Category Archives: restaurants bars Puerto Vallarta

Latin Flavor at the Palm Show Bar this Summer!

Jacobo (left) and company will present Latin Flavor at the Palm this summer starting June 27, 2011! The show will run each Monday at 9pm.

A few days ago, I ran into Jacobo, the director of Darudha Productions, a local dance troupe.  In our conversation he mentioned that he is working on a new show at the Palm for this summer called Latin Flavor.  He says the new show is full of latin dance, music, vocals and spectacular costumes including lots of his signature feathers and stilettos!

This should be a very sexy show!  Many will know Jacobo from his dance numbers at Paco’s Ranch, Blue Chairs, La Noche and several of the major resorts in town.  In fact, this troupe has performed for years all over Mexico and are well trained and super creative.

Below is the poster.  The first show is June 27 at 9pm.  The ticket price includes an open bar so you can pay once and enjoy the show and drinks, all for 350 pesos.  Several great dining establishments are in the same vicinity so you can enjoy dinner beforehand and make it a great evening out!

I decided to help Jacobo launch this project by doing some promotion for him and I’ve written a press release that I hope the local media will run.  So, don’t miss Latin Flavor at the Palm starting June 27th!  The Palm is located at Olas Altas 508 in Zona Romantica, (Old town/Southside) Puerto Vallarta, Mexico.


Mark Alan Smith returns to Vallarta!

After selling out seats for his 3 night Thanksgiving visit to Vallarta, Mark Alan Smith will be returning to Paco’s Ranch from Feb. 24 to March 6, 2011.

Mark will have new characters and songs (even a spanish number or two is in the works!). It’s never the same show twice, and I’ve been a fan for 20 years!  His recent interpretation of Judy Garland in Vallarta was the most amazing thing I’ve ever seen him do.  The voice, the characterization was chillingly spot on!

Tickets may be purchased online HERE.

Tom and Luis (left) of Bar Frida and Carlos and John (right) of Paco’s Ranch with Mark Alan Smith (center)


Thanksgiving Dinner Theatre: Eat at David’s and laugh with Mark Alan Smith!

For those wondering where to go for the upcoming American Thanksgiving Dinner, try this fun, money-saving dinner theatre package offered by Eat at David’s Restaurant and the folks at Mingo Mexico Productions and their upcoming show:  Mark Alan Smith Live!

Your evening starts on November 25 at 6pm at  Eat at Davids on Aquiles Serdan 380 just east of Insurgentes.  Enjoy a full 4 course Thanksgiving Dinner featuring Turkey and all the trimmings and dessert.  David is famous in Vallarta for his homestyle cooking.  The complete menu will include the following:  (note: Eat at David’s is byob.  No corkage fees.  Soft drinks and iced tea available.)

a cold pumpkin or carrot soup
antipasto plate of artichoke hearts, hearts of palm, marinated asparagus,
olives and pate

The main course:  turkey, ham, stuffing, mashed potatoes, gravy,
green bean casserole, scalloped corn, sweet potatoes and cranberry sauce

Dessert: Carrot Cake and Milk Brandy Punch 

then at about 7:30 pm:  Walk with us to Paco’s Ranch (2 blocks west and 1 block south) to see the live vocal impressions of Mark Alan Smith. You’ll be treated to VIP seating.  Showtime is 8pm. (90 mins duration).  You’ll laugh and sing along as Mark keeps you on the edge of your seat with his dynamic stage presence and vocal range.  A real treat to see and it’s his first time in Vallarta!  Cocktail service begins at 7:30pm. Showtime is 8pm.

For reservations email David at eatatdavid’  (seating limited to 24 for the dinner theatre package).  You may also make reservations by stopping by Eat at David’s restaurant at Aquiles Serdan 380.  Dinner Theatre and regular tickets for the Mark Alan Smith LIVE! show may be bought online as well.  Visit or call 322 168 9950 for more information.


Willie and Lobo reunite in La Cruz (one hour north of Vallarta)

Black Forest Restaurant on Jan. 7th. 

