The sunset was beautiful, and everyone was out for a stroll on the Malecón. There are hundreds of restaurant choices in Puerto Vallarta, ranging from wildly elaborate theme restaurants to thinly-disguised discos to American chains like Bubba Gump’s Shrimp Company. I didn’t find the internet very useful on this trip, so I was left to make my best guess for dinner. Something about the casual atmosphere, upscale clientele and interesting menu of La Cerveceria Union gave me a good feeling… not to mention the oyster bar.
It’s a lovely big room, with an open patio perfect for watching the sun set. I ordered the huachinango – red snapper – and was delighted with the way it was presented. It was a perfectly grilled fish with only the slightest spice rub, served on a wooden carving board, and smothered with fresh cilantro and red onion.
Service was quick and friendly, the people-watching was fun, and manager David Monjaraz made me feel right at home.
Puerto Vallarta has been a popular resort for many years, and the downtown area surrounding the Malecón is where it all started. It became famous world-wide when they shot the 1964 movie Night of the Iguana, starring Richard Burton and Ava Gardner. I’ll always associate Puerto Vallarta with Francisco Haghenbeck’s wonderful novel Trago Amargo, in which his hard-boiled detective hero Sunny Pascal is hired to watch over Sue Lyon during the production of the film.
The Hotel Encino dates back to well before 1964, and has that delicious old-world tropical feel, including a roof-top pool and bar. With original tile in the bathrooms and balconies for every room, it’s built to let the air flow freely, and clearly, the air conditioning was installed as a gesture toward modernity. The location is great – just 2 blocks from the southern end of the Malecón