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.
Of course there were a few touristy stalls thrown in for good measure.
The Chow Poodle Hits a Souvenir Bonanza
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.
Yes, it was a chef out on the sidewalk grilling stuff over lump charcoal.
Besides the street-side pyrotechnics, there was a full kitchen cranking out finished plates as fast as they could.
Café de Olla Kitchen
I decided on the spot that dinner was going to be at Café de Olla. The Chow Poodle instantly agreed.
Café de Olla
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
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
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
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
). 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
Café de Olla Chilequiles con Chorizo
This was another great spot that will go into our regular Puerto Vallarta dining rotation.
Café de Olla
Basilo Badillo 168
Puerto Vallarta, Jalisco