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Trio, Puerto Vallarta
Mediterranean flavors are the main event at this intimate restaurant in an Old World-styled townhouse right downtown. From homemade pastas to fresh fish and meats, the food is so tasty that PV regulars stop in two to three times per trip. triopv.com
What to order: Rack of lamb with ravioli, lamb ragout, and mint sauce.
What to do nearby: Check out PV's secret island, Isla Rio Cuale, in the Cuale River. It has a crafts market shaded by trees that's perfect for a leisurely stroll.
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With tables in both a colorful dining room and an intimate garden, this cafe delights the eyes and the taste buds. Chef Kris Wallenta riffs on Mexican favorites, incorporating traditional ingredients like local seafood, Oaxaca cheese, black beans, and zucchini blossoms. kintacozumel.com
What to order: The grilled scallops and shrimp with tomato-corn salsa, cilantro pesto, and cilantro rice.
What to do nearby: Try something out of the ordinary. The Temazcal Mayan Steam Lodge is off the typical beachgoers' circuit, but it's a great place to relax and detox.
3 of 5
Pujol, Mexico City
Chef Enrique Olvera is one to watch. He offers a sophisticated menu at his sleek, contemporary restaurant in the upscale neighborhood of Polanco. Order your dishes a la carte, or loosen your belts for an eight-course extravaganza. pujol.com.mx
What to order: The menu changes with the season, but items with duck or suckling pig are always outstanding.
What to do nearby: Spend an afternoon in Chapultepec Park, Latin America's largest expanse within a city (it's twice the size of New York's Central Park). Not only are there lakes, forests, and botanical gardens, but also zoos, museums, and an amusement park.
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Andanza, Casa de Sierra Nevada, San Miguel de Allende
The romantic atmosphere of this boutique hotel, housed in a cluster of mansions from the 16th to the 18th centuries, spills over to its best restaurant. Ask for a table in the courtyard, where fireplaces warm chilly nights, and savor the innovative Mexican fare. casadesierranevada.com
What to order: The pompano fillet with a truffle-and-potato puree in a reduction of huitlacoche (Mexico's version of a truffle) and vinagre de jerez (sherry vinegar).
What to do nearby: Participate in a callejoneada, or walking party, which happens regularly here. While holding a giant puppet created by a resident artist, you'll follow musicians and a donkey carrying tequila through the historic district.
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Leaky Palapa, Xcalak
Visitors come to Xcalak for its unspoiled Caribbean coastline, and to this eatery for meals that never -- we repeat, never -- disappoint. The food fuses Mexican and Caribbean flavors and will be one of the highlights of your trip. leakypalaparestaurant.com
What to order: Pepper snapper fillet on white-bean mash with roasted garlic and cilantro oil.
What to do nearby: Take a diving trip to the pristine Xcalak National Reef Park with XTC Dive Center. You can swim with the big boys like tarpon and barracuda, or leisurely paddle around a coral reef that's home to sea fans, lobsters, and octopi.
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