Uber will take you to Las Carmelitas. The driver may visibly hesitate before you engage some of the steep hills that rise over the 1.5 kms of private property once you turn off Par Vial (from Calle Av. Libramiento before the tunnel). You may feel compelled to over-tip him, as I did.
He’ll drop you off beside an empty patio that, in the past, was the location of the restaurant. Today you must walk up the white painted ramp, you can’t miss it. The ramp zig-zags as a confident snake before you reach the dining room. And the view.
The single highest publicly accessible point in the city, Las Carmelitas will take your breath away. With just a turn of your head you can look down upon La Zona Romantica and then watch a cruise ship exit the new port across from Galerias Vallarta and sail out to sea.
Stick around long enough and you’ll note the difference between the speeds of sight and sound when the Pirates of the Bay fireworks explode in a spectacle so small they could fit in the palm of your hand and then, seconds later, pop again for just your ears.
The margarita is a popular drink of choice. It arrives in a glass resembling an oversized marble, cloudy with a swirling stream of color running through it, the size and weight of it closer to that of a five-pin bowling ball.
Many items on the menu will appear a little overpriced, given the mostly unfinished décor of the structure especially, and you will find your entrée underwhelming. The service is notably slow, but don’t forget: you’re there for the view. And most nights the dining room feels like it is all yours.
I visited Las Carmelitas twice and each time there were no more than four other parties present, each of us spaced far enough for our conversation and overall dining experience to feel entirely intimate, each of us taking turns to photograph the forest-lined hills that climb beyond the building as well as the views of the bay, pinpointing individual locations around town from a fresh, new elevated perspective.
Be forewarned: Uber will not pick you up from Las Carmelitas. But the staff is prepared. Your waiter will know which taxi to call and in no time you’ll be on your way back down the winding hill, into the lights and traffic, back to the bustle of the city, and home.