Friday, July 18, 2008

Sayulita--Paradise found

About an hour and a half North of Puerto Vallarta, and just outside famous Banderas Bay is the charming town of Sayulita, known for its great surfing.

We decided to take a day trip to Sayulita and hang out at the beach. My friends Chris and Cheryl accompanied me on a very bumpy bus ride. We sat in the back of the bus--big mistake! The cobblestone streets of Vallarta would literally throw us out of our seats.

A few blocks walk into this small charming seaside village, and we were ready to find a palapa to park ourselves under for a day in the sun. Here Chris and I are standing in front of a cute home with a thatched palapa-style awning over a charmingly painted front door near the beach.

The jungle-covered hillsides come right down to the beach and are dotted with beautiful vacation homes. The town is very small and reminded me of my first visit to Vallarta, when I was just 14 yrs old.

Our friends had told us to eat at El Costeño, located right on the beach.

We tried laying out in the sun for awhile but it was just too hot.

Sitting in our beach chairs drinking a cold cerveza with lime and watching the surfers was great.

We found a spot on the covered patio adjacent to the beach where we could keep an eye on our belongings. Seated next to us was an older woman I imagined to be in her seventies and someone's eccentric Grandmother.

She was slurping on a straw from the largest Margarita imaginable.

We immediately decided to follow her lead and ordered one of our own.

At $5 /per -- I wasn't expecting very good tequila--but the drink was delicious. It was so huge we ordered 3 straws. And it seemed like it took us the better part of a half hour to finish the one drink.

When we had, I noticed that Grandma's drink had barely diminished...and she took the rest of her's in a to-go container, and drank it as she weaved down the cobblestone street to continue her day.

Next we ordered some food.

I wanted to try the cóctel de camarón [shrimp cocktail]. Interestingly--it was served piping hot in a broth with chopped red onions, tomato and diced cucumbers on the side, with additional hot sauce and limes to squeeze.

It was really more like a shrimp soup that you could add condiments to...

On the side, at almost all restaurants, they serve totopos --like our tortilla chips, that are baked flat and look similar to tostadas. Unlike freshly made tortillas which have no salt and because of their high moisture content can spoil in the heat rapidly, totopos are made with salt and can last days without getting moldy in the heat and humidity. They seem a tad thinner and more delicate than the tortilla chips we eat here.
Cheryl ordered the whole red snapper. It came with Mexican rice and french fries. The limes in Mexico are much smaller than the Persian variety we have here in the States and are so much more delicious.

I ordered the fish tacos, made with Dorado [mahi mahi]. The fish was kind of boiled, and overcooked. I would have preferred something from the grill with some charred flavor on it. But they were still ok. They also came with the double-starch of fries and rice. And "salsa Mexicana" or what we refer to as pico de gallo.
We enjoyed the meal and betting whether Grandma would be able to finish her Margarita. We spent a little time walking around the town after we laid out in the sun a while longer, wanting to prolong our day and also I think to put-off riding on that horrible bus back to town.

Cheryl Franco, Gordon, Margarita and Chris at El Costeño

I would have loved to go back to Sayulita one more time on my trip, but we didn't get the opportunity. It reminds of the Mexican seaside towns of old, before too much development and condos everywhere.

Make sure when you go to Vallarta that you make time to visit Sayulita!


ZestyJenny said...


That looks heavenly.

I'd heard that Sayulita was quaint like that, but I almost didn't believe it. Good to know the rumors are true!

Anonymous said...

I am lucky enough to live in Sayulita for half the year and it is always lovely to read "an outsider's" point of view. We get a lot of day-trippers coming up from Vallarta and most of them just love it so much. It is so different from Vallarta as to seem a world apart, and I hope you (and others) will be able to come back again for a day (or a week) and enjoy it as much as we who live here do.

ChefGordonNaccarato said...

How lucky that you live part time in Sayulita!

I can't wait to go back again.

Anonymous said...

How gorgeous!! I feel like sluuuuurping down one of those soon! Tell me more about the limes- why are they better? Sweeter? Tarter? What?