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Puerto Vallarta, Jalisco [long - pics]

Puerto Vallarta, Jalisco [long - pics]
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  • Post #31 - October 1st, 2007, 6:45 pm
    Post #31 - October 1st, 2007, 6:45 pm Post #31 - October 1st, 2007, 6:45 pm
    Then on to the what I'd say is the best thing I put in my mouth while in PV.


    Is there such a thing as a thread for the OPPOSITE of desired taglines? Like "banished footnotes?"
  • Post #32 - December 10th, 2007, 9:53 am
    Post #32 - December 10th, 2007, 9:53 am Post #32 - December 10th, 2007, 9:53 am
    Santander wrote:Is there such a thing as a thread for the OPPOSITE of desired taglines? Like "banished footnotes?"


    The Chow Poodle and I returned to Puerto Vallarta for our second Thanksgiving in a row. Before I recount our trip, let me just say that Santander, you are busted. I've always been curious about your choice of screen name. At first I thought you must be a big fan of Carlos Santana, or maybe even his lesser known brother, Jorge Santana. Then I thought it might be some obscure literary reference. Now the truth can be told. Santander is named after a bank. Not just any bank, but one of the largest financial institutions in Latin America. Who knows, maybe you even own the bank. Santander, next time lunch is on you!

    Santander's Vault
    Image
    Steve Z.

    “Only the pure in heart can make a good soup.”
    ― Ludwig van Beethoven
  • Post #33 - December 10th, 2007, 10:40 am
    Post #33 - December 10th, 2007, 10:40 am Post #33 - December 10th, 2007, 10:40 am
    Puerto Vallarta Thanksgiving Tour 2007

    This year, the Chow Poodle and I had yet another wonderful time in Puerto Vallarta during Thanksgiving Week. To aid my own meager organizational skills, I have divided my posts into separate sections. first up:

    The Hotel

    Once again, we stayed at the lovely Marriott Casa Magna Resort which is located seaside in the Puerto Vallarta Marina.

    Marriott Casa Magna Resort
    Image

    As soon as we arrived and got settled in our room, we made a beeline for Las Casitas, the seaside restaurant, for a little snack.

    Cerveza Fira, Por Favor
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    Shrimp, Scallop and Squid Ceviche
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    Fish Tacos
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    Although we did most of our eating outside of the hotel, the spread they put out for breakfast remains outstanding, and we partook a couple of times. The breakfast buffet includes a wide array of foods, both Mexican and Nortino, including Oaxacan Tamales in banana leaves, Posole & Menudo made fresh daily, chiliquiles, several fresh made-in-house salsas, Mexican pastries, eggs cooked to order in American or Mexican styles, waffles and much, much more. Here are a few highlights.

    An Array of Juices
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    I posted a picture of the choice of salsas up thread. They are all still being offered including my favorite of roasted serranos with pickled onions.

    Breakfast Eye-Opener
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    For a hotel, the Marriott is surprisingly into hot peppers. All of the salsas are made from peppers grown on site.

    Marriott Pepper Patch
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    The staff couldn't be more accommodating. La Reyna de los Huevos, as I called her, cooks eggs any style and happily substituted real eggs for the pre-made liquid eggs that they use for omelets or scrambled, however I settled on her huevos rancheros as my go to egg dish because she made an outstanding version. Le Reyna works six days/week and refuses to allow eggs into her house on her day off.

    A special shout out goes to their baked in-house pastries, especially the yeasty, perfectly fried, white-frosted donuts.

    La Reyna de los Huevos
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    One of My Many Typical Breakfast Plates
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    Steve Z.

    “Only the pure in heart can make a good soup.”
    ― Ludwig van Beethoven
  • Post #34 - December 10th, 2007, 11:37 am
    Post #34 - December 10th, 2007, 11:37 am Post #34 - December 10th, 2007, 11:37 am
    Vista Grill

    P.V. has a fairly well developed fine dining community of restaurants. We arrived in Puerto Vallarta on th final day of the 13th Annual Festival Gourmet International, so we decided to partake in a meal at one of the participating restaurants.

    Festival Gourmet International 2007
    Image

    On our previous trip, we ate at La Palapa, which is a great little restaurant located right on Playa de Muertos. This time, we decided on Vista Grill, which has the same owner as La Palapa, but is located in the hills overlooking the city.

    The Vista at Vista Grill
    Image

    If this restaurant was in Chicago, the food would be best described as Avant Garde New American Cuisine. Besides the view, there was little to set this place apart from any number of places located right here in our great city. The plates looked very nice, but the actual preparation was surprisingly bland and slightly off the mark. I can best describe the food as being similar to something you might be served at a place like Bonsoiree; nicely plated and prepared with the best of intentions, but just missing the mark.

