JONAE LLANOS — Staff Writer
Puerta Vallarta brings Mexican flavor to Orange adding its newest location at 377 Boston Post Road. It’s mission: “To become America’s favorite Mexican restaurant.”
Esaul Rodriguez, CEO, and Juan Rodriguez, president, founded their first restaurant together in 1991 in West Hartford.
After tremendous success, the brothers decided to expand throughout Connecticut. In addition to West Hartford and Orange, other locations include Middletown, Newington, Southington and Avon.
The restaurant is owned by the two men only; it is not a publicly traded company.
Puerta Vallarta serves authentic Guadaljara food; a regional cooking style originated from Northwest Mexico.
Fresh chips and salsa are made from scratch each day to accompany every meal. All signature dishes include hand-made tortillas, just like in Mexico.
With something for everyone, vegetarian dishes are also available.
For regulars like Edgar Leon, 25, West Haven, Puerta Vallarta is the best place to come after a long day at work, he said.
“The workers here are so nice,” he said. “They make you feel at home while you’re here. The food is delicious. The meals are all traditional Mexican; they remind me of my grandmother’s cooking. I come here all the time. I love it.”
Puerta Vallarta is decorated with bright, vibrant colors.
A full bar, a variety of tables, and a private room for events are all offered.
Dishes are prepared fresh with special herbs and spices.
The chefs are experienced in the most creative dishes from different regions of Mexico. Mojitos and margaritas are a Puerta Vallarta specialty.
Jose Ramirez, 29, bartender, has been working at the restaurant since its opening and would not want to work at any other place, he said.
“All of the people that come here are great, they make me want to come to work everyday,” he said. “I speak fluent Spanish and English so I’m able to have conversation with all of the customers. You start to see the same faces. We really do have loyal customers. We’re all like one big family.”
Happy Hour is served daily operating from 3 to 6 p.m., then again at 10 p.m. until 2 a.m. With $3 margaritas and a range of small dishes to satisfy all taste buds, Puerta Vallarta sets the scene for people of all ages.
Guadalupe Arevalo, 21, senior Criminal Justice major at University of New Haven, originally from Texas, often visits Puerta Vallarta for its authentic food and atmosphere, she said.
“I’m Mexican so I’m one of the biggest critics when it comes to the food,” she said. “It is hard to find a good Mexican restaurant in Connecticut. This is the best. The workers are so friendly and they always prepare creative drinks and special dishes. I bring all my friends here. It makes me feel like I’m back at home.”