San Pancho might be a small pueblo on Nayarit’s Pacific coast, but its culinary options are anything but far and few between! We have lived here now for over a year and we are always surprised by how delicious and diverse the restaurants are here! If you’re looking for the best places + restaurants to eat in San Pancho, look no further!
Where else in the world can you eat literally the most mouth-watering churros, the best thin-crust delivery pizza, the best authentic Mexican tacos, quesadillas, tortas, or pozoles, drink a craft beer while nomming on gourmet cheeses and charcuteries, gulp down sweetened homemade jamaica (hibiscus) water, chomp on smoky, grilled barbecue chicken or ribs, or cut into a vegan quinoa waffle covered in exotic fruits…?!?
The gastronomic options seem endless in San Pancho, not because there are infinite amounts of restaurants, but because each place is so unique and delicious in its very own way. One night you can enjoy Italian pasta, pizza, or ravioli, and another night fresh seafood and catch-of-the-day sashimi.
Before now, I didn’t want to write about which restaurants are the best places to eat in San Pancho because the food scene here is changing almost every month! It’s hard to keep up with!
But alas – there are at least 20, if not more, restaurants + other places to eat in San Pancho that are worth discovering (and that also haven’t changed much the last year we’ve been here).
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Where to Eat in San Pancho, Mexico
Here are the 20 best places and restaurants to eat at in San Pancho, Mexico. This list is getting constantly updated as more restaurants pop up in San Pancho. Now that we are living here again, I will keep an eye out for the best places to add to this list!
1. Bistro Cielo Rojo
Huevos rancheros + veggie beet burger
Organic, locally-sourced, sustainable, excellent service + atmosphere… That’s everything you’ll get at the Bistro Cielo Rojo!
We like to think of the Hotel Cielo Rojo’s Bistro as one of our best-kept secrets in San Pancho. It’s not on the main street and takes a curious wanderer to find it just like that, but if you do, you’re in for a real treat.
The menu is inspired by a simple philosophy of eating healthy and sourcing organic, ethically-responsible ingredients that is better for you and the environment.
With their fresh, seasonal ingredients, they create amazing sea and land dishes that are so scrumptious and aesthetically-pleasing, too. We love eating here!
Best time to go: Breakfast or lunch between 8-2 pm (Keep an eye out for their dinner events!)
Menu: Organic huevos rancheros, marlin quesadillas, gourmet beet burger, fresh turmeric juices, baked goods + more.
The best food + service for breakfast, lunch, or dinner
Maria’s is one of our favorite go-to places to eat in San Pancho! Their staff excels at customer service so much that it makes the food taste even better. But the food is delicious on its own, too. And the portions (and prices) are just right!
Paul and I love Maria’s so much we chose to eat here for our anniversary dinner. The atmosphere is welcoming, happy, and tropical. We love sitting out in the garden area for breakfast or lunch when it’s nice and sunny out.
Best time to go: Breakfast or lunch, but dinner is awesome too (dinner menu is different).
Menu: Omelettes, sandwiches, salads, steaks, chicken, American + Mexican breakfast, some fish dishes.
One of the best sashimi we’ve ever had!
“Ooohhh… Barracuda!” Owned by one of the original families in San Pancho, Barracuda is a must-try restaurant serving up fresh seafood in delightful ways. If you love to sit down for lunch or dinner in a nice, cozy atmosphere, Barracuda in San Pancho hits just the spot.
Oftentimes for dinner, they’ll host live music performances for you on the street, so this place easily fills up fast. If you are planning to go with a group, I’d definitely recommend booking a table!
Tip: Order the Mahi-Mahi sashimi as an entrée (or for lunch) and prepare to be wowed. Lemon + chili oil + soybean caviar = scrumptious!
Best time to go: Lunch + dinner
Menu: Raw plates, seafood tacos, seasonal oysters, steaks, soups, pasta. Great wine selection.
4. Burrito Pinata
Burrito Pinata is a homegrown restaurant owned by one of our friends here in San Pancho. It can be found inside the Entreamigos community center and is the perfect place to grab a vegan/vegetarian lunch.
