One of my favorite things to do in Mexico is eat, especially on the street. Mexico’s street food is full of the most traditional, well-prepared, delicious food and I like to take it upon myself to try it all. So when I was in Puerto Vallarta for my second visit, I decided to do some street taco research. I think I found the best tacos in Puerto Vallarta Old Town, so I want to share the wealth so you know where to go!
Puerto Vallarta Old Town is the oldest part of the city and one of the most touristed neigborhoods. It’s where you can find a section of the malecon, the Los Muertos Pier, and tons of restaurants and bars. But when I walk through this area, I get the feeling that most of the restaurants are super touristy and probably not very good. I like to go where the locals go, or at least the places that are busy - those are sure fire ways to know a place is good.
In my experience, the best places to eat tacos in Puerto Vallarta Old Town are the street stands.
Where to Stay in Puerto Vallarta:
Airbnb: I stayed in a beautiful Airbnb with an amazing host - I would recommend it 100%. There are also plenty of other great Airbnbs throughout the city.
Booking.com: Or check Booking.com below for great rates on hotels.
Now let's get into the tacos:
But First - A Mexican Street Taco Stand Etiquette Primer:
I know one of the things that can be most intimidating to travelers is knowing how to navigate a stand. Where do you order? Where is the menu? How do you pay?
- You can immediately sit down if there is a seat. There are often little plastic stools, or sometimes tables and chairs.
- The proprietor will usually address you and ask you what you want. It’s not rude though to make eye contact or say “Por Favor” to get someone’s attention.
- The menu will often be at the back of the stand. But sometimes it’s not - you can ask “Que Hay?” (What is there?) or walk up to the stand and point and ask questions. It helps to have a little Spanish knowledge, but a huge percentage of the people working in PV speak English.
- They will bring you your food. After you eat, you can order more and more as you want.
- At the end, you can ask for “la cuenta” (the check). You can ask anyone, and they will usually direct you to the person who handles the money.
If you're looking for more tips on how to find safe street food in Latin America, check out my post.
And a Puerto Vallarta Taco/Mexican Food Glossary:
In Puerto Vallarta, most tacos are served with some pinto beans mixed in with the meat. You can also choose to add on cilantro and cebolla (onion). Vendors will ask you first.
- Tacos al Pastor: Marinated pork that is cooked on a spit in front of a flame. Spicy and crispy on the outside. Served with a slice of pineaple on top. Served on a small corn tortilla.
- Tacos de Adobada: Adobada is very similar to al pastor. It’s pork marinated in the same spicy sauce, just not cooked on the spit. Served on a small corn tortilla.
- Tacos de Carnitas: Slow cooked, braised pork. Tender and delicious. Served on a small corn tortilla.
- Tacos Asada: Beef that is grilled. Served on a small corn tortilla.
- Tacos de Birria: Stewed spicy beef or goat. Served on a small corn tortilla.
- Tacos de Camaron: Shrimp tacos. Can be served empanizado (breaded), frito (fried), or grilled.
- Tacos de Marlin (or Pescado): Marlin fish tacos. Can be served same as above.
- Quesadillas de (any of the above): a bigger tortilla folded with cheese and any of the meats that you choose above.
Now on to the best tacos in Puerto Vallarta Old Town:
1. Carnitas Taco Stand: Best Tacos in Puerto Vallarta Old Town
(Cardenas & Aguacate)
This place has AWESOME tacos de carnitas, or slow cooked tender pork. Open during the afternoon, and is always busy with locals. They also have great horchata (sweet rice milk). Definitely one of the best tacos in Puerto Vallarta Old Town.
2. Taqueria Hormiga: Best Tacos in Puerto Vallarta Old Town
(Outside of Farmacia Guadalajara, second stand as you walk east from Insurgentes)
The taco stands outside of Farmacia Guadalajara (the giant pharmacy that also doubles as a mini grocery store) are always busy, especially for dinner. We love the two western most stands, Taqueria Hormiga being one in from Calle Insurgentes.
This stand has fantastic tacos al pastor. They usually open mid afternoon and stay open late.
3. Taqueria Mendoza: Best Tacos in Puerto Vallarta Old Town
(Taco stand outside of Farmacia Guadalajara, closest to Insurgentes)
This is the other stand that I love outside of Farmacia Guadalajara - this one is the closest to Calle Insurgentes.
I actually like this one a tiny bit better than Taqueria Hormiga, though both are great. My favorite things to order at this Puerto Vallarta Old Town taco stand are the tacos al pastor or quesadillas de adobada.
Did you know that adobada is basically the same as pastor, but not marinated on the spit in front of the flame? You may be thinking - why would you not want the one in front of the flame?? But I think adobada is pretty great too - and awesome in a quesadilla.
4. La Hormiga Feliz: Best Tacos in Puerto Vallarta Old Town
(Taco stand outside of Oxxo, Calle Madero y Vallarta)
This spot is right outside an Oxxo and always busy at night (so you know it’s good). They have all the usual suspects: pastor, asada, adobada. Take a seat and enjoy some of the best tacos in Puerto Vallarta Old Town. Opens in the evening.
5. Takos Flako: Best Tacos in Puerto Vallarta Old Town
(catty corner to the Oxxo & Taqueria La Hormiga Feliz, Madero y Vallarta)
This Puerto Vallarta Old Town taco stand is catty corner (diagonal) to La Hormiga Feliz but feels like it’s more for locals somehow. But everytime we’ve gone, we’ve been welcomed and had delicious tacos. They serve the same taco varieties as most others in Puerto Vallarta Old Town. Beware, the salsa here is HOT. Opens in the evening.
6. Taqueria el Moreno: Best Tacos in Puerto Vallarta Old Town
(Calle Madero y Constitucion)
This is one of the absolute best tacos in Puerto Vallarta Old Town, in my opinion. This spot opens pretty early and stays open all afternoon. One reason I love it so much is that they serve fresh birria: or spicy, stewed goat or beef. You can order this on tacos or in a bowl. It’s usually so hot in PV that I prefer the taco version here.
They also make all the tortillas fresh and a tiny bit on the thicker side. Very delicious!
7. Mariscos Cisneros: Best Tacos in Puerto Vallarta Old Town
(Aguacate between Cardenas y Carranza)
This is a fish taco spot that has an outdoor stand and an indoor place to sit. These are some of the best tacos in Puerto Vallarta Old Town if you are looking for fresh seafood. My favorite here is the taco de camaron con queso: or the shrimp taco with cheese. Delicious with a cold beer! Their tostadas de ceviche (ceviche on a crispy flat taco shell) are also yummy.
This Puerto Vallarta Old Town taco stand is open during the afternoon until about 8pm.
For such a touristy town, Puerto Vallarta has an incredibly delicious and traditional food scene. I highly recommend getting out of the tourist traps and trying out the best tacos in Puerto Vallarta Old Town that I mentioned above!
If you're a foodie, I also suggest trying a Puerto Vallarta food tour with Pitaya Food Tours - it was one of my favorite days in Puerto Vallarta!