By Jen Murphy
Photography by Luis García
Originally appeared in the March 2016 issue of Virtuoso Life.
When Hurricane Odile devastated the peninsula in September 2014, locals used it as an opportunity to reinvent the area’s image. “Cabo
has come back in a big way,” says Hope Smith, a Sierra Madre, California-based Virtuoso travel advisor. Star chefs have discovered the region’s fertile farmland and the fresh seafood of the Pacific and Sea of Cortés – Cabo’s food scene has never been more compelling. Here are five area chefs with restaurants worth visiting – plus their recommendations for the off-the-beaten-path spots they frequent when they’re not in the kitchen.
His place: Seared at One&Only Palmilla
When One&Only reopened its doors last April, the hotel debuted this new steak house from Michelin-starred chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten. A glass-walled room showcases 15 types of beef, from Kobe tomahawk to Wagyu, but there’s also incredible local seafood, which means this is the place to go for Mexico’s best surf and turf. Much of the restaurant’s produce is grown at Huerta Los Tamarindos
, an organic farm that’s also home to chef Vongerichten’s favorite area restaurant. Seared executive chef Sébastien Agnès works with a master sommelier to choose pairings from a cellar stocked with one of the world’s largest selections of Mexican wines. Carretera Transpeninsular, kilometer 7.5, San José del Cabo.
“For a real Mexican taco experience, I go to Las Guacamayas
in San José del Cabo,” says Agnès. “I order a margarita prepared by Señora Lupita – it’s simply the best in town. The chicharrón de queso
and guacamole is my go-to starter, then I get the tacos al pastor
, made from marinated pork with fresh onion, coriander, and a touch of pineapple.” Corner of Paseo de los Marinos and Calle Paseo del Pescador.
Her place: Flora’s Field Kitchen
Flora’s Field Kitchen highlights ingredients from the surrounding ten-acre organic farm and meats from Flora’s nearby ranch. Each day at 12 a.m., the baker fires up the wood oven to bake bread for sandwiches such as the fresh oyster po’boy. At lunch and dinner, the oven churns out wood-fired pizzas
to complement a menu of creative dishes such as hay-cooked rabbit. If you love what you taste, stop by Flora’s Grocery for bread, pickled goods, and other farm-fresh produce. Carretera Transpeninsular, kilometer 30, San José del Cabo; flora-farms.com.
“My all-time favorite place to dine in the Cabo area is Café Santa Fe
,” says Flora’s co-owner, Gloria Greene. “It has consistently stood the test of time, with quality that is unparalleled. My order is always the seafood salad and ravioli.” Calle Centenario 4; cafesantafetodossantos.com.
His place: Toro Latin Kitchen & Bar
Star chef Richard Sandoval grew up cooking beside his grandmother in Mexico City. Today, his international culinary empire includes 35 restaurants. One of his latest, Toro Latin Kitchen & Bar, debuted last year in the Punta Ballena area. The menu reflects Sandoval’s globe-trotting life and fuses South American, Chinese, and Japanese influences with local ingredients and pan-Latin flavors. In addition to a sushi and ceviche menu
, you’ll find classic crispy Baja fish tacos alongside Korean barbecue tacos and grilled beef anticucho
skewers in a Peruvian marinade. The cocktails are as inventive as the food: Try the pisco-spiked prickly pear chilcano. Carretera Transpeninsular, kilometer 6.5, Punta Ballena; richardsandoval.com.
Sandoval says he’s always amazed by the variety of produce available in Cabo San Lucas. He suggests visiting a farmers’ market, such as the Los Cabos Organic Market at Pedregal
(Wednesday and Saturday from 7 am to 1 pm) or the San José del Cabo Organic Market
(Saturday from 9 am to 3 pm).
His place: Manta
The buzz hasn’t stopped since the father of modern Mexican gastronomy opened this restaurant last June. Comfort reigns at Manta (Spanish for “blanket”), and Olvera has dialed back his culinary wizardry to suit a space where diners gaze down on surfers catching waves. Order cactus salad with preserved limes and purslane, sesame-crusted tuna meatballs with green salsa and serrano chiles, and more – either à la carte or as part of a four-course tasting menu. Artisanal mezcals and tequilas enhance the experience. Carretera Transpeninsular, kilometer 5, Monuments Beach; mantarestaurant.com.
For super-fresh seafood at an undiscovered spot, Olvera likes Mariscos y Molcajetes los Mochis
. The modest restaurant, located a few blocks from the Soriana Supermarket, is always full of locals and serves the region’s iconic chocolata
clams. Calle Caribe 144, Cabo San Lucas.
His place: El Farallon at The Resort at Pedregal
El Farallon’s secluded cliffside location overlooking the Pacific makes it one of Cabo’s most romantic restaurants. When the Resort at Pedregal reopened last January, it upped the glam factor by adding a Champagne Terrace
to the entrance. Start the evening with bubbles, then settle in for executive chef Yvan Mucharraz’s tasting menu. Sample sea bass, red snapper, jumbo shrimp, and mahimahi, but save room for dessert – a platter of homemade churros comes with molten chocolate sauce for dipping. Avenida Camino del Mar 1, Cabo San Lucas.
For real-deal Oaxacan street food, Mucharraz grabs an alfresco seat at airily rustic Carreta Los Cabos
. Those who don’t go in for his typical order of gusanos de maguey
, the tasty grubs that feed on mezcal leaves, might try the tlayudas
, large grilled tortillas topped with beans, cheese, meat, and salsa – sometimes called Mexican pizza. Calle Flor de Pitahaya, Cabo San Lucas.
Interested in a exploring Cabo's great hotels and restaurants? Connect with a Virtuoso advisor.