For only 100 pesos, you’ll get fresh juice/water of the day, a starter, a main course, and a dessert! Everything is homemade with locally-sourced ingredients to bring you the freshest taste and combination of Mexican + international fare.
Best time to go: Around lunchtime between 1-4 pm.
Menu: Varies depending on seasonal ingredients. Vegan & Vegetarian
5. El Gallo (Best place to eat in San Pancho for breakfast!)
El Gallo is easily one of the most memorable places to sit down and enjoy breakfast. The entire restaurant is outdoors and makes for a perfect setting in the morning and at night for some pulque and salsa dancing!
You can’t come to San Pancho without at least one visit to the El Gallo restaurant. More than just a restaurant, it’s a place of conviviality where the community gathers for live music, theatrical events, shows, and of course, salsa dancing on Friday nights.
Enjoy Nixtamal blue corn enchiladas, quesadillas, or tacos, as you sit around the restaurants near ~100-year old tree. The food is prepared using authentic traditional cooking methods from the region.
Best time to go: Breakfast/lunch (for food) and at night after 6 pm (for pulque and other drinks + music, etc).
Menu: Blue corn quesadillas/tacos/enchiladas with a variety of veggie or meat fillings and sauces, huevos rancheros, divorciados, etc. Fresh juice/agua del dia, organic yogurt, and more.
5. La Voz de Mi Tierra–Permanently closed
Yummy vegan + veggie sandwiches @ La Voz
San Pancho wouldn’t be what it is today without the colorful, down-to-earth corner cafés like La Voz de Mi Tierra.
La Voz sources local ingredients and makes fresh fruit bowls, veggie bowls, and piled-high vegetarian sandwiches. For earthy, natural, wholesome flavors and dishes, definitely come here. Don’t forget to order a smoothie, Azteca coffee, or fresh cacao water to compliment your meal.
You simply can’t miss it if you’re walking down the main street toward the beach on the right-hand side (past the schools and soccer field).
Best time to go: Breakfast or lunch (not open at night)
Menu: Bean salad, fruit bowls, veggie burgers, hummus sandwiches, baked goods, smoothies, fresh coffee, etc.
6. Loncheria Uno Mas (Best place to eat local Mexican food in San Pancho)
The best orange juice in this world!
For authentic Mexican food, and not to mention, the BEST freshly-squeezed orange juice, head to the Loncheria Uno Mas restaurant (located on the corner diagonal to the hospital).
Sit around the bar and watch the ladies cook your food right in front of you, or pop a squat at one of the decorated plastic tables. There’s only one thing I’ll order here because it is just that good: A grilled panela cheese torta (sandwich). Just try it, you’ll thank me later!
Best time to go: Popular for breakfast and lunch (closed after 2 pm, I think).
Menu: Tacos, tortas, quesadillas, tostadas + smoothies, and fresh-squeezed OJ.
7. Dolce Amore / Dolce Jardin
Dolce amore menu + dolce jardin pizza and fondue!
Craving a huge bowl of fresh pasta? Or maybe a wood-fired pizza? Then you’re in luck! Both places are just in front of the other and which one you go to really depends on what mood you’re in.
Dolce Amore is an iconic San Pancho restaurant, serving up yummy, shareable bowls of pasta or their housemade lasagna. You can also order gelato on the side.
Dolce Jardin has a nicer atmosphere and is set in a cozy garden under a tree canopy just across the street. Here, you can order steaks, tacos, and cheese fondue, but most people go for their tasty pizzas.
Luckily, both locations offer a delicious brownie with ice cream for dessert! :p
Best time to go: Dinner
Menu: Pasta, pizzas, salads, wine, beer, gelato, etc.
8. La Ola Rica (Best restaurant in San Pancho for dinners + drinks)
The classiest drinks @ La Ola Rica
La Ola Rica is definitely the expat’s go-to restaurant in San Pancho, which isn’t a bad thing, per se, but it does mean it’s a little pricier than other places.
However, La Ola Rica remains popular season after season because of its unique atmosphere, excellent service, and of course, tasty meals! If you’re in the mood for upscale dining, with cocktails, steaks, and gourmet angel-hair pasta with seafood, etc., then La Ola Rica won’t disappoint you.
