For you zataar!
The most memorable thig I had last week was at a road side taqueria up in the mountains about 2 hrs out of Puerto Vallarta on the way to Tepic.
A cinder block building with tables and chairs outsidenext to a roadside veggie/snack stand. I asked the ladies cooking what they had good and they reached into the fridge and pulled out some of the biggest shrimp I ever saw. They called them "langousinos" (or something like that) which is Spanish for lobster. They cooked them up "con ajo" (with garlic) and an order of beans, rice and the absolute best homemade tortillas I ever tasted. . . I watched them cook everything including the tortillas. . . they had a tortilla press made from two square blocks of wood, but they produced perfectly round tortillas. . . lettuce and creme fresca and a salsa that was perfect. One shrimp per tortilla! I talked to the owner while the ladies were cooking and he was stoking up the bbq grill for the daily meat.
Mexican people are the most calm, content and spiritual people I have ever encountered. . . one of the reasons I keep going back.
Tepic is a fairly large city in a big green high mountain valley where they grow lots of sugar cane and cattle. You have to drive for hours on winding mountain roads to get there.
The best meal there was dinner in a typical Mexican restaurant where service is incredible and the food matches the service called "Pat Pacs." (don't ask me, I didn't name it)
The best dish was a frajitas type of thing where they brought out a big tray of still sizzling beef (I usually shy away from beef in Mexico, but this was Tepic) with onions, chilis, and some other veggies. Lots of good hot tortillas, three different types of salsa, etc.
About three hours south of PTO Vallarta is a little cow town called "Tomatlan." We had lunch there in a little place overlooking the plaza. It was standard faire, with taquitos, enchilatas, beans rice, etc. The stand-out was a dish I love called Coctel de camarones (shrimp cocktail). It is freshly cooked shrimp (sometimes still warm) in a tomatoey concoction that includes onion, chilis, and lots of lime juice. . . sometimes the shrimp are whole, sometimes they are chopped. The one I had in that little place in Tomatlan was exceptional.
Had some of the best seafood in a little place called Bahia de Tomatlan which is just down the road from Mismaloya which is where the famous Richard Burton movie, "Night of the Iguana" was filmed. We had a snapper cooked very similar to Vera Cruz style that was delicious. It was wrapped in banana leaves with chilis, onions, tomatos and some type of salsa. Top that off with a couple lobster tails cooked just right in garlic sauce. Whew, that was gooooood. . . right next to the water at a little mom and pop place.
In PTO Vallarta we had a couple decent meals. . . mostly overpriced. Diner at Conzuelas, which seems to be fairly well known in the travel books was nice. Not all that noteworthy, but nice. Got solid cooking with obviously all local and fresh ingredients. We had a stew that was good, sopa de mariscos (shell fish soup), that is one of my favorites that was very good. A good Mexican sopa de marisco has the whole crab, shrimp, clam, whatever, throw in without being removed from the shell. This was all picked clean and deshelled. . . made for the tourists.
I don't remember the place, but I had tomales one morning that were perfect. They were wrapped in banana leaves and moist but not greasy and had just enough spicey pork inside to accompany every bite. Great enchiladas w/ green chili salsa at a place called Dona Raquel's. . .
Stopping in Mexico City on the way home on a long layover, we went to the Zocalo and had lunch at one of my favorite places (about #4 on my list of MC restaurants) "Mexico Veijo" which is right next to the Metropolitan Cathedral. Had a really nice Mole con pollo. . . only a slight chocolate taste. . . their buffet had an incredible number of different meat dishes from ribs to meat pies. It was their Sat. afternoon buffet.
I know I'm forgetting some stuff. . .