    Grilled D'Anjou Pear Salad W/Baby Spinach
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    Espresso and Chocolate Braised Short rib with Vanilla/Potato Foam and Carrots
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    Pan Roasted Chilean Sea Bass
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    Seared Day Boat Scallops
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    Overall, this was our most expensive meal and also the least satisfying of the entire trip. Invoke the Mike G. rule. Go for the view; don't expect much from the food.

    Vista Grill
    Púlpito 377
    Puerto Vallarta, Jalisco
    (322) 222-3570
    Steve Z.

    “Only the pure in heart can make a good soup.”
    ― Ludwig van Beethoven
  • Post #35 - December 10th, 2007, 11:54 am
    Post #35 - December 10th, 2007, 11:54 am Post #35 - December 10th, 2007, 11:54 am
    That roasted serrano salsa looks very interesting -- those are big honking peppers, almost pushing the condiment into another category, beyond salsa (which I tend to associate with finely chopped or pureed chili and veg).

    Thanks for the heads-up on Vista -- the food, though apparently most expensive, actually doesn't look that good (the rib with foam seems particularly unappealing). I can see why it's not a fav of yours...though I'd consider going there for a beverage (and the view -- looks like that may be Nayarit in the background).
    “Nobody exists on purpose. Nobody belongs anywhere. Everybody’s gonna die. Come watch TV?”
  • Post #36 - December 10th, 2007, 12:02 pm
    Post #36 - December 10th, 2007, 12:02 pm Post #36 - December 10th, 2007, 12:02 pm
    David Hammond wrote:That roasted serrano salsa looks very interesting -- those are big honking peppers, almost pushing the condiment into another category, beyond salsa (which I tend to associate with finely chopped or pureed chili and veg).

    Thanks for the heads-up on Vista -- the food, though apparently most expensive, actually doesn't look that good (the rib with foam seems particularly unappealing). I can see why it's not a fav of yours...though I'd consider going there for a beverage (and the view -- looks like that may be Narrate in the background).


    You are correct, the Serrano's are not actually salsa, but a condiment that is served among 8 - 10 varieties of salsa ringing from a mild ranchero sauce to a 5 pepper combination salsa that will blow your head off. The Serrano's are also quite hot. Not at all like the relatively mild ones we find in the supermarkets around here.

    The view is not Nayarit, but the town of Puerto Vallarta. There are so many other places to go, I'd not consider making the trek to Vista Grill just for a drink. There are other better options.
    Steve Z.

    “Only the pure in heart can make a good soup.”
    ― Ludwig van Beethoven
  • Post #37 - December 10th, 2007, 5:38 pm
    Post #37 - December 10th, 2007, 5:38 pm Post #37 - December 10th, 2007, 5:38 pm
    I love Puerto Vallarta, and have stayed up in Bucareas a couple of times. My only fear is getting the "revenge". When I ate street food in Salulita, I got it. How do you avoid it? Stuff looks so good, but i am paranoid.
  • Post #38 - December 10th, 2007, 5:53 pm
    Post #38 - December 10th, 2007, 5:53 pm Post #38 - December 10th, 2007, 5:53 pm
    Porto Bello

    A surprisingly large number of people recommended an Italian restaurant named Porto Bello to us. There are a good number of Italian restaurants in Puerto Vallarta, so it's not an unknown cuisine in the area. In fact, as you'll see later, we had a second Italian meal before the week was over. Porto Bello is owned by two guys originally from Toronto. The restaurant is located right in the marina and has been open since 1989. They were doing a brisk business despite many of the other restaurants in the marina being empty. That was a good sign.

    Porto Bello Restaurante Italiano
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    Dinner was a nice change of pace from the steady diet of Mexican food and fish that we had been eating. The Chow Poodle ordered house made tri-color rigatoni served in a light tomato sauce.

    Porto Bello Tri-color Rigatoni
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    I opted for Veal Porto Bello, which was veal scallops in a mushroom cream sauce, topped with fresh grilled shrimp. This was very good!

    Veal Porto Bello
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    For dessert, we split a crespella chocolate, which was a chocolate flavored crepe filled with chocolate moose as well as some house made cinnamon flavored ice cream.

    Crespella Chocolate
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    Cinnamon Ice Cream
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    Until we decided to go to Porto Bello, the thought of having Italian food on my trip to Mexico hadn't entered my head, but I'm glad we went and would certainly go back again.

