Puerto Vallarta. Photo by Miranda Fox.
Puerto Vallarta. Photo by Miranda Fox.

Eating at Puerto Vallarta is Like Coming Home

April 26, 2022

Bright smiles and a hearty hello. A delicious aroma permeating the air. A plethora of menu options and immediate service. A welcomed dinner abundant with delicious, authentic Mexican food. An overall incredible dining experience at Puerto Vallarta!

In the past three years, the pandemic has thrown a twist in the restaurant realm. Many restaurants have raised prices, reduced hours, or shut down completely. Those who have survived have had to make changes to keep their restaurant above water, which in turn has led to the loss of customers. Puerto Vallarta, a Mexican restaurant located in Effingham, Illinois, is led by a group of people who have fought to keep their restaurant filled with customers without making any changes to prices, hours, menu options or the quality of service. Puerto Vallarta has a “customer first, restaurant second” mentality. 

When I first entered Puerto Vallarta, it was a familiar family feeling. I felt as though I was walking into one of my relatives’ homes for dinner. I was greeted by many of the staff with “Hello Miranda,” followed by questions regarding my recent basketball season at Millikin. Music was playing in the background, and multiple TVs were broadcasting different athletic events. Laughter and conversations of other customers could be heard all throughout the restaurant. Puerto Vallarta has a family-oriented and community-building atmosphere. There’s a ring of celebration and camaraderie, providing an escape from the daily grind and routine. 

During my most recent visit to Puerto Vallarta, I scoured the diverse menu, contemplating all of the delicious options. Each dish was described in detail, giving the connoisseur an understanding of the dynamics of the dish. I finally opted to try one of their popular dishes, the Pollo Playa, which was highly recommended by the server as he saw me laboring over all of the options. This dish consists of rice and grilled chicken strips covered in queso cheese with a side of tortillas. To further enhance the dish, I ordered sour cream and a side of the restaurant’s famous guacamole.

While I waited for my dish, I watched as the other orders came out and saw each one was laid out carefully with great appeal. Every dish was appetizing to look at and made me excited to receive my order. While my dinner was being prepared, the waiter was very attentive, coming by the table twice to fill my water and refill my chips and salsa. All of my needs were met before I ever had to ask. 

In a typical restaurant, customers wait approximately 20 minutes for their food. But at Puerto Vallarta, I had my dish in 10 minutes. My plate arrived heaping with food. The rice was displayed on the right side of my plate, covering about two-thirds, and the chicken was on the left. Neither food overlapped and the queso was distributed evenly across the dish. The sour cream and guacamole were delivered on a side plate for me to distribute according to my preference. The service was efficient, and my order was complete with precision. 

As my dish was placed before me, steam wafted from the plate, filling the air with a mouthwatering aroma. While the smell and display of the food were amazing, the taste surpassed both. The rice was soft, the chicken was tender and seasoned well, and the queso was creamy and extremely rich. The tortillas, served on the side, arrived wrapped in foil and were soft and warm. The meal was a true authentic Mexican dish that left me completely satisfied. 

People want to eat at a restaurant where the staff values them as a customer, where there’s delicious food out in a timely manner and an excellent atmosphere. Puerto Vallarta checks all those boxes. 

In addition, Puerto Vallarta is a restaurant that embraces and serves the community. In a pandemic that wiped out many restaurants, Puerto Vallarta sought measures to serve the Effingham community. They found different ways to retain their beloved customers by keeping affordable prices, maintaining their menu options, and even expanding their carryout and catering options. In addition, they sought opportunities to recognize and celebrate the efforts of frontline workers such as educators and the medical staff. They provided gift certificates to these individuals and catered many meals at their cost to serve these groups. 

Overall, Puerto Vallarta puts their customers at the top of their priority list. They value their customers and use their service and chef skills to serve them. They invest in their customers, introducing themselves to new customers and providing them with a positive experience. At the same time, they greet returning customers with a huge welcome, giving them the feeling of coming home. They go out of their way to serve them and make them feel valued by remembering their order, asking about their families and sharing a familiar story or joke. 

When I have been away from home for several months and return for a visit from college, I am greeted with enthusiasm, hugs and a rush of conversation from my family. My family strives to laud me with praise, spoiling me with my favorite things, time and attention. Visiting Puerto Vallarta renders that same feeling. It is a feeling of coming home and one I look forward to every time I visit Effingham. 

I highly recommend eating at Puerto Vallarta. You will always leave this restaurant full, in good spirits, and as part of a family.

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