Indulge your cravings, boost your health and unfold its rich history
Mayan texts describe the drink made from Mayan chocolate as a luxury only afforded to the nobility and wealthy to enjoy.
For travelers with a passion for chocolate, Mexico’s rich chocolate heritage allows for an indulgent trip. Especially in Puerto Vallarta, where you’ll find no shortage of ways to explore its bounties. From classic treats to unexpected delights, Puerto Vallarta’s chocolate scene offers a bevy of delectable options to satisfy your cravings, boost your health, and discover its past.
Archeologists tell us that the Olmec, which is the parent of the Maya, was the first to use cocoa around 19000 BC to 400 BC. In 4 surviving texts found from the post-classical Mayan period, chocolate referred to as food to the gods, mentioned in the hieroglyphics, appeared on architectural structures, and were depicted with images on their religious implements.
The Ancient Maya called the cocoa tree “cacahuatquchtl,” stating that was the only tree worth naming. The Mayan word for chocolate was xocoatl. They would make a drink called chocolatl consisting of ground roasted cocoa beans and water. Over time chili spices were also added to cocoa mixtures. Pictures on various artifacts show cocoa being poured from one vessel to another to produce froth. A drink meant for kings.
Because of the cocoa beans value, they were given as gifts for special events and used as currency. Mayan Merchants would trade cocoa beans for commodities such as jade, cloth, and ceremonial feathers. The farmers would transport their cocoa beans for trade by strapping large baskets to their backs and canoeing to various markets.
The Choco Museo is one of the many free things to do in Puerto Vallarta. Located in the central zone on Calle Josefa Ortiz de Domingues 138, this guided museum is the place to go to if you’re interested in learning the history behind cocao, finding out how chocolate is made from harvesting the shade-grown trees, to the lengthy production process, to the final edible choices of chocolate bars, nips, sauces, condiments and beverage samples offered in their chocolate gift shop. The flavor of this ancient chocolate is intensely pure, and I can’t wait to use it in my recipes; 6 bars of 100 % cocoa beans came home with me. I also loved their cocoa liqueur, so much so that it didn’t make the ride home.
The Choco Museo is on Calle Josefa Ortiz de Domingues 138,
For those of you who learn by watching, then make sure to join one of the paid classes at the Choco Museo. You can attend one of their chef demonstration classes where you’ll learn how to make a traditional mole sauce, velvety smooth hot chocolate truffles, or individual chocolate nuggets that will impress your family and friends.
Click here to learn more about workshops and classes.
HIRE A GUIDE
Edurrdo Nava met me in the Hotel Rosita’s lobby promptly at 10 am. to start our Chocolate Trail. With a friendly smile and greeting, we started walking the downtown area, searching for the best stores and restaurants that feature the ancient cocoa dishes. Our first stop was the Choco Museo for a bit of history and the steps and techniques involved to produce those delectable morsels of heaven.
Our conversation about chocolate continues as we weave around the street corners through small neighborhoods before coming upon a hidden gem. Each of these three different families ran restaurants use their heritage pride reflected in their culinary delights. Some sweet while others not sweet at all, like mole sauces, but all we memorable. Finding the ‘gems’ was preciously what I wanted to know. And who better than local Edurrdo to show us where they are while he shares vast chocolate knowledge with you.
Edurrdo Nava 322-235-7777.
Other tour options are available at Vallarta Food tours.com. Take a look at the variety of food tours that are offered around the city.
The Venus Moon Southside Spa, in the Romantic Zone, takes chocolate to a whole new level. With Zen music guiding you up the stairs towards a rooftop bamboo garden with airy white linen panels quivering in the breeze in their outdoor private treatment rooms. Tranquility floats in the air just as the candles flicker in the draft. It is a gentle atmosphere fit to stimulate both the mind and body.
Their Chocolate Treatment is a moisturizing body mask, rich in anti-oxidant properties and anti-cellulite qualities too. Your treatment starts with a rose-scented body cleansing relaxing your senses. Then to invigorate the skin, a salt rub massage is performed. Like a mummy, you are wrapped in warm sheets, and then gentle hands glide over you, revealing a polished canvas for their special chocolate paint.
“Just like an ice cream cone, I was covered in chocolate.”
I was left to marinade quietly. I felt like I was floating on chocolate clouds, peaceful yet awake, inhaling deep aromas of pure heaven. It seemed like a sin to experience so much enjoyment while the anti-oxidants worked their magic on my sin parched skin.
