The fruits and vegetables are local and luscious at the town market (Prisciliano Sánchez at corner of Hidalgo), a block west of the plaza. For general groceries, go to the big Abarrotes Mascota at the corner of Corona and Degollado, a half block west of the Posada Corona. If it doesn’t have what you want, Pepe Díaz, owner of Abarrotes Pepe (Corona 94, tel. 388/386-0374, 7 a.m.–3 p.m. and 4–9 p.m. Mon.–Sat., 7 a.m.–4 p.m. Sun.) across the street, probably will.
Moreover, Mascota offers a bounty of regional sweets. Check out Dulces de Mascota in front of Posada Hernández (Ramón Corona 72, tel. 388/386-0049, 8 a.m.–3 p.m. and 4–9 p.m. Mon.–Sat., 8 a.m.–3 p.m. Sun.). Here, select from a delicious assortment (mango, guava, pineapple) of homemade conservas (jams); empanadas (fruit turnovers), and crisp locally famous galletas (cookies) and much more.
For an even more exotically unusual treat, walk a block west along Corona to the corner of Zaragoza, across the street from Abarrotes Pepe, to Mar Carlos shaved-ice stand. A lineup of large glass jars reveals their scrumptious contents: wild, hand-gathered fruits, from dark red faisan and pink hocuistle to yellow plum-like ciruela and red frambueza (wild cranberry).
You needn’t worry about sampling the delicacies: The eager crowd of customers and the dozen-year-long reputation that friendly husband-wife owner-operators Carlos and Marta have acquired at this spot is proof enough of the wholesomeness of their offerings.
Moreover, good coffee and pastries are plentiful in Mascota, at cozy family-style Café Napoles (corner of Hidalgo and Zaragoza, two blocks west of the plaza church, tel. 388/386-0051). Drop in for a savory cappuccino, mocha, or latte and a slice of cake (chocolate, mocha, tres leches) or a turnover (pineapple, banana, mango).
For good breakfasts or snacks, Cuca Díaz’s nephew Chole runs the Lonchería El Cholo (R. Corona about three doors east of Posada Corona, tel. 388/386-0771, 7 a.m.–3 p.m. and 7–10 p.m. Mon.–Sat.).
For more serious eating, try restaurant La Casa de Mi Abuelita (corner of Corona and Zaragoza, tel. 388/386-1975, 8 a.m.–midnight daily, $2–7), a block north and a block west of the plaza. Owners and chefs at My Grandmother’s House (which it really was) are very proud of their food, which is nearly exclusively hearty Mexican country fare. Here, you can feast on the specialties that you can’t usually get north of the border. These include yogurt-like jocoque, a chivichanga (a thin burrito made with a corn tortilla), and a chingadera (like nachos, except with meat instead of cheese). Not being a particularly adventurous eater, I went for their Mexican plate, which was delicious.
You’re in for a treat at Restaurant Navidad (on Ayuntamiento, half a block east of the plaza’s northeast corner, tel. 388/386-0469 or 388/386-0806, 7 a.m.–11 p.m. daily), where you can find out if your favorite Mexican restaurant back home is making enchiladas, quesadillas, tacos, and burritos (burros here) authentically. At Restaurant Navidad, they’re all good and all very correct.
© Bruce Whipperman from Moon Puerto Vallarta, 7th edition