Several years ago I disovered this duo during a New Year’s Eve Concert at River Cafe in Puerto Vallarta.  After becoming a huge fan of theirs, they broke my heart by breaking up last year to pursue other things individually.  Now, they are back together momentarily for a concert near Vallarta.  DON’T MISS THIS if you are anywhere near them.

Willie & Lobo Live performance Thursday, January 7th at Black Forest

For this event our Chef Winfried will prepare a three course dinner menu with various choices of appetizers, entrees and desserts. Please check again for more info.
Be the first to reserve your table. Reservation needed.
Please call (329)-295 5203 or email
reservations@ blackforestpv. com


A place like no other: Casa Isabel in Puerto Vallarta

A few years ago I went to my first “board” meeting at Casa Isabel and immediately fell in love with the house and then, more so with the owners.  About 10 years aga, David and Isabel Manore from Toronto, Canada decided to buy a house in Puerto Vallarta’s Alta Vista neighborhood.  In near storybook fashion, once Isabel and David became interested in buying the home, they learned the original owners of Casa Isabel were also a couple named David and Isabel.  The main house was built 30 years ago by the original couple who also owned and built the very popular Tequilas bar, a legendary hangout for celebrities such as John Huston, Liz Taylor and Richard Burton.

David and Isabel (the current ones) started renovations as soon as their purchase was complete.  As longtime owners of Madison’s (which is a complex including two pubs and a boutique hotel) in Toronto, Canada they were used to helping people have a good time and had already been spending some time in Vallarta.  Each year they’d bring their sailboat down and spend a few winter months in Vallarta.  Once you meet Isabel and David though, you’ll realize that they aren’t about sitting around waiting for something to happen.  They MAKE life happen. 

“We’ve been broke and made it back several times in our lives,” Isabel told me only minutes after we’d met.  “We always follow our hearts and get where we need to be though.  We fell in love with this house and never looked back.” 

At that time, Alta Vista, the neighborhood just up the (very steep) hill from Vallarta’s famous Los Muertos beach was considered only residential.  Lots of Mexican families had homes there and the idea of a boutique hotel or bed and breakfast so far up the hill hadn’t been considered yet. 

“Don’t buy that house, nobody will find you,” Isabel said they told her, her famous hat perched upon her silky black, simply stylish hairdo.   For such a classy woman, you’d expect her with a glass of wine in hand or an expensive scotch, right?  “Wine makes me fall right to sleep.”  Her drink of choice: a Dos Equis beer nestled in an elegant “cozy” with a black boa attached.  Isabel’s sweet, velvety voice mixed with New York and English (she’s originally from there) accents makes you just want to listen.  She’s also a marvelous storyteller and has plenty of them to share.   “We added rooms and told people about it and they climbed the hill and found us, ” she added.  Over the years, Dave and Isabel have remodeled this room and that room and consulted each time with the original architect Catchi Perez, famous in Vallarta for his attention to detail in his Villa designs.  Just this past summer (2009) he, with the help of David and Isabel and staff, finished the most spectacular additions to Casa Isabel ever:   a new infinity hot tub, gigantic palapa covered (one of the biggest you’ll ever see) restaurant and new owner’s and honeymoon suites with an extra hot tub on the new upper level.  Casa Isabel’s new chef is receiving rave reviews and the rooms are booked full again for the high season which starts now and ends in May or June.  I have so many wonderful memories from the last two years of attending our board meetings and Halloween parties and theme nights at Casa Isabel.  There really is no place on earth like it (if you find one, tell me…I’m there!).

Take a look at this promotional video which, I’m warning you, will make you want to buy a plane ticket tonight!

If you haven’t been to Casa Isabel, check it out on Saturday nights for the get together of expats and tourists from  Everyone is welcome and there isn’t really a board or officers, it’s just an excuse to get together and have fun and a few cocktails.  The sunsets from Isabel’s will blow you away, if the home hasn’t already.

And say hello to everyone for me!  I plan to spend a few nights at Casa Isabel soon since, if I may brag, I won a gift certificate for 2 free nights after attending their Halloween costume party and bribing the judges into letting me win!  Tequila shots will get you everywhere!

