Valle Dorado: Exploring Hidden Gastronomical Gems

By Claudia Hernández

Valle Dorado, or as I like to call it – the Valley of Gastronomy, is a must visit destination for food lovers in Bahía de Banderas. Here, you'll discover a delectable mix of traditional Nayarit and Mexican flavors, as well as surprising international offerings that will certainly tantalize your taste buds.

Early birds will want to start their Valle Dorado foodie adventure with a treasured taqueria among locals: Tacos Balta. This popular spot is located near the entrance of Valle Dorado and it's famous for serving the most delicious "Tacos de Birria" – which consist of a juicy beef filling prepared with a mix of aromatic spices and chilies that is then served on a fried tortilla on the griddle, and traditionally accompanied by the broth from the stuffing. Most taco lovers add cilantro and lime to taste, and of course, salsa. Beware though, at Tacos Balta you will find a variety of salsas ranging from "mild" to "hot", so if you are feeling adventurous with taste buds just remember that for locals "mild" doesn't always mean the same thing that it means to you! Pro Taco Tip: lightly dip your taco in the Birria broth before biting into it – I promise after trying this you won't want to eat them any other way. Tacos Balta is open from 7 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.

If you venture into Valle Dorado during lunch or dinner time, I highly recommend these three foolproof options that I have personally vetted:

Cenaduría Coyoacán is a traditional dining hall specializing in authentic Mexican delights. It is a must when it comes to Valle Dorado gastronomy. Located at the end of Valle de Zirahuen street, you could say it's off the beaten tourist path, but you can easily locate it on Google Maps. Prepare to be blown away by the abundance of flavors. Serving just about everything like Pozole, a stew made with pork, hominy and chilies, usually garnished with onion, radish, lettuce, lime and salsa to taste, to the most delicious Pambazos, a toasted bread with house-made adobo prepared with different chilies, filled with potatoes with chorizo, cream, and lettuce. Undoubtedly, Pozole and Pambazos are just a few of the options that you cannot miss, there is so much to try here! I also recommend the sopes, gorditas, and quesadillas. In short, if you visit Cenaduria Coyoacán, it is better to go with an empty stomach because you will want to taste everything. Service hours may vary, but it's usually open from 3:00 pm to 12:00 am. 

Sabrosa Italia is probably an unexpect champion for this Valle Dorado Foodie Guide, but it's a molto buona option if you are feeling like trying something other than Mexican food. Only open for dinner, from 6:00 pm to 10:00 pm, this small but genuine Italian restaurant serving fresh and delicious homemade pastas will transport you half way across the world with just one bite. From a classic Lasagna and spinach Ravioli to the rich Gnocchi, Tortellini, and Tagliolini, a visit to Sabrosa Italia will have you double-checking the stamp on your passport. Thanks to its authentic flavor, this place has become one of the best rated restaurants on TripAdvisor. If you visit, make sure you say hello to Enrico, the founder of this gem, who has taken care of every detail to make your experience unbeatable. 

Last but not least, I simply couldn't sign off without recommending Pancho's Takos. More than a taqueria, it has become an institution for lovers of Tacos al Pastor.

While there are many other options in this area for this particular type of taco, connoisseurs will recognize this as the supreme authority of Tacos al Pastor. As such, the waiting time at this taqueria can be a bit long, but I assure you - it's definitely worth it! Pancho's Takos is open from 4:00 pm until 11:00 pm. 

There you have it, a quick but bullet proof gastronomic guide to the best local restaurants to enjoy our Valley of Gastronomy, most commonly know as Valle Dorado, in Riviera Nayarit. A place where every bite will leave a memorable mark on your palate.

If you visit any of these iconic restaurants, share your experience with us! Tag us on Instagram @livepuntamita!

¡Buen provecho!