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Once you arrive in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, you will instantly notice that you won’t have a hard time finding a seafood place. The deliciousness of traditional seafood in Puerto Vallarta may be found anywhere in the city, whether you’re looking for a quick, casual spot or a fine dining experience for any special occasion. Sometimes having a wide variety of options can get stressful, you may ask yourself: Where can I eat seafood in Puerto Vallarta? Out of all of these places, which one is the best one? What should I get? Don’t worry, here you will find a complete guide that will help you make the best decision, so you can enjoy some of the best seafood dishes while in Puerto Vallarta.
Although you can get all kinds of fresh seafood dishes in the city, you must try the traditional seafood in Puerto Vallarta, unique dishes that were born in the beautiful bay, and some of them impossible to find outside of the city. Or dishes that, although not created in Puerto Vallarta, are prepared here better than anywhere else.
Puerto Vallarta Style Ceviche
Although ceviche is a widely popular dish, not only in Mexico but in Latin America, Puerto Vallarta has its own style of ceviche, usually made with vegetables such as carrot, cucumber, onion, chiles, tomatoes, in some cases with a hint of sweetness with a bit of fruit such as mango, but what makes it unique to Puerto Vallarta is the fish, grounded freshly caught dorado, one of the finest types of fish.
Ceviche is a very popular dish, you will find it in almost every seafood restaurant, but Lamara restaurant in the Bucerias neighborhood, offers a wide variety of “unusual” ceviches like the sweet Asian style or apple ceviche. Some other recommended restaurants in Puerto Vallarta with great ceviches are Mariscos 8 Tostadas or El Barracuda, both with a few locations in the area.
Just like ceviche, aguachile is one of the most popular dishes found all throughout Mexico and Latin America, especially in beach cities. Even though most restaurants have their own special preparation, aguachile is commonly prepared with raw shrimp, cilantro, onion, a lot of lime, served very… very spicy. But if you have a delicate stomach, most places will be careful with the spiciness upon request. Another similarity aguachile has with ceviche is the type of restaurants that serve the best aguachile in the area, again like Lamara restaurant, being a spot that only specializes in unusual ceviches and aguachiles. Other places with amazing aguachiles are La Palapa on Los Muertos beach, Mariscos El Guero, or La Ola de Vallarta in Nuevo Vallarta, a great surf club and restaurant on the northern side of the bay.
Zarandeado is a typical preparation of fish on the coast of Nayarit, it consists on an entire fish slowly marinated in different spices, then grilled over hot coals in a wood-fired oven. It’s a beautiful dish for all of the senses, watching the entire reddish grilled fish on the table, smelling the strong spices, and tasting the smokey skin, is a complete experience. Mariscos Tino’s offers Zarandeado fish as their signature dish, but many locals recommend trying the fish at one of the stands located on the Boca de Tomates Beach.
Pescado embarazado is another great example of traditional seafood in Puerto Vallarta. Its literal English translation is “pregnant fish” but you can stay calm, you won’t be served a pregnant fish. The name comes from a word game in Spanish: “embara” that sounds like “en bara” which means “on the stick” and “azado” written correctly as “asado” which means “grilled”. It’s usually sea bass, marlin, or shrimp, marinated with lime, hot sauce, and other spices, grilled and served on a wooden stick. You will find it on your closest beach being sold by food vendors who walk up and down the beaches selling these sticks of deliciousness.
No list of traditional seafood in Puerto Vallarta would be complete without mentioning octopus. Coming fresh from the bay of Puerto Vallarta, you will find many restaurants that have mastered the art of cooking octopus. This is a delicate food to cook and if you overcook it, it becomes chewy and hard. If you are looking to taste octopus in a place that really knows how to prepare it so that it is tender and full of flavor, you will want to try the fried octopus at Blanca Blue restaurant located on the Garza Blanca Preserve. Fried Octopus is one of the specialties of Blanca Blue, and it is served with sausage, roasted garlic emulsion, green beans, and chili paste. This restaurant is open to guests of Garza Blanca & Hotel Mousai. While you’re there, pair your fried octopus with the Scallops Tiradito and the one-of-a-kind Seafood Bisque served with chayote spheres and lemon caviar.
Pozole is a traditional Mexican stew prepared with vegetables, corn, steak or pork, and a variety of chiles and spices. Each region in the country prepares it in their own style, it can be white, red, or green. But the only type of pozole that is not commonly sold all throughout the country is shrimp pozole, so consider yourself lucky if you’re vacationing in a city along the Pacific Coast. Shrimp pozole is prepared just as the regular one, but with the addition of dry shrimp as seasoning and fresh shrimp as protein. In Puerto Vallarta, you may get your hands on delicious shrimp pozole at VaLaPanZa Tacos. While at VaLaPanZa, you should try their delicious al pastor tacos and hydrate yourself with one of their refreshing “aguas frescas”, which is flavored water. You will want to try the jamaica flavor while you are here.
Puerto Vallarta’s bay is rich in oysters, so don’t ask yourself if the oysters you are about to enjoy are fresh… because they sure will be. If you love oysters, if you love unique experiences, then you’ll love this recommendation… right by the Bucerias flea market, you will see a stand with a ton of oysters, oysters so fresh that the divers themselves will serve them to you just minutes after they were caught from the sea. You will notice the prices are very reasonable, especially after witnessing the size of the oysters they catch… as big as a grown man’s hand. If you’re looking for a more refined oyster experience with delicious preparations, El Dorado restaurant in Puerto Vallarta has a delicious oyster menu, served grilled or Rockefeller style with a champagne vinegar preparation. Another excellent option with a vast selection of oyster preparations is Oyster Grill de La Docena, located on the Malecon in Puerto Vallarta.
From now on, you may consider yourself an expert in traditional seafood in Puerto Vallarta, and when you visit, you will feel like a local. Now it’s your time to explore the coast, discover even more traditional seafood in Mexico. Fresh seafood is an important part of Mexican cuisine, amaze yourself with a variety so big that your week-long vacation in the bay won’t be enough to try everything the city has to offer.