They also offer a range of highly recommendable desserts, like their crême brûlée which satisfies our sweet tooth.
Best time to go: Dinner
Menu: Steaks, ribs, chicken, seafood, small pizzas, cocktails, soups, etc.
9. Mr. Ribs (best restaurant in San Pancho for meat-lovers)
Mr. Ribs street view (left). A popular place for grilled meats, live music, and watching the games!
I’m shocked I’ve made it to #9 already without mentioning Mr. Ribs! Mr. Ribs is another iconic San Pancho restaurant that’s usually packed with both locals and tourists, nearly any day of the week.
The style is very American/Canadian-like but nonetheless, you can get delicious smoked and grilled barbecue chicken, ribs, or steak. After renovating their bbq area, it’s much more enjoyable to sit and enjoy your meal without having the smoke blow in your face.
If you’re in town while there’s a match on, you’ll see Mr. Ribs fill up quickly with fans watching the TVs.
Update: Mr. Ribs has got a new look! They’ve now opened up the second floor for customers, renovated the interior, and changed their sign! It looks very American now.
Best time to go: Lunch or dinner
Menu: BBQ chicken, fish, steaks, ribs, soups, etc.
10. Cervecería Artesanal San Pancho (Best microbrewery in San Pancho)
A brewery? Good for food? Well, yes!! La Cerveceria is San Pancho’s number one place to grab a beer and some fries with friends. But what makes it really great is that you don’t have to get up and search for food if you’re feeling hungry.
While limited, their menu offers fair-priced sandwiches, charcuterie + cheese plates, and more that’ll no doubt satiate your appetite.
Unfortunately, I never took a quick picture of the cerveceria while I was there. Or at least it’s lost in my millions of photos from San Pancho. Guess I’ll have to go back, huh!
Best time to go: Dinner / late-night
Menu: Pork belly mustard sandwich, brie + honey sandwich, large/small charcuterie + cheese boards, french fries, etc. UPDATED FOOD MENU with a veggie portobello burger and a beef burger.
11. Los Arbolitos (Best local tacos in San Pancho)
The typical Mexican taco stand. Garnish-your-own tacos and quesadillas @ Los Arbolitos
Los Arbolitos is a staple when it comes to San Pancho’s Mexican cuisine scene.
If you want a typical Mexican experience, eating handmade corn or flour tortillas on plastic tables on the street with house-made horchata water (rice drink) and all the taco + quesadilla fixin’s like beans, habanero onions, cucumber, cilantro, cabbage, and 4 different types of salsas – then come to Los Arbolitos!
Single-ingredient tacos are only 12 pesos (like 75 cents) so you can stack up as much as you want!
Best time to go: Open for dinner only
Menu: Tacos/quesadillas/volcanes al pastor, chicken, mushrooms, cactus, rajas (poblano peppers), steak. Flan.
12. Barra Cactus
My fav homemade waffles @ Barra Cactus!
Barra Cactus is a cute and small deli outside of the Sea & Salt beach store that’s not to be overlooked!
If you’re craving healthy food like handmade waffles with fresh fruits, or a stuffed panini sandwich, or fresh smoothies, or even vegan ice cream, this is the place to go. There is only a small bar with chairs and one table, so grab a seat while you can!
Prices are extremely affordable. For example, a waffle smothered with fresh fruits is only 60 pesos. Make sure to stop by on your way to the beach.
Best time to go: Lunchtime
Menu: Homemade waffles, paninis, salads, smoothies, vegan ice cream, cookies.
13. El Primo Pizza (Delivery)
If you’re hunting for the El Primo pizza restaurant, don’t bother looking in town! Only available via delivery, El Primo is a pizza you gotta call (or Whatsapp) for.
Fernando makes each wood-fired pizza to order from within his own home and then delivers it by motorbike right to your door. Mostly everyone agrees he’s got the best pizzas in San Pancho (alongside some other very, very tasty contenders like Dolce Jardin or San Pancho Pizza). The price varies but is roughly 150 pesos per pizza.