See you there!


There’s a burro at my window!

burroSince our condo is rented, I moved up the ravine a bit to a great little studio that a good friend, Pilar, rents out for next to nothing.  The location is great.  Right at the top of Olas Altas at Pillitas and then down in the river bed there…next to the little patch of land where they keep the two burros that entertain the guests each night at Andales Bar and Grill down the street.  Who knew?  I didn’t hear much overnight but this afternoon it started hee hawing pretty loudly about the time the guy came to get him to go to “work” at Andale’s.

Here’s how Pilar describes the studio: “Studio overlooks an arroyo with iguanas, birds, chachalacas, roosters, and donkeys. Must like dogs. For more information and availability, please send an email to pilitas1(at)”  Tell her Tracy sent ya.  Maybe she’ll buy me a drink or something.

The roosters, yep, a few of those out  there too.  They’re not too noisy either, compared to other roosters I’ve been around.  There’s a dog: Bingo, who is sorta the watch dog but he’s very nice to me.  And the friendliest animal on site is Rafa (Rafael) the siamese cat.  He took up on my rug the first day. 

By the way,  a rooster is what I’m going to be for Halloween…sorta.  I’ll show it to you next week if someone snaps a pic of me. 🙂  It’s pretty funny and I have my friend Dennis to thank for the idea.  It was the punchline of Dennis’ joke about a rooster that inpsired my costume…to be clear.


Its pretty funny what you find when you start looking for pics of a burro on the internet. This photo almost inspired another idea for a costume. I'm thinking about pulling of a little donkey-napping for Halloween and riding around town like this....whatcha think? I might need both donkeys...I'm a big guy.


Paypal Donations Needed for DIVA, Vallarta’s Iconic Female Illusionist and Friend!


Diva, Vallarta's legendary Female Illusionist, is recovering in a Guadalajara hospital from an attack last week in Vallarta. The Vallarta community is doing everything possible to help him get well. If you can help too, click "donate" below. Thank you!


Using the “donate” button above you can send your donation via Paypal.  All money collected (minus any paypal fees they take) will be forwarded to Frank at Blue Chairs to deliver to Diva.  A receipt for each donation will be sent to you by me.  Please state “Diva” in the comments for your donation. 

Diva2If you have trouble you can enter the link here in your address bar:

Thank you for your help!


DONATE by clicking the word DONATE or by going to the link below.


Don Keating: El Coloso’s ‘Candy Man’ and Vallarta’s friend…

Don Keating at Apaches on New Year's Eve 2008

Don Keating at Apaches on New Year's Eve 2008

When I first met Don Keating a few years back at Apaches, the same bar in which the photo here of him was taken, I became overwhelmed with the feeling I’d met him somewhere before.  Perhaps I had, but more likely I was feeling his keen sense of connection to everything and everyone around him.  Barely a person passes that doesn’t say hello to Don.  He’s been around Vallarta a while, but that’s not the reason.  He has a few cocktails at one of the most popular happy hour haunts in Vallarta, Apaches, but that’s not the reason.  The reason:  this man has the soul of a saint and the heart of an angel.  He’s also funny (even witty), intelligent and has great stories to tell.  I’ve heard a few of them and laughed at all of them.  He has a way of drawing you in when he talks.

So last night, as I sat with Don at a table on the sidewalk at Apaches, we talked about the neighborhood, El Coloso, where he lives.  It’s a typical Mexican colonia up near the tunnel at the approach from centro to Vallarta’s southside.  Not the glamorous neighborhood you might think a man like Don would settle.   Nearby Conchas Chinas’ fancy but mostly walled in, gringo owned homes just wasn’t right for this successful businessman from Palm Springs.   El Coloso is the neighborhood Don chose.  He’s lived there for years and when he steps out of a cab at his home, a neighbor is never far away.   They run over to help him inside his home if he needs it (most times he doesn’t) or just to say hello or shake his hand.  He gets around quite well, thank you.  But his  neighbors like him too, so they always want to help him.  Sure, they get a small coin from time to time for helping with groceries or carrying his packages in, but that isn’t why they do it.  It’s only a gesture of thanks and it isn’t required.

