spoken fluently). The office is open Mon.-Fri. 9-3 and can assist with time share, taxi, store and other consumer-related issues.
Ameri-Med Hospital, in Plaza Neptuno at the entrance to Marina Vallarta (Boulevard Francisco Medina Ascencio), (322) 226-2080; CMQ Downtown Hospital, Basilio Badillo #365 at Insurgentes, (322) 223-1919; Red Cross (Cruz Roja), Avenida Río Balsas (at Avenida Río de la Plata), (322) 222-1533. All of these facilities are open 24 hours.
Local phone calls
If you don't have a cellphone, use public Telmex phones marked “Ladatel” rather than calling from your hotel room, which almost always incurs a hefty per-minute charge. Ladatel phone cards are available in various denominations from most local stores. Avoid phones with pictures of credit cards or decals saying ”3 minutos gratis” that advertise long distance calling to the United States and Canada; the charges will be outrageous.
Vallarta Today is an English-language daily newspaper geared toward tourists; it has information on everything from local restaurants to currency exchange rates.
Avenida Independencia Puerto Vallarta, JA . Phone:(322)224-1175
Banks are usually open Mon.-Fri. 9-5, although hours for exchanging foreign currency may be restricted and there's often a long waiting line. Currency exchange houses are open longer hours. ATM withdrawals are in pesos; receiving U.S. dollars usually requires a Mexican bank-issued ATM/credit card. Stores, restaurants, taxi drivers and street vendors will often accept dollars, but keep in mind that the minimum wage in Mexico is very low and workers in resort areas depend on tips to make a living. Always tip in pesos if possible, since U.S. coins are useless and dollars must be converted.
Crimes targeting tourists are infrequent, and it's safe to walk the downtown streets. Avoid carrying large amounts of cash in public and don't wander along back streets after dark. A hotel safety deposit box is a good place to keep money, passports, airline tickets, tourist permits and so forth. Bilingual “tourist police” wearing white safari outfits and baseball caps patrol the downtown area and are generally friendly and helpful.