Best time to go: Delivery only
Menu: Hawaiin, pepperoni, margarita, mushrooms + ham, vegetarian, cold meats.
Jamaica (hibiscus) tacos @ Limbo
Limbo ~ the place to go to recover forgotten memories ~ (or something like that) is a newer restaurant on the block, just steps away from the beach! When it first opened up, their gourmet-style tacos were an absolute hit. I used to love their red fruits agua fresca (fresh raspberries + blueberries) but they don’t offer that anymore (hint: bring it back!!).
The menu has evolved a little, but you can still go taste their unique flavors and taco combinations for lunch (~40 pesos/taco). If you crave something fresh from the sea or land, try like their popular al ajillo (garlic + guajillo chiles) combos with fresh fish, shrimp, crab, or mushrooms, served with crispy tostadas.
Best time to go: Lunch for tacos, dinner for everything else
Menu: Tacos, ajillo dishes, panela, sea avocado, pork, seafood, ceviche.
Smack dab in the center of Tercer Mundo on your way to the beach. You can’t miss it!
Itzalanyasayan is an unpronounceable yet hugely satisfying place to eat in San Pancho. 🙂
The menu features healthy, earthy, tasty Mexican fusion food locally-sourced and hand-prepared by a local family in San Pancho.
We actually knew the cook – the caring mother of 5 kids after whom she named her restaurant – long before eating here. She is the one that actually adopted our 3 stray cats that lived outside our first apartment in San Pancho.
I can only recommend eating here if you want to indulge in super healthy and nutritious homemade Mexican cuisine with an edge.
Fun fact! The first time we ate at Itzalanyasayan we ended up meeting Lauren who just joined The Lumineers and her partner Ryan, who is the co-founder of Blind Pilot – another famous band.
Best time to go: Hours vary, closed on certain days like Monday and Tuesday (I think). Go for dinnertime but bring mosquito spray!
Menu: Homemade blue corn quesadillas/taco plates stuffed with a mix of healthy veggies; quinoa, sweet potato, grains, etc., and cheese. Plates come with a dressed side salad. Meat options include ham, Marlin fish, etc. Fresh agua del dia like jamaica and grapefruit.
16. Loncheria (on the corner)
The best place for agua del dia @ Loncheria
La Loncheria (not the same as “uno mas”) is one of the places to eat in San Pancho that we first fell in love with. We were there at least 3x a week, if not more, for the first chunk of our stay here.
The food is delicious, the business if family-run, the service is friendly. The asada tacos with chipotle sauce hit just the spot. And, I find they serve some of the best agua fresca in town and I always feel lucky when it’s agua de jamaica day. :p
It’s our budget-friendly place to go that’s always reliable and just 2 blocks from the beach (located on the corner past Barracuda).
Best time to go: Lunch or dinner (although they do breakfast, too).
Menu: Burritos, quesadillas, tortas, tacos, soups, breakfast, etc. Typical agua fresca flavors = melon, passion fruit, rice, hibiscus, pineapple.
17. Ikan Cocina Marina
Spicy crab taco @ Ikan!
Ikan is a brand new seafood bar that just opened up on Calle Asia. The space is small and sits right on the street, but it is extremely cute with nicely decorated bar seating, street-side tables, and lighting!
We were excited to try it since we heard such good reviews of their seafood dishes. When we walked up, a lady sitting at a nearby table urged us to eat there.
I’m personally not a huge fan of seafood – beyond salmon, oysters, crab – I’m a total wuss. I don’t do grilled octopus. But apparently, they know how to do it and they do it well, so if you like seafood fusion, you’ll have to try this cute place out.
Best time to go: Around lunchtime
Menu: Ceviche (veg option available), seafood tacos + tostadas. Fresh agua del dia.
18. La Buena Vida
Jam session @ La Buena Vida
La Buena Vida is where everyone goes on Tuesday nights for Open Mic. When we first discovered it, they only served drinks, but now they offer a diverse menu so you can go early for dinner and stay until the live music starts.
