The Local’s Guide To Eating In Sayulita

The Local’s Guide To Eating In Sayulita

Last Updated on October 13, 2020


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Kien Lam  

I'm Kien, an international photographer and filmmaker based in Los Angeles. After quitting my job in finance, I've traveled to over 70 countries in the last 10 years finding the coolest experiences to check off my bucket list. I hope to help you find your inspiration with my photography and tips to travel the world.

One of the main reasons I come down to Sayulita in Mexico at least a couple of months every year is to eat. I can’t think of another place in the world with so many good places to eat in one small area. Over the years, I’ve made it a challenge to eat at every single place in town (at least a few times). There’s over 100 places to eat here in this small town.

The only problem with the food scene in Sayulita is that there are so many options for every taste, dietary restriction and budget. If you are limited on time, I highly you first check out all the places I recommend. I’ve broken it down by different categories and budgets, starting with my 6 all time favorite go to spots. You’ll definitely see some overlap in different categories.

Admittedly, this list is more centered around the main part of Sayulita, but some are across the bridge, which sounds farther than you think. Sayulita is very small.

Favorite Places | Best Vegetarian/Vegan | Best Seafood | Best Steak/Chicken | Best Places On The Beach | Best Tacos | Best Street Tacos | Best Breakfast | Best Italian | Best Far East | Best Budget | Best Coffee | Best Cocktails/Drinks | Best Desserts |

My Favorite Places To Eat In Sayulita

These are the places that I immediately throw out when someone new arrives and asks for recommendations. They are also the places I go on a regular basis.

1. El Itacate. There’s so much to say about El Itacate that I’ll spread it out because it makes several lists. Their main thing here is steak tacos, but EVERYTHING on the menu is great. It’s THE place to go if you love cheese, because they make a chile and burrito that’s wrapped in fried cheese instead of a tortilla. They have a hibiscus taco that vegetarians will drool over and they bring out 3 trays of salsa, beans, fire grilled onions, and pico de gallo for you to top your dishes with. First place I eat at every time I get into town.

El Itacate Tacos In Sayulita

2. Mary’s Tacos. They have the best and most filling shrimp and fish tacos in Sayulita. Everything is cooked to perfection and topped with so many fresh ingredients. Two will fill me up.

Mary's Tacos in Sayulita

3. Ruben’s Deli. I’m not a sandwich guy at all. As in I’ll never think to eat a sandwich ever – except when I’m in Sayulita. It’s right on the main street heading to the beach and serve up some buttery grilled sandwiches with a side of pasta. There are so many good choices like the Reuben, the Patty Melt, and the Pastrami. The cold pasta selection is amazing as well, but I never choose anything except for the Asian noodle salad. For a sandwich place to make this list says a lot.

Pastrami Sandwich and Asian Pasta from Ruben's Deli Sayulita

4. Barracuda. This is one of, if not, the nicest place to eat in Sayulita. They serve up the best cooked seafood of any restaurants in the area. I highly recommend getting the seafood molcajete – a volcanic cauldron filled with giant prawns, octopus, arranchera steak, bacon wrapped peppers, and big slabs of queso all swimming in the most delicious sauce. Come to think of it, it’s more of a surf and turf molcajete.

Seafood molcajete from Barracuda Sayulita

5. Organika. This place makes the list because I love eating all their healthy bowls to break up the heaviness of everything else in the town. I can’t believe I’m saying this, because it sounds very LA and San Francisco, but their acai bowls is the best way to start your morning.

Tuna and Mango Bowl from Organika in Sayulita

6. Yolanda’s Chicken. I must eat here at least 3-5 times a week for lunch. It’s not a restaurant or a stall, so much as a giant grill on a side street that’s constantly firing up whole chickens. For 50 pesos, I get a quarter chicken with rice, tortillas and salsa. It’s almost the perfect lunch.

Fire grilled chicken from Yolanda's Sayulita

Best Vegetarian/Vegan Places In Sayulita

I have a lot of vegetarian friends who struggle on the road sometimes. I’ve kicked off the list with some of the best places serving vegetarian and vegan options that are healthy and delicious.

1. Organika. Can the name make it any clearer? This place serves up so many different vegetarian and vegan bowl options along with those acai bowls I mentioned earlier. You have to eat here at least once….a day?

