Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, is well known as a popular beach destination for Americans and Canadians. Many of its restaurants are also well known to discriminating diners.
But sometimes it pays to just stop where you see the crowds and wait in line for a tiny table at a popular taco stand.
That’s just what we did on our latest trip to Puerto Vallarta. Along Basillo Badilla about 7 p.,m, on a Thursday there was a crowd waiting patiently outside Pancho’s Takos. But that wasn’t the only thing that drew our interest.
The clincher was the giant spit of marinated pork being sliced for the house specialty, tacos al pastor. The man doing the slicing didn’t take a break.
We got in line and decided to order frozen margaritas while chatting with the others patiently waiting. The family in front of us said they visit the spot at least three times a week because the food is so good and so inexpensive.
Indeed, our two large frozen margaritas, a plate of four tacos al pastor with cheese, three tacos al pastor with just cilantro and onion and a chorizo quesadilla came out to less than $15, almost as much as it would cost for one extra large frozen margarita at home.
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The price was certainly right, but the real reason to go was the quality of the food.
The taco meat was juicy and succulent, the tiniest bit sweet with heaping amounts of onions and cilantro. The quesadilla filled with crumbly chorizo, also accented with cilantro and onions, was another hit. All the tables also got a tray filled with chopped limes and salsas for extra flavor. I didn’t feel the need.
An extra perk of sitting at the small tables outside the restaurant is chatting with the nearby diners. On one side of us was a young couple from Sweden, an older couple from Texas on the other side. The next table down was a group of four young people from Portland, Oregon.
All of us were chatting enthusiastically about the quality of the food and the fine weather in a place that was so much warmer than in our homes at this time of year.
This is not fine dining in an intimate, quiet space. In fact, it’s almost circus like with folks walking by and street performers a few steps away. But the food was definitely fine, and worth a repeat trip.