A Visit to El Tuito

By Shirley Fastner

El Tuito is one of the easiest of the little mountain towns to reach in the vicinity of Vallarta and is a ‘Pueblo Magico.’

It is a single bus all the way from the Zona Romantica, and in only a little over an hour, one is transported to a local colonial town in the mountains. The Vallarta bus stop is at Basilio Badillo and Aguacate, to be exact, although perhaps due to construction, the stop has changed blocks a few times. It goes every half hour.

The ride, with its stunning mountain views, is a big part of the attraction. It’s the same bus that goes to the Vallarta Botanical Garden. I was told the El Tuito stop is wherever the bus driver feels like going. Sometimes, it stops at the main square, and at other times, it stops about five blocks away. However, it is an easy walk to the plaza.

If you are driving, about 15 minutes before you arrive in El Tuito, there is a popular bakery in El Columpio, which has amazing freshly baked bread rolls straight out of the stone oven, along with other enticing delicacies. You should get your treats on the way because they run out, and you must eat the bread while it is still warm!

El Tuito is a 16th-century mining town nestled in the Sierra Madres. The population sign reads 3,211. I love going on Sunday when there is an excellent little market in the Zocalo from about 9 am until 2 pm.

Be sure to visit Monjeverde (in English, the ‘Green Monk’) at his table, as he is also a healer and holds a wealth of information regarding whatever might ail you. He is a Mexican Canadian and is fascinating, not to mention highly personable.

The beautiful St. Peter the Apostle church is atypically a block from the square, but worth a visit. It is locked up by 2 pm, so go there first and mass might be on with a dog splayed out in the aisle.

I am not here to promote anybody, as this is not a PR piece. However, the highly recommended El Patio de Mario has become a favorite. This may be because I am a mole poblano addict, the delicious sauce from Puebla, not found everywhere. The tricky part is that I don’t eat meat and this incredible sauce is normally served on chicken. As I do eat fish, the excellent chef acquiesced and put the mole on dorado, even though this is against the law! Please don’t tell the chef I told you.

This former hacienda states that it has been there since 1788. Be sure to stop by the ‘Panela Lady,’ Nilsa, if you need some of that lovely local cheese or raicilla, both of which are from here. She has a little opening in the square right down from Mario’s.

There are many restaurants with the local families out on Sunday, frequenting them all. There are some amazing coffee shops as well.

People actually say hello here. During my last visit, we explored a walk out of town to a lovely, large, festive cemetery. There is also the exquisite Galeria Coppelia, which is about a five-minute walk from the main square down the same road. Apparently, it used to be Manuel Lepe’s studio, the renowned Vallartense artist, and well worth a visit.

The owner, Maria Santander, exhibits all local artists and is very welcoming and informative. She has created a little museum as well.

El Tuito is a great place to spend a Sunday, and I am seeing more and more non-Mexicans exploring this Cabo Corrientes town. I love all the little beach towns, but upon my return to Vallarta after the lockdown, I started hitting the mountain towns and have been going back ever since.



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