2. Orangy. Surprisingly, Organika isn’t even the most vegetarian/vegan place in Sayulita. That honor goes to a little nook of a juice bar that serves up the thickest and most delicious smoothies and shakes. They also do a lot of energy dense balls.

3. Palmar Trapiche. Across the river is a beer garden paradise that’s tucked away behind the foliage. You wouldn’t guess it from the outside. They serve up a mean selection of craft brews that you can enjoy with some artisanal small plates. A lot of nice vegetarian options and one of the few places that served up watermelon radishes with their tacos.

4. El Itacate. Here we go. For a steak place, there are some great options for vegetarians. I highly recommend the hibiscus (jamaica) tacos. The stuffed chilis are great too because you choose to have it filled with a mixed of sautéed vegetables. If you are hungry and love cheese, get the ‘Itacate’ filled with jamaica. You’ll smell and see it before you even sit down because there’s also a skillet of cheese being fried for someone’s order.

5. Loro Cafe. This place serves up a number of vegan and vegetarian dishes including a take on ramen and pho. They do a mean Vietnamese spring roll. You know I’m Vietnamese right?

Sesame Vietnamese Spring Rolls from Loro Cafe in Sayulita

6. El Jakal. I wouldn’t call this a vegetarian place, as the selection isn’t very large, but my vegetarian friends come here for their jackfruit (yaca) dishes. It’s that good.

7. Falafel & Friends. I like coming here when I want something simple like a piece of grilled fish with some hummus and pita. Everything else is vegetarian. Their falafels are really nice and they make their pita bread fresh everyday.

Best Seafood In Sayulita

Not only do these places offer the best seafood, they are probably the nicest and priciest restaurants in Sayulita. You don’t have to dress up, but maybe put on some shoes or sandals. There’s only 3 restaurants on this list, because you’ll find seafood at almost every restaurant. These just take it one step up.

1. Barracuda. My favorite of the bunch. The seafood molcajete is why I come, but I like going with others so we can share multiple dishes. The fish is always a fresh catch of the day and cooked to just the right degree of doneness. Every dish will delight. Also, check out the pulpo.

2. La Rustica. This is on par with Barracuda for serving up the most beautiful dishes. I love the blue and white enamel plates and bowls that everything is served in. La Rustica is an Italian restaurant, but they serve up the single best bite of fish taco in Sayulita. The only problem with the tacos are they almost too pretty to eat and a little on the smaller side. I recommend getting the grilled octopus here.

3. Don Pedro’s. Definitely one of the splashier place in town.  You can sit in the restaurant with a view of the beach or right on the beach in the evening complete with tiki torches and the feet of sand on your feet. Their selection is nothing imaginative, but everything is just done at a high level.

Best Steak/Chicken In Sayulita

1. Trattoria Toscana. Right across from Barracuda is one of 5 Italian restaurants in Sayulita. I don’t much care for their pastas, but this is the place if you want a big steak. I get the more reasonably priced ‘Cowboy’ steak that resembles a mini version of their 1 kg Tomahawk. This is definitely for 2 people. This might actually be the most expensive place in town.

Cowboy Tomahawk steak from Trattoria Toscana Sayulita

2. El Itacate. My favorite little spot makes it onto another list. While you don’t get the whole steak like at Trattoria Toscana, you do get the best meat in any taco or burrito in Sayulita here. The arranchera just melts in your mouth. They serve such generous portions that I always split each taco into two. This is by far the best taco value in town for the amount of meat you get.

3. Hotel Oz. The tapas restaurant the Hotel Oz has a lot of small plate options, but you can get some nice chunks of meat here too.

4. Yolanda’s. This is my go to chicken place. I like mine on the bone and fresh off the fire. It’s one of the best value in town as well and a local favorite.

Yolanda cooking grilled chicken in Sayulita

5. El Pollo Surfo. This little shack along the row of food installs perpendicular to the river should not be overlooked for its appearance. Their flame broiled chicken is on par with Yolanda’s, but sometimes I prefer this place because their tomato salsa is so good. If you know the El Pollo Loco chicken chain in the US, then I can say that this taste almost exactly like their chicken, tortilla and salsa, except not a chain, and even better.

