Looking for the best tacos in Puerto Vallarta? Mexico’s popular gay beach resort offers plenty of taco-bilities for visiting foodies.
Our guide to the best tacos in Puerto Vallarta outlines how to find the most delicious tacos and features tips on eating tacos authentically. We also include an interview with the owner of the best taco tour in town.
Our exhaustive list on the best tacos in Puerto Vallarta features everything from street food favourites to fancy interpretations at luxury hotels and award-winning restaurants.
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Where To Find the Best Tacos in Puerto Vallarta
Eric Wichner is the founder of Vallarta Eats, Puerto Vallarta’s leading culinary tourism operator. Dobbernationloves sat down with Wichner to learn more about Puerto Vallarta’s taco scene.
So how do you know when you’ve found the best tacos in Puerto Vallarta? Wichner explains, “If a group of Nationals are at the stand it’s a very good sign. If the family running the stand has been there for multiple generations, you’ve hit the jackpot. You should expect to spend $1.50 for a meat taco and $2.50 for a seafood taco.”
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Best Food and Taco Tours in Puerto Vallarta
Whether you’re traveling alone, with a partner or gaggle of food loving friends, booking a food tour in Puerto Vallarta offers an entertaining way to explore the city’s finger-licking-good food culture.
- Signature Taco and Street Food Tour in Puerto Vallarta: on this 3.5 hour daytime walking tour learn how the locals eat while an expert foodie guide leads you on foot to family-owned eateries and taco stands.
- Tacos After Dark Food Walking Tour in Puerto Vallarta: on this 3.5-hour evening walking tour of Puerto Vallarta’s Old Town, have your your fill of tacos and other delicious street food at night.
- Mole & Pozole Food Tour: on this 3 hour tour pop into 4-6 family-style eateries, and sample foods, such as enchiladas, tacos, tamales, mole and pozole.
- Craft Brew and Bites Tour: experience Mexico’s burgeoning craft beer scene sample up to 15 artisan-produced microbrews on this 3-hour evening tour of Puerto Vallarta.
Tips on How To Eat Tacos in Puerto Vallarta
Wichner offers first time visitors to Mexico tips on ordering and eating authentic tacos. Wichner shares, “If the person touching the money is also touching food, keep walking. Usually the person handling food never touches the money. They’ll have someone else at the stand handling cash. If the taco stand does not have a plastic bag on their plates, keep walking. Most stands do not have running water and plastic sleeves on plates is the best way to keep everything squeaky clean. Also, if the taco is $.5 MXN (about $.30 USD) don’t eat it!”
Most visitors to Puerto Vallarta are unaware that there are a time and place for different types of tacos. Wichner explains, “The goal is to serve the freshest food and this is important for many reasons. If you see Al Pastor in the morning or early afternoon, it was leftover from the night before. That doesn’t mean the food is bad, but we always want to eat food that was just prepared.”
Wichner adds, “Same thing for birria and carnitas, two of Mexico’s favourite breakfast tacos. If you see them at night, they have been sitting all day. It is hot in Puerto Vallarta, so why take the chance? Birria is renowned as a cure for hangovers and is hearty– giving energy to get the day going. It’s rare to see birria offered after noon. Carnitas are rendered in pork fat fat for a long time, so working over a huge copper pot is easier in the mornings when it is cooler. Mexicans also do not eat seafood at dinner. It’s rare to see seafood tacos at night because Mexicans want it for lunch.”
What other ways can we judge if a Puerto Vallarta taco is a winner? Wichner says it’s all in the salsas, “I judge a taco stand by their salsa selection. Most people think all Mexican food is spicy. Not true at all. You add the spice with salsa and control the heat. Often you will see the same salsas: pureed jalapeño, habanero or a salsa verde, which is mild with a tomatillo base. I love the stands who take pride in their salsas and make them fresh every day. In Puerto Vallarta everyone calls pico de gallo, Salsa Mexicana. It took me 5 years of asking for pico de gallo before I learned they are one and the same. Chipotle mayo is also quite popular on seafood.”
Best Hotels in Puerto Vallarta
If you’re planning to feast on tacos all day you’ll also require a comfy bed to rest your head in Puerto Vallarta. The Mexican beach resort caters to romantic couples, families and LGBT travellers.
