For a small town, Yelapa has more than its fair share of good restaurants. When we visit, we have our favorites and try to equally divide our dinner experiences among them. In fact, I draw a little calendar in my travel journal and every day I mark down where we had dinner. I will share my opinions with you, with a few disclaimers (see end of post).**
There is a system in Yelapa where restaurants have staggered closed nights. Check the signs you see posted around town. If you are planning your time to hit a certain restaurant on a certain night, make sure it’s open and avoid disappointment!
Abuelo’s — this place has only been around for a year or so. Rumor is that the chef used to cook at the fancy Ventana resort. It’s a small place located on the second floor of a building in the pueblo. When we were there, there was an older lady (the chef/owner’s mom?) making blue corn tortillas. How fresh is that? If you want something light, try the salad with goat cheese. If you want something giant (and full of fresh fish and other treats), order a burritos. I am not so big on fried food, but I hear the chimichangas are the best. The staff is friendly, the prices reasonable.
Brisas — this tiny place has outdoor seating in the patio of a private home. During the day, it is a bakery where you can buy yummy banana bread, cinnamon rolls, delicate cookies. At night, the outdoor tables are set up, candles are lit, and you will have a good dinner. You will find fresh, simple food here. I recommend the chile relleno, any of the enchiladas, and the fish specials. If gondo berries are in season, you must order the gondo berry margarita. Your server might be Mayra, who is one of the nicest people I have ever met.
Tacos y Mas — you will find this place on the path to the town waterfall. Two fish tacos and a side of beans make me a happy diner. Pablo and Diki, the owners, are very welcoming. And the sauces Diki makes for her specials? Creamy lemony capery heaven. Or rich and buttery, on the parmesan mahi mahi. The panko breaded fried seafood is a crispy treat. And don’t pass up the avocado pie for dessert — green frozen sweet creamy — order it. If Pajuelas (hope I spelled it right) is your waiter, he will be patient while you practice your Spanish.
Ray’s — Ray used to cook at the Shambala restaurant and now he has his own place in the pueblo. I think he is currently the only game in town for pizza. (And it’s good.) He also does some yummy fresh fish specials and breakfasts. Plus he and his staff are incredibly nice.
Cafe Bahia — when I have had too much cheese and rich food, this is where I go. They are open for breakast and lunch and you will find what I call healthy California-type cuisine. Beet salad, bean and rice bowls, juices, special omelets, greens. Served with a great view of the pier where you can watch the boats loading and unloading their passengers and cargo.
El Manguito — if you walk upriver, you will find this place near the bridge. From the restaurant, you have a nice view of the river and the associated bird life, farm animals, and human comings and goings. I have never had a bad meal here. The coconut shrimp are especially good, crispy with a luscious sauce. All the dinners come with veggies, salad, rice. If you need a mac and cheese fix, I recommend the pasta with white sauce. It is creamy and satisfying, with pieces of pineapple thrown in for good measure. And if he has crawfish avaiable, you better order them. Luis (the owner) also serves a good quality raicilla here. (Raicilla is a locally made, very strong liquor. Think moonshine.) Sipping a shot after dinner might be just the ticket before you walk home. Don’t forget your flashlight.
Gloria’s — in the pueblo is a fun place to catch live music or watch a game on TV. They serve your usual Mexican standards and they are tasty. I can vouch for the chile relleno.
Rogelio’s — if you are on the beach and looking for beer, a snack or lunch, I recommend this beachfront bar. We like the ceviche and the tuna-stuffed avocado. The ceviche will easily serve two for a heavy snack or light lunch.
This year, I am looking forward to trying Oasis and Yacht Club; I have heard they have both changed hands since last year and have new menus. I also look forward to eating at Passion Flower Gardens; rumor has it they have resumed some dinner nights and movie nights. However, I am saddened to hear that El Cerrito has closed. It was the closest to “fine dining” as I have seen in Yelapa. We will miss the seared tuna and the beet risotto.
**Disclaimers: There are restaurants I don’t mention here. That doesn’t mean they are bad and you should avoid them. They might be restaurants we haven’t tried. Or maybe they are meat-oriented and we don’t eat meat. Or we may have eaten there last year but know it has changed hands since then and can’t vouch for it. So, if your favorite place isn’t mentioned, don’t be upset. But do let me know; I may want to try it on our next visit!**