Sample Street Food
Puerto Vallarta is one of Mexico's foremost foodie destinations. You'll find excellent dining options both in restaurants as well as food stalls. If you don't speak Spanish it may be a bit daunting to consider ordering food on the street, so a food tour is a perfect way to venture into the world of street eating. Your guides know the best places to stop, businesses that have delicious food and good hygienic practices (because the last thing you want to deal with on your vacation is "Montezuma's Revenge"), and you'll get a personal introduction to the vendors and the city.
Vallarta Food Tours offers a variety of options for street food tours. The most popular is their original Downtown Vallarta Tour which runs during the day and includes visits to cultural attractions such as the Guadalupe Church, the town plaza, and the Malecón as well as a variety of food tastings.
On my recent trip to Vallarta, I went on the evening taco tour, described on the company's website as "The Street: An Evening Taco Adventure Food Tasting & Cultural Walking Tour" which runs through Emiliano Zapata and 5 de Diciembre neighborhoods. The tour included a total of eight stops, including one for a mezcal tasting and a churros stall for dessert at the end of the evening.
Discover Street Food Institutions
This tour is ideal for taco and street food lovers interested in exploring the vibrant streets of Vallarta at night and also for adventurous food lovers who know that some of the best food in the world is found on the street. You'll get a chance to try delicious regional foods as well as explore the sights and sounds of beautiful Puerto Vallarta. When the sun goes down, the streets come alive.
We met at a sit-down restaurant where we had the first taco of the evening, and our guides handed each of us a bottle of water and a flyer containing a map showing the location of the stops we would make as well as other foodie recommendations throughout the city.
Food Stands and Sit-Down Restaurants
The tour intersperses sit down restaurants with food stalls, and there's the option to have a beer or wine at one of the stops. The Street Taco Tour uncovers typical Vallarta street foods visiting stands known and loved by locals, some that have been around for generations. You’ll feel like a local as you stroll the streets of Vallarta, stopping to eat outside, alongside regulars. In addition to street food, we visited two of Vallarta’s oldest cenaduria restaurants, both proudly family-owned.
The tour takes visitors over the bridge to Isla Cuale and past the steps leading to Liz Taylor's former home, Casa Kimberly, and a statue of John Huston, the director whose film The Night of the Iguana brought Puerto Vallarta to the world's attention. We learned about how these Hollywood types along with actor Richard Burton bought homes and lived here in the 1960s. The tour also includes a ride on a city bus so you can learn to travel like the locals.
We sampled mezcal which was served with orange slices covered with red powder that our guide explained was "sal de gusano" (literally worm salt), a concoction consisting of salt, chile powder and the dried, ground up worms that you'll often find at the bottom of a bottle of mezcal. A bracing sip of mezcal followed by a bite of sweet/salty/spicy orange is a wonderfully interesting combination of flavors.
Try Tacos al Pastor
One of our final stops was a stand selling tacos al pastor. This is a Mexican version of shawarma or spit-grilled meat. The meat is expertly cut off by the taquero and laid out on a tortilla and then topped with cilantro, onion and a bit of pineapple, and of course there are a variety of salsas to choose from, with some very spicy but also some milder options.
The Vallarta Food Tours website mentions that this tour is not recommended for vegetarians, but if you don't mind sitting out a stop or two (there's plenty to eat anyway!) the guides are quite good at finding vegetarian options at the majority of places on the itinerary. We had three people with dietary restrictions in our group and the guides handled them extremely well, ensuring that the food was prepared according to any special requirements.
When we got to the last stop on the tour, Julio's Churros, most of us were completely stuffed, but still couldn't resist sampling the warm churros fresh from the hot oil. The stand has been there for over 20 years and is notably popular among locals. It was the perfect ending to a delightful evening exploring Puerto Vallarta's street food traditions.
If you go
The tour left us feeling more connected to Vallarta’s street food scene. After the tour, you will feel stuffed, but also well prepared to continue exploring this wonderful city and its culinary magic. All the food we tried was excellent, and the tour as a whole was very helpful as an introduction to tacos and the wide variety of foods available in Vallarta. We all left very full and happy to have discovered so many new places to dine in Puerto Vallarta, and many reasons to return. We were given an illustrated map of the tour locations and a list of foodie recommendations across the city which was a nice addition and a great way to continue to encourage us to try new places.
If you go, be sure to book your tour in advance because they do get booked up during high season, and be sure to not eat too much before the tour because there will be lots to sample and you'll want to try it all!
Contact Vallarta Food Tours: