Sunday, May 19, 2024

Puerto Vallarta’s Versalles neighborhood guide

Puerto Vallarta’s Versalles neighborhood was never supposed to be my neighborhood. Technically I live in Santa Maria, across from the busy Avenida Francisco Villa. But after hearing so much buzz around one of the “hottest neighborhoods” in Puerto Vallarta, I went to check it out a few years ago and have been calling it my stomping grounds ever since.

Versalles is truly PV’s colonia del día. Read any local article about the city’s rising stars, and Versalles always tops the list. A quick scan of the skyline of the neighborhood reveals crane after crane constructing new condo buildings (a bummer, if you ask me), and its cobblestone streets are flanked by emerging restaurants and creative cubby-sized bars. Most people who live in Puerto Vallarta know Versalles as the culinary hotspot in the city – a place where cheap eats rub elbows with finer dining, or at least as fine as dining gets in Puerto Vallarta. 

The Versalles neighborhood is considered one of the most beautiful neighborhoods in Puerto Vallarta. (Venecia-Palm Springs)

The Versalles neighborhood is considered one of the most beautiful neighborhoods in Puerto Vallarta. Sandwiched between the borders of Calle Viena, Avenida Los Tules, Avenida Fluvial and Avenida Francisco Villa, this grid of European city-named streets is one of the best spots in the city to escape the rattle and hum of the over-touristed Centro and Zona Romantica. It’s near the beach, but not on the beach, which means prices are cheaper here than in more centrally located neighborhoods – though with the construction of so many new condos, prices are rising dramatically. Still, the quietness and proximity to such fantastic restaurants are why Versalles is the best area to stay in Puerto Vallarta.

Things to do in Versalles

Versalles is first and foremost a residential neighborhood. Years ago, the area was just a few extravagant houses surrounded by farmland. It’s only in recent years that Versalles got an upgrade, with fresh pavement and fancy condos. And it’s even more recent that aspiring and creative chefs started moving in and opening up their funky restaurants, bodega-style wine bars and cocktail hideaways. This is all to say, what you’re coming to Versalles for is to eat. But I’ll get to that in a bit.

Versalles provides a much more affordable place to stay for tourists than downtown Puerto Vallarta because it’s a 15-minute taxi ride to Zona Romantica. It’s also not on the beach, which is a drawback for many first-time visitors to PV. Still, the closest beach, Playa Las Glorias, is less than a 10-minute walk away and is one of the quieter beaches in the city because it isn’t overwhelmed with amenities. 

Best Restaurants in Versalles

Let’s get on to the good stuff, shall we? You’ve come to Versalles to eat and that’s exactly what you’re going to do. Versalles seems to be a neighborhood created specifically for foodies, and the volume of restaurants that open each year means the culinary landscape is constantly evolving. Here are the spots where I love to eat and drink in Versalles:

Versalles is home to some truly amazing food too, from seafood to Italian. (Abulón Antojería del Mar/Facebook)

El Puerco de Oro: This humble, hole-in-the-wall taco shop makes only one thing: pork belly tacos. But they will probably be the best pork belly tacos you’ve ever had. The crunchy, salty, juicy pork belly is heaped onto blue corn tortillas and topped with raw onion and cilantro. You can customize your taco with an array of salsas, pickled onions, peppers or anything else you may require for the taco of your dreams. At 25 pesos a pop, this is one of the most affordable, unforgettable meals you’ll get in town.

Abulón, Antojería del Mar: A bougainvillea-draped outdoor courtyard sets the scene for amazingly fresh seafood and strong cocktails. I love Abulón, Antojería del Mar so much that it’s usually the first place I go whenever I get back to town. We come for the shrimp tacos al pastor and the fresh seafood tostadas – La Mulata is my favorite, heaped high with chunks of fresh tuna.

Barbacow: This open-air taco restaurant is known for its juicy, rich barbacoa tacos, but every taco on its menu is fantastic. The shrimp adobada tacos are a must. Each order comes with a selection of about eight different salsas, so you can have a different flavor in every bite if you like. Pro tip: the pineapple habanero salsa is excellent on the shrimp tacos.

Coco Machete: Coco Machete may look like a tiny cocktail bar, but pass through the second door and you’ll emerge into a beautiful grassy courtyard. The courtyard is a shared space, called El Jardín de la Versalles. There, you’ll be able to order cocktails from Coco Machete, craft beer from Los Cuentos and homemade woodfired pizzas. The space puts on nightly entertainment, from live music and comedy to quiz nights on Sundays.

La Tosca Trattoria: Puerto Vallarta has its fair share of Italian restaurants, but my favorite in Versalles is La Tosca. I love the open-air courtyard dining, the friendly service and the homemade pasta.

Lamara: Lamara has quickly gained the reputation for having the best ceviche and tostadas in town. They do Pacific-style aguachiles and ceviches with a bit of an Asian twist, using soy sauce and sesame seeds in a lot of their recipes. The restaurant is so popular that it has two other locations: one in Zona Romantica and one in Bucerías.

Masame: I love Masame for brunch, particularly because everyone else is usually in line over at nearby Cha’. Masame serves heaping plates of Mexican breakfasts, from huevos mexicanos to an entire menu of chilaquiles. They are known for their birria here, too, and make a very interesting and luxurious birria ramen.

Nightlife in Versalles

It’s not just food – Versalles is also home to some of Puerto Vallarta’s best bars. (Barra 322/Facebook)

One of the things I love most about Versalles is that it’s a very relaxed neighborhood. You won’t find clubs or late-night parties here. Instead, the bars are low-key and small. Most nights, the streets of Versalles get quiet by 10. 

I would recommend Coco Machete for drinks, but I also love La Bodega de Tony, which is a wine shop-turned-tasting room. Barra 322 is another tiny watering hole, which offers sidewalk seating. Skip the food menu here and enjoy a drink or two before dinner.

Where to stay in Versalles

Since Versalles is a residential neighborhood, it is sorely lacking in hotels. Instead, most people here are renting long-term or are staying in an Airbnb. Airbnb can be a plague on the housing market for locals so I hate to endorse it, but the reality is, that’s how the majority of visitors stay in Versalles.

There are hotels nearby, like the Sheraton Buganvilias Resort, the Secrets Vallarta Bay Puerto Vallarta, the Fiesta Americana Puerto Vallarta or the Hotel Mio Vallarta. With an abundance of taxis and Ubers, you’re never far from being able to explore Versalles.

Meagan Drillinger is a New York native who has spent the past 15 years traveling around and writing about Mexico. While she’s on the road for assignments most of the time, Puerto Vallarta is her home base. Follow her travels on Instagram at @drillinjourneys or through her blog at


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