One of the Riviera Nayarit’s many attractions is its culinary experience. Its location along Mexico’s coastline means plenty of fresh seafood that moves directly from ocean to table, including marlin, sailfish, dorado, red snapper, tuna, grouper, sea bass and much more.
There are dozens of different dishes on the list of “musts” in the region, including the traditional pescado zarandeado (wood-grilled fish), aguachile (shrimp cured in lime juice amd chile) and chicharrón de pescado (fish cracklings). Today, however, we’re going to focus our attention on the local hotpsots that specialize in tacos, whether they contain meat, seafood or fish—the ones the locals know to go to, but keep under wraps for fear they might be overrun and lose their authenticity.
1.-El Barracuda in Nuevo Vallarta: While this isn’t a taco stand per se, this restaurant does offer the very best tacos in Nuevo Vallarta. It’s located right on Riviera Nayarit Boulevard and has been described as casual and relaxed with fare that’s both fresh and delicious. The menu offers tacos de camarón al pastor (shrimp tacos pastor style), marlin ahumado (smoked marlin), pulpo al ajillo (octopus in garlic sauce) and filete de res con champiñones (steak with mushrooms). The list is long, but to be honest, the more we write, the hungrier we’re getting…
2 and 3.- Tacos on the Street in Bucerías and La Cruz de Huanacaxtle: Just 10 and 15 minutes away from Nuevo Vallarta, respectively, these stands offer authentic tacos to be eaten—literally—on the street. The rib eye tacos served in corn or flour tortillas are nothing short of amazing, never mind the sauces. This is a “bring your own wine or beer” kind of joint, and don’t forget your appetite.
4.- Real Fish Tacos in Sayulita: Sayulita is an eclectic surfing Eden, but this place isn’t right on the beach—you have to walk a little ways in on Calle Delfines where you’ll find it tucked away between the plaza and, yes, the beach. The stand is actually composed of two carts parked right on the street. The tacos are stuffed with shrimp, dorado or marlin; you can eat them hot off the grill or fried. They’re finger licking good and will leave you wanting more… even if you’re the one that’s stuffed…
5.- El Itacate in Sayulita: Located in the heart of Sayulita on Calle Revolución—also known as José Mariscal—this place serves tacos bursting with rib eye, savory arrachera meat, sirloin, pork or chicken, among other meaty delights. This is a mecca for carnivores, so get your stomach ready or bring along a lunchbox, or itacate, to take home a selection of your favorites.
6.- La Cocina de Naty in Sayulita. This place is, without a doubt, a must. Located on Calle Marlin, this is where you come to get tacos brimming with stewed beef, chicken, fish and vegetables. They also serve a delicious variety of sauces—from very spicy to gently flavorful. Grab a piece of sidewalk and enjoy.
7.- Restaurant Pineda in Rincón de Guayabitos: This is an actual seafood restaurant, but their fish tacos are exceptional. They’re prepared with pescado zarandeado (wood-grilled fish) and rolled up into a flauta, or flute taco. They’re served with a sauce similar to that of the aguachile (lime and chile with onions), which you can use to dip the tacos before taking a bite. Very authentic and very, very tasty.
8. Manao Cebicheria, Nuevo Vallarta; Just one year after it opened its doors in the lovely Riviera, Manao Cebichería has a dedicated following thanks to its delicious cebiches prepared with a side of great service, but also thanks to its incredible tacos. One of them, the chipocludo, will literally have you licking your chops: it’s covered in a creamy chipotle sauce with a slight bite; then there’s the tropicoso, which is sautéed with pineapple and guajillo chile. You can order any of these with shrimp or fish and they’re served on flour tortillas. Ask for one of each and then a third, because by the time you’re halfway through, you’ll want another!
We could go on, but we’ll stop here and save the rest for later. We could easily make it to the Top Ten, thought, because in the Riviera Nayarit, its gastronomy is one of its many luxuries.