Over the years, Don has helped his neighbors care for their colonia and on one patch of open land near the river, he takes part in tending to the banana trees and vegetables they’ve planted there for the neighborhood to share.  This gives them a reason to come together, I suppose, and promotes some civic pride that goes along way in curing the less wonderful things about the neighborhood. 

One of those less wonderful aspects of living in El Coloso (or any neighborhood for that matter) is the trash that is sometimes scattered carelessly on the stairs and sidewalks.   A few years ago Don saw that several young kids were eager to help keep the trashed picked up if he paid them a bit for their efforts.  And there was one particular young boy, Enrique, who cleaned the stairs two or three times a week, quietly earning his 20 pesos or so for each day’s work.  Enrique would give the money to his mother who used it to buy extra rice or tortillas at the market.   It was Don’s hope that the clean stairs and visibility of the boy’s (and the other children’s) efforts would discourage littering by building a sense of pride and accomplishment.  For some reason, though, after several months of the arrangement, it hadn’t.  Don began to notice that each morning, the stairs would be littered with more trash than seemed possible, given the small amount of foot traffic in his area.  It seemed the more the boy worked to clean them, the more trash was on them the next day. 

On one particularly nice Vallarta morning, Don rose early to get a good look at the sunrise over the mountains behind his home.  As he gazed at the lush green of the Sierra Madres which framed his view, he noticed,  out of the corner of his eye, a young boy emptying the contents of a bag on the stairs next to his home.   It was trash.  And, not just a single piece, the boy was tossing a bag load of it strategically down the steps and walkway.  This guy was a real entrepeneur, Don thought to himself as he realized it was his sweet friend Enrique, tossing yesterday’s collection of trash back on the street to sure up his job security.  It seemed maybe Don’s efforts had indeed paid off.  There wasn’t enough trash to keep Enrique in business.  A good thing, right?  Not for Enrique.

Enrique never made another peso for cleaning the stairs.  Don told him he admired his entrepeneural spirit but that he couldn’t earn money by being dishonest or by creating a false market for himself, no matter how many Wall Street demons have done so.    Enrique does still clean the stairs.  But now, instead of monetary rewards, he gets candy.  And so do about a dozen other kids who take part from time to time in the work.  When I asked Don which one got the best results, (the candy or the money) he quickly replied,  “The candy, for sure.  The kids love it.  And the sidewalks are clean.”

 And I suppose Enrique’s conscious is a little cleaner now.  Even if he does have a bit of sweet tooth.


Casa Naranjo: better than ever

Sometimes your perceived bad luck can be a blessing in disguise.  It was for my friend Ricardo and I on a recent trip to check out Uncommon Grounds.  We found it closed.  Not surprising in September in Vallarta.  So we u-turned and headed back up Lazaro Cardenas to the corner of Naranjo where we had passed Casa Naranjo and remarked, “Oh I love this little restaurant, if Uncommon Grounds is closed, we’ll come back here.”  As I said, they were and so we did.

casanaranjoCasa Naranjo stands out a bit on this very modest corner of Vallarta’s southside.  It is like a lighthouse beacon when lit up, calling you into its warm glow with the cozy, simple, elegant, air conditioned interior and open concept kitchen seen clearly from the wood framed windows as you pass.  Once inside, you’re treated like family.  Dad is the owner/boss.  Son is the waiter.  His brother is the chef (along with the Dad I think) and Mom is the cashier.  Or something like this…but you get the point.  The elegant surroundings feel more like you’re dining in one of those swanky beach or riverfront spots, not in this mostly working class Mexican neighborhood. 

We were seated in the dining room where a table of 4 other guests was already ordering.  As we dined, friends of ours took another two topper.  These appeared to be the only guests for the evening as they closed as we left.  When your family owns the building, its easier to make ends meet during low season, particularly this low season when everyone is scrambling to stay…not so much busy, but open.

