Eat List: Los Cabos, Mexico : New Worlder

Once recognized as one of Mexico’s more raucous vacation destinations, popular with spring breakers and bachelor parties, Los Cabos has blossomed into a capital of luxurious West Coast cool. Made up of buzzing Cabo San Lucas, artsy San José del Cabo and the hotel corridor connecting the two sides, the past decade has seen the influx of luxury hotels, the growth of organic farm restaurants, the investment of big name chefs, and a budding cultural scene that embraces art, music, and design. The devastation left by Hurricane Odile in 2014 set the region back, but just a few years later, Los Cabos has returned to top form and, lucky for us, the culinary scene has become an exciting part of the region’s attraction. From farm-to-table restaurants showcasing the bounty of Baja ingredients to roadside taco stands slinging killer fish tacos to meticulously designed hotel spots with creative modern menus, there’s never been a better time to visit Los Cabos with a culinary itinerary in hand. Here, the definitive list of the best eats in Baja’s favorite Mexican playground.

Acre Baja

Boasting a heavy reliance on local materials like palo de arco trees and earthen tableware, the meticulously designed Acre capitalizes on the Los Cabos’ organic farm/restaurant trend beautifully. The airy space features both private and communal table seating, a massive open kitchen and, at night, a cocktail bar and lounge perfect for sunset drinks and small bites. The chefs, Kevin Luzande and Oscar Torres, have honed their skills at kitchens around the globe and such dexterity is represented in their dishes, while bar manager Danielle Tatarin is inventing creative cocktails and overseeing an onsite distillery. Acre aims to transform its 25 acres of land into a full eco-resort, complete with treehouse accommodations, so stay tuned. Pro Tip: Don’t miss the watermelon cevicheacrebaja.com

Asi y Asado

Just off the Corridor connecting San Lucas with San José, next to the Go-Kart track, is this no-frills spot (with awesome plastic table cloths) serving Los Cabos’ best tacos. With 14 types scrawled on the overhead menu including arrachera (marinated skirt steak), carne asada (ribeye), grilled octopus, smoked tuna and chorizo, the standout is the vampiro taco, served in a hard corn shell and filled with cheese and your desired protein. Aguas frescas, fresh juices, such as hibiscus, watermelon, and lime with chia round out the menu. asiyasado.com

Lugareño Cocina

On the San José side, inside the Villa Valentina home store complex, this newcomer is delighting both local and visiting diners with its family-run hospitality and consistently delicious Mexican food. Open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, you can begin your day with their chilaquiles, fuel up at lunch with rabbit gorditas or fish tacos, and finish the evening with silky regional moles paired with cocktails featuring Mexican spirits such as mezcal, tequila, and a good selection of Baja wines. Facebook Page.

Manta

Enrique Olvera, who occupies the #25 spot on the World’s 50 Best Restaurant List with his Mexico City restaurant, Pujol, is the Mexican chef behind Manta, the much-buzzed about restaurant nestled in Los Cabos’ swank Thompson Hotel property, The Cape. The space gives guests the choice of indoor or outdoor seating and a seafood-focused menu executed by trusted Olvera Chef de Cuisine Alex Branch. The chocolata clams, a Baja specialty, as well as the octopus are must-try dishes, while the daily sashimi and ceviche specials are always fresh, creative and on point. Finish with the catch of the day, then retire to The Cape’s sexy rooftop for a mezcal nightcap. mantarestaurant.com

Flora Farms

Though San José now boasts a wealth of organic spots that rely on farm-grown ingredients, Flora Farms is the original farm-to-table restaurant. It’s grown exponentially (the owners once lived in an on-property yurt!), but the core mission remains the same: grow organic, eat organic, and have fun while doing it. The restaurant both grows and produces everything from bread to vegetables to pork to chicken on-site, and features a daily grocery market, cooking classes, retail shops, and even chic culinary cottages residences with a beach club and new lodging in the works. Open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, our favorites are the garden frittatas, pastries and breads, the hefty pork chop, and the carrot margarita. flora-farms.com.

Rossy’s

A great stop to or from the airport, just outside of San José del Cabo, Rossy’s has been a favorite of locals (and tourists) since 1991. Dishing up a huge menu of both tacos and classic Mexican plates, it’s the fish tacos that stand out here. Choose from incredibly fresh breaded and fried shrimp, marlin or sea bass, grilled octopus or scallops, and load up on condiments at the nearby bar of salsas. Don’t let the unfussy atmosphere make you reconsider this joint; it’s the real deal. Facebook Page.

Nick-San

Nick-San has been a Los Cabos mainstay for over a decade and that’s primarily because Chef Ángel Carbajal continues to push the sushi envelope at the restaurant’s two locations (one just outside of San Lucas’ marina, and the other in the Palmilla Shoppes). The extensive menu features a laundry list of busy a la carte rolls and sashimi plates, but if you’re an adventurous eater with a hankering for fresh Pacific seafood, give the chef’s tasting a try. Prefer to choose your dinner wisely? We suggest the tuna tostada, the clear lobster roll, the black and white tuna, and sashimi with cilantro sauce.  nicksan.com/en.

Jean Georges’ Suviche and Seared at Palmilla

Jean-Georges Vongerichten has anchored the One and Only Palmilla with his restaurants since the hotel’s opening, and the two latest concepts — Suviche and Seared — are something of a culinary yin and yang. Suviche, which is set in a bright, airy room that overlooks the ocean, focuses on fresh sushi and a collection of Mexican-inspired ceviches under the able hand of Japanese chef Yoshiaki Akaike. A Sake Sommelier guides diners to the best natural sake pairings. From Waygu to Kobe, 15 different cuts of beef are featured at Seared, the natural complement to Suviche, just next door. If you’re partial to seafood, Seared also highlights local specials such as spiny lobsters and grilled whole fish.

