Bucerias is a low-key beach town that gets most of its charm from the fact that it’s not a big resort city like its neighbor to the South, Puerto Vallarta. Not that it wasn’t lovely; bougonvia hangs over the sides of brightly colored stucco walls, the beach is free of frat boys, every corner of our rental house is a work of art, and the Pacific is as magnificent in the early morning as it is under the afternoon sun with a mango margarita. Plus, everyone was very nice. But we had to lean in to hear Spanish. It didn’t feel like we were in Mexico while surrounded by groups of Canadian and European families ordering off menus with BBQ ribs and hamburgers. Basically, a lot of foreign people are doing a good job of making Bucerias feel very comfortable for themselves, and a little uncomfortable for the visitor who came to Mexico to experience Mexico and eat chilequiles, and not waffles or cinnabons. Maybe that’s why I kept going back to the sparse liquor store next to our house and grabbing single bottles of Victoria to take with me to places— it reminded me of when I lived in Mexico. Also, I always have to drink Victoria with my tacos. And of course we managed to find those.
Where to Eat and Drink in Bucerias:
1. Tacos Linda’s
After eating at Tacos Linda’s our second night my taco craving was satisfied. The salsas (three green variations) come in a bright green salsera with pickled red onions and shiny strips of nopales. A small bowl of pinto beans is placed on the table while you wait on your tacos. The corn tortillas are perfectly browned and made fresh with each order. Meat options are plentiful and we loved the machaca de pollo, abodaba pork, and machaca de res. All three knocked our socks off. The adobado (pork marinated in a red guajillo chile sauce) had so much flavor that when we tried some adobado tacos in Puerto Vallarta that were recommended to us, we just shook our heads. Nothing like Linda’s. Don’t be deceived by the lackluster looking shredded chicken, it’s by far some of the most flavorful chicken I’ve ever had. The flor de calabaza (squash blossons) and huitlacoche tacos were very Oaxaca-esque and a welcomed surprise. Huitlacoche is a deep black corn fungus, sometimes referred to as the truffle of Mexico. The taco filling is a delightful combination of sautéed onions, corn and shiny black huitlacoche. No alcohol, but you can bring your own booze (there is a limited liquor store two blocks down away from the center). Opens at 6:30 and is full minutes later (mostly with gringos, I would bet there’s a more local crowd later). Tacos range from about $1 to $2 dollars each.
2. Cocina de Jorge
The cook at Tacos Linda’s, a round woman with a gap-toothed smile, looked strangely familiar. Turns out, she was our waitress at Cocina de Jorge that morning. So basically, just stalk Linda and you’ll eat well. The sister establishment is a humble breakfast and lunch restaurant in the family’s patio overlooking the sidewalk. The grandma sits in the same corner in the back reading her paper every morning, and there’s an even mix of locals and tourists here. They offer several Mexican breakfast specialties, anything from huevos rancheros to huevos a la Mexicana, as well as more generic options. My go-to was the chilequiles with eggs (over easy, which translates to medio frito). They tasted like the chilequiles of my childhood— the tortillas are well soaked in sauce so that they’re soft and crunchy, covered in crema and queso fresco, served with a side of refried beans and avocado. They also bring you a stack of toast with little hearts and smiley faces toasted in. It’s nothing fancy, but $4 can’t get you much better. Heck, $15 in Oakland can’t get you much better. They also have cafe de la olla and fresh juice (we recommend papaya— it’s good for digestion, and the green juice is also a good way to get some veggies). Average is $5 per person here.