We ordered drinks and I don’t know what they do to them but the dirty gin martinis here are among the smoothest I’ve ever had.  So perfect.  Ricardo ordered a bottle of fancy water and our waiter brought a complimentary appetizer of marlin turnovers which really hit the spot.  Super fresh and delicate and cooked to perfection, flaky and hot.

The menu at Casa Naranjo has something for everyone.  From pasta to fish to steak (and duck if I recall), you’ll be happy.  The 200 peso range entrees (give or take 40 pesos) are interesting and creative but standard enough to appeal to everyone.  Nothing too mysterious here.  We shared a delicious and super fresh mixed salad as an appetizer (which they brought on two plates instead of making us do the splitting at the table).

For our entree, we both settled on the Country Style Beef Filet for 180 pesos.  Ricardo had originally ordered the chicken dish but they were out of that one.  I think they buy limited quantities and fresh every day at most places in Vallarta and once they are out, that’s it.  I think it’s a good plan.  I’d rather they do this than to compromise quality.  The beef filet was exactly what I’d hoped for.  Thick, tender, juicy…accompanied by petite size potato balls and a delicious, not too thick or rich, mushroom-ish brown sauce.  Nothing unusual in its description you say?  The taste will change your mind…truly unique and delicious and perfect when you’re hungry because this filet is huge.  Enough for two really but we each finished off every ounce and kept remarking on how delicious everything tasted.  I must add that the small, croissant like bread served with dinner will nearly make you stand and cheer.  That’s good bread.  They kept our basket filled through the meal and I swear I had five of the little guys.  Yummy!

Too full for dessert, we lingered, chatted and said goodnight to our wonderful waiter.  He’s a handsome guy and seems to be the design consultant for the lovely room.  Bold artwork depicting bright naranjas (oranges) fill the otherwise simple, mostly grey and white room.  Watching the chef work has to be part of the charm here too.  It’s all pretty cool.

I highly recommend Casa Naranjo at Naranjo 263, at Lázaro Cárdenas in the
Romantic Zone.  The take Visa and MasterCard.  (322) 222-3518


"Best of Vallarta" Poll: #1 Best Restaurant

above: Barcelona Tapas is the current front runner in our poll.

RESULTS UPDATE: Poll closes in 2 days, keep voting HERE.
Barcellona Tapas 10
River Cafe 8
Sirloin Stockade 7
Cafe Roma 6
El Arraryn 6
Cafe Bohemia 5
Agave Grill 4
El Brujo 4
Joe Jack’s Fish Shack 4
La palapa 4
Machis BAR B Q 4
Red Cabage Café 4
TeatroLimon 4
Trio 4
Vista Grill 4
Archie’s Wok 2
Cafe Candela 2
Kaiser Maximillian 2
La Piazetta 2
Le Bistro 2
Marisco’s Polo 2
The following establishments garnered 1 vote each but are mentioned here because they are often the undiscovered treasures in town…
Andrea”s (Velas Vallarta)
Banana Cantina
Barrio Sur
Cafe de Olla
Cafe des Artistes
Casa naranjo
Coco Tropical
Daiquiri Dick’s
El Barracuda
EL Colera
El Moreno Taco Stand
El Palomar de los Gonzales
El Set
fajita republic
Frances’ taco stand
La Bistro
La dolce vita
Las Carmalitas, I love it there!!!
Le Petit france
Marisco Tino’s
Pepe’s Tacos
Si Senior
Takos Panchos!!!!!
Tony’s La Choza
Total votes as of 10am 7/23/08: 125
This is the first of several polls I intend to do to determine, without the interference or influence of any advertisement, which establishments people feel are the “Best of Vallarta”. We’ll start with Best Restaurant and periodically add another. Then I’ll compile the list to make it easy to read at a glance. This is a write in/fill in the blank answer. You will not be given any pre-dertermined choices to influence you. Under the results link, you can see all the answers by downloading them.

TAKE THE POLL for Best Vallarta Restaurant
See Best Vallarta Restaurant POLL RESULTS and stats.
I will also post results periodically here. Thanks for participating!