What is it about Sayulita on the Riviera Nayarit in Mexico that keeps drawing us back? Located just north of Puerto Vallarta it’s a world removed from the “typical” tourist destination.
Is it because it’s a sleepy little fishing village with a laid back, surfer vibe that caters to our inner child of just being free to explore the ocean, the beach, and the Mexican culture of years gone by?
Is it that it’s a village that defies the temptation of becoming overly commercialized which in turn would destroy the warmth and charm of a hidden gem?
Is it the sandy beachfront with a long, gentle surf break with warm, clear water?
We believe it is all of the above and the “Sayulita Good Vibes” is really a state of mind that all visitors experience… and we are continually drawn back.
Establish a Base Camp
This article focuses on eating… plain and simple… since most everything you eat here is fresh, locally sourced, and reasonably priced.
Sayulita is an epicurean delight with exceptional dining options from “street food” to full gourmet restaurants.
We usually select the road-less-traveled and find vacation rentals that boast a well-equipped chef’s kitchen.
Once again Sayulita Life (sayulitalife.com) becomes the go-to site. They represent over 400 vacation rental options and we usually find the “perfect” place.
We love to cook and on this trip we lured two other couples with like minds to join us. Looking for a place for three couples to share brings the price point for the more expensive properties into a much more reasonable price range, too.
A Cornucopia of Fresh Ingredients
Sayulita and other surrounding villages have organized and scheduled many fresh air farmers markets that stress organic options, offering local fruits and vegetables.
One of our favorite markets was a short drive south of Sayulita in the La Cruz Marina Fish Market on Banderas Bay where you can purchase freshly caught fish, shrimp, lobsters, oysters and other assorted seafood all for great prices.
Fish markets have been a staple in Banderas Bay for generations, in fact many of the restaurants, personal chefs and caterers in the area shop here daily for their seafood.
In addition, the Sunday market features handmade items by locals as well as from the indigenous tribes in the area… each vendor can only sell what they personally made… now that is local pride.
Eating IN… The Personal Chef Option
For a special treat we hired three professional chefs on three different evenings to share their talent and treat us to their regional cooking from their respective heritages.
Justifying the decision to hire a personal chef for three couples that love to cook themselves was not difficult considering the alternatives.
Imagine if you will dining in the comfort of your vacation rental, and the only thing you have to do is to enjoy the cooking demonstration (if you want to), savor a refreshing beverage and anticipate the fabulous cuisine being made expressly for you and your taste preferences.
There is no shopping for the ingredients, no prepping, no plating, and best of all… no cleaning up. Everything takes place like magic… and for less than the cost of a similar meal at an outside restaurant.
You owe it to yourself to try it at least once for a special date or event and besides you are all on vacation… so create a memory!
The following are three unique chefs with their own style and specialties… all waiting for your call.
We were introduced to Laura as our housekeeper at “Villa Sol Blau” and were told she is an excellent cook having prepared meals for numerous guests.
What we discovered is that Laura uses family recipes matched with local fresh ingredients and treats her dining patrons like “family” as she lavishes the warmth and grace of her heritage… we enjoyed a traditional meal and Laura’s charming personality… “Mom” was in the kitchen!
Laura prepared an authentic regional meal consisting of Green Chile Enchiladas and traditional slow cooked black beans followed with Chile Relleno with a poblano sauce and Mexican rice all based on a family recipe. Her Flan dessert was of course homemade and was delicate as well as creamy.
Chef Sofia Silva Sanchez
We “found” Chef Sofia on the Sayulita Life site and she also has her own webpage (sayulitachef.com). After reading the glowing reviews as well as her extensive menu options we made a date for dinner.
Sofia is a vibrant, effervescent, and a very personable individual and as a chef her wide range of cooking skills extend from traditional Mexican cuisine to menus offering Italian, Indian, Moroccan, Vegetarian and Vegan options.
Her excellent dessert reputation is definitely understated!
The meal began with Cucumber cups stuffed with Shrimp Ceviche, followed by an
salad of organic greens topped with chipotle dressing. The main entree consisted of tender pieces of baked chicken in a poblano sauce with Mexican rice and her dessert was homemade Key Lime Pie topped with strawberries and mint.
Chef Daniel Murillo
Chef Daniel is the consummate professional and performs his cooking with a flair… literally he lights up the room! Can you say… Flambe!
Daniel owns the restaurant “Mexotix” in the neighboring town of San Pancho which is a short drive north of Sayulita. He offers his catering and cooking services in Sayulita and we have enjoyed his exceptional “Mexican-Fusion with an Asian Twist” style on numerous occasions. (sayulitalife.com/mexotik)
Chef Daniel works with his Sous Chef Juan to create amazing food. He started with Seared Tuna with sesame crust served over tostini with cucumber noodles & alfalfa sprouts dressed with balsamic reduction.
Followed with handmade from scratch Empanadas stuffed with shrimp sautéed in citrus Mexican salsa & melted panela cheese.
With a bit of flash and fire Daniel sauteed an Octopus in orange reduction with hibiscus & chipotle served with grilled veggies & coconut rice… tender and delicious.
Eating IN… Prepare a Dining Experience Yourself
The three couples set up a friendly competition and over the course of three nights it was game-on! But our first stop was a trip to La Cruz Fish Market followed by visiting a variety of in-town markets and one more stop at the excellent fish market just over the bridge into town.
We started with the Team Challenge: Jumbo Blue Shrimp cooked three ways.
One Team prepared Seared Mahi-Mahi with organic greens and avocados.
One Team grilled two very large Spiny Lobsters with a lot of melted butter on the side.
One Team grilled two Sushi Grade Yellow Tail Tuna Steaks about two pounds each.
We all showed off our cooking skills, sampled exceptional wines from Chile and Mexico, and most of all enjoyed the experience.
Creating cuisine in a village with a cadre of personal chefs, fresh seafood, organic farmers markets and local vendors offering all of the ingredients that you need to make unforgettable gastronomical experiences… all set in a semi-tropical locale… is simply very special.
The “Sayulita Good Vibes” is really a state of mind that all visitors experience… and we are continually drawn back!
Viva Mexico… Viva Sayulita!
After all, what is the hurry… be inspired…