3. The Beach
Yeah, I just posted that picture. If it makes you feel better I am back in Oakland and looking at myself on the beach equally pisses me off. Most of the beach bars and restaurants are huddled together in a strip just past the centro. They’re mostly for tourists and ex-pats, and there’s something unfinished about all of them, like they’re not even thought out enough to be cheesey. The lounge chairs don’t lean back easily, the interiors of each bar (which you really only need to enter to use the bathroom or flag down a waiter) are indescript, and if it weren’t for the varying prices of the margaritas, I wouldn’t be able to tell the difference. Still, that’s preferable to Señor Frogs. Poor Señor Frogs is really getting blasted on Ferronlandia for some reason. Aduatos had a tasty guanabana margarita (blended with a house tequila and cuantro) for $6 and big enough to share or get extremely wasted. Breakers Bar had mango margaritas that were a little smaller and lighter on the booze, and cost $3 (but I will warn you that this is an ex-pat scene with some really overly-tan-chain-smoking-too-many-little-dog-owning-women getting rubbed down by locals offering massages. Shudder, shudder). Mar y Sol had more Mexican tourists and a 2 for 1 deal, but the margaritas were disgusting, so I would only go there for beer. The best thing about these places? You just pay for the price of food or drinks and you can lounge in the sun all day (but I would recommend you don’t bother with the food— our guacamole had parmesan on top).
4. La Morenita – CLOSED
Most tourists will enjoy this casual breakfast and lunch spot near the centro, however the food is nothing out of this world. Just simple, well cooked Mexican fare in a adorable setting: brightly colored tabled clothes, pink and yellow walls, and a very sweet mom and daughter running the place. The tortilla soup is a nice option for a vegetarian at $3. Our favorite part of lunch was the jugo verde, a smoothie made with mango, spinach and banana.
5. Restaurante Coritas
When I lived in Mexico these are the kind of lunches I would eat. Families open up their homes and charge a very modest amount for a lot of food. Usually there are just a few daily specials served with soup and an agua fresca. Here a nice family served us a simple vegetable soup, a plate of mole or a pork chop, orange rice and refried beans, and a pitcher of horchata (each person gets half a pitcher). All that for about $3 per person.
6. Churros and Cinnamon rolls
Keep an eye out for the churro cart in the centro plaza in the afternoons. Freshly made churros for a few pesos— what could be better? Unless you’re Canadian and you really like cinnamon rolls, that is. Signs for cinnamon rolls were everywhere and it seemed like each cafe (okay, all three) offered them. So, I went to Sweet Things Bakery, which was blowing up trip advisor with reviews from Canadians like “Cinnabon rolls are huge and to die for and made on site” and “I think we may have bought our place in Bucerias because of the cinnamon buns at Sweet Things” and “omg Cinnamon rolls.” My take? Think cinnabon with a little less frosting and obviously made in better circumstances than the stale air of a mall. Of course it was amazing, all gooey and sweet and layered, but are there are no cinnabons in Canada? There are, I checked. Canada has 23 Cinnabon locations and —fun fact— Saudi Arabia has 144. Point is, if you are like some Canadians in Bucerias and can’t leave home without a cinnabon, you’re in luck.
The general scoop: Most nicer sit down restaurants on the beach or main street (Lazaro Cardenas) seemed overpriced and mediocre (we tried at least one and you can probably tell just by looking at their menus). For really cheap food, you’ll have some more options if you cross the highway (where you come in from Puerto Vallarta). I found a good taco and torta stand crossing near Agusto Madero in front of a minisuper, and supposedly there is a good taco al pastor stand around that same corner. If you are new to street food, just make sure other people are eating there and take some probiotics.
Lazaro Cardenas at Abasolo, opens at 6:30 pm.
Cocina de Jorge
On Abasolo one block up from Lazaro Cardenas (away from the beach). Open for breakfast and lunch. Closed Mondays.
All next to each other. I would advise you walk on the beach to get to them, but the street intersection would technically be Avenida del Pacifico with Cuauhtemoc.
Just before the footbridge to the flea market, open for breakfast and lunch. Come early for lunch, as they were out of food one Saturday before 2 pm (which is regular lunch-eating time for Mexico).
Corner of Morelos and Lazaro Cardenas. Open for breakfast and lunch.
Coming to a Mexican fishing village near you.