Best Places To Eat And Drink On The Beach in Sayulita

1. Coco’s Beach Club. When we fancy a nice lounge chair and umbrella with a big margarita in our hands, this is where we go. Whenever we’re there, I like to remark that this is what it feels like to be on holiday. They’ve got a menu that has way too many items, but I highly recommend getting their seafood tostadas and ceviches to snack on while you drink under the sun.

2. Azul Pitaya Beach Hotel & Resort. If there’s even a spot that remotely resembles a ‘place to be seen’, it’s here. The new hotel and resort is right on the beach with a nice open terrace to hang out on.

3. El Patio. This is our favorite spot for an afternoon michelada. You get a generous portion of michelada mix with a beer and then can keep topping it off with another beer until you finish the whole thing. They serve up some nice small plates too.

4. Bar La Isla. Cross the river and you get a more quiet and rustic beach spot with one of my favorite margaritas on the sand. Sometimes I just come out here to nap on the beach and then wake up and have a drink and some tostadas. This is sort of a more chill and less crowded doppelganger of Coco’s as far as the cuisine goes.

5. El Costeno. This constantly packed restaurant serves up a lot of Mexican tourists. It’s on the beach, but very much a no frills type of place that serves up generous portions of grilled fish and the largest margarita you will find in Sayulita. Don’t get tempted by the extra grande one. It’s like 10 margaritas in one.

Best Tacos In Sayulita

This is a hard category to crack. I could have easily broken it down into multiple categories, but this list would be ever longer than it is now. The only category that I broke out of this are ‘street tacos’ which you can find next. Every place on this list serves handmade tortillas. You can’t start out any better than that.

1. El Itacate. I don’t need to say anything else about El Itacate.

2. Mary’s. My second favorite taco place makes the list because of their Baja style fish and shrimp tacos. I like the Sayulita Taco and the Mary’s Taco because of all the extra things they put on top. And their chipotle sauce. Sometimes, I just want to bring food from other places and ask if I can use their chipotle sauce.

Mary's Seafood Fish Tacos

3. Naty’s Cocina. This kitchen serves up a lot of the classic tacos you find in Mexico, but oddly don’t find in Sayulita. That’s probably because a lot of these dishes take hours to prepare so it’s a different type of eating experience. The step up restaurant is almost like a cafeteria, where you choose from the different trays and bowls that include a mole and cactus taco that I can still taste as I’m writing this.

This is probably one of the cheapest tacos in Sayulita and I much prefer it to the street tacos, which only fill me up with tortillas.

4. El Conejo. I should say that this place is not 4th down the list. It’s just too hard to rank them. This hidden away restaurant and bar serves up their own brand of tequila and has the best after happy hour taco menu. It’s certainly the most unique tacos you’ll find in Sayulita. Definitely sit upstairs in their lounge area and enjoy a break from the crowd because a lot of people don’t even know this place serves food.

5. The Real Fish Taco. I almost wanted to hate this place because of their name. I came in a little biased, but I came out reluctantly agreeing with their confidence. The tacos are not big, they are not the cheapest, but the fish is sublime.

The Real Fish Taco in Sayulita

If you’re heading to Sayulita, check out my ‘Complete Guide To Sayulita‘ before you go so you can make the most of your trip and find the places to stay and things to do.

Tacos al pastor vendor in Sayulita Mexico

Best Street Tacos In Sayulita

I love street tacos in Mexico. I don’t really love them that much in Sayulita, to be honest. By street tacos, I mean these carts with a giant rotating ‘trompo’ of meat. This is Mexico’s version of fast food and late night eating. In other parts of the country, you can find these tacos al pastor for as little as 5 pesos. They are greasy and delicious but the meat to tortilla ratio is disappointing.

In Sayulita, they run between 15-20 pesos, and I need to eat like 6 of these to get full. For that price, I can eat at so many other spots that are way better. But a couple do stand out.

1. Taqueria El Chappi’s. This is one runs a little ‘further’ out of the main area, so I almost never see a tourist eating here. I come because they are one of two places that serves tongue, cheeks, and brain tacos. All their tacos cost almost the same as the little street tacos you get around the square, but they taste so much better and you get a lot more along with a big assortment of toppings.