The atmosphere at Buena Vida is what drives most people, it’s tucked away off the street in a nice garden area with comfy seating. The food is inspired by Spanish cocktail bar, with some tapas, soups, pizza, but they also have other foods.
Since we live just across the street, we often find ourselves at BV on an impromptu night out for some music, food, and drinks.
Best time to go: Dinner / Live music nights
Menu: Tapas (papas bravas), pizzas, burgers, some fish dishes.
19. Grill Dogs–Closed
*UPDATE: Grill Dogs is no longer in service, but this spot now sometimes hosts pop-up restaurants featuring a variety of flavors. Their last pop-up event was last week featuring Asian street food.
Didn’t make it here often, but when we did it was always good! RIP, Rich xx
Grill Dogs was one of the very first places to eat in San Pancho that we discovered after moving here!
That’s when we first met Rich, the previous cook, who whipped us up some Argentinian chorizo + cheese + onion + jalapeno subs with french fries. He has now passed away, but I think about him every time I pass by.
The atmosphere at Grill Dogs is what first drew us in – with the stylish food van and small outdoor terrace with tables. It just oozes summer grill out vibes.
Best time to go: Dinner
Menu: Argentinian-style sausage and chorizo subs. Vegetarian option available with pongos (mushrooms)
20. La Perla And Las Palmas (2 Beachfront Restaurants)
Paul working on the beach at Iguana Las Palmas
Finally, there are two restaurants located right on the beach as you walk out onto la playa San Pancho.
La Perla (on the left) is where we usually go for snacks or meals. The service has always been excellent even if the food isn’t the best and we’ve just naturally migrated to that side of the beach as we walk out. We always used to lounge on the beach chairs at La Perla, until one day they began charging a minimum of 200 pesos. Before, we could just grab a beer and chill. So after 6 months of frequenting their business regularly, we stopped going almost indefinitely.
Las Palmas (on the right) gets an equal amount of business, I’d say, but really the two are very similar in price and quality of food. The portions from both restaurants are copious and fresh. The atmosphere is nice on both sides. It’s really just a matter of preference. Although now, Paul and I have been increasingly enjoying the shade under the palms at Las Palmas since they opened up a second bar area (also called Las Palmas) but with a slightly different drink and snack menu.
In either case, both locations will bring you the beachy, tropical experience your heart desires.
Sit back, relax with a Corona or michelada and watch the sunset over the Pacific ocean from your chair. Paradise!
Best Drinks / Coffee / Snacks in San Pancho
While the places below aren’t typical restaurants, I wanted to do justice to some of my favorite go-to places that serve the best coffee, snacks, and other goodies.
Mexicolate – Cocoa/Chocolate Bar
Delicious cocoa / banana / peanut butter smoothie @ Mexicolate
Don’t leave San Pancho without trying Mexicolate’s fresh cocoa! The smell itself is intoxicating. Mexicolate is much more than a chocolate bar, it’s a place to go and learn about the history, process, the cultural and spiritual significance of cocoa in the region. You can taste fresh cocoa nibs, try their various chocolate pieces with fruit or nuts, and also order a fresh smoothie or drink made with only natural, healthy ingredients.
There banana/peanut butter smoothie with cocoa is such a treat that’ll cool you down while refreshing your senses. Unlike coffee, cacao energizes and invigorates without making you crash later.
Best time to go: Anytime during opening hours (9 am – 7 pm) *closed Sundays
Menu: Hot & cold cocoa/chocolate drinks, smoothies, organic products (honey, cacao nibs, etc.)
The Churros Couple – World’s best churros
Enjoying the bestestestest churros in the park!
Next time I go, I’ll get their names, but for now, Paul and I call them the “churro couple”. Most evenings before sunset, they will set up their churro stand on the side of the road from the back of their truck. The churros are only 10 pesos each (.50 cents) and taste like heaven on earth!
Every time we have family visit us in San Pancho, they are amazed at how good the churros are. You just won’t find better – promise!
Kokonati – Coffee & empanadas
Tiny lemon meringue pie @ Kokonati!
UPDATE: Kokonati has moved location from the main street of Tercer Mundo to a side street in front of Mr. Ribs. They now serve brunch-style food as well as the typical cafe treats.