    Porto Bello Restaurante Italiano
    Marina Sol L-7
    Puerto Vallarta, Jalisco
    (322) 221-0003
    Steve Z.

    “Only the pure in heart can make a good soup.”
    ― Ludwig van Beethoven
  • Post #39 - December 10th, 2007, 6:08 pm
    Post #39 - December 10th, 2007, 6:08 pm Post #39 - December 10th, 2007, 6:08 pm
    pittrader1988 wrote:I love Puerto Vallarta, and have stayed up in Bucareas a couple of times. My only fear is getting the "revenge". When I ate street food in Salulita, I got it. How do you avoid it? Stuff looks so good, but i am paranoid.


    Although I avoided the beverages being sold on the street from buckets, and a few street stalls that didn't quite look right, I pretty much ate with abandon as you'll see in the pictures from the street food post I am going to eventually make.. I suffered no ill effects. Puerto Vallarta has a pretty modern water filtration system...at least in the restaurants and touristic places. Bucareas is a bit more up the coast in Nayarit. I'm not sure of the necessary precautions there.
    Steve Z.

    “Only the pure in heart can make a good soup.”
    ― Ludwig van Beethoven
  • Post #40 - December 10th, 2007, 11:19 pm
    Post #40 - December 10th, 2007, 11:19 pm Post #40 - December 10th, 2007, 11:19 pm
    But when we went down 2 years ago, our best meal was at a place called
    Boca Bento. It was Asian and Latin Fusion. Great food, awesome service and nice decor. I would go back to PV just to have dinner here again.
    Joey B
  • Post #41 - December 10th, 2007, 11:45 pm
    Post #41 - December 10th, 2007, 11:45 pm Post #41 - December 10th, 2007, 11:45 pm
    Who knows, maybe you even own the bank.


    In the bank that I own, my friend, are deposits of the wisdom and fellowship of this site, lockboxes of brisket and truffles, and a 9.9% ABV introductory APR on beef tendon charge cards. And the counters are made of, er, kugelis.

    The name of the bank comes from the port city in Cantabria province on Bay of Biscay ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Santander%2C_Cantabria); Santander grew very rich from trade with the New World in the 17th and 18th centuries, and the bank was founded in 1857. It is now one of the leading financial institutions in Latin America. I lived in Santander in the summers of 1998 and 1999 (studying, ironically, Paleolithic cave art and medieval pilgrimage sites) and trace my organized pursuit of food criticism and cooking to those experiences.

    Steve, this is a great series of posts that makes me want to hop on a plane! Thanks for the lovely photographs. If you look closely enough at the Marriott pepper garden sign, we might be witnessing the origin of the tilde on habanero that irks JeffB so.
  • Post #42 - December 11th, 2007, 7:59 am
    Post #42 - December 11th, 2007, 7:59 am Post #42 - December 11th, 2007, 7:59 am
    Santander wrote:If you look closely enough at the Marriott pepper garden sign, we might be witnessing the origin of the tilde on habanero that irks JeffB so.


    That sign also gives a clue as to the origin of the elusive ghost serrano.
    Steve Z.

    “Only the pure in heart can make a good soup.”
    ― Ludwig van Beethoven
  • Post #43 - December 11th, 2007, 9:38 am
    Post #43 - December 11th, 2007, 9:38 am Post #43 - December 11th, 2007, 9:38 am
    Steve,

    I second the appreciation of this post and photos. Just over the weekend, my wife and I decided on a 2008 trip to PV and the Marriott Casa Magna Puerto Vallarta. We had been thinking of an AI but no way now!

    Thanks for sharing the knowledge!
  • Post #44 - December 11th, 2007, 10:56 am
    Post #44 - December 11th, 2007, 10:56 am Post #44 - December 11th, 2007, 10:56 am
    What Your Girlfriend Wants

    Puerto Vallarta has a lot going on besides just food. There are secluded beaches with access only by boat, eco-tours of the Sierra Nevadas, water sports, large scale displays of public sculpture along the Malecon, parades and, of course, a woman's favorite sport, shopping.

    A Sample of Public Sculpture
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    Parade Commemorating The Mexican Revolution
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    Shopping in the Central Market (Straw Market)
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    Hint: Go to the market on days when there are no cruise ships in port. You can always bargain at the market, but when the ships disgorge their passengers, prices at the market tend to be much higher.