After showering, I strolled around the Malécon with a sense of new vitality and appreciation for my old friend and long life partner, Chocolate!
The Venus Moon Southside Spa is located in Olas Altas in the Romantic Zone.
CHOCOLATE COCKTAIL TIME
Qultured is a tucked-away oasis on Venustiano Carranza 466. It is a secret courtyard that blends local artist studios’ jubilation with creative mixology and contemporary cuisine. Colorful washed walls of sunshine yellow and electric blue splashes then adorned with paintings and murals of traditional Mexican heritage and beyond await.
Set center stage in the courtyard lies a potent mélange created by Daniel Moraga. His unique talents designed a circular base of shimmering mosaic tiles that seem to flow like the tide and dance in the natural sunlight from above, crested with a blue wave bar top, then set under a terra-cotta tiled roof.
It’s a playful atmosphere where smiles are free-flowing, and the vibe is inviting.
One of their mixology creations is their Chocolate Martini. The silkiness of the chocolate cooled the heat from the alcohol, making it the most refreshing drink. Truly a chocoholics delight.
This evening, culinary creation was rich in both flavors and history. In 1821 Catholic nuns in Puebla, Mexico, created the recipe to celebrate Mexican Independence from Spain. It was then prepared as the birthday dish and served to honor Mr. Agustinn de Iturbide, then Emperor of Mexico, for signing the Letter of Independence a few days before.
Chile en Nogada is the creation representing Mexico’s national flag of white, green & red. A roasted poblano chili hugs a meat and vegetable filling that is gently sweetened with almonds, cinnamon & candied Biznaga (a common cactus), then moated with a finely ground walnut cream sauce, and garnished with fresh red pomegranate seeds. This dish is complex in flavors, traditions, and history. Chile en Nogada is a dish fit for a king, or should I say, Emperor.
Qultured is the perfect marriage of art, cuisine, and creative cocktails.
Qultured: Venustiano Carranza 466, romantic zone
CHOCOLATE BITES AND MORE
The Choco Museo Sweet Temptations menus include delectables such as chocolate Crepes, Tacos, Waffles, and Fondues. Give yourself a dose of anti-oxidants and choose from their tempting smoothies like Choco-Plantano, a blend of peanut butter, chocolate, and icy milk, or Cocoa-Mango fresh mango, almond milk, and chocolate nips. A must-try is their Choco Fruit, frozen seasonal fruit kabobs covered in 60% dark cocoa chocolate. Little gems straight from heaven.
Cafe Paris is a tiny shop on a quiet corner filled with fine french cuisine each morning. But of course, the owner is from Paris, France and is a master of pastries or Patisseries. Fresh baguettes, quiches, fruit tarts, eclairs, and warm flakey buttery chocolate croissants await each morning. But don’t dally around as they usually sell out by noontime. Their Ham and Cheese-filled croissants, classic Quiche Loiranne, or small meat pot pies are perfect for your patio lunch or beach picnic.
I always visit Cafe Paris and buy a treat for my return flight back home.
I always visit Cafe Paris and buy a treat for my return flight back home.
Pino Suárez 158, Zona Romántica, Emiliano Zapata, 48380 Puerto Vallarta, Jal., Mexico
Phone: +52 322 222 8472
Metate is a charming restaurant located near the Gringo Gulch area. It’s the perfect spot to savor delicious chili, chilaquiles, and traditional tortilla soup. If you are a true chocoholic, get ready for light chocolate pancakes, decadent chocolate cakes, or chocolate delice. They serve the best hot chocolate you’ll ever experience. The secret ingredient has been guarded over the generations, passed from one generation to the other. Many have made guesses, but the ‘spice’ remains a mystery to most of us.
They serve breakfast and lunch daily, offering many temptations that will have you returning to savor more dishes. They are famous for providing outstanding service from friendly staff. What more could one ask for?
Hidalgo 166-A, Proyecto escola, Centro, 48300 Puerto Vallarta, Jal., Mexico
Phone: +52 322 222 7249
The discovery of the cocoa bean by the ancient Mayan civilization has enriched our lives, and time has proven its versatility. For us, travelers with a passion for chocolate, Puerto Vallarta’s Chocolate trail is a flavorfully fun way to celebrate life, satisfy your cravings, boost your health, and discover its past.