Tacos are the emblematic street food of Mexico, reaching across walks of life to unite visitors and veterans of all stripes in white plastic chairs of equality. Newcomers can sometimes be intimidated by the lack of posted menus–or spoken English–but those intrepid spirits who park themselves before the grill and speak the magic words “¿que tienes?” (what do you have?) will be rewarded with a truly delicious experience. Although the list of potential contenders are practically endless, here are 10 outstanding possibilities for your visit to Vallarta in no particular order.
Carnitas Francisco Villa
Located at: Corner of Francisco Villa and Merida, Versalles
Stationed right outside a domestic beer depository, this small stand is home to the magic box that announces the presence of this tender and flavorful braised pork dish. Snack on a few individual tacos topped with spicy red salsa, jalapenos, and habanero onion…or if you just can’t get enough, order the meat by the kilo to go. Naturally, these tacos are a great match for an ice cold brew from the store next door as well.
Carnes Asadas Lupitas
Located at: San Salvador 321, 5 de Diciembre
This inviting stand in the city’s 5 de Deciembre district draws in curious passerby with fresh-made tortillas and sopes along with the rich scent of delicious beef. Carnes Asads Lupitas stands out with a great selection of taco types–carne de res and picadillo prepared with tomato and onion are just a couple of tempting options–as well as rotating beverages of the day such as aguas guayabana and tamarind.
Tacos El Hormiga
Located at: Corner of Lazaro Cardenas and Insurgentes, Emiliano Zapata
For late night munchies, the row of taco stands on this corner can hardly be beat, and El Hormiga is by many accounts the best of the bunch. Standard carne asada, chorizo, and pastor tacos are always on the menu, but if you’re looking for something a little different to anchor you down when you’re sailing around town one drink at a time, try a torta or burrito made with adobada, a type of tasty pork shoulder.
Located at: Lázaro Cárdenas 400, Zona Romántica
This corner is one of the most frequently trafficked in town among local tacoholics, and Taqueria Mendoza is another of the excellent options for late night snacking. The stand serves up carne asada and pastor tacos until 6 in the morning, and adventurous eaters can even get a taste of lengua (tongue) tacos…or perhaps it’s the other way around.
Located at: Basilio Badillo 162, Zona Romántica
If you take your meals with a side of people-watching, there are few better places to perch than this lively streetside eatery in the city’s Romantic Zone. Pancho’s Takos offers satisfying portions and an extensive menu of options, making it easy to please every menu of your party. All those people in line for a table on a typical evening can’t be wrong, so if you’re concerned about the wait, you can order yourself a drink to pass the time.
Tacos de Birria Alex
Located at: Calle Matamoros 845, 5 de Deciembre
Birria, a type of hearty stew made with beef or goat, is another of the staggering number of treats that can be enjoyed in taco form. Tucked away a few blocks up Calle Allende, this staple of the local community takes a focus on the dish. Be sure to sample the sauces before dousing your taco, as they can be fairly fiery to the uninitiated, always ask for a cup of consomme on the side, and don’t forget a squeeze or three of lime!
Located at: Aguacate 271, Zona Romántica
This sidewalk stand is also a restaurant with indoor seating, and this arrangement allows for an expanded menu of seafood delights. Among the many strong choices at this stand are soft-shell crab tacos, which are best enjoyed with a healthy spoonful of pico de gallo and a dash of chipotle sauce. The restaurant also serves drinks, which can be served and enjoyed outside.
Located at: Calle Camichin 131, Emiliano Zapata
Pajarito’s is a bit off the main drag if you’re just spending an afternoon exploring the heart of town, but it’s certainly worth seeking out for one reason alone: bacon wrapped shrimp tacos. If you find yourself at a table on a Thursday afternoon, you’re especially blessed…2 tacos and a margarita can be yours for just 90 pesos, or you can even reverse the combination if you like your lunch more liquid.
Located at: Calle Honduras 127, 5 de Diciembre
This 5 de Deciembre standby is located within a few blocks of several nightlife hubs, making it a popular choice all the way up to its’ 4am closing time. While the menu is familiar enough, offering a selection of standard tacos along with quesadillas and volcanes, Carboncito distinguishes itself through its use of coal, giving their meats a smoky and delicious flavor.
Located at: Naranjo 320, Zona Romantica
Approachable and unpretentious, the atmosphere at Marisma gives the tacos center stage. From your seat on the sidewalk or barstool outside the kitchen, you can enjoy as many battered fish and shrimp tacos as the law allows, and there are a range of other menu options in case you’re watching your figure. Wash everything down with a frosty strawberry or pineapple drink for a perfect finish.
Whether you prefer seafood chicken, beef, pork or…other…no trip to Puerto Vallarta is complete without a street taco session. It’s pretty hard to find a bad taco on the streets of this sunny city by the sea, but these 10 picks all offer something worth seeking out.
What are your favorite taco places?