    Typical Pottery Shop
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    And to bring this back to something a bit more food focused, Mexico is a great place to stock up on Vanilla. Prices are approximately 1/3 of those in the US for comparable products. It is a baker's dream. There are quite a few brands and grades to choose from. It's important to read the ingredients and to smell the vanilla before buying. Quality varies greatly.

    The Chow Poodle Inspects Vanilla
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    Although going to the Central Market is not high on my list of priorities, it is a must for the Chow Poodle and , to be honest, has turned up some great souvenirs. A little known secret is that on the second floor of the market, there is a "food court" of sorts, mostly geared to the locals who work in the market. I put food court in quotes because it is really 6 - 7 different family run restaurants that share common tables. There are no chains, just different places turning out more or less the same food. This is where a bit of caution is warranted. I always pick a place that seems to be doing a good amount of business and the staff seems upbeat. In tis case, we visited a place called Meme's.

    Restaurant Meme's
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    There were fresh fish on display for the choosing.

    Pick a Fish
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    There were also plates of chile rellenos and sopes ready for final assembly.

    Chile Rellenos
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    Sopes
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    Tortillas ore, of course, homemade

    Tortilla Maker at Meme's
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    Being a lover of all things chile relleno (and not wanting to eat a complete fish for my snack) I ordered the chile relleno plate. Although it was far from the best chile relleno I have ever had, for $3 it was quite the bargain. The Chow Poodle took a pass at ording food here.

    Meme's Chile Relleno Plate
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    If you are going this route for lunch, I'd encourage you to look around at the various places serving food and pick the one that looks good to you. I'm not sure I'd go back to Meme's again. That was the one I happened to pick that day, but some of the other places that I have been to in the past were better. Unfortunately, most don't have names or even consistent ownership, so I can't advise you any further.
    Steve Z.

    “Only the pure in heart can make a good soup.”
    ― Ludwig van Beethoven
  • Post #45 - December 11th, 2007, 1:03 pm
    Post #45 - December 11th, 2007, 1:03 pm Post #45 - December 11th, 2007, 1:03 pm
    Image


    I'm doubly impressed if this is what your girlfriend wants.

    /sorry, channelling Mike and Gary for a moment
  • Post #46 - December 11th, 2007, 3:36 pm
    Post #46 - December 11th, 2007, 3:36 pm Post #46 - December 11th, 2007, 3:36 pm
    Santander wrote:I'm doubly impressed if this is what your girlfriend wants.


    I know it's tough to notice, but there is an entire futbol team's worth of young, strapping, Mexican lads behind the banner carriers, so there is a little something for everyone.
    Steve Z.

    “Only the pure in heart can make a good soup.”
    ― Ludwig van Beethoven
  • Post #47 - December 11th, 2007, 4:29 pm
    Post #47 - December 11th, 2007, 4:29 pm Post #47 - December 11th, 2007, 4:29 pm
    Now that you point it out, I can vaguely see something in the background.
  • Post #48 - December 12th, 2007, 6:17 pm
    Post #48 - December 12th, 2007, 6:17 pm Post #48 - December 12th, 2007, 6:17 pm
    Café de Olla

    On our first trip to Puerto Vallarta we didn't get a chance to explore the old part of town, or Zona Romantico, as much as we would have liked, so this time we wanted to get to that area and see what we could find. We cabbed it over with no particular destination in mind. We had gotten a suggestion to eat at a place with the bad fortune to be called Daiquiri Dick's, since the food and the atmosphere are both far more refined than the name would suggest, but neither one of us was really sold on DD and we decided to walk around a little bit and in the immortal words of Curly Howard, "See what we shall see."

    We found a little neighborhood market set up in a small square. It was very much a no frills kind of deal, mostly set up for the needs of the locals in the neighborhood. One stall in particular that caught my eye was this purveyor of mole and other spices and exotica.

    Image
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    Of course there were a few touristy stalls thrown in for good measure.

    The Chow Poodle Hits a Souvenir Bonanza
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    After walking around for a good long while (including a glance into Daiquiri Dick's) we decided it was time for dinner. Heading back in the general direction of the dreaded DD's, I came across this.

    Image

    Yes, it was a chef out on the sidewalk grilling stuff over lump charcoal.

    Image

    Charcoal Supply
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    Besides the street-side pyrotechnics, there was a full kitchen cranking out finished plates as fast as they could.

    Café de Olla Kitchen
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    I decided on the spot that dinner was going to be at Café de Olla. The Chow Poodle instantly agreed.

    Café de Olla
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    Café de Olla is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner 6 days/week (closed Tuesday). It's the only place in Puerto Vallarta (besides maybe some club on the Malacon, maybe) where I saw people lined up to get in.

