Each season heralds the arrival of new restaurants in Vallarta—or the evolution of a few well-established ones—enticing restaurant obsessives to explore the fresh offerings at a destination that is already renowned for its fine cuisine. And how can we not? As much as we love our favorite restaurants and dishes, it’s difficult not to be seduced by the newness factor introduced by stalwart chefs at new locations or by young culinary talents setting up shop in town for the first time.
What makes a restaurant special? The food must be good—that’s a given. Beyond that, and given the competition, restaurants in town must strive to create truly memorable experiences for their dining guests. We kept our eyes open and our appetites piqued during the recent months for reinvented options, coming up with the following contenders that are sure to speak to you.
Previously at a small venue in Amapas along the highway, Bistro Teresa blossomed at their new location, on the top level of the Vallarta Plaza building, next to Puerto Vallarta’s main plaza. The setting is elegant, both spacious and intimate, and the unobstructed views of the city’s Guadalupe Church, Malecón and main plaza make it a perfect venue for a “welcome to Vallarta” dinner with a first-time visitor.
Florios Restaurant & Bar
This pleasantly unconventional Italian-Argentinean restaurant is located in one of the original El Centro houses, once the home of Jesús Langarica, Puerto Vallarta’s first mayor, elected in 1918. As such, every nook and cranny in the venue oozes an Old Vallarta atmosphere, drawing your attention to its quirky decor. Florios features specials throughout the week, along with themed Friday evenings, when a special menu and live entertainment provide a true culinary and artistic feast for all the senses.
It’s hard to miss this stylish restaurant, with its ginormous flatscreen wall, as you drive by it along Fco. Medina Ascencio Ave. And while large TV screens are not for everyone, you can’t fail to be mesmerized by its unique indoor lighting system: clear lightbulbs suspended from the tall ceiling that can be raised or lowered individually, providing an ever-changing mood. Other memorable touches include fresh salsas and sophisticated cocktails prepared tableside by the waiters. Check out its Facebook Page.
When the design team behind Plaza Papelillo (a tiny new shopping complex in Sayulita, Riviera Nayarit) envisioned a sophisticated surf-chic environment, they searched for businesses that would match their vision. One such partner is Leda Ristorante, specializing in quality homemade Italian dishes made with fresh, authentic Italian ingredients. The restaurant occupies Plaza Papelillo’s spacious outdoor patio and also offers indoor seating. A casual, elegant evening ambiance is provided by white-clothed tables and candlelight, along with subdued lighting provided by fixtures hanging from a tree.
Mestiza brings a hip, more urban alternative to the area’s buzzing culinary scene. Mestiza is the brainchild of Monica and Alexander—a Mexican/Swedish couple—whose very successful La Mezcalería in San Miguel de Allende, Guanajuato, is frequently listed among the “top ten restaurants to visit” in that beautiful colonial town. Their menu features a refreshing selection of products from the sea, blending Mexican and international flavors. The décor is monochromatic and industrial, in shades of gray, brown and black. Surprisingly, the use of black Oaxacan ceramic lampshades that project geometric shapes all around imbues the space with a cozy, intimate feeling.