I personally love the Sun, make time to see it every chance I get…but at least in this town, I’m not alone. If the topic is “reasons I moved my immigrant assets to the Mexican coast,” I’d bet every peso in my pocket that most people polled would name “the beach” as a top 5 factor. The Puerto Vallarta area is home to an inviting array of seaside scenery, including 5 de Deciembre’s Playa Camarones and the popular El Solar Beach Bar.
The Vibes: El Solar is located a block west of Calle Mexico as visitors enter the heart of the city from points north. It is also associated with next-door neighbor El Barracuda, enabling it to deliver a satisfying selection of appetizers and main courses directly to your table.
Still, of all the indulgences on and off the menu at El Solar, a lounge chair on the beach sits among the bar’s richest.
Although there is plenty of seating in the interior area, with barstools and high top tables inviting the less ambitious to pull up for a drink, the standing goal for this writer is to lay claim to one of these coveted front row seats to the picturesque Pacific. Smiling couples and groups of friends who arrived earlier soak up the Sun and enjoy life to the fullest.
I hate them all.
The Vices: Perched on the deck with a vigilant eye, I wait out a few parked patrons as the late afternoon hours drift into the past. The waves crash continuously and families frolic in the distance, all while the pineapple mezcalitas keep delivering their potent, piquant punch. An order of shrimp and garlic butter with fresh-baked bread is followed up with crunchy fish tacos.
For a day that isn’t completely going my way, there are certainly worse concievable outcomes.
A beer or two later, Sol majestically rolls away on the ocean. Twilight descends, the early dinner shift begins to filter out, and my patience pays off…a couple begins to gather their belongings in a sociologically sound display of departure…it’s lobbying time!
Springing from my seat, I assault bar staff with shattered shards of Spanish that do a good enough job at indicating my interest in the vacancy…a couple of relocated coasters, and I finally find my place in the world.
The featured entertainment varies from evening to evening…some nights the bar features live music, others let the calm, refreshing breeze of the Banderas Bay take center stage. Tonight, there’s a live DJ sifting the sands with an energetic blend of beats. Deep bass gives the scene a heartbeat as fire dancers make the rounds to captivate beachgoers with their scintillating talents. Midnight comes and goes without me finding the bottom of my beer.
Familiar faces float in and out of the bar as I occasionally take time to admire the nearly full moon shimmering over the water, its dull surface reflecting the brilliance of our home star for an audience spanning half a hemisphere.
Once the kitchen’s closed, a quick trip around the corner to standout taco stand El Carboncito is almost a ritual to refuel for when the night’s ambitions seek out the light of a new day. It’s another stellar evening at El Solar.
The Verdict: Our Sun is a wondrous thing, a massive nuclear fireball suspended in time and space at precisely the right distance to gently embrace our unlikely planet.
The benevolent sustenance of heat and the faithful protection of light are two of the biggest factors in the viability of life on Earth: one could easily see why ancient peoples paid such fervent tribute to our dim yellow star. El Solar Beach Bar invites sun-worshippers of today to take communion in all the enduring wonders of the cosmos…maybe I’ll catch you there.