    This Place Must Be Good
    Image

    We decided to get in line and wait because the food smelled and looked so good...and all those people waiting must know something. While in line, we struck up a conversation with a nice couple and their son who were from Maryland but had just bought a condo around the corner from the restaurant. They were regulars and offered to share a table with us, since larger parties were being seated first (I figured it couldn't hurt that the guy knew the owner, either). Eventually, we were seated at a nice table and brought some freshly made guacamole along with some totopos (chips) and a couple different salsas.

    The restaurant is fairly rustic as compared to a Daiquiri Dick's or a Vista Café, but decorated nicely. There are large paintings on the adobe/brick walls and the paintings are reproduced on the menus.

    Welcome to Our Café
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    Because of our somewhat odd dinner arrangements, I didn't feel comfortable taking pictures of our meals, but I did manage to sneak in one shot of my Mexican Combination dinner, which I ordered on the recommendation of our dining companions. The combination plate consisted of a chile relleno, a chicken enchilada and a steak (flank, I think).

    Café de Olla Mexican Combination
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    The food was very well prepared. The relleno and enchilada were a bit on the Tex-Mex side, but nicely done (those gringos in Dallas could take a lesson :wink:). The steak wasn't all that great, but I found that to be true of all the meat I had in Mexico. I would have loved to have traded the steak for one of those nopales I saw on the grill and probably will do so if I ever order this again. Still, for less than $12, it was a great deal and I'm not complaining.

    We were very impressed with the restaurant. In fact, we returned the next morning for breakfast (please don't tell La Reyna de los Huevos that I cheated on her). There was no wait for breakfast. The Chow Poodle ordered chorizo and eggs and I got stellar chilequiles con chorizo.

    Café de Olla Huevos con Chorizo
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    Café de Olla Chilequiles con Chorizo
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    This was another great spot that will go into our regular Puerto Vallarta dining rotation.

    Café de Olla
    Basilo Badillo 168
    Puerto Vallarta, Jalisco
    322-223-1626
    Steve Z.

    “Only the pure in heart can make a good soup.”
    ― Ludwig van Beethoven
  • Post #49 - December 12th, 2007, 10:15 pm
    Post #49 - December 12th, 2007, 10:15 pm Post #49 - December 12th, 2007, 10:15 pm
    Supermercado Ley

    Last year, we briefly visited Supermercado Ley, which is a Tony's style supermarket in the main part of town (El Centro). Since our last visit, at least two mega markets and a Wal-Mart Supercenter opened up in Puerto Vallarta. Still, we wanted to revisit the much more soulful Ley's.

    First up, the deli section. The deli seems to be holding its own with, if anything, even more types of queso and crema than last year.

    Cheese & Crema Department
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    Lot's of Room Temperature Eggs for Sale
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    In-store Panderia
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    In the produce section, while we were inspecting the bulk herbs one of the workers took it upon himself to tell us in broken English that it was actually oregano and not marijuana that we were looking at.

    Produce Department
    Image

    The store is jammed packed with every conceivable product and has small aisles with people squeezing through all the time in search of their groceries, which don't seem to be arranged with any particular logic that I could figure out. The most touching moment came when we saw a wall of Catsup that the Mexicans had erected in honor of David Hammond.

    A Grateful Nation Salutes David Hammond for Writing About Mexico in the Reader
    Image
    Steve Z.

    “Only the pure in heart can make a good soup.”
    ― Ludwig van Beethoven
  • Post #50 - December 13th, 2007, 8:23 am
    Post #50 - December 13th, 2007, 8:23 am Post #50 - December 13th, 2007, 8:23 am
    Tino's

    No trip to Puerto Vallarta is complete without at least one visit to Tino's. Once again, Tino's proved to be the highlight of our trip (although Al Arrayán, to be posted about later, was no slouch, either). Tino's is located in EL Pitillal, a town just outside of the city limits of Puerto Vallarta and a short $6 cab ride away.

    Tino's starts out by serving a trio of salsas with round tostadas, similar to the ones you get at Islas Marias. The star is the black, chile oil-like salsa that is infused with toasted garlic. Can you say spicy and addicting?

    Tino's Roasted Chile and Garlic Salsa
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    When our waiter saw how much we loved the chile oil, he brought out a dish of their secret stash of another type of salsa that was hot with a capital BURN. It didn't appear to be made with habeneros, judging by the taste, but it sure packed a wallop in the heat department. I loved it, but couldn't eat very much, and for me, that's saying something.