- Casa Cupula 5 STARS: this luxury boutique hotel sits perched over Puerto Vallarta’s gaybourhood. The chic property just launched a new signature restaurant, by the lesbian couple behind popular Bistro Teresa. The price point for rooms here are higher so the clientele tend to skew older. Check reviews for Casa Cupula.
- Almar Resort 4 STARS: is a gay luxury boutique hotel that sits on a hillside overlooking the wildly popular Mantamar Beach Club. The gay resort attracts more of a millennial crowd as the prices are a bit less steep then neighbouring Casa Cupula. Interior design throughout the hotel is contemporary chic. Head to Top Sky Bar to enjoy the best panoramic views over Zona Romantica. The popular gay bar is also the best place in Puerto Vallarta to watch RuPauls Drag Race. Shangela frequently goes on vacation here. Check reviews for Almar Resort.
- Rivera del Rio Boutique Hotel 3 STARS: this quirky boutique hotel overlooks Puerto Vallarta’s river, a short walk from the local craft market. The chic lobby and spacious luxury suites feature eclectic antiques. Check reviews for Rivera del Rio.
- Marriott Puerto Vallarta 4 STARS: located at the marina, the Marriott Resort is an ideal hotel for families on holiday. The property features Puerto Vallarta’s destination spa, largest pool, beautiful beachfront and a handful of excellent restaurants. The Marriott offers fun kid programming throughout the day, perfect for parents looking to ensure their children have a memorable holiday. Check reviews for Marriott Puerto Vallarta.
- Villa Premiere Boutique Hotel 4 STARS: is an adults-only resort catering to the all-inclusive crowd. The luxury hotel is unique in that it offers all guests ocean views from their rooms. Check reviews for Villa Premiere.
- Casa Kimberley 5 STARS: is a luxurious 5 star boutique hotel located in the former residence of Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton. The chic hotel’s Iguana Restaurant is one of the best fine dining rooms in Puerto Vallarta. Check reviews for Casa Kimberley.
Basilio Badillo 162, 52-322-222-1693
Located in the heart of gay Puerto Vallarta’s Zona Romantica, Panchos Takos regularly appears on “best tacos in Puerto Vallarta,” lists. It’s the taco stand that has received the most media coverage over the years. In the evenings expect to wait in line to be seated, especially if you’re visiting for a late night snack after gay bar hopping.
Panchos Takos features a small restaurant interior and larger outdoor patio. Those waiting in line can enjoy the tunes of a local mariachi band, who perform on the sidewalk knowing they’ll get great tips from the never ending crowds.
Taco lovers patiently wait in long lines, day and night, to sample Panchos signature Tacos al Pastor. These popular tacos are made with spit-grilled pork and are based on the lamb shawarma brought by Lebanese immigrants to Mexico. The truly fusion food offers Middle Eastern flavours wrapped into Mexico’s favourite street snack. The meat is thinly sliced off the spit into a small corn tortilla and served with finely chopped onions, cilantro and diced pineapple. Spritz with a slice of lime and top with spicy salsa!
Located on the corner of Aguacate and Venustiano Carranza, Carnitas Lalo serves the best carnitas tacos in downtown Puerto Vallarta. The Mexican food stand is extremely popular with locals, serving a lengthy line from morning until early afternoon, whenever they sell out.
Traditional carnitas are prepared by braising pork in lard for many hours, until the meat becomes very tender. The word carnitas actually translates to “little meats.” The traditional Mexican dish originates from the state of Michoacán.
You can order your taco at Carnitas Lalo with straight up meat, or we suggest asking for a mix of fat and shredded pork. Locals will smile at your “in the know,” request as the pork fat that gets mixed into the meat adds a burst of flavour. You can top your Carnitas Lalo taco with pico de gallo, spicy salsas and pickled jalapeno.
A local favourite since 1972, Birria Chanfay offers the best tacos in Puerto Vallarta for beef lovers.
