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Casa Kimberly and The Iguana

Last night was our last night in Puerto Vallarta. One of the things I did when we booked this trip originally was to make a dinner reservation at The Iguana Restaurant up at Casa Kimberly. We’d heard good things about the restaurant, and the history of Casa Kimberly is kinda cool, and…the place looked amazing (and fancy!) in photos so we thought it would be a nice last night in PV (and an excuse to celebrate our anniversary…again!)

We arrived up at Casa Kimberly after a difficult (for the driver) Uber ride from the Zona Romantica. The streets in these hills are narrow and steep!

Casa Kimberly originally was a casita belonging to Elizabeth Taylor. In the 1960s, Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton came to Puerto Vallarta to film Night of the Iguana. They had met a few years prior on the set of Cleopatra, and apparently were “in the whirl of a scandalous romance.” Richard Burton bought Casa Kimberly for Elizabeth Taylor for her 32nd birthday, and the place across the street from his own casita, and had a bridge built over the street that connected their two homes. Not much of the original structures still stand, aside from the bridge and a few other things. (Ms. Taylor’s heart-shaped jacuzzi is in what is now the “Elizabeth Taylor Suite“, and Mr. Burton’s azure pool is still on the grounds as well.)

Upon arrival, we noticed the glass door at the street level is locked (to keep the riff raff out, I assume) and we were to ring a big bell hanging over the door to announce our arrival. (The rope hangs just far enough down so you can grab it and ring…well, it’s more of a “clank”…the bell.)

We were met for our reservation and led upstairs to The Iguana, where we were given a lovely table overlooking the city, right atop the bridge that previously joined Taylor and Burton’s residences.

Because it was our anniversary, they started us out with a cold glass of prosecco while we took in the beautiful view.

We decided that the mariachis here at Casa Kimberly were the best we’ve ever heard, and between Kevin and I (growing up in Texas and Los Angeles, respectfully) we’ve heard a LOT of mariachi music. These guys were really, REALLY good. They’re called Mariachi La Joya de Mexico, and they’re apparently one of Mexico’s most famous Mariachi troupes. I get it. They’re super good.

The cocktail menu has two different tequila martinis, which sounded intriguing. We ordered the reposado martinis, but our waiter, Miguel, said he much preferred the one made with blanco tequila. We decided to trust him (which would prove a very wise choice for the rest of the evening). The cocktail is made with blanco tequila, lime juice, orange juice, Cointreau, and something else I missed, with a cucumber and a berry on a stick with Tajín rim. (Tajín is a blend of lime, chilies, and sea salt, and I have two bottles in my bag now as we head home. This is apparently a very common condiment/seasoning here, and it turns out you can get it on amazon, but I found it for less than half the price in the PV airport.) 🙂

This tequila martini was delicious and I’ll be attempting to replicate it at home.
We had a perfect view of the sunset from our table.

We ordered a couple starters: ceviche (scallops, octopus, and shrimp marinated in a roasted habanero vinaigrette), and squash blossoms (filled with requesón cheese and poblano chile, served over breaded panela cheese with a black bean and poblano chile sauce). Both appetizers were fantastic. Miguel said we really shouldn’t miss one of his favorites though, a cup of the black bean soup (I can’t find the description of this) but wow, we definitely would have overlooked it — because soup, hot day, Mexico — and it turned out to possibly be our favorite thing of the night!

Of course after the martini and the soup, we let Miguel steer us toward our entrees: grilled salmon served over huitlacoche, squash blossoms, roasted sweet corn and a jalapeño cream, and a sea bass dish with a tamarind sauce that was incredible! The sea bass dish was really different…the richness of this fish combined with the tangy tamarind sauce was such a cool balance of flavors. Of course after this we couldn’t ignore Miguel’s recommendation for dessert. A guava tarte type of thing that I never would have ordered over flan or something else with chocolate… We probably wouldn’t have gotten dessert in the first place, since we were a bit on the full side by this point, though the portions were perfect and not too big…but OMG this guava thing!! Super wow. I told Miguel he should have the “Miguel’s Choice Server’s Menu” 🙂

After dinner we walked around the grounds a little and took in the beautiful architecture and environment, and then walked back to our hotel (much easier going back than it was getting here).

Wall art on our walk home along the river:

You could do a whole tour on the street/wall art in Puerto Vallarta. There’s some great stuff!

It was a lovely evening!

This morning we returned to Azul Bistro for breakfast, and Cesar made us two totally different dishes from what we had yesterday: 1) tostadas with mole, feta, and an over easy egg (amazing! the mole!) and 2) an omelette with bacon, gouda, feta, and another cheese I forgot, topped with some delicious red orange salsa. Cesar and his wife are ALL ABOUT the sauces/salsas, and they do a great job experimenting to find interesting combinations of flavors. If you are in Puerto Vallarta and need a non-touristy breakfast spot that will become your new favorite, check out the Azul Bistro!

We are at the airport now waiting for our flight back to Portland, doing some work and people-watching. We used Uber this time to get here (Uber has been here in PV for about 6 months) and it was SUCH a nice change from the crazy taxi ride we had on our first day in town. Our Uber driver was chill and awesome, from Guadalajara, and says he’s working to learn English in ONE MONTH! He’s killin’ it, too!

I thought we’d be disappointed spending two days in Puerto Vallarta after 9 days in Yelapa, but we weren’t at all. It’s definitely different, and more crowded and more touristy, but if you seek out something other than the beach and the tourist shops (unless that’s all you’re into, then cool), you’ll find a lot more here than what you might have expected.