    Tino's Secret Stash Hot Salsa
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    The thing that brings me back to Tino's is the pescado zarandedo; a snapper filleted, rubbed with a spicy marinade, placed in a basket and cooked over live coals.

    Pescado Zarandedo Being Flipped
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    Once cooked, the fish is simply presented on a large metal platter.

    Tino's Pescado Zarandedo
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    We also ordered an off menu item; jumbo shrimp in a spicy "diablo" sauce, which was served with rice and steamed veggies. I can't say enough about this dish, either. The shrimp are ultra fresh and cooked perfectly.

    Tino's Jumbo Shrimp
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    Tino's continues to be a not-to-miss place; located a bit off the beaten path but well worth checking out. They also have another location in Nayarit in the town of Punta de Mita. This second location is located right on the beach, but due to the 45 minute/$70 cab ride to get there (even more to get back), we choose to go to the original in El Pitillal.

    Tino's
    Avenida #333
    El Pitillal, Jalisco
    (322) 224-5584

    Tino's Punta Mita
    Av. El Anclote #64
    Punta de Mita, Nayarit
    (329) 291-6473
    Steve Z.

    “Only the pure in heart can make a good soup.”
    ― Ludwig van Beethoven
  • Post #51 - December 13th, 2007, 10:08 am
    Post #51 - December 13th, 2007, 10:08 am Post #51 - December 13th, 2007, 10:08 am
    Beautiful. We just booked for February 20- thru 24th.

    I'll be seeking out some of these places.

    Thanks!
  • Post #52 - December 13th, 2007, 11:47 am
    Post #52 - December 13th, 2007, 11:47 am Post #52 - December 13th, 2007, 11:47 am
    El Arrayán

    Although I visited El Arrayán on my first trip, due to mis-ordering I didn't really appreciate the restaurant for what it was until my return visit. The owner, the charming Carmen Porras, is taking traditional regional Mexican cuisine and adapting and serving it at her wonderful little restaurant. She is an acquaintance of Rick Bayless and has indeed been to Chicago to visit Frontera and Topolobompo as recently as last summer. She shares the same sensibilities as Bayless and it shows in her food.

    The interior of the restaurant is decorated with local art and is quite comfortable. There is a namesake Arrayán tree, just like the one outside her Grandmother's window in Puebla, growing inside to help set the mood.

    El Arrayán
    Image

    We started with plantain empanadas, which are stuffed with beans and cheese. The plantain "shell" makes these sort of like the jiberito of empanadas.

    El Arrayán Plantain Empanadas
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    The Chow Poodle ordered El Arrayán's interesting take on tacos, which were made on larger than normal tortillas that were folded over, unlike the usual open face preparation. These tacos have won several awards for being the "best" in PV, but I think I preferred the more rustic street tacos we enjoyed all over town. These are almost a completely different dish than what you find on the street.

    El Arrayán Taco Plate
    Image

    Last time I took the bait and ordered duck carnitas. Anyone who knows me understands that duck carnitas is an irresistible dish for me. The dish turned out to be duck confeit, somewhat on the dry side, served over a ranchero sauce. I was a bit disappointed in the dish, although it remains one of the restaurant's most popular items. This time, I ordered the special of Chiles en Nogada.

    I'm also a big fan of this dish. The preparation at El Arrayán was different than any I have had before. A poblano pepper is stuffed with ground beef and dried fruit, including a good amount of pineapple and topped off with a sauce made mainly with nuts. It is served cold. I have only encountered Chiles en Nogada as a warm savory dish (although with raisins as a background dried fruit component), and when I asked Carmen about her preparation, she told me that in Puebla it is always served cold and is a summer dish, rather than the autumn specialty it is in other parts of Mexico. She plans on serving Chiles en Nogada until she can no longer get the requisite pomegranate seeds.

    El Arrayán Chiles en Nogada
    Image

    Along with Tino's, El Arrayán is a can't miss spot for anyone making the trip to Puerto Vallarta. They serve a dark rich salsa similar to, but thicker than Tino's along with two others. I am bringing a bottle of this salsa as one of my raffle prizes for Saturday's Holiday Party at Manny's.

    El Arrayán
    Allende #344
    Puerto Vallarta, Jalisco
    (322) 222-7195
    Steve Z.

