Along with many excellent restaurants in Puerto Vallarta, there are food vendors aplenty and a wonderful variety on the beach. One can sit all day and order fine and delectable fare. A good morning starter is a cup loaded with a mixture of fruit. Melons, papaya, jicama, cucumber, among other juicy choices, all sliced with finger eating in mind; sprinkled with chile or a lime squeeze, or eaten plain. You need to only sit and wait for the fruit person to pass and they’ll be happy to arrange a custom breakfast for you. Our favorite is watermelon mixed with jicama, sprinkled with a tad of Tajin.
Oysters, fresh or grilled are in constant supply. Waiters weave through crowds collecting pesos for platters, complete with quartered limes, chile and salsa. We’ve found our favorite under the bridge at Playa Los Muertos, where a local family supplies a selection of shellfish, including clams the size of horse hooves. They will concoct a seafood cocktail to order with amazingly fresh salsa. Breakfast is a good time to enjoy mollusks when they’ve just been whisked out of the ocean.
Roast fish and shrimp are familiar scents wafting, as one strolls in the direction of the beach. Propped over coals, an old tradition that dates back many years, fish on a stick can be seen in old photos of Puerto Vallarta. Facing the sea, our back to the land, nothing has changed, including the good food. Wandering fish sellers, hawking their delicious offerings, are a fanciful temptation, the very type of thing that makes us know we have dining in heaven. Shrimp and fish are served with slices of fresh lime; Salsa Huichol, native to the area, is our preferred condiment.
While lounging on the hot sand, enjoying vistas and marvelous odors, there’s nothing quite like sweet Mexican ice cream. Buried deep in a pushcart full of ice, these mouth-watering treats comes in an assortment not found in most of our hometowns. Paletas (popsicles) of pineapple, guayaba (guava) chockablock with crunchy seeds, cucumber, rum (yes, really, rum), coconut, peanut and walnut are among the exotic flavors, cream and water based. The lid of the rolling freezer is wrenched open and the air is filled with icy mist as the vendor reaches inside and magically pulls out your request, frozen solid. Your tongue will stick to it at first lick, so be careful.
Candy, often sold out of a wheelbarrow, is pushed along by what must be the strongest man on the entire beach and it’s not just yummy, it’s colorful! As well as gummies and sweet and sours, there are jawbreakers, mints, licorice and a selection of nuts. From pistachios to pecans, some are salted while others are covered in caramel and hard sugar. We always get little bags to take home for later.