When browsing through the stalls in Puerto Vallarta’s public market at the edge of downtown, an ornate concrete bridge spanning the Rio Cuale will inevitably come into view. Climbing the steps up onto this byway presents some spectacular shore views as well as the ocean front promenade in the distance. But just before you do this, look to your left, and enter The River Café’s garden oasis. Ensconced beneath massive Banyan trees, a special atmosphere is created where real Mexican fine dining pairs well with a spectacular ambiance at this mostly open air restaurant. Even the bathroom ceilings are open to the sky!
River Cafe Features Live Music & Gardens
At night, tiny white lights wrapped around the palm trees surrounding the restaurant’s multilevel terrace and candlelit tables overlook the river. Most nights, live music ranging from cool jazz to Latin salsa under the stars enhances the dining experience. The vaulted ceiling above the Catalan Bar reflects voices, laughter, and the many instruments that often complement each other. Tiny gallery nooks showcase small collections of local art, trees provide a natural canopy, and white table umbrellas made of the traditional Mexican manta cotton flutter in the breeze providing additional shade under intense day time rays. Within this natural tropical paradise, flower gardens reach into some of the dining areas and several resident iguanas cling among the Banyan branches outside.
If you have the opportunity, dine beside the Chef’s Table, where two experienced master Chefs Angel Nodal Llobera and Carlos Nuere take their turns whipping up classic dishes like aged leg of pork, “Salad of Leaves” with Cornish Hen, wild mushrooms with mi-cuit and Alcarria honey, and Dulcinea, a cold tomato cream soup with Iberia Ham crust served by slowly pouring the soup over the crunchy coated meat.
An onsite sommelier will take care of delicate pairings like Doña Raquel Verdejo that doesn’t overpower the tomato cream soup, The Lagar de Candes Albariño; a wine with balanced acids and sugars enrich the Honeyed Rice and Shrimp sprinkled with dried fruit sauce. The Fuestepina Granate; with its exquisite texture is the ideal accompaniment for the Leaves Salad with Cornish, and the Moscatel wine; mature with a sweet and firm taste, is perfect for wrapping up the evening with their “Tradiciones de la Mancha” dessert.
Overall, the presentation and ambiance exudes the warmth and passion of Mexico. Simplicity and color are the most vital elements and dishes at their core reflect traditional European culinary influences.
Isla Río Cuale #4,
Colonia Centro, 48300
Puerto Vallarta Jalisco
9:00 am to 11:00 pm