#1  Jo Jack's Fish Shack
We were first introduced to Joe Jacks in Old Town years ago by friends we met on an ATV tour !!  This restaurant is  now one of our favorites in the Puerto Vallarta area. It is an iconic location in Old Town.  The owner is the cook, and the prices can’t be beat! They make a five pepper steak that is excellent. The fish and chips are phenomenal  and the burgers are huge and delicious. This place is one of our top few for food, pricing and over-all quality.  Don't forget to try the whole fish or garlic shrimp ! 

Two for One Mojitos

Joe Jack's Mojitos mermaids
Mermaids decorate every mojito

This has become a standard tradition for us .   From Noon to Five every day they have two for one mojitos.    One of those mermaids comes on each glass. ( Ok , they stopped providing mermaids a while back , but we always hope they will bring them back. ) These are the best mojitos in the world.  I always start with the classic. but you really need to try the amazing ginger,  pineapple , strawberry or the recently added passion fruit.   The passion fruit is my second favorite.  Do be careful,  they are not stingy with the rum.  

Sharing Our Experience

Every year we have different friends or relatives with us and we always spend some time in the afternoon at Jo Jacks at least once.    if we get there later in the after noon we hang around for dinner.  If we get there early , the jicama with chili powder is wonderful along with homemade guacamole.  

We always try to eat on the second floor and usually get a table with view of the street below.   Up until the recent renovation, it was part of the adventure to navigate the uneven height steps on the way out.   Now it is a bit less exciting and a bit safer.   

The atmosphere is always fun and festive and we generally strike up a conversation with one of the many locals, tourists and expats.  Years ago our new friends made us return to Joe Jacks in the evening for the coconut pie.   Although my wife claims that this is the only dessert choice,  I have had the Butterscotch Boudin with Bacon and it is also amazing.    

In case you can't operate Google maps, just head south over the Rio Cuale into Old Town,  after a few blocks,   look for Calle Badillo Basilio and you will find Joe Jack's about 2 or 3 blocks from the beach on the south side of the road.  (That's the right side walking away from the beach)  If you go there on an afternoon in late February or early March , we might see you there.

So there you have it.  Joe Jacks Fish Shack is one of our favorite traditions with great food, and two for one mojitos, and the best mojitos in the world !

Our Daugher Rachel and Husband Brent
Our Daugher Rachel and Husband Brent

#2 The Red Cabbage


At the end of a busy day , we set off in search of the Red Cabbage restaurant.  We ] hRed Cabbage Old Town Puerto Vallartaeard about it from some Canadians last year and it appears on many restaurant reviews.    Search is the right description.  It is tucked away in a residential area of Old Town (the romantic zone).  My phone died just as we were navigating there and after a bit of family squabbling and U turns, we ended up in a dead end neighborhood with a family dinner party being set up in the street.  They clearly were wondering what these crazy gringos were doing in their family party.  Rapidly retreating, we finally found it.  

How to Find It

Turns out it is not that difficult to find if you start with the directions on their website !  We came at it from the wrong direction and found that locals are friendly but no help finding it.  Also the the sign is not large and says El Repollo Rojo on one side and The Red Cabbage on the other side. Note that they are typically closed in September, but open the rest of the year.

It is a funky little place making traditional Mexican dishes very well. We got a young waiter that was not too animated, but we are guessing he was brand new.  The older waiter at the next table was joking and laughing with patrons and it seems a very homey, friendly environment.  I ordered the Poblano mole and it was delicious.  They also make famous Poblano en Nogada dish, but they choose to serve it cold, and I couldn’t make myself risk it. We love the hot version of poblano en nogada, so we are hoping someone will try the cold version and leave a comment .  A couple of our party had the Pork Verde.  Simple but delicious.  My daughter Rachel went big and ordered the Mexican sampler plate.  She loved it all.  This place lives up to it’s reputation.  High ratings on trip advisor and people on the street recommending it.   The followoing self promotion statement on the Red Cabbage website  seems to be an accurate description:  

One of Vallarta's most delightful dining experiences,
the menu features dishes from all regions of MexicoThe Red Cabbage
Easily accessible on the south side of the Rio Cuale,
Red Cabbage Cafe is located in Colonia Remance
(pronounced "ray-MAHN-say").
You know you are someplace special when you step
into the lighthearted collage of its decor. On the brightly painted walls is an eclectic display of art, music, theater, literature and film.
Frida Khalo and Diego Rivera are featured on one wall.

Informal but stylish, bohemian but sophisticated, delicious dining
in a delightful setting await Puerto Vallarta's visitors and residents
who are looking for a great food experience. Prices are moderate
and value outstanding.

#3  Pancake Housepancake house

This will be a short section.   Sometimes you just need a good old fashioned American / Canadian breakfast.   The Pancake House has what you need.  Set in a unique garden ambience this restaurant on Basillio Badillo has a variety of both American fare and Mexican breakfasts.   Friendly service and good prices make this a must do at least once option.

#4 El Mole de Jovita

We first discovered this restaurant on our Mole Pozole food tour.  We were skeptical, but our skepticism

el mole de jovita
Mole being made by hand

ended VERY quickly.   On the tour, they served  3 enchiladas with 3 different moles.   All were fabulous.  You really haven't been to Mexico until you have sampled different moles.   These flavorful sauces with over a dozen ingredients are one of our favorite food experiences.  It is right down the street toward the beach from our #1 restaurant ,  Jo Jack's Fish Shack.

#5  The Blue Shrimp

We discovered the Blue Shrimp around 15 years ago.   Since then , it has moved onto the beach in Old Town and added a second restaurant in Nuevo Vallarta.  However, they continue to produce amazing meals centered around, you guessed it, Shrimp.  The Blue Shrimp is only in season for a short time.  It is the largest of the shrimp, looking more like a perch.   But they always have other types of shrimp in a delicious variety of dishes.  

Here are some samples from the menu at Blue Shrimp.

Popcorn Shrimp
Romana Calamari
Stuffed Clams au Gratin
Fresh Mussels Provencale 6pz (live)
Seafood Crepe au Gratin
Shrimp Bisquet

Get Your Shrimp By The Kilo

Medium ¼ Kg --- ½ Kg --- 1 Kg
Jumbo ¼ Kg --- ½ Kg --- 1 Kg

Chef's Creations
Sweet & Sour Shrimp
(Pineapple juice, sesame & seed aoli)
Portuguese Shrimp
(Wraped with bacon & cheese)
Cantonese Shrimp
(Soy& Oyster souce, ginger)
Cajun Shrimp
(Cajun spices)
Scampi Style Baked Shrimp
(Butter, paprika, garlic)
Coconut Shrimp
(Buttered with coconut)
Arriero Shrimp
(Garlic, butter, guajillo & dried chilli & baby potatoes)

If you are not a shrimp lover, don't despair.  There are excellent pizzas, steaks and italian dishes as well. 


After you have visited these places, you can check out our blog post on our favorite Mexican food experiences.  There is a little overlap, but you will get some great new ideas.  That wraps up our opinion of the five don't miss restaurants in Old Town Puerto Vallarta that you really should not miss.  

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