El Farallon

There are few better views than those from the Capella Pedregal’s aesthetically gorgeous dining bluffs, where the daily catch hauled in by local fisherman is the main attraction (after you get past the breathtaking location). The rolling tumble of the ocean set against the glittering sky is the most romantic reservation in Los Cabos and it’s wise to book early as El Farallon is always at capacity. Set up like a fish market, diners choose their protein from a showcased selection upon entry, then given a choice of both preparations and accompaniments before settling into one of the more relaxing oceanfront food experiences in the region. Local oysters are a good way to start, but all the fish here is top quality, so go with what looks most exciting. theresortatpedregal.com        

Edith’s

For a home-cooked, authentically Mexican meal, Edith’s is the place. A mix of local Baja style and touches from the state of Guerrero, Edith Jimenez has been a leader of the Los Cabos’ food scene since her arrival in Los Cabos in 1977. Set on Medano Beach, under atmospheric palapas, with a clear view of El Arco the restaurant is a relaxed spot where everyone is friendly and eager to please. From Mexican classics like the beloved Baja Caesar salad and saucy enchiladas to simply grilled local fish and hefty steaks, this popular spot stands the test of time. Pro Tip: Finish with a strong Mexican coffee. edithscabo.com.

Casiano’s

Oft overlooked in the region’s food scene, Casiano’s is a must-visit for the culinary adventurous. Self-described as cocina espontánea, or spontaneous cooking, chef Casiano Reyes’ menu changes daily based on availability of local ingredient. The seven-course menu (five savory courses plus amuse bouche and dessert) is created at the whim of the chef after inquiring about allergies and likes/dislikes. What comes next is anyone’s guess, but recent dishes ranged from short rib empanadas to Mediterranean-style sea bass to tamales, and has a solid wine list — with many Mexican options — to pair alongside. The experience tends to be one of the more pricey dining experiences in the region, but absolutely worthwhile. Offshoots of Reyes’ concept have recently opened in Riviera Nayarit and Puerto Vallarta. casianos.com

The Office

The Office isn’t about the food, but it would be a shame to visit Los Cabos without seeing a killer sunset settle over El Arco, Los Cabos’ most famous rock formation, with a margarita in hand and The Office on the Beach is the place to do it. This festive, over-the-top spot is all about kitsch — tiki torches, roving mariachis, flaming entrees — and features a laundry list of Mexican dishes that will ring familiar to most, though we would stick with tacos, quesadillas, and light bites here while you sip a globe-sized margarita and fix your eyes on the view. Pro Tip: Breakfast here is underrated. theoffice.adog.mx       

Huerta Los Tamarindos

Set in a recently renovated farmhouse built in the late 1800’s, Huerta Los Tamarindos, which once functioned as a sugar cane plantation, is yet another example of the organic working farm/restaurant. Set off the beaten path and run by chef Enrique Silva, who oversees the property’s 17-acres, all of the featured menu items are grown on property. The menu is a globally influenced affair with Mexican stalwarts such as chile relleno and moles served in tandem with steak and pizzas. If you’re interested in learning more about Chef Silva’s style, book into one of his cooking classes, which are offered daily. huertalostarminados.com

La Revolución: Comedor de Baja California

Just opened in January of 2017, La Revolución comes from one of the pioneers of Baja California cooking: Benito Molina. Molina, who owns northern Baja’s beloved Manzanilla, has been at the forefront of the Baja culinary movement and, as an avid fisherman, often focuses on the region’s seafood to sublime effect. True to form, at La Revolución, the delicacies of the Pacific prevail. Plates like octopus ceviche, fish tacos and tiradito, clam tostadas, infused shrimp broths, and hearty rice dishes piled with seafood dot the menu. The space, a mix of exposed stone and brick offset by rich woods, is one of those places where you might find yourself lingering happily while imbibing Mexican craft beers, wines and spirits at the bar. Facebook Page.

La Panadería San José

A bakery makes the list?  Well, not just any bakery, but La Panadería San José, which excels in the art of baking. The best place for a quality Mexican breakfast full of chilaquiles, molletes, and aguas frescas, La Panadería makes wonderful pastries and savory breads including conchas, the shell-shaped Mexican confection, flan and, of course, killer croissants and baguettes. Instagram Page.

Coffee Lab

Set, hipster-style, in a storefront garage, Coffee Lab is the spot to meet the surfing dawn with some serious coffee and espresso drinks.  Though there are a few stools at the communal table, don’t plan to linger at this take-away spot that also serves breakfast sandwiches, pastries, scones, and later in the day, salads, paninis and smoothies. Beach picnic? We think so. http://www.coffeelab.mx

Don Sanchez

Owned by expat-chef Tadd Chapman, this multi-room, multi-story spot on the main drag in San José del Cabo gets consistently good marks for its interpretation of modern Mexican. With an extensive wine list featuring a dizzying array of Mexican wines, service is at a premium. Dishes tend to get a bit overloaded with too many ingredients, but if you stick with more simple plates like duck tacos, short ribs, as well as the daily catch paired with a wine suggestion from the staff, you’ll leave a happy diner. Vegetarian and gluten-free options abound. donsanchezrestaurant.com