    “Only the pure in heart can make a good soup.”
    ― Ludwig van Beethoven
  • Post #53 - December 14th, 2007, 12:13 am
    Post #53 - December 14th, 2007, 12:13 am Post #53 - December 14th, 2007, 12:13 am
    Steve, this guided tour of PV chow will be invaluable to us (especially appreciate the intel regarding Supermercado Ley, which I will undoubtedly visit if we run low on The Condiment).
    “Nobody exists on purpose. Nobody belongs anywhere. Everybody’s gonna die. Come watch TV?”
  • Post #54 - December 14th, 2007, 6:46 am
    Post #54 - December 14th, 2007, 6:46 am Post #54 - December 14th, 2007, 6:46 am
    Vito's Ristorante Italiano

    On our last night in Puerto Vallarta, we journeyed up the coast to Punta de Mita (or Punta Mita as many refer to it) in Nayarit to visit my brother, his family and some other friends who were vacationing at the Four Seasons. Located just outside of the massive, foreboding gates of the Four Seasons Compound sits the tiny Vito's Ristorante Italiano.

    Vito's is a gem of a place that is run by Vito Latrofa, his wife Teresa and their daughter, along with a couple of busboys. The Latrofa family hails from Vancouver and moved to Mexico to open this restaurant. Vito does all the cooking and also built the building himself. Besides housing the restaurant, the family lives upstairs, or will as soon as Vito gets around to finishing the place up. Vito's is only open Thursday thru Sunday and only seats around 30 people. There is only one seating/night, so diners are encouraged to hang out and chat with Vito and his family. The menu is rather limited and consists of whatever Vito has decided to cook that day. All the pasta is made in house. The menu is presented chalkboard style by Vito's daughter, whose name I have forgotten.

    The Menu @ Vito's
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    Dinner is served in an open courtyard by starlight, so it is a bit dark to get good pictures without using flash, so I was limited in my ability to take a lot of pictures, so words will have to do for the description of our dinner.

    I started out with a caprese salad. The tomatoes were outstanding! Next up, a pasta course of gnocchi with bolognese sauce. The gnocchi were very tender and the sauce quite rich. Both were delicious, but I found myself wondering what the sauce would have tasted like with a more toothsome pasta like penne or even fettuccine. For my secondi, I ordered Osso Buco, which was perfectly braised, but missing the peas that I have had in other versions while in Italy. My only complaint was that Vito seemed to be a little heavy handed with rosemary in this dish, but that was probably a personal preference.

    Vito's Osso Buco
    Image

    Vito's was great. It's a very unique place and well worth a visit if you find yourself going as far as Punta de Mita. It's about a $110 - $120 round trip cab ride from Puerto Vallarta. If you plan on going, book a reservation early. They have limited hours and seating and once they fill up, that's it. Vito also mentioned that he was opening an artisinal pizza place right on the beach. It is presently under construction.

    One thing to be aware of is that Nayarit's time zone is one hour earlier than Jalisco's (which is on U.S. Central time), but not everyone observes the time difference. For example, The Four Seasons chooses to ignore local time and instead goes by Puerto Vallarta time in an effort to not confuse the Gringos and make them late for their flights home. I'm not sure what time Vito's goes by, so it might be worth asking when you make a reservation.

    Vito's Ristorante Italiano
    133 Pez Vela
    Punta de Mita, Nayarit
    (329) 291-6480
    Steve Z.

    “Only the pure in heart can make a good soup.”
    ― Ludwig van Beethoven
  • Post #55 - December 14th, 2007, 11:26 am
    Post #55 - December 14th, 2007, 11:26 am Post #55 - December 14th, 2007, 11:26 am
    Steve,

    thanks for all of the lovely pictures of my favorite place in the world. My husband and I spend the month of February there every year. We're just down the beach from LaPalapa. Thanks for the report on Vito's. Sounds like a new adventure for us. I pretty much agree with all of your restaurant reviews with the exception Cafe de Olla but then again, I haven't been there in a few years so it may be time to give it a try. There are many other, little places to try. Of course, my mind is blank at the moment but I'll give it some thought and post here. Better yet, while I'm in PV I'll give a few updates.

    How many days 'til I leave.....

    Jean
  • Post #56 - December 14th, 2007, 6:44 pm
    Post #56 - December 14th, 2007, 6:44 pm Post #56 - December 14th, 2007, 6:44 pm
    Eatin' on the Street

    Puerto Vallarta is a city of romance.

    Image

    There are strolling Mariachis and other entertainers everywhere, including this strolling Mariachi harpist.

    Can I Pluck You a Tune?
    Image

    There is food and action on the street at all hours of the day and night. You can get everything from slices of cake

    Image

    to "Cheesecake"

    Image

    I've posted about a bunch of restaurant meals but most of the time, we just ate on the street while we were out and about. Here are some random pictures and thoughts.