2. Tacos al Ivan. This is one of those places I’m talking about, but everyone eats here when its 3 am and you’re taking a breather from one of the nearby bars. It’s definitely a part of the Sayulita nightlife experience.

3. Rinconcitos. This is another spot that has been around for as long as I’ve been visiting Sayulita. These ladies serve up some fast tacos during the day. I think they moved to a more permanent spot that’s off the street now.

Tacos al pastor in Sayulita Mexico

4. Birria Cart. I don’t recall ever knowing the name of this place, but it is a little cart that you’ll find a crowd standing around during the daytime near the seafood market and Rinconcitos. They serve up these fried birria tacos that are artery clogging good.

Best Breakfast Spots In Sayulita

1. Yah Yah. This health food haven is my favorite place to have a quiet breakfast and coffee away from the crowd. It’s also a great place to do some work or get in some reading. I can’t say enough about this place because there are so many options to choose from whether you go the loaded bagel route or the pretty-Instagram bowl route.

They’ve got Vietnamese coffee so that automatically gets an extra star in my non-existent rating system. It’s organic-friendly, vegan-friendly, gluten-friendly, and so many other types of friendly all in one high-ceilinged modern café.

2. Organika. Remember me talking about starting your day with an acai bowl. Yea. Good coffee and fresh smoothies. The bowls are great as a brunch options. Try the Buddha Bowl.

3. Orangy. This is where I go for a liquid breakfast that is packed with all the nutrients and macros I need. Their smoothies, are by far the best in the town, and you can get them with protein powder too.

Sayulita's Chocobanana

4. Chocobanana. This is one of the oldest restaurants in Sayulita. Named for their offering of chocolate covered bananas, which you absolutely need to get. Bring a lot of friends, because the more you buy, the cheaper it costs. This is such the hang out spot for tourists to get their fill of the type of breakfasts they find at home. Sometimes you just want bacon and eggs or a full English breakfast as a break from huevos rancheros.

5. Tierra Viva. I’ll keep this simple. Come here for their Eggs Benedict. Everyone comes here for their Eggs Benedict. So come here for their Eggs Benedict. I like mine with shrimp.

Best Italian Food In Sayulita

For a Mexican town, there is a surprising number of Italian options in Sayulita, and they are all quality ones serving up hand made pastas and oven fired thin crust pizzas.

1. La Rustica. La Rustica narrowly beats out Ino here because they’ve got a larger selection and variety in their offerings. Their wood fired oven pizzas are not large, but they are so delicious and possibly my favorite slice or two in town. The pastas honestly remind me of the stuff I eat in smaller Italian villages. I think the number of ex-pats here is the reason why there are chefs trained by proper Italians.

La Rustica wood oven pizza

2. Ino Laboratorio Gastronomico. It’s always a hard choice between La Rustica and Ino. Ino is more of a proper Italian place. They have a lot more pizzas and pasta options, all of which are great. The funghi with truffle oil is my favorite. I always ask for a small side of honey to drizzle on the one with goat cheese.

Best Far East Food In Sayulita

There’s enough variety in Sayulita that you don’t get bored of the food scene and complain about having too many Mexican meals. These are the places that take you a little further East than the rest of the offerings.

1. Zakar. This restaurant opened a few years ago by a couple from Berkeley, California. They brought down their Moroccan restaurant and offer some some beautiful tagines and stews. I strongly recommend any of their lamb options.

2. Achara. The is another newish restaurant that serves pretty decent Thai food. Their curries and pad Thai are pretty close to what you’d find in most Thai restaurants around the world. It’s a little on the upscale side as far as their Sayulita interior decorations go.

3. Loro Cafe. There aren’t any proper pho or ramen options in Sayulita, but Loro Cafe comes close with their take on the noodle soups.

Check out the ‘16 Top Things You Have To Do In Sayulita‘ if you need some activity ideas to burn off all these calories.

Best Places To Get Filled Up For Less

1. Bichos. This place by the Iguana tree is the type of no-frills taco and quesadilla place you find all over Mexico. Pick your meat and then pile it up with over 15 different salsas and toppings.

2. Loncheria Los Nieves. Surfing takes a lot of energies, so this torta place serves up some carb heavy sandwiches that are priced very low.

