2022 PVR: Day 1 – It’s all about the Tacos!



I’m back! This is my first return to Puerto Vallarta since February 2020, for reasons I probably don’t have to explain. When I was planning this trip and telling Ash about it, he asked “why does it sound like I’m not invited?” I said something like “very perceptive.” In my head PVR is my retreat place, something I do on my own just for me; or at least that’s how the first three trips played out. Now that I’m here and day one is done, I admit it seems a little weird him not being here.

The Sacramento airport at 6am on Thursday morning was pre-pandemic crowded.

screen shot of weather; 79 degrees at the time, with low in the low 60's, highs in the low 80s.

I had an appreciatively uneventful trip here, including a quick exit through customs. The plane landed at 2:20pm and I was out the door before 3pm. Although it was 49 degrees when I left Sacramento, I wore shorts and a t-shirt, with a hoody that was now in my backpack. As you can see, I won’t be needing long pants on this trip, so I didn’t even pack any.

I took an Uber to the condo I found on Airbnb. I sent this photo to them to say “I’m here” because I was only about 95% sure I was in the right place. They’d asked me to text then when I left the airport and I did, but the exact address they gave me wouldn’t pull up on Uber. From the map I could tell it was close enough and I should be able to find it once in that neighborhood. The Uber dropped me off about 1/2 a block away, so it was close enough, and I sort of accidentally stumbled across this. “Malecon Uno” was the part that wouldn’t come up – maybe because I was typing it as “Malecon 1” as it was written on their email to me. At any rate, if you haven’t been to PVR before, the Malecon is the boardwalk along the bay.

The condo is as pictured: an open living area….

…a simple bedroom…

…and a pretty nice ocean view from the balcony. It’s about 6am the next morning as I type, and I have the doors open so I can hear the waves – they’re Loud – and feel the breeze. I slept that way, too. It was marvelous. I’ve never stayed this close to the water before, ever, and it’s one of my favorite sounds.

I unpacked, found an ATM, got a few essentials from an OXXO and got ready to go out for the evening.

The last time I was here in 2020 I did a Street Taco Tour. At the time, I’d asked my friend Jon, who lives here, if he wanted to join me. He declined saying he’d probably been to all of the places they would take us. He regretted that when he read my blog the next day as that turned out not to be true. Our friend Greg, who typically comes to PVR every March, commented then that it was something we should all do together.

That was part of the reason I decided to come in March instead of February this time – because Greg is here, starting the 2nd of his 3 weeks. But Jon is not. As some of you know, he’s in an LA hospital and will be having heart bypass surgery today. Jon: we love you and miss you and trust everything will go great for you!

Greg met me by my condo on the Malecon at 5pm and we walked along that until we had to turn into town to meet at the same restaurant this tour started at in 2020: Mariscos El Guero.

Classic PVR: a bright mural and a big gay street banner in front of it.

There were 9 people on this tour (if you don’t count the 4.5-month-old baby, who was beautiful as was his parents), all Americans. We started here with a fried mahi taco that was terrific. I forgot to take a photo!

Next was Don Chava, sort of across the street and about a half a block down.

The guys were cooking right there at the entrance. I believe he poses for a lot of photos! The smells were spectacular.

We spent a lot of time hearing about various kinds of sauces on this tour, including ingredients and hotness on a 1-10 scale. According to Sylvia, our guide, it’s the sauces and salsas that make each restaurant unique.

As well as the preparation, and this one certainly was unique. Looks like a regular street taco, right? Except it’s more like a baby tostada. The guys cook it fully on the grill then throw in on charcoal to crisp it up, giving it a nice smokey flavor to boot. Meat is added, in this case beef, with some Oaxaca cheese to melt richly on top. And onions, cilantro, and a shot of lime juice, naturally. This was one of my favorite bites of the evening (can you tell?).

In the foreground is Greg, me, and Emmett, Greg’s friend of over 30 years who lives here part-time and joined us so Jon’s ticket didn’t go to waste. Photo-bombing us in the rear left is Sylvia, our tour guide. She was very effective and a lot of fun.

This is two for two with the beautiful murals, but this one inside.

Next stop you can figure out if you know Spanish at all from the sign: tacos made from the head of the cow.

Unlike everything else we ate tonight that was mostly grilled, this meat is steamed. It’s incredibly tender. This was one of my favorite bites the last time and still in the top 3.

A block away was Mariscos Cisneros. This is the 3rd time I’ve been here, each time on a food tour. I’ll need to return as a regular customer some day!

And each time the bite has been different. This was a crab enchilada. Really Good.

From there we all got in a van and were driven to another neighborhood about 7 minutes away.

The point of this stop was smoked marlin – what Sylvis says is called “the bacon of the sea.” And you definitely got that. This was easily my 2nd favorite.

Sylvia gave us the history of pastor: When Lebanese folks settled in Mexico, they brought shawarma with them, a style of cooking where meat is thinly sliced, stacked, and cooked by rotisserie. They usually use with lamb. Mexicans changed it to more cost-effective pork, added spices, and you have pastor. Notice the pineapple at the very top of the rotisserie.

This was served with a bit of pineapple that he would masterfully slice off from the top of the rotisserie and have it drop onto the plate. He was fun to watch.

The last bite was fresh churros. Ok so this is probably in my top 3, too. How many is that?

For the final taste, we went to the Tasting Room, where the others were treated to a mezcal shot and a cocktail, of which they made virgin versions for me and Greg.

The entire tour took exactly 3 hours. We walked for about 2 blocks out of the neighborhood we were in to get to the start of the Malecon and walked along that to get back.

Just as we got to my place the fireworks started. It was a very short show, this was only the 3rd blast I think and turned out to be the last one, so I was glad I got it.

Greg and I are going ziplining today so come back tomorrow and see how that goes!

3 thoughts on “2022 PVR: Day 1 – It’s all about the Tacos!”

  1. I often wonder why awesome posts like this one don’t get more “likes.” I don’t get it. The pictures are perfect, the post makes me want to visit. Great work!

  2. The taco tour looks like a lot of fun can’t wait to do it. I’ll skip the cow’s head and take a double portion of the Marlin please

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