    Last year, I posted about finding tacos al pastor all over the place on spits that were fueled by lump charcoal. I'm sad to say that the charcoal fired spit is becoming a vanishing breed, as many of the street vendors have adopted propane as their fuel of choice. That's not to say you won't still see your share of pastor cooked with charcoal, you just may have to look a bit harder. I'll also echo my comment of last year that tacos al pastor aren't a particular specialty of the area, they're good, but I've had better in Chicago. Seafood is king in PV.

    Tacos al Pastor
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    As we walked around sightseeing and shopping, there were no shortage of little stands selling everything from tacos to oranges on nearly every street. Typically, we'd snack during the day at a place like this.

    Poy's Taco Stand
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    Poy's Taco
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    The greatest concentration of street food is on the Malecon at night. the Malecon is the seaside boardwalk that runs along most of the Central District. You'll see families, sometimes 3 - 4 generations worth, out for a stroll as well as young and old singles and couples out for a good time. At the South end of the Malecon there is a particularly high concentration of street food.

    Drinks

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    Here, a certain amount of caution is called for. I didn't partake in any of the agua frescas, but had no problem buying bottled beverages...usually water.

    Elotes were a very popular snack and were served a couple of different ways.

    Elotes Grilled and Eaten on the Cob
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    Elotes Cooked Off the Cob and Served in a Cup
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    I very much enjoyed the roasted plantains served with fresh fruit.

    Roasted Plantains
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    This might be my favorite picture of the trip.

    Tostadas abounded, with lots of different ingredients.

    Seafood Tostadas
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    And of course, the Mexican National Snack :wink: , crepes, from two different stands on the Malecon alone.

    Crepes Made to Order
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    We really had a great time on this trip and I have been happy to share some of my pictures. I hope I didn't monopolize too much bandwidth.


    ----fin---
    Steve Z.

    “Only the pure in heart can make a good soup.”
    ― Ludwig van Beethoven
  • Post #57 - December 14th, 2007, 7:05 pm
    Post #57 - December 14th, 2007, 7:05 pm Post #57 - December 14th, 2007, 7:05 pm
    I've never been and probably won't be able to make it that far south for quite some time - but it was absolutely wonderful looking through this thread, looking at the pictures and reading some commentary.

    Steve, you did an amazing job with those pictures. Unreal.

    You guys should collaborate and think about putting together an LTH Food Porn book. I mean, you guys have posted beautiful pictures of Jimmy's and Gene and Jude's - impressive. If it looked like anything you guys have posted, i'd buy it.
  • Post #58 - December 14th, 2007, 7:16 pm
    Post #58 - December 14th, 2007, 7:16 pm Post #58 - December 14th, 2007, 7:16 pm
    djenks wrote:You guys should collaborate and think about putting together an LTH Food Porn book.


    I'm actually working on putting together a coffee table food porn book, but it's a long term project and I probably have at least 2 - 5 more years to go.
    Steve Z.

    “Only the pure in heart can make a good soup.”
    ― Ludwig van Beethoven
  • Post #59 - December 14th, 2007, 7:56 pm
    Post #59 - December 14th, 2007, 7:56 pm Post #59 - December 14th, 2007, 7:56 pm
    You guys should collaborate and think about putting together an LTH Food Porn book. I mean, you guys have posted beautiful pictures of Jimmy's and Gene and Jude's - impressive. If it looked like anything you guys have posted, i'd buy it.


    Feel free to buy the next best thing-- the LTHForum Foodporn Calendar!
    Watch Sky Full of Bacon, the Chicago food HD podcast!
    New episode: Soil, Corn, Cows and Cheese
    Watch the Reader's James Beard Award-winning Key Ingredient here.
  • Post #60 - December 18th, 2007, 9:58 am
    Post #60 - December 18th, 2007, 9:58 am Post #60 - December 18th, 2007, 9:58 am
    My father and his wife spend the entire month of February in PV, and my wife and I will be joining them for about 5 days. I plan on hitting Tino's, and have quelched my small fear of the roadside stands, thanks to your posts.

    On a side note, Tapas Barcelona is owned by a former Chicagoan. The view is amazing and I remember the food to be delicious (It's been a few years, so the specifics ellude me). In the past the mere mention that I was from Chicago, led to the royal treatment.
    Today I caught that fish again, that lovely silver prince of fishes,
    And once again he offered me, if I would only set him free—
    Any one of a number of wonderful wishes... He was delicious! - Shel Silverstein

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