Mexican cuisine is famously distinctive by region. Each state of this diverse country contributes its own specialties to the national palate; Puerto Vallarta and the State of Jalisco are no exception. Mexico’s Pacific Coast is known for fresh seafood, and the State of Jalisco is famous the world over for its tequilas.
In addition to the particular dishes ahead, shrimp is an overwhelmingly popularly Puerto Vallarta inclusion in long-treasured Mexican dishes like mole, pozole, tacos and enchiladas. Marlin, tuna and mahi mahi are also typical finfish found in many local specialties.
Like its cousin tequila, Raicilla is a spirit distilled from the blue agave plant. Originating in the Puerto Vallarta area, the primary differentiator from tequila is that raicilla is not aged before bottling, making it the moonshine of agave spirits. Like moonshine, it’s a rougher, higher-proof version of the more well-known aged liquor.
The chilled raw shrimp ceviche made with chile, lime juice, salt and cilantro originated in the state of Sinaloa but is now popular throughout Mexico’s Pacific Coast. In Puerto Vallarta, the dish is often prepared with day boat shrimp fresh from the waters of the Bahia de Banderas, served over ice, with a margarita or cold beer on the side.
German immigrants first brewed Pacifico beer, another Sinaloa specialty, in 1900 in Mazatlan, a colonial, Pacific-Coast city similar to Puerto Vallarta. Today, the lager-style pilsner is a popular beverage throughout North America. It’s a smooth, drinkable brew that pairs well with a sandy beach and sunset.
Birria is a hearty adobo stew, typically made with goat or mutton. The dish originated in Jalisco, neighboring states have their own variations. Often enjoyed on holidays or for special occasions like weddings, Birria is widely available in Puerto Vallarta, particularly food trucks in the Zona Romantica. It’s served as both the traditional stew and as a taco filling.
In Spanish, quite literally “Pregnant Shrimp” (a way of saying that they’re infused with flavor), Camarones Embarazados are typical street vendor food. Shrimp are marinated in a salsa of garlic, roasted tomatoes, pasilla chile, onion, orange juice and other spices, roasted on skewers and served with lemon, salt, chile and mayonnaise on the side.
Another famous Jalisco dish originating in Guadalajara, torta ahogada is the Mexican take on the French Dip or Wet Italian Beef. Typically a crispy bolillo roll filled with pork (in Puerto Vallarta the typical local filling is—you guessed it—shrimp) covered in a piquant chile sauce and pickled onions, this messy dunked sandwich is one served with particular pride in the region. Many vendors in Puerto Vallarta offer variations of the heat of the salsa, from rather mild to as hot as the locals prefer.