El Pitillal: The Authentic Mexican Town inside Puerto Vallarta
by Ron Morgan Properties
Pop star Miley Cyrus once said “I come from this really small town…where everything was la-di-da and normal”
La-di-da and normal.
Maybe that’s why many residents and visitors to Puerto Vallarta love the small town of El Pitillal – it’s their perception of what Mexico normal is. And if you spend enough time there, you may even find something la-di-da.
Located inside Puerto Vallarta’s jurisdiction – five minutes east of Marina Vallarta and Galerias Vallarta Shopping Mall – it’s not merely another colonia such as Versalles or Centro – it’s a separate municipality with approximately 80,000 residents and its unique identity and vibe is forged from its past.
Once a separate working-class enclave or “suburb”, it’s now completely engulfed by Puerto Vallarta, yet it maintains its small-town, narrow-streeted – not to mention idyllic – charm.
River and Straw, Agriculture and Cattle
According to town historian Martin Maza Sendiz (from a terrific article with photos by writer Peter K), the name El Pitillal was inspired by “a common plant that grew on the edges of the river, called “pitillos” (straws), so both the river and the town were given that name, El Pitillal, a place that has held to its traditions and local ideals” – and residents would flock from all over to collect small oil coconut, agriculture and cattle.
And some of Pitillal’s established shopkeepers even gained recognition statewide for their art and craft including saddle maker Don Salvo Meza Sugura, whose original shop La Regional Talabarteria, leather goods manufacturer, is still there.
Pitillal Shopping : Quinceanera dresses for 15-year olds, Rabbits, Fashion, Slingshots and Glorious Food
While only minutes away from the glitziest mall in Vallarta, Pitillal affords tourists and locals an authentic retail experience.
And it’s what you won’t see that makes it stand out – no Juan’s Deer T-shirts, Frida trinkets or Malecon souvenirs. It’s a working-class neighbourhood with people rushing to get the the things they need at a Mexican price.
Ask your average Puerto or Nuevo Vallartan for his or her thoughts on Pitillal and they may tell you “it ain’t the Malecon, Vidanta, The Marina or Basilio Badillo.”
Some may even crack a joke about it.
But this writer found residents from the least likely places – the gated community of Las Moras and Marina for instance – looking for affordable, hard-to-find things like inexpensive Quinceanera dresses, mixed nuts and spices, roosters and rabbits, and inexpensive, fashion-forward clothes.
And then there’s the food – cheap, delicious, authentic Mexican food.
Interest in El Pitillal was so strong, Vallarta Food Tours began conducting tours and the response has been great, taking groups to 8 different eateries, sampling everything including tacos, tamales, carnitas and sweet, street delicacies.
How to Get There
The quickest and shortest route from downtown by car or cab is to turn right (east) at the Walmart – Prisciliano Sánchez Street takes you straight there.
Downtown buses marked Pitillal also turn at Wal-Mart and deliver you to the doorstep of the main square, and home to the lovely San Miguel Arcángel Parish church, another reason to visit. If you’re lucky, you’ll find an event taking place in the main square such as a book market or local celebrations.
There’s another quote about small towns: “you spend half your life getting out of a small town, and the rest getting back.
El Pitillal is one town worth getting back to.