I had a couple great meals on the Riviera Nayarit, and a whole lot of really good ones. These are all in Bucerias unless otherwise mentioned.
- Armando's Place, Francisco I. Madero #34, Zona Dorada
This place is open from lunch to about midnight, and has a menu ranging from delicious 25 peso tacos de camaron or arrachera, to real meals like steak, etc. One of the best meals I had on this trip was his grilled octopus (180 pesos, or $12) -- a huge serving, literally the most octopus and one of the top three octopi I've ever had. He doesn't have an alcohol license, so bring your own bottle.
- Sonora al Sur, Blvd. Nuevo Vallarta 64, Col. Mezcalitos, Bahía de Banderas, Nayarit -- http://www.sonoraalsur.com.mx/
A steakhouse with reasonable prices and alcohol. It was almost as good as El Quincho in Tepic, and quite a bit cheaper, and a huge amount better (and cheaper) than the Argentine steakhouse we went to in Neuva Vallarta. You buy your meat in the onsite butcher shop by the kg -- arrachera, sirloin, ribeye, prime rib, vacío, etc, as well as hamburgesa, chorizo asador, and chorizo argentino, tell the cashier how you'd like it cooked, and order the huge, good for 2-4 people, sides of salads, potatoes, veggies and mac-n-cheese, etc. Waiters bring it out when it's ready. An added bonus -- the restaurant is chilled like a meat locker. I bought a meal for myself and a friend there and in came in just over $20 for more food than... well, it was a lot of food.
- Mariscos Villareal, Dr. Abraham González 10
Open from noon to 6pm everyday but Wednesday (or is it Tuesday?). Great ceviche and fresh seafood in the form of salads and tostadas. Reasonable prices (a giant octopus salad made up of octopus, lime, maggi sauce, and avocado ran about 100 pesos, or $6.50), no alcohol, they have some tables outside but I always get it to go.
- Vera Bakery Cafe, Calle Lázaro Cárdenas 101, Zona Dorada
excellent coffee, great breakfast egg sandwiches. The beans here are fabulous.
- La Cocina de Jorge, Abasolo 5, Zona Dorada
My favorite breakfast place. No frills, but delicious and inexpensive. The chilaquiles here are so good!
- Tacos de Güera, Francisco I. Madero, NW of Morelos, Zona Dorada
Open 8-midnight every night. Cheap and filling, bring your own bottle. Highlights are her papas, mashed potatoes with cheese and taco toppings, and her quesadillas. Veronica and her family are the sweetest. Taco meat selection tends to be limited.
- Tacos Itzel, also locally referred to as Tacos Under the Trees - Cleofus Salazar just south of Estaciones
While this is not in Gringo Gulch, it's worth seeking out. Itzel and family make 6-8 delicious things to go inside tortillas (a decent cochinita pibil being just one; they always have birria as well), and the portions are crazy huge. If you usually eat two tacos, try just one here.
- le Bistrot, Galena 11, Zona Dorada
While it is closed in the summer, this is an excellent french restaurant, owned and run by actual French people. Generally, a limited menu with just a couple entrees but there is always french onion soup, and bifsteak au poive. Prices are reasonable (starting around 150 pesos), bring your own bottle.
- Sandrina's, Lazaro Cardenas 33, Zona Dorada
Greek. Liquor. They make a mean margarita and what I've had foodwise is quite good, but at almost US prices. During high season, Sandrina is on site, and her desserts are well-regarded. Outside of high season, she does a bunch of baking before taking a summer vacation, and the desserts wait in the freezer for you. I'm told that's a bad thing. They have a gorgeous gardened patio.
- El Rinconcito de Ensenada aka Fish Tacos, Benito Juarez 80
This is my favorite place to get fish tacos in Bucerias. Prices are inexpensive (they start around a dollar) for delicious, simple tacos, quesadillas and tostadas of marlin, shrimp, and octopus (I'm sure there are others as well). It's unpretentious, family run, and perfect for your lunch or mid-afternoon cravings.