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Travel Buzz
Where to Dine in Puerto Vallarta
By James Shillinglaw

International guest chefs showcase their culinary specialties during the six day festival, turning Puerto Vallarta into a mecca for foodies. And it’s not just Mexican food being offered, but a virtual cornucopia of cuisines from around the world. The festival, now in its 22nd year, has turned Puerto Vallarta into a destination that is well known for delivering the ultimate in dining experiences.

In 1995, chefs Thierry Blouet and Heinz Reize launched the festival with the goal to promote and upgrade the destination’s culinary standards. Chef Roland Menetrey joined Blouet and Reize to oversee the festival and form the “three musketeers” of the event. The festival includes cooking demonstrations, progressive dinners, wine pairing meals, theme nights and discussions with top chefs.

The original format remains unchanged with each participating restaurant or hotel inviting a celebrity chef to showcase his or her talents during the festival. Each year there are more Michelin-starred chefs from around the world joining the event. In 2015, 22 restaurants and hotels were part of the event. Today, because of the festival, the region is known as a world-class culinary destination.

Of course, you don’t need to visit Puerto Vallarta during the festival to enjoy the wide range of cuisine available in the destination. Here are eight top restaurants you can sample in Puerto Vallarta, all of which also participated in the most recent festival.

Cafe Des Artistes

This gourmet restaurant, owned by Thierry Blouet, was recognized as the best dining venue in Mexico in 2011- 2012. The menu features local products marrying Mexican culinary influences with French culinary techniques. Diners can eat indoors in a lavish, elegant room or outside in a romantic, junglelike garden.

Coco Tropical
This restaurant grill and beach club features cuisine by Heinz Reize, the Swiss chef and owner, who settled in Puerto Vallarta after a career that took him from Switzerland to Germany, Holland, the U.S. and Curaçao. Chef Reize serves an eclectic Mediterranean style gourmet cuisine that includes everything from Italian specialties to local seafood.

La Leche
Using local produce, Chef Alphonso Cadena prepares unique French and Mexican culinary creations, often focused on seafood. Waiters bring out a blackboard with the day’s fare written in chalk. Diners eat in a modern, all-white space lined with milk cans on the shelves in what can only be described as an avant-garde culinary experience.

La Palapa
This famed beachside restaurant features tropical Mexican cuisine prepared by Chef Alberto Perez Gonzalez. The family-run eatery, dating from 1957, offers a menu fi lled with local ingredients and choices from throughout the Puerto Vallarta region. Tropical Mexican cuisine combines Mexican with Asian and French elements to deliver a culinary experience guests won’t soon forget.

Tuna Blanca
This oceanfront restaurant, a sister eatery to Cafe des Artistes, is also overseen by Chef Thierry Blouet and his disciple, Chef Ramon Alvarez. Located in Hotel Cinco Punta de Mita, the restaurant features a menu that is much more Mexican, chic and romantic using only the best, fresh, locally produced ingredients and organic products, hand-cultivated by local farmers, and fresh fish provided by local fishermen.

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