Kokonati is another San Pancho staple! We have been so fortunate to become familiar with Kokonati and its staff ever since we moved here. Kokonati sits on the main street right in between Ola Rica and Mr. Ribs – and is hugely popular among locals and tourists looking for a good coffee and a tasty pastry. They just opened up a second location too!!
If you go, chances are you’ll see a really hipster-looking barista named Juan Pablo. If you do, tell him hi from Bri! 🙂
Best time to go: Morning, lunchtime, afternoon break, whenever!
Menu: Homebaked empanadas (salty + sweet), pastries, hot and cold coffee + teas
Café Manana – Garden café (Best cafe for digital nomads in San Pancho)
The best place for coffee + chatting + wifi
One of our most memorable places to enjoy a coffee/tea while working away on our laptops is at Café Manana. The café is owned by Linc & Jill, who’ve been living in San Pancho for 15 or so years, and is only open from January to April each high season.
Café Manana is its own pocket of paradise, which is why we were so sad when it closed for the season. Every morning Paul and I would eagerly wake up to go work at CM on the 2nd floor – it was like a library and studio all in one. Linc & Ms. Peggy would be our cheerful baristas and we always looked forward to seeing them and all the “regulars”. For the first time in my life, I was a “regular” somewhere. It was nice!
All the goodies in the window – the McMuffin breakfast sandwiches, brownies, and bread – were all baked fresh by Jill. They were incredibly satisfying.
Best time to go: Between 8:30 am -1:30 pm. Closed on Tues + Weds.
Menu: Hot or cold coffees and teas, chai, brownies, cakes, bread, savory muffins
Ceviche Lady – Fresh ceviche on wheels
Dona Tera – I believe is her name! If you see an orange push bicycle with a blue rooftop tent and a strong, smiling, lady yelling “Ceviche!” as she walks down Av. Tercer Mundo, then make sure to run after her and treat yourself to a fresh ceviche tostada. She makes the best homemade ceviche ever and it is so good with her special salsa. One tostada costs only 12 pesos!
Moreover, she is especially awesome because – in the year that we’ve been living here – Dona Tera has switched from using disposable plastics and styrofoam to biodegradable, eco-friendly alternatives. Hooray!!
Best time to go: Look for her cart between 11 ish and 4 pm-ish somewhere strolling on the main street or side streets.
If ever you see Amanda pushing around her cart selling her delicious homemade falafel wraps, take up the opportunity! She handmakes all her sauces, bread, falafel balls, and hummus – cilantro or chile-based. And for only 40 pesos, you can’t get a better deal than this! Paul and I often would come out to get one or grab one on the go.
Gaia is a healthy hole-in-the-wall eatery where you can grab vegetarian and vegan healthy foods. Your meal is freshly prepared in front of you while you sit on the sidewalk bar stools. It’s not ideal for groups as wait times can increase with the number of orders (since everything’s prepared fresh). The food is super delicious and wholesome so great for lunch or snack time.
They also have a stall set up at the artisanal market every Tuesday during the high season, which is how we discovered them.
Best time to visit: Lunch
Menu: Healthy buddha bowls, falafel, platters, etc.
And that’s it! I will be adding more to this list in the next few weeks. In the meantime, take a look at all there is to do and see in this lovely town (click the link below to read!).
Read the blog post: 40 Awesome Things to Do in San Pancho, Mexico
San Pancho Restaurants: A Foodie Guide
Wow! I hadn’t realized there were so many places to eat in San Pancho until I wrote it all down. And there are even more places to discover beyond the ones I highlighted here!
With that being said, don’t be afraid to branch out and try places not listed here. There are some extremely delicious local restaurants with no names that are worth trying, too.
Since the town is growing rapidly, many restaurants in San Pancho come and go, so it changes quickly. Right now these are my favorite top 20 restaurants and places to eat. For the most part, I expect all of these to stick around for a while!!
As you can see, San Pancho offers so much in terms of cuisine!! Which place to eat in San Pancho would you try first?! Let me know your thoughts and leave your questions in the comments!