So lots of people come to Mexico and try to get the cheapest of everying — dollar beer, dollar taco, whatever. That’s one way to go. I’d rather spend what might be “a lot” in Mexico and get a really good meal, and somtetimes a fine dining experience. We had some good food in Puerto Vallarta and here is the roundup.
The grill at Cafe de Olla
Restaurante Trio — our hotel couldn’t get us in on the night we wanted, but an ex-pat from a local happy hour hooked us up. He and the matre’d, Jose Luis, go way back, evidently. We have eaten at this restaurant on two prior trips and were not disappointed this time. Our ex-pat friend recommended an unlikely-sounding combination – a sea bass over mashed potatoes and house-made saurkraut… with a sauce and some carmelized grapes. Yeah, sounds weird. The salty, sour, savory, sweet combo was a winner, however. I had the house-made ravioli, ricotta and sun dried tomato. And we shared the sauteed calimari in a tomato-jalepeno sauce. Aside from the great food and interesting decor, the service here is lovely. Much better than we are used to in our college town in the Pacific NW. Your water is never empty, the waiter fills your wine glass when it gets low, and the staff seems to knonw the menu. Prices? We had two entrees, an appetizer, and a bottle of wine for about $60US.
Calamari appetizer at Trio – tender with a spicy broth
No Way Jose — yeah, maybe a kitchy name but it’s another fine dining experience. It’s on kind of a sketchy street; last year, we watched a drunk gringo sleeping on the curb, getting rousted by the cops. So maybe you don’t want a seat with a “view,” but you should definitely sit on second floor. You can see into the kitchen from there and often these is live music. Pomegranite margarita? Tart and delicious. My chiles Nogado — savory and satisfying. I had the vegetarian version which are stuffted with spinach and mushrooms and cheese. And smothered with a cheesy almond sauce that I adore. Some shaved almonds and pomegranite seeds are a garnish. Fresh rolls with a choice of butter and a chipotle-peanut butter-cream cheese spread. Again, service – welcoming, polite, attentive.
Cafe de Olla — a PV standard. Mexican standards at a great price in a fun atmosphere right in the heart of the Romantic Zone. Right on the street is a huge grill where meats and seafood are grilled, with some stuffed potatoes and veggies. A line forms out front for seating and you can order a drink while you stand in line. If you want a table faster, you can agree to be seated with some other folks at a large table. We have always found this quite enjoyable — best to vet the folks while you are in line though to be sure you don’t mind visiting with them over a meal. There are special seafood or surf and turf platters that serve two or more, hot off the grill. Chiles rellenos are my favorite here. I can also vouch for the cheese enchiladas and the tender octopus. You might also enjoy the giant margaritas.
Figueroa’s — need a quick “California style” burrito lunch or dinner? This small mom-and-pop place is the one. No liquor license, so have your beer before or after. Instead, order one of the agua frescas. Jamaica (promounded, I think, huh-mike-uh) is my favorite; I hear it’s made from hibiscus flowers. Veggie burrito will fill you up and there is a variety of sauces to choose from. I saw some local construction workers turcking into big bowls of a meaty soup. You might want to try that if it’s your thing. Flan for dessert? Porque no?