On our recent trip to Puerto Vallarta we tried as many tacos as we could – at both street taco stands and sit down restaurants.
In this guide I’m sharing the best tacos we found in Puerto Vallarta, mostly in the Zona Romantica, El Centro and the 5 de Diciembre neighborhoods.
We judged them on the following metrics:
Since we also wanted to compare apples to apples, we’re comparing al pastor tacos and birria tacos (even though we ordered other items too).
At the end of the post, I’m also sharing tips I learned about ordering tacos in Puerto Vallarta.
There’s a few things I didn’t realize when it comes to food culture here, as well as a few items to check for if you’re concerned about food safety.
No need to be nervous about trying street food in Puerto Vallarta. We ate at every single one of these places with no issues.
We also ate tacos from more spots in Puerto Vallarta, but not every place deserved to be on this list.
In this post, I’ve listed our favorite places to get tacos in Puerto Vallarta, explain the most popular types of tacos to order and then provide a few insider tips when it comes to ordering tacos.
This post contains affiliate links, meaning if you click through and make a purchase I may make a small commission. I only share information about things I know, love and trust!
No time to choose? I recommend taking the highest rated Puerto Vallarta taco tour and let your guide show you the best spots!
Address: Basilio Badillo 162, Zona Romántica, Emiliano Zapata, 48380 Puerto Vallarta, Jal., Mexico
Pancho’s Takos is arguably the most famous street taco stand/restaurant in Puerto Vallarta.
It’s located in the romantic zone, and is open from 4pm to midnight.
Objectively, these are really tasty al pastor tacos. And many will tell you they’re the best.
People start lining up around 3 or 3:30 and the lineup doesn’t end until they close.
We showed up at 10:30pm when the lineup wasn’t as long as it usually is, and we still waited 33 minutes to get a table for 2.
Are they the best and worth the wait? In my opinion, no.
There’s no doubt that the quality of meat is high, and it’s a fantastic tasting pastor. And they do have an extensive menu.
However, in a blind taste test, I’m confident that most people wouldn’t be able to identify Pancho’s Takos from some of the other ones we have on the list.
I think the reason Pancho’s Takos is popular is because of its prime location, which is one block up from the beach.
It also provides the street food taco experience but in the comfort of a sit down restaurant.
Pancho’s Tacos are also some of the most expensive we found, at 28 pesos per pastor taco.
At other places on this list, some were as low as 15 to 18 pesos per taco, that tasted as good, and maybe even better.
Address: C. Honduras 145C, 5 de Diciembre, 48350 Puerto Vallarta, Jal., Mexico
Pepe’s is the most well known pastor taco joint in the 5 de Dicembre neighborhood, close to the start of the Malecon.
If you’re visiting off a cruise ship for a day, Pepe’s is a great spot, not too far from the port for authentic al pastor tacos and Mexican dishes.
Here you get the street taco stand experience, with the comforts of an indoor sit down restaurant.
It’s also very pet friendly, we saw multiple dogs there on our last visit. And they serve margaritas for 100 pesos, which is a good price.
As for the pastor itself, it was crispy yet moist – they do a nice char on the meat.
I found we didn’t get quite as much meat that filled the tacos compared to most of the other places we went to. Despite this, it’s still a lot of meat.
Pepe’s is open every day from 1pm to 6am.
Pepe’s Taco wins for best al pastor texture and great priced drinks.
It costs 22 pesos for an al pastor taco on a corn tortilla or 44 pesos for a flour tortilla.
We did like that flour tortillas were listed on the menu because you don’t always get that. Even though corn is the traditional way to serve tacos, not everyone loves corn tortillas.
Taqueria el Sabor Jarocho (across from Pancho’s Takos)
Address: across the street from Pancho’s Takos
If you’re standing in line at Pancho’s Takos (or don’t feel like standing in line), keep walking east past Pancho’s for about half a block and you’ll see a street taco stand on the other side of the street.
It’s called Taqueria el Sabor Jarocho.
This was our all time favorite street taco stand for al pastor.
The quality, price and location is outstanding. There is seating for about 6 to 8 people and more room for those who are ok with standing.
Rumor has it that the chef used to work at Pancho’s and then branched out on his own to make a better Pastor – maybe that’s true.
But I would just say let the food do the talking.
I also recommend trying the carne asada (steak tacos) here too.
It’s 20 pesos per taco, which is cheaper than Pancho’s and there’s never any wait.
We found that this was one of the most loaded tacos – like I couldn’t even fold the damn thing because there was so much meat!
It’s open everyday except Sunday from 4pm to midnight.
Taco Stand Across from Martini en Fuego Grill
Address: corner of 200 highway and Francisco Madero
At the corner of the 200 highway southbound and Francisco Madero, there’s a taco stand that sets up in the evenings outside of the OXXO.
I don’t really think it has a name!
This taco stand is a stop on the popular walking taco tours, so you know it’s good.
The pastor is rich and tender because he does a quick fry of the meat in its own drippings. And we liked the homemade salsas.
With the OXXO right there, you can grab your own beverages to enjoy with dinner. There’s seating for about a dozen people at a time on small plastic chairs and stools.
