Just a little over an hour outside of Mexico’s largest (and most well known) metropolis, known locally as El Distrito Federal (Federal District), or Mexico City, lies one of the region’s best kept secrets. Popular among the locals who know the ins and outs of surrounding Sierra Madre Occidental and Oriental mountain ranges, the small town of Valle de Bravo offers guests the best of Mexico’s rich culture while enjoying a relaxing and stunningly beautiful natural landscape. So, where is Valle de Bravo exactly?
Located just 86 miles (140 kilometers) west of Mexico City alongside the gorgeous man-made lake known as Lago Avandaro (Avandaro Lake), this charming, mountain town is one of the country’s most captivating colonial sites – whose local charm draws in visitors from around the globe. Surrounded by densely wooded, misty hills, a crystal-clear lake, tall pines, fresh air, and European-style homes, it’s no wonder why locals from around the region flock to its streets to escape the hustle and bustle of everyday life. With lush nature as its backdrop, this Pueblo Magico (Magic Town) is the ideal destination for those looking to experience Mexico’s innate beauty.
You may be wondering what to do in Valle de Bravo? While many come to experience the famous Monarch butterfly tours at Piedra Herrada or to partake in its diverse outdoor sport activities – which range from paragliding and hang gliding to horseback riding, hiking, water skiing, and kayaking – the town’s inviting spirit doesn’t always revolve around the outdoors. In fact, the town of Valle de Bravo is home to a unique, tasty, and colorful local cuisine. Let’s be real – the best part about relaxing is often what accompanies it – food!
Perfect for the foodie at heart, restaurants and eateries in the Valle de Bravo river basin offer visitors an array of delicious specialties made from fresh local ingredients. One particular local speciality is that of the traditional fowl mole – that’s right – pig’s head and steamed beef stew. While it may sound odd to those unfamiliar with ingredients used in the dish, the flavor is sure to have your tastebuds dancing.
Other savory plates popular among locals and visitors alike are Valle de Bravo’s mouth-watering barbacoa (pit baked lamb), fried pork, and a number of different trout dishes, tamales, sweet bread, and dough fritters called bunuelos. Regardless of what suits your unique pallet, Valle de Bravo cuisine is sure to leave you feeling content – and full!
It obviously wouldn’t feel right to divulge into delicious cuisine without the proper beverage in hand. The good news – Valle de Bravo stunts a rather impressive drink menu, almost as diverse as the food itself. Some of the most popular drinks in the area include ”Sambumbia”, a beverage made of pineapple, water and sugar; “Zende”, a fermented drink made of sweet corn; a number of fruit liqueurs, such as the ones made of quince, blackberry, guava and anise; and of course, the famous and extremely potent ”Pulque”, made of fermented maguey juice. If you’re looking for something a bit more refreshing and or to quench your thirst, you are sure to find large ceramic pots and glass barrels filled to the brim with tasty, natural fruit waters. Safe to say, your options are limitless.
With such a diverse and elevated local gastronomy, deciding where to go can be a challenge. Do you want a taste of international cuisine or local Mexican dishes like the rainbow trout, lamb consomme, or one of a variety of tamales with flavors as exotic as as charal (fish), capulín (grasshopper), and ash (yes, ash)? Lucky for you, you can try them all!
Head over to La Michoaca, a large restaurant with colorful indoor spaces and a great terrace with excellent wide-angled views of the town and lake. Enjoy savory Mexican favorites including the local chicken mole and salmón en salsa de almendra (almond-sauce salmon), accompanied with a variety of drinks and side dishes. This is a great place to introduce your pallet to the local flavors of Valle de Bravo.
For those who love good seafood, Restaurante Paraíso has a phenomenal lake view and a sprawling menu of seafood specialties, including the local favorite of creatively prepared trout. IF you can get there early enough for dinner, enjoy the mesmerizing sunset from atop the rooftop patio. Food plus amazing views is a guaranteed unforgettable experience.
El Lobo offers guests another friendly outdoor terrace and diverse menu. A popular local hangout, the shrimp empanadas are unlike any others and you can even choose from three sizes and 10 degrees of hot sauce – whoa baby! Favorites include shrimp, octopus, oyster, crab, and sea snail. Of course, it all goes best with a cold beer in hand.
Last but not least, Soleado is a great place for international cuisine, and is even known as the “cocina del mundo”, or the “world’s kitchen”. Offering guests delicious dishes and desserts from a variety of different regions around the world – mostly of Indian and Italian influence – this low-lit restaurant has lofty views and is a great place for groups and offers something every pallet is sure to enjoy.
You can’t forget to visit the Valle de Bravo market and main square, where guests can enjoy other highlights of typical Valle de Bravo cuisine, including esquites (street corn), tacos, pambazos (grilled sandwiches), fried bread, pork carnitas, and more.
Simply put, Valle de Bravo has everything that a traveler looks for – stunning views, thrilling outdoor activities, a calm and picturesque city center, refreshing drinks, vibrant Mexican culture, and last but definitely not least – unforgettable local cuisine. Don’t wait any longer and plan your next visit south to this remarkable hidden gem. One this is for sure – the secret won’t be secret for much longer – so why not beat the crowd?