Memo’s Pancake House
Memo’s specializes in pancakes and waffles – from plain to fanciful creations topped with fruit, nuts and whipped cream. They also serve eggs Benedict, burritos and freshly squeezed orange juice. To top it off, the bottomless cups of coffee are brewed from house-roasted beans.
A long-time favourite on the beach strip known as Olas Altas (translation: high waves), Daiquiri Dick’s serves a combination of Mediterranean, Mexican and Asian dishes. Start with a frozen strawberry/banana daiquiri and then order the luscious shrimp tacos. Finish your meal with key lime pie.
The Red Cabbage Café
This off-the-beaten-path hideaway on the Cuale River specializes in classic Mexican fare such as peanut soup, mole from Pueblo and chilies en nogada. The menu here is based on the food served at the wedding feast of famous Mexican artists Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera. This restaurant is open Monday through Saturday for dinner.
Hacienda San Angel
In the heart of the city, owner Janice Chatterton bought and renovated five traditional villas, linking them with winding walkways, tropical gardens and hand-carved fountains. Starting in the reception lounge (once the home of actor Richard Burton), the Hacienda San Angel is furnished with exquisite art and antiques and looks like something from the pages of Architectural Digest. Until recently, only hotel guests could dine here. However, due to popular demand, non-guests may also now reserve ahead for an al fresco table on one of the many terraces or in the dining room. Try the coconut shrimp soup, seafood pasta and Angel’s flan.
Bring a voracious appetite to this all-you-can-eat emporium. Service is fast and friendly, starting with an array of salads and dipping sauces. The waiters make the rounds with long skewers of sizzling meat, carving mouth-watering portions directly onto your plate! On a typical evening, five kinds of beef, including filet and rib-eye, turkey, ribs and pork loin will be on the menu.
Joe Jack’s Fish Shack
The atmosphere is funky and casual, but the cooking is superb. Located in the Romantic Zone on Basilio Badillo, Joe Jack’s is a fun spot for lunch or dinner. Shrimp and avocado tostados or whole red snapper roasted with garlic and chilies slide down extremely well with a gazpacho bloody mary or ginger mojito. On Fridays, be sure to dip into the all-you-can-eat beer-battered fish and chips.
Minimal black-and-white decor propped with hundreds of milk cans creates a dramatic backdrop for chef and owner Alfonso Cadena’s sensational dishes. His menu changes daily, based on seasonal local produce. Catalan ceviche, cinnamon shrimp, “orange crush” duck and chocolate pudding with popcorn ice cream are just a few of the surprises. La Leche is in the Hotel Zone beside the Fiesta Americana hotel.
Archie was director John Huston’s personal chef when he was in Puerto Vallarta filming The Night of the Iguana. In 1986, Archie opened this restaurant just steps from the Los Muertos Beach. His family continues to run this much-loved establishment. Kick off your meal with a mai tai or maybe a passion fruit margarita. Favourites from this Asian-inspired menu include Thai coconut shrimp, barbecued riblets and “drunken” noodles. Vegetarians also have plenty of options. From Thursday to Sunday, a harpist plays soul-soothing tunes here in the evening.
Your climb up a few flights of stairs is rewarded with terrific food at this authentic Spanish tapas restaurant. It’s popular, so make a reservation and ask for a table with a view on the second level. Home-baked bread and complimentary potato salad start the meal off right. In addition to fabulous hot and cold tapas, there’s also seafood paella. Order a pitcher of either red or white sangria to accompany your meal.
Trio Restaurant, Bar and Café
Located in a colonial home in Centro, Trio serves Mediterranean food with great style and impeccable service. The Lebanese salad is a winning combination of thinly sliced baked beets topped with marinated goat cheese. There’s always a special fish of the day and terrific vegetarian dishes to choose from. Here, you can order main courses in small or regular portions. Either way, save room for the warm chocolate cake for dessert. A friendly sommelier is also on hand to help you choose from an extensive international wine list.
Joe Jack's Fish Shack photo courtesy of Mattock Photography, Puerto Vallarta.