There’s also another 2 taco/quesadillas stands on this same corner, so you could make your own DIY taco tour if you wanted!
Address: Morelos 892-Int. A, Centro, 48300 Puerto Vallarta, Jal., Mexico
This is an authentic Mexican restaurant, as we saw mostly locals here when we went.
They have an incredible menu centered around tacos, with specialty tacos, grilled veggie side dishes and several kinds of queso fundido.
They make their tortillas from scratch in house. They were a nice thick texture, somewhere between corn and flour tortillas.
They also served one of the tastiest spicy green salsas I tried on this trip.
Definitely try the grilled cactus for a unique side dish to add to your tacos.
The prices here are outstanding. An order of 4 pastor tacos is 60 pesos, making them 15 pesos each (that’s 4 tacos for 3 dollars).
Taqueria Las Güeras
Address: Venustiano Carranza 457, Zona Romántica, Emiliano Zapata, 48380 Puerto Vallarta, Jal., Mexico
Deep in the romantic zone you’ll find Taqueria Las Güeras.
It’s a small sit down Mexican restaurant and the al pastor has a great smoky flavor.
They bring you six salsas all ranging in different spiciness levels.
If they have jamaica, which is hibiscus, as their agua fresca flavor of the day, it’s delicious and the best we’ve had in Puerto Vallarta.
Tacos Sonorita Olas Altas
Address: Pino Suárez 232, Zona Romántica, Emiliano Zapata, 48380 Puerto Vallarta, Jal., Mexico
Probably the best smelling al pastor tacos – when you walk by, you can’t not stop in.
The wafting charcoal smell is something else, and the taste is even better.
Each table gets a nice selection of fresh salsas.
I loved that they serve street style tacos in a sit down restaurant ambience, but still very open and airy.
The portions are huge, the prices are competitive and they have vegetarian and vegan options.
In my opinion, Tacos Sonorita Olas Atlas are the best al pastor tacos that rival Pancho’s Takos, but in a much more inviting and comfortable environment.
The tables are comfortable and cozy, compared to being seated on the sidewalk with a huge lineup of people waiting to take your place.
They also have great margaritas and a lengthy selection of flavors, the hibiscus, watermelon or tamarind flavors are the best.
Inside tip: in the mornings from 8:00 am to 1:00 pm, this is a breakfast restaurant called La Chilaqueria that serves the best chilaquiles we found in Puerto Vallarta.
Try the birria chilaquiles!
Taqueria La Hormiga
Address: Lázaro Cárdenas 400, Zona Romántica, Emiliano Zapata, 48380 Puerto Vallarta, Jal., Mexico
In front of the large Guadalajara Pharmacy on Lazaro Cardenas and the 200 Highway, there’s a string of several street taco stands.
This is where you’ll find La Horminga, which has also boldly labeled themselves as the best taco stand on Google maps.
We liked the fresh homemade tortillas, and the pastor had the classic taste, very similar to others we tried.
But what really stood out was the extra toppings and salsas available to dress your tacos.
I tried the spicy guacamole, and it was hotter than any of the hot salsas I had tried anywhere else.
They’re open from 7:00 pm until late.
Prices were great at 17 or 18 pesos per pastor taco.
Taquerias Huicho’s (Place with Green Chairs)
Located across the street from Archie’s Wok and east of Dee’s Coffee (and a 3 minute walk from Pancho’s), you’ll find a hole in the wall taqueria with green chairs and table.
It can be easy to miss because their hours seemed a bit random.
One day we caught them for late lunch, and another day they didn’t open until well into the evening.
Either way, they offer 5 pastor tacos for 90 pesos, which works out to be 18 pesos per taco.
These were honestly very good. Crispy but not dry and the pastor marinade was so flavorful.
Not too fatty or greasy, unlike some pastor tacos.
If you’re staying nearby in the southern part of the romantic zone, or walking from the Los Muertos Pier, it’s definitely worth a stop.
Mr. Taco (Bucerias)
Address: AV Mexico Esquina con Cuauhtemoc 63732, 63732 Bucerías, Nay., Mexico
Mr. Taco is the best place to find al pastor street tacos if you’re going to be in Bucerias.
Which I highly recommend – and you can check out my other posts about this charming community 30 minutes north of Puerto Vallarta).
These were the cheapest best al pastor tacos we found (17 pesos each).
The pineapple was lightly roasted from sitting above the pastor and the corn tortillas were light and slightly crispy.
There’s a few sit down tables that seat 4 people each, plus a few extra chairs. It’s directly across from an OXXO, so you can bring your own beer.
This street taco stand doesn’t open until about 7pm (open until 1am).
It’s perfect if you go to watch some live music across the street at Jax or Voodoo Monkey and want a late night snack.
The flavor packed a punch and rivaled that of Pancho’s – and you really can’t go wrong for 17 pesos per taco.
Tacos de Birria Chanfay
Address: Venustiano Carranza 382, Zona Romántica, Emiliano Zapata, 48380 Puerto Vallarta, Jal., Mexico
These were probably the best birria tacos we had in Puerto Vallarta.
It’s like a hybrid between a standing taco cart and a sit down restaurant.
