Vegetables, groceries, and baked goods are available at a pair of stores by the town plaza, or at Abarrotes Doria, just south of the bridge on Revolución, the main ingress street from the highway. Local-style food is supplied by a lineup of plaza taco stands at night, and some beachfront palapa restaurants. Bountiful breakfasts, lunches, and early dinners are the main event at Choco Banana (6 a.m.–6 p.m. daily) on the town plaza with lots of hearty American-style breakfasts ($3–5), veggie and meat burgers ($4), fish fillets ($6), carrot cake ($2) and good espresso ($1).
A bit higher up the scale, a number of recommendable restaurants dot Sayulita’s streets and beachfront. One of the best established is Pedro’s (tel. 329/291-3090), a once humble, now elegant, seafood palapa on the south-end beachfront. Here, the main events are the freshest catches of the day, cooked with European flair, such as mahimahi (dorado) Portofino style, and local oysters, octopus, fish, and shrimp cooked up as bouillabaisse (seafood stew, $10–15).
You can get just as fresh Mexican-style seafood (fish and shrimp any style, fish tacos and tortas, $4–8) at neighboring El Costeño restaurant, also on the Sayulita main beachfront.
In town, on the main street, Revolución, family-owned La Fiesta restaurant is a party ready to happen, especially on weekends. The whole family, including the waiters and the audience, sometimes gets into the act. The sparkplug is the father, Miguel, who both emcees and plays the keyboard, often accompanied by his daughter, who sings like a songbird. Besides all this, their lovingly prepared Mexican specialties ($5–10), with bottomless hot, handmade tortillas, are among the best on the Nayarit Coast.
For refined, South Seas ambience (soft music, candles, and dreamy Paul Gauguin prints), go to Restaurant Sayulita (Revolución, corner of Gaviotas, tel. 329/291-3511, 5–11:30 p.m. daily, $5–12), just off the main street. Here, pick from a varied Mexican- international menu (moles, soups, chiles rellenos, steak, dorado fillet).
Chinese food has arrived in Sayulita, at the Dragon Rojo (on Gaviotas, a block from the beach, corner of Navarrete, 3 p.m.–midnight daily, $3–10), the Sayulita branch of the well-known Puerto Vallarta restaurant. The gang’s all there: wonton soup, egg foo yung, chow mein, and plenty of curries, seafood, meat, and vegetable specialties.
Return another day, across Revolución, to restaurant-pizzeria “Si Hay Olitas” (“Yes, there are some little waves,” 7 a.m.–9 p.m. daily, $4–12) for your choice of ribs, hamburgers, chicken, or Mexican specialties such as molcajete (cactus leaves and leeks with chicken or beef strips), flaming fajitas, and good in-house pizza.
Owner/chef Miguel Muro of Casa de Chile Rellenos (on Revolución, a block south of the plaza, tel. 329/291-3511, 1–11 p.m. daily) has raised the chile relleno (stuffed chile) to a high art. He offers a quartet of delicious variations: cheese, vegetarian, tuna, or chicken. ($8) Alternative options include bountiful salads ($5), barbequed ribs ($9), and T-bone steak with baked potato ($12), all served in a tranquil candle-lit atmosphere, enhanced by low- volume melodies and whirring ceiling fans.