Puerto Vallarta has long been famous for its pristine beaches, year-round sunshine, diverse water sports and sultry sunsets. It is also emerging as a leading destination for world-class gastronomy. Second in the country only to Mexico City, over 800 restaurants offer cuisine featuring the best that the surrounding bountiful waters and fertile land provide.
What transformed this coastal resort destination into a culinary mecca? Elizabeth Taylor and Robert Burton put the town on the proverbial map with their torrid 1960’s love affair during the filming of “The Night of the Iguana.” A meteoric rise in tourism followed.
Restaurants and hotels began to cater to international tastes. At the same time, an influx of foreign culinary talent came into play. Combined with outstanding, prolific local talent, a new multi-cultural dining scene emerged inspired by the tastes of land, sea and Mexican heritage. Almost 60 years after Taylor and Burton raised our consciousness about this paradise, two top chefs have emerged, Theirry Blouet of Café des Artistes and Joel Ornelas of Tintoque.
Two Not to Miss Restaurants
Café des Artistes
At Café des Artistes Celebrity chef/owner Theirry Blouet introduced French Mexican fusion fare to the world. Each area of the restaurant takes on a different type of ambiance such as the sculpture filled reception area, glamorous P’Yote Lounge & Piano Bar, the jungle-like outdoor garden and private English style cigar room.
Chef Blouet appeals to all the senses through the overall design aesthetic of his restaurant, live music and stylish food. Each one of his dishes balances tastes, textures and aromas creating overall magic. His seasonal menu changes three to four times throughout the year with new specials every week.
As of this writing, current delicacies included salmon tartare with guacamole and chili, pastry wrapped escargot “spring roll” with a fluffy tamale and duck confit with mole.
For the grand finale, desserts are served on silver platters topped with sugary sweets: macaroons, crème brulée, chocolate mousse and more. Expect top-notch service at Café des Artistes to complete your dining experience.
Tintoque provides a new addition to the Marina district with a stunning interior. A white brick bar lit by industrial style pendants flanks the sleek dining room that fronts a theatrical style open kitchen. The amazing attention to detail extends to the tabletop with handcrafted glassware and ceramic plates. The wait staff is attentive and friendly.
Most impressive are the extraordinary skills of young millennial chef Joel Ornelas. A Puerto Vallarta native, Chef Ornelas is actually a Café des Artistes alum and traveled across Europe working for Michelin starred restaurants before returning to his hometown.
At Tintoque, he draws on his personal style to create dishes that are complex yet approachable. Chef Ornelas uses all locally sourced ingredients. Don’t miss the Fried Shrimp appetizer coated in sesame seeds over eel gel and chipotle emulsion that’s a meal in itself.
Good choices for mains are the short ribs braised 36 hours or tender fried octopus with herb vinaigrette. For dessert, try the addictive Cheesecake Mousse with passion fruit, sugared pecans and red berries. The bar features Raicilla cocktails, artisan beers and a comprehensive wine list.
Top Tastes of Puerto Vallarta
Festival Gourmet International
For more top tastes of Puerto Vallarta, visit the famous Festival Gourmet International, founded by Chef Blouet. Held every November in various locations throughout Puerto Vallarta, 2016 year marked the 22nd anniversary of the event. Chefs come from all over the world to participate along with the best Puerto Vallarta restaurants and hotels.
Over 20 special events are spread out during nine days of non-stop culinary immersion showcasing local and international talent. Reputed to be the largest epicurean festival in all of Mexico, Festival Gourmet is reason enough to visit Puerto Vallarta. Provided the fabulous beaches, relaxed fun in the sun and superb beaches aren’t enough.