Again, this is one of the stops on the popular morning taco tour, so you know it’s high quality, tasty and great prices.
Lots of locals, and lots of tourists come here.
Visit this hidden gem before word gets out. It was fantastic tasting Birria. And don’t forget to ask for your free consomme!
Taqueria De Birria El Banquito
Libertad 189, Centro, 48300 Puerto Vallarta, Jal., Mexico
Only 2 blocks up from the Malecon, not far from the arches, you’ll find El Banquito.
It’s more of a hole in the wall spot, but authentic and full of locals.
We each ordered the 3 Birria tacos plus consomme for 50 pesos, this was a ton of food for about $2.50 per person.
Since you get 3 tacos, I recommend ordering one soft, one medium and one crispy.
The consomme was phenomenal and packed with savory flavor. Inside, there’s about 6 to 8 tables, plus exterior seating.
It’s open from 9am to 5pm, so plan to visit for breakfast, lunch or late lunch.
The Winner of the Best Tacos in Puerto Vallarta
In the end, who came out as the winner of the best tacos in Puerto Vallarta?
In my opinion, any one of the street taco stands I mentioned in this article wins because of cost, convenience and quality.
Honestly, if I were to undergo a blind taste test between Pancho’s, Pepe’s and several of the street taco carts, I’m confident I wouldn’t be able to identify which al pastor is which.
They are all that close.
I recommend trying a few different places for al pastor tacos (both street tacos and sit down restaurants) and have fun finding your favorites.
Most Popular Types of Tacos to Order in Puerto Vallarta
Birria tacos are traditionally eaten in the morning or very early afternoon, and many locals swear by them as the ultimate hangover cure.
Birria is meat that’s been slow cooked in a savory broth or stew and then served in corn tortillas.
Traditionally the meat is usually goat, but we found mostly beef at the places we found in Puerto Vallarta.
The piece-de-resistance, though, is the extra consomme served on the side – it’s savory, smokey, tangy and a little sweet.
And the traditional way is to eat them crunchy or golden, or dorada in spanish. This means they fry up the corn tortilla before adding the meat.
You’ll find birria tacos being served anywhere from 6am to 1pm.
Al Pastor Tacos
Al Pastor tacos are the most popular to eat in Puerto Vallarta, especially as a late lunch, dinner or late night snack.
This is thinly sliced marinated pork that’s layered on top of itself and then fire roasted on a vertical spit. Almost like a shawarma.
When you order a pastor taco, the cook will shave off thin slices of the pork as well as a chunk of pineapple onto a small corn tortilla and top it with onions and cilantro.
Then it’s up to you to load it with salsas and extra lime!
You’ll find al pastor tacos served from 4pm to 2 or 3am.
Tips on Ordering Street Tacos in Puerto Vallarta
You’ll Be Asked Con Todo
When you order tacos (especially from a street food stand), you’ll be asked if you want it ‘con todo.’ This translates to ‘with everything.’
If you want it con todo, that just means you’ll take it the way they serve it.
Usually with onions and cilantro. You can also order it without certain toppings, just ask.
Know What Time Tacos are Served
As a general rule, the number of people (and especially locals) is a good factor to help you determine that the taco stand is popular and serves fresh food.
There is a caveat though. It’s important to know that a lot of Mexicans eat their meals at different times than most of us in the United States and Canada do, for example.
So when you show up at a taco stand at traditional dinner time and you don’t see many people around, that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s not good.
A typical day of eating in Puerto Vallarta usually starts with a first breakfast which is typically something like coffee and maybe a small pastry or fruit.
Around 11ish, a bigger breakfast is eaten, maybe birria tacos, tostadas or omelets.
Early afternoon is siesta time, and then lunch is eaten sometime between 2 and 4pm. And finally, dinner isn’t usually served until at least 7:30 to 8pm or later.
So if you show up at noon for lunch for street tacos, or 6pm for dinner, you might not see many locals eating. This is just because it’s not prime meal hours.
Certain Types of Meat is Served at Different Times of the Day
This brings me to my next point which is that there are specific times for specific types of tacos.
If you’re concerned about food safety, look to eat tacos when they’re the freshest. In other words, when they’re meant to be served.
Birria tacos are known as a breakfast and early lunch dish, so it will be hard to find them in the evenings. And if you do, it might mean the meat has been out all day.
On the other hand, al pastor tacos are served at dinner time.
This is largely in part because it takes all day to marinate and build the pork skewer that goes onto the vertical spit.
So if you find pastor being served earlier in the day, this could possibly be left over from the night before.
Check for Sanitary Cues
There are a few other additional things to check for to avoid any potential food poisoning when ordering tacos in Mexico.
Make sure the cook is only touching the food. There should be a separate staff person there who takes your order and handles the money and the dirty dishes.
And if it looks like some of the meat has been sitting out for a while, trust your gut on whether you should eat there or not.
Order Small Quantities at a Time
Street tacos are generally served in small quantities at a time, and meant to be eaten when the food is fresh and hot.
It’s common to order one two or three tacos at a time, and then order more if you want more, instead of ordering, for example, 6 tacos all at once.
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