3. Venezia. This is the most popular place for pizza in Sayulita. I wouldn’t say its the best, but you get the most pizza for your pesos here. 99 pesos gets you a giant pie that you can share for 2 or 3 people.

Best coffee in Sayulita

Best Coffee In Sayulita

The ordering and even selection in this category could cause endless debate, depending on who you ask. Just ignore them. These are my favorite places.

1. Miscelanea. This is my go to working space/coffee shop. It’s well hidden away with only a small sign next to Emelianos. This coffee place would fit right in with the Portland or Melbourne coffee scene. You can get your flat white and drip coffee filtered through a Chemex or V60 filter, amongst other options.

2. Taller D Cafe. This little walk up window serves up espresso like I get in Europe. Probably my most frequented place for coffee since it’s so quick and tasty. I actually keep a container of condensed milk and make Vietnamese coffee with their dark espresso poured into a cup of ice.

3. Yah Yah. My favorite breakfast places serves up a nice selection of coffee that’s just as good their space is quiet.

4. La Liberaria. This quirky coffee stand is just outside of the La Liberaria, a little hidden gem of a bookstore when you can buy and sell used books. You definitely have to stop by at least once. It’s a little further away from where I usually stay, but worth 8 minute walk for a cold iced coffee.

Best Places For A Nice Drink In Sayulita

Most of the time, me and my friends just 3 ice cold beers (each) from the OXXO and drink on the beach. For something nicer, we head to these places regularly. Just because you’re drinking barefoot does not mean you’re getting anything less than some of the best cocktails, mezcal and tequila in Mexico.

1. Escondido. This place should be more popular than it is. They make the best and most inventive cocktails in Sayulita.

2. Cava. A close second to Escondido, in my opinion is Cava, which delight you with their creative cava and mezcal based cocktails. I’d put this number one if what you’re after is a tequila or mezcal based cocktail.

3. La Zouave. A super popular hangout spot for the blondest crowd in Sayulita. I’m just calling it like I see it. Not the best in any one category, but they’ve got good cocktails, wine and tapas.

4. El Patio. More of a day drinking spot, but this place has excellent micheladas and margaritas.

5. Lucid. If you like a little tucked away spot where you can drink moscow mules out of copper cups, then this is the place to go. I like this place, but my only knock is that the quality of the cocktail changes a lot based on the staff.

Best Desserts, Ice Cream and Pastries In Sayulita

There is no order at all to this list. I visit these places regularly in between meals for some sweet or a quick snack.

1. Casa Gourmet. A simple bakery that offers my favorite pastry in town if you can manage to snag them right as they come from the oven. The croissants are done in the classic French style.

French Croissant bakery in Sayulita

2. Wakika. Popsicle heaven. Everything is made with fresh fruit. There are non-dairy and dairy options that are made with yogurt. There are so many cool combinations, but my favorite is the plain yogurt dipped in chocolate and covered with nuts.

Wakika Paleta from Sayulita

3. Pastres Yvonchi. On the western side of the main square, you’ll find two tables filled with all sorts of delicious cakes and cheesecakes. I always go to the table on the right and almost always get one of the cheesecakes from Yvonchi.

4. Paninos. This is another great spot for a coffee and pastry in the morning on your way to the beach.

5. Buonissimo. If you want gelato, this is your place.

Things You Have To Try In Sayulita

Lastly, there are a few other things you’ll find in different locations around Sayulita. Try these if you bump into them.

1. Banana Bread. You can find these from the people walking around on the beach selling them for 50 pesos. Get it. They are so moist and delicious.

2. Churros. There are a couple of vendors selling freshly fried churros. You can get it ‘relleno’, where it’s stuffed with chocolate or caramel.

3. Ceviche. It might look sketchy being scooped from a plastic bucket on the beach, but so far I haven’t gotten sick from these ceviche tostadas.

4. Elote. Hot corn with mayonnaise, butter, chili, and lime. Yum.

In parting, I recommend you bookmark this list before you trip. I didn’t include every restaurant because there are just too many. There are a lot of small stalls that I didn’t couldn’t include them all. I think the fun is trying those out randomly and discovering on your own the ones you like. As far as these lists are concerned, you really can’t go wrong each at any of these places I’ve mentioned. There are many I left off because they were just you average far and a couple that I didn’t care for or found overrated.

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