15 Best Restaurants in El Centro, Puerto Vallarta

Café des Artistes Bistro Gourmet

$$$$ Fodor's choice

Style and sophistication is what you get when eating at Café des Artistes. Owned and managed by famous French chef Thierry Blouet, this restaurant is top-shelf for gourmet cuisine in Puerto Vallarta.

Trio

$$$ Fodor's choice

Trio is simply Puerto Vallarta's best restaurant. Waiters are professional yet unpretentious—either the sommelier or the maître d' can help you with the wine—but the main reason to dine here is the consistently fabulous food, which is also a great value. The grilled oyster from Cabo Corrientes is a great appetizer and then you can treat yourself with the rabbit roasted with aromatic herbs and red wine. The kitchen often stays open until midnight, and during high season the restaurant opens the back patio, second floor, and rooftop terrace.

Barcelona Tapas

$$$

One of the best all-around restaurants in El Centro, this place offers great food and excellent service. The paella Valenciana has no equal in the Banderas Bay area, and if you come for the tapas then you can't miss the spicy garlic shrimp or the Galician-style octopus. The restaurant is air-conditioned in summer; the rest of the year the windows are taken off to let the breeze in.

Calle Matamoros 906, 48300, Mexico
322-222--0510
Known For
  • Best tapas in town
  • Outstanding view of the bay
  • Fresh sangria
Restaurant Details
Rate Includes: Reservations essential

Recommended Fodor's Video

Chez Elena

$$

Frequented in its heyday by Hollywood luminaries and the who's who of PV, this downtown restaurant still has a loyal following. The casual patio ambience is simple, but the wholesome food is satisfying, and the portions are generous. House specialties include fajitas and Yucatan-style pork. You can’t leave without trying their killer handcrafted margaritas.

Calle Matamoros 520, 48300, Mexico
322-222–0161
Known For
  • Delicious osso buco
  • Amazing views
  • Longtime favorite of the area
Restaurant Details
Rate Includes: Closed June–Sept. No lunch

El Andariego

$$

Locals come here for weekend brunch. They serve truly authentic huevos rancheros and all those delicious dishes that make traditional Mexican cuisine so hard to resist. They host live music on certain days.

El Barracuda

$$

El Barracuda is that cool restaurant we all dream to have one day when we retire by the beach: casual and relaxed, with some tables right on the beach and others on top of a nice deck overlooking the Banderas Bay. They specialize in the kind of seafood you can find in Mexican markets, but you can also find great steaks and even some veggie options.

El Carboncito

$

Widely considered by locals as the best taco place in downtown Vallarta, El Carboncito offers the full taco experience with chairs on the sidewalk and plates covered with plastic bags. However, don't let the aesthetics and lack of amenities fool you—pretty much anything you'll try here is simply delicious. 

Calle Honduras 129, Mexico
322-182--0768
Known For
  • Great variety of sauces
  • Tacos al pastor with pineapple
  • Cold beer
Restaurant Details
Rate Includes: Closed Mon.

Hacienda San Angel Gourmet

$$$$

Ivy climbs blond, hacienda-style columns, and chandeliers bathe in a romantic light in the second-floor dining room of this stunningly restored boutique hotel and restaurant. The chef has a restrained hand when it comes to salt and spices; recipes are straightforward yet neither bland nor boring.

La Bodeguita del Medio

$

Near the malecón's north end, this world-famous franchise restaurant with a fun-loving atmosphere has a bit of a sea view from its second-floor dining room and a Caribbean flavor. Like its Havana namesake, La Bodeguita sells Cuban rum and cigars, and the music (canned during the day, live at night)—like the cuisine—is pure cubano. Try the mojito, a signature Havana drink of lime juice, sugar, white rum, and muddled fresh mint leaves.

La Leche

$$$$ | Zona Hotelera

If chef Alfonso Cadena weren't so cool (he looks like a refined, former rock star because he is one!), then La Leche's main dining room, an all-white rotunda lined with shelves of milk cans, could come off as gimmicky. But each night as Cadena personally presents a different menu on a chalkboard, his "blank canvas" dining space becomes the perfect backdrop for a unique meal. For instance, a delicate seafood bisque, unveiled in whimsical ceramic tureens, might precede an exquisite mahimahi in a citrus reduction that provides the perfect balance of sweet and sour, rich and refreshing. Servers are attentive and friendly, but there is ample time between courses, so be prepared for an enjoyable but lengthy evening. Reservations aren't required but are a good idea.

No Sé Nada

$$$

Owned by a couple of expats, this cute restaurant just half a block from the malecón is a hidden gem in Puerto Vallarta's crowded dining scene. Every dish is unique in its own way and no matter if it's the soup of the day or the Korean bulgogi steak, they all look amazing. Come for lunch and stay all afternoon for the cocktails.

Planeta Vegetariano

$

Those who stumble upon this hogless heaven can pig out on tasty, meatless carne asada and a selection of main dishes that changes daily. Choose from at least three healthful main dishes, plus beans, several types of rice, and a soup at this casual buffet-only place. A fruit drink, coffee, or tea and dessert are included in the reasonable price.

Tutifruti

$ | El Centro

In downtown Vallarta, locals love the quesadillas, shredded beef burritos, and tacos at Tutifruti, where you can also get a sandwich, burger, or fruit smoothie.

Vitea Oceanfront Bistro

$$$

When chefs Bernhard Güth and Ulf Henriksson, of Trio, needed a challenge, they cooked up this delightful (and quite intimate) seaside bistro. The decor of the open, casual venue is as fresh as the food. It's a nice place for breakfast overlooking the malecón.