Mexico's Pacific coast is becoming a foodie haven with vibrant bars and bodegas. Make the most of local food and drink on a budget from tacos to cacao shots.
Forget the ritzy resorts lining the Mexican Caribbean. The Pacific beaches around Puerto Vallarta are home to bargain hotels, a lively, affordable food scene and great mescal.
Once a fading beach resort, this Pacific coast city is regaining its elegance. The Marina development has added Miami pizzazz with exciting new restaurants, but it remains great value.
Meanwhile, along old cobbled streets in the south of the city, turn-of-the-century tortillerias churn out corn tacos and families gather for dinner on the wrought-iron balconies of apartment blocks stacked impossibly up the sheer mountainside.
On the beach, hipster spots such as El Barracuda vie for cocktail domination with the old tuberos who sell freshly made tuba (coconut milk, apple vinegar and spices).
But don’t stop there. Roam north along the Riviera Nayarit, 200 miles of white sand and whale-rich waters where surfer chic and laidback eateries rule in towns like San Francisco (known locally as San Pancho) and Sayulita. Here, you could happily sustain yourself by spending loose change on superb seafood tacos, paleta (ice lollies) that sing with chilli and lime, and mezcal.
Here are our suggestions for the best of Mexican food and drink to try a budget...
1. Cacao love shot
Forget espresso; head to cool Latino chocolatiers Mexicolate for a ‘cacao love shot’, a dark chocolate drink seasoned with cayenne pepper.
La Marisma is a bright, modern taco stand in a pretty cobbled street south of downtown Puerto Vallarta. Get the ceviche tostada, shrimp tacos, and homemade hibiscus water.
3. Beachside snacks
Tomatina, a sunny little beachside surf shack in Lo de Marcos, is well worth a visit for its exemplary fish tacos and the tuna tartare with avocado and black sesame.
4. Home-style cuisine
Head to local bodega Cenaduria Celia for standout home-style dishes including pig’s trotters, pozole (rich stew-like soups), and a legendary jericaya (custard flan, without the cinnamon). +52 322 222 2778
There are two other branches of Mariscos La Tia in central Puerto Vallarta but this one is the most buzzy. Go for smoked marlin tacos, octopus tostada, and salta pa’tras (spicy ceviche).
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All recommendations have been reviewed and approved as of March 2018 and will be checked and updated annually. If you think there is any incorrect or out-of-date information in this guide please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.