Located at Venustiano Carranza between Aguacate and Insurgentes, Birria Chanfay features a street cart on the street and red plastic tables and chairs under a shaded awning. The street cart is where the families coveted beef birria recipe is cooked, while a griddle inside prepares the beef broth fried taco shells.
Birria is one of the most important dishes native to Jalisco state, typically prepared with goat or beef. The dish is a spicy stew, often served at celebratory occasions, such as weddings and baptisms, and holidays such as Christmas and Easter. Preparation techniques vary, but the dish is often served on corn tortillas with onion and lime.
Since Birria is a local dish from the state where Puerto Vallarta is located, you can find many taco stands that specialize in the delicacy.
Hot Taco Tip: order a beef birria taco dorado at Chanfay alongside a cup of consume and glass of agua fresca. Many locals enjoy sipping the flavourful birria broth as a soup, adding their tortilla and salsas at the table. Agua Fresca are often found at the best taco stands in Puerto Vallarta, offering a fresh flavoured juice to pair with your spicy bite. Our favourite agua fresca is a unique Mexican flavour prepared with dried hibiscus flowers, called Agua de Jamaica.
Naranjo 320, 52-322-222-1395
Marisma is located on Naranjo, almost at the corner of Venustiano Carranza. It’s the best taco in Puerto Vallarta for those looking to indulge in Baja-style battered fish.
Marisma first launched in Puerto Vallarta in 1990, with a small seafood taco stand downtown. The food cart is surrounded by orange and blue stools, so you can opt to stand or sit while you wolf down your lunch.
Today, Marisma is ranked as one of the best taco stands in Puerto Vallarta. Their battered red snapper tacos are the signature dish, topped with shredded cabbage and carrots and served with a squeeze of fresh lime. Ask the chef to drizzle their one-of-a-kind sauce on your taco, featuring Jalapeno, onion and soya sauce.
Marisma’s menu also features quesadillas, burrito and a seafood stew taco filled with squid, crab and smoked marlin.
After eating over 20 of the best tacos in Puerto Vallarta, El Moreno is my long lasting favourite. I sometimes wake up suddenly in the middle of the night dreaming about these messy Mexican morsels!
The popular taco stand has been around for years and has a long list of devout local customers. El Moreno taco stand is located on the corner of Francisco Madero and Constitución, in the heart of downtown Puerto Vallarta.
So what’s inside our pick for best tacos in Puerto Vallarta?
The specially of the house at El Moreno is adobada, smoked pork marinated in a red chile sauce with vinegar and oregano. Grab a seat at one of the stools that sit around the taco stand and prepare to get your hands messy! A warm corn tortilla is topped with adobada pork, beans, onion, guacamole, salsa, lime and fresh cheese.
Calle Zaragoza 445, 52-322-222-1336
So are all the best tacos in Puerto Vallarta found on the street? That’s certainly a contentious conversation. While the most authentic tacos are enjoyed as a cheap street food, there are plenty of delicious menu options at upscale fine dining establishments.
The fanciest taco in Puerto Vallarta goes to The Iguana Restaurant at Casa Kimberly. The luxury boutique hotel in downtown Puerto Vallarta was formerly the residence of Hollywood actress Elizabeth Taylor. The A-list star’s likeness appears in vintage portraits throughout the chic, chandelier adorned property.
The chef at Casa Kimberly’s Iguana Restaurant offers a seasonal taco offering that reflects what’s fresh at the farmers market. During our visit in October, the restaurant’s signature taco arrived topped with plump lobster and a colourful slaw.
Calle Guadalupe Sánchez 740, 52-322-226-7200
Considered one of Puerto Vallarta’s first fine dining restaurants, Cafe des Artistes has been serving fancy fare for almost three decades.
Chef and Founder Thierry Blouet transformed Puerto Vallarta’s dining scene by offering European excellence through quality service and creative haute cuisine. Cafe des Artistes is known for serving a menu that is rooted in French cuisine but inspired by Mexico.
Chef Blouet’s signature taco is topped with decadent suckling pig confit, beans, avocado cream, pork rind, fried parsley and jocoque.
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Amapas 380, 52-322-222-4911
The Top Sky Bar is located in the luxurious Almar Resort. The gay Puerto Vallarta hotel’s rooftop bar and restaurant offers jaw-dropping panoramic views of Zona Romantica and the Mantamar Beach Club below.
The sky-high al fresco space features chic beach-inspired furniture, a choir of hot tubs sitting perched over the ocean, and one of Puerto Vallarta’s largest stages. The Top Sky Bar at Almar Resort is famous for hosting the best RuPaul’s Drag Race party in Puerto Vallarta. The city’s top drag queens regularly perform on the open air stage. If you’re lucky you might spot Shangela, the famous American drag performer regularly vacations at the Almar Resort.
The Top Sky Bar offers one of Puerto Vallarta’s best margarita lists (get the spicy Jalapeno number) and brunch menus (we suggest selecting from one of the omelette options). During lunch and dinner service you’ll find classic Mexican fare including mole enchiladas, ceviche, quesadillas and tacos.
The best tacos at The Top Sky Bar are presented in the Baja-style and feature fresh corn tortillas, battered fish, chipotle dressing and cabbage slaw.
Hidalgo 339, 52-322-223-1509
The best tacos in Puerto Vallarta near Church of Our Lady of Guadalupe can be found at local favourite El Campanario. Skip inside and you’ll find mosaic tiled floors, bright pink walls and indigo painted wooden chairs.
Egg dishes and chilaquiles are served between 9-11am, while an inexpensive lunch menu is offered between 2-5pm. For around $5 you’ll get a soup, main dish, drink, homemade tortillas and dessert.
El Campanario is popular with local office workers who come here for takeout or visit between 6pm and 10pm for tacos, tortas and pozole.
El Campanario’s taco menu includes birria (red sauce cooked pork), machaca (scrambled eggs with shredded beef), chicharron (fried pork skin) and a vegetarian option featuring beans with panela cheese.
Calle Mina 252, 52-322-222-0480
Gaby’s Restaurant is located in the heart of downtown Puerto Vallarta. The family-owned Mexican restaurant began in 1989, serving authentic local dishes to sun-kissed tourists.
Gaby’s Restaurant is located across two floors and features four separate dining areas. Balcony seating is available on two levels, overlooking Hidalgo Street. Downstairs in the back, an intimate patio features a romantic waterfall. If you’ve arrived during the hottest and most humid months of the year, make a reservation upstairs, in a separate air-conditioned space. The popular Puerto Vallarta restaurant is especially atmospheric at night, when videos are projected onto a neighbouring building.
Run your finger down the Gaby’s Restaurant menu and you’ll find an encyclopedia of traditional Mexican dishes. Taco lovers have three options at Gaby’s Restaurant, fresh tortillas filled with battered fish, sautéed shrimp or juicy chunks of medium-rare steak. Tacos are served alongside guacamole, pico de gallo and refried beans.
Venustiano Carranza 239, 52-322-260-9718
Looking for the best craft brewery in Puerto Vallarta? Monzon Brewing Company was launched in 2014 by a couple from Seattle who moved to Mexico, keen to offer locals fresh and flavourful craft beer.
Skip inside Monzon Brewing Company and you’ll find a choir of fermentation tanks, which sit under a massive mural featuring a giant octopus devouring a beer barrel at sea.
We suggest hopping up at the bar and ordering a beer flight to find your favourite brew. The brewmaster here produces a variety of craft beer styles including Kolsch, Blondes and hoppy IPAs. You’ll also find creative beer recipes such as Jalapeno Margarita Gose and Coffee and Cinnamon Stout.
If you’re feeling peckish, pair your pint at Monzon Brewing Company with tacos, poke, ceviche, guacamole, vegan tostada or sweet churros.
The Monzon Brewing Company kitchen offers an all-day gourmet taco menu, perfect for pairing with a hoppy IPA. Taco lovers can choose from tortilla topped with brisket, chicharron, cochinita pibil, seared tuna, baja battered fish or chickpea and quinoa.
Av Paseo de la Marina Nte 435, 52-322-226-0017
Marriott Resort is located at Puerto Vallarta Marina and is home to the city’s largest pool and most esteemed destination spa.
The luxury hotel’s open-air lobby lounge, Ceviche & Tequila Bar is a popular restaurant for hotel guests as well as day visitors.
