5 Bites of Cabo San Lucas and San Jose del Cabo
Cabo San Lucas and San José del Cabo are both home to the international food festival Sabor a Cabo, a festival that showcases regional cuisine and wine from the Baja region of Mexico. While in town for the event, I explored the region tasting dishes from local chefs, international guest chefs, and local street food offerings (namely, tacos).
The region is known for its dedication to local ingredients with a heavy emphasis on using organic products and supporting local organic farms, such as Flora Farms and Los Tamarindos, whenever possible. Los Tamarindos is located just a mile from the Sea of Cortez and San Jose’s estuary, a property dating back to the nineteenth century. The farm once exported many of their vegetables and herbs to California, but now solely supplies local restaurants and hotels in Cabo.
There are many upscale fine dining restaurants in the region, but another reason to visit Cabo is to find some of the best tacos in the world. At El Gran Pastor in Los Cabos, my friends and I feasted on tacos made of chorizo and pork and la lengua (tongue), among others. We watched as handmade corn tortillas were warmed on the grill and as our meat was scooped on to every plate. The tacos were the freshest and tastiest that I’ve ever had and more than worth the entire $2 per plate that we paid for them.
Cabo’s exploding food scene is certainly worth trying, from fine dining to street food, there’s something for every palate to enjoy.
Ratatouille Tamales and Fish Veracruz at Los Tamarindos: One of the highlights of my culinary tour of Los Cabos came when I visited Los Tamarindos, a beautiful organic farm and restaurant that offers cooking classes for groups in its rustic, outdoor kitchen with an authentic stone oven. Our group spent time with owner Enrique Silva who taught us how to make some of the local dishes of the region, including tamales. After we stuffed our tamales and let them steam, we worked on fish Veracruz using the local catch of the day and a variety of fresh herbs, vegetables and olives. By the time we sat down to eat, the smell in the air was intoxicating. Once I put fork to mouth, I realized how special this meal, our own creation, really was.
Roast Chicken and Potatoes at Bar Esquina: Bar Esquina in Cabos San Lucas is an open-air restaurant with comfortable seating, a long and inviting bar, and an extremely popular chef’s table. The restaurant prides itself on serving both Mediterranean and Mexican cuisine. Most of the dishes promote vibrant Mediterranean flavors, while the wine list showcases the best of Mexican wines. The restaurant mainly utilizes organic and local produce and is known in town by the locals for its live music. The roasted chicken served with a side of potatoes was a simple and well executed dish with hints of lemon and rosemary.
Tacos at El Gran Pastor: My most authentic culinary experience in Cabo just so happened in the late evening hours where my friends and I had a hankering for tacos. We saddled up to El Gran Pastor where we ordered two of everything: some pork, La lengua (tongue), chicken, chorizo, and cheese. The corn tortillas, handmade onsite, were fresh off the grill and we were able to dress our tacos with a variety of toppings including salsa, fresh vegetables, and the like. While all of the tacos were outstanding, my ultimate favorite was the chorizo as it packed a nice, spicy flavor.
Chilaquiles at Baja Cantina: On one beautiful morning in Cabo, I wandered over to the Baja Cantina Beach Club for a little sun. While I was told the restaurant has some of the freshest seafood on the island, it was a touch too early for raw fish before noon. I perused the breakfast menu and found my favorite Mexican breakfast of champions: chilaquiles. I asked the waiter if he preferred red or green sauce on his to which he unequivocally replied red. Red chilaquiles it was, topped with freshly sliced chicken. While it wasn’t the most bathing suit-friendly item on the menu, I was certainly pleased by my choice while basking in the warm sunshine of Mexico.
Braised Short Rib at Mi Casa Restaurant: While on a Wine & Art Walk in Cabo for its annual Sabor a Cabo event (held November 30 through December 6), I strolled by Mi Casa where its chef was handing out samplings of braised short rib paired with Mexican red wine from the Baja region. The short ribs were so delicious and fell right off the bone. The next time, I returned to Mi Casa for another tasting where I tried a variety of fresh yet comforting Mexican dishes with vibrant vegetables and local ingredients. I once again tried the braised short ribs and it was just as I had remembered it from the night before.