With more than 180 tequilas, 12 kinds of draft beer and a long list of craft cocktails, Marriott Resort’s Ceviche & Tequila Bar is the perfect spot to indulge in a taco snack attack.
The menus stand out taco arrives as a DIY platter topped with succulent, fall-off-the-bone short rib. Diners stuff their own tortillas with short rib, grilled onions, roasted peppers, cabbage slaw, sour cream and avocado sauce.
Juárez 219, 52-322-224-5718
Thus far our list of best tacos in Puerto Vallarta has focused on street vendors and restaurants located in Il Centro and Zona Romantica, easily accessible to tourists.
Ask locals and they’ll tell you the best tacos in Puerto Vallarta are actually found in the neighbourhood of Pitillal, located inland between the downtown and marina. Many of the best taco tours in Puerto Vallarta take visitors to Pitillal as you get a more authentic sense of how locals enjoy the Mexican street food tradition.
Pitillal is a more affordable neighbourhood in Puerto Vallarta, playing home to the staff who work at the city’s hotels, restaurants and bars. The taco stands in Pitillal are likely where your favourite bartender, hotel concierge and restaurant server come to eat after work. From downtown Puerto Vallarta you can reach Pittilal by taxi in just 10 minutes.
Start your taco tour of Pitillal at Taco’s Neto and prepare to wait in line to find a seat inside as the place is a local institution. Taco’s Neto is so popular with locals that it offers three locations to eat tacos in Puerto Vallarta.
Upon arrival at Taco’s Neto you’ll find three ladies working as a team over a hot griddle. The lady standing on the sidewalk tends to sautéed pork with large metal tongs. Inside, one lady prepares fresh tortillas and slaps them on the griddle. The remaining taco chef is responsible for grabbing warm tortillas and filling them before they’re scooped up by servers and taken to the table.
Taco’s Neto specializes in serving pork carnitas. At the table you’ll receive a selection of mild to spicy salsas, pureed avocado and a variety of pickled vegetables like jalapeno, onion and cabbage.
Mariscos Pichi in Pittilal has been serving a variety of seafood tacos for over 38 years. The family-run taco brand in Puerto Vallarta originally sold its Mexican street food in the square in front of Pittilal’s cathedral.
Skip inside Mariscos Pichi and you’ll find the walls are covered in autographs, scribbled on the white and orange walls in black marker. The owner arrives at the table to take your order and then hands each guest a marker, encouraging visitors to leave their mark at the friendly family restaurant.
Mariscos Pichi’s most famous dishes celebrate the oceans bounty. The kitchen’s seafood tostada (a version of a taco where the tortilla is crisped in the deep frier) is served with fresh fish, octopus and topped with avocado. Shrimp lovers can also order a similar version, which is served alongside a cup of flavourful shrimp broth.
The ambiance at Mariscos Pichi is truly unreal. Crunch on tacos while the resident parrot chirps excitedly and watch whatever football match is playing for local sports fans.
Calle Vicente Guerrero 137, 52-322-224-2638
At Tacos La Dieta you’ll find the best carne asada tacos in Puerto Vallarta’s Pitillal neighbourhood.
Skip inside the bare-bones dinning room and grab a seat at one of the plastic chairs. A server will arrive at the table to take your order and we suggest sampling their signature carne asado taco.
A local cowboy strummed on a guitar and sang Mexican love songs as we munched through fresh tortillas topped with grilled beef, beans, cabbage, cilantro and red onions.
Hidalgo 200, 52-322-225-3071
While we tasted beef birria tacos in downtown Puerto Vallarta, Birrieria Robles, who have been open since 1986, offer the more traditional goat variety.
Skip inside Birrieria Robles and you’ll find seating inside a covered courtyard. Once you’ve placed your order hop out of your chair and patiently watch the cooks in the kitchen as they prepare finger-licking-good tacos.
We suggest ordering your goat birria taco as a hard shell option. The chef uses her tongs to grab fresh tortillas, douses them in birria broth and then deep fries them until they’re crunchy.
Birria goat tacos are served with minced onion and we suggest topping them with cilantro, picked red onion and a squeeze of lime.
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