Visitors to Los Cabos will find a sophisticated dining scene, one that offers much more than tacos and traditional Mexican fare. Cape cities Cabo San Lucas and San José del Cabo each showcase an increasingly diverse sampling of world cuisines, with great food available at a variety of price points.
Two major culinary trends have come to the forefront in Los Cabos during the past decade: an interest in fusion cuisines that first flourished with the Baja Med movement, but has increasingly become more Pan-Pacific in orientation, as regional chefs have linked Los Cabos’ Pacific influence to cultures as diverse as Peru and Japan; and a more pronounced focus on fresh and local ingredients – from fresh local seafood to organically farmed produce – that has produced a trio of superb farm-based restaurants, and influenced many chefs to source all their ingredients from regional fishermen, ranchers, and farming communities like Miraflores.
Chefs Angel Carbajal and Masayuki Niikura invented Baja-Japanese fusion cuisine when they opened Nick-San in Cabo San Lucas in 1994. The mix of sushi and Mexican ingredients has proven so popular since that additional restaurants have sprung up in San José del Cabo (at The Shoppes at Palmilla), México City and Nuevo Vallarta. Chef Volker Romeike’s Pitahayas followed soon afterward, pioneering the Pan-Pacific approach that has since been taken up by Enrique Olvera at Manta, as well as a host of others.
The small rural community of Ánimas Bajas just outside San José del Cabo is home to the area’s famed farm-to-table restaurants: Flora’s Field Kitchen at Flora Farms, Restaurante Los Tamarindos at Huerta Los Tamarindos, and Acre Restaurant & Cocktail Bar on a 25-acre property that now boasts the region’s first treehouse accommodations. All three restaurants offer amazing food and belong on this list.
Los Tres Gallos, meanwhile, remains the top stop for traditional Mexican cuisine in Cabo San Lucas. Named for three movie stars from México’s golden age of cinema, the downtown dining establishment offers delicious regional specialty dishes in a charming courtyard dining area. No restaurant in the Land’s End city offers the same quality of food and service for such affordable prices.
La Lupita is the taco mecca of Los Cabos, the place where discerning locals will happily pay un-taco like prices to sample gourmet varieties of México’s most famous comfort food staple. In many cases, making reservations to do so. Crowds literally spill out the door during the city’s seasonal Thursday night Art Walks, but the place is packed on a nightly basis. La Lupita’s taco offerings aren’t out-of-the-ordinary, either – there’s no gold flake or rare ingredients – simply extraordinarily well-prepared examples of age-old favorites: barbacoa, al pastor, and the like. Mezcal is the most fashionable pairing for La Lupita’s tortilla wrapped treasures, but fresh chapulines (grasshoppers) are also available, as a chile roasted accompaniment in the Taste of Lupita, with sides of blue chips, pumpkin seed and tomato dip, guacamole and fresh lime. Thanks to its ongoing popularity, La Lupita has recently opened a second restaurant in Cabo San Lucas.
Recommended for Best Restaurants because: La Lupita is the best taquería in Los Cabos and a fixture of the San José del Cabo dining scene.
Chris’s expert tip: Try the duck tacos, a delicious item that’s hard to find locally, served with black mole and hibiscus compote.
In recent years the culinary fashion in Los Cabos has shifted from Baja Med to Pan-Pacific fusions that draw heavily on Mexican, Peruvian and Japanese influences. Such fusions may be fashionable now, but they’re old hat to Pitahayas Chef Volker Romeike, who for over two decades has been creating unique dishes from an eclectic mix of Pacific influences that range from México and Hawaii to Japan, China, Korea, Thailand and the Philippines. Romeike’s Pitahayas is the signature restaurant at Sheraton’s colonial-style Hacienda del Mar, a Tourist Corridor based resort known for its elegant seaside dining options. The dining area is gorgeous, particularly at dusk, with tables arranged in concentric circles that fan out from an enormous palapa, and colorful tree-wrapped lights and ornament foregrounding the glittering blue waters of the Sea of Cortés. In addition to the stellar food and views, the wine cellar at Pitahayas, La Cava de Santiago, is one of the best in Baja California Sur, with over 400 labels from premier domestic and international producers.
Recommended for Best Restaurants because: Pitahayas chef Volker Romeike was a pioneer of fusion cuisine in Los Cabos, and his restaurant remains a local benchmark.
Chris’s expert tip: Romantic dinners for two may be arranged in the wine cellar, Cava de Santiago, which is home to over 400 labels from premium international producers. For reservations, call +52 (624) 145-8010.
Named for three legendary actors from the golden age of Mexican cinema – Pedro Infante, Jorge Negrete and Javier Solís were collectively known as Los Tres Gallos (The Three Roosters) – this charming and unpretentious downtown dining spot may be the best restaurant in Cabo San Lucas. All the entrée options are delicious, but the mole dishes, in particular, are spectacular. Tables are set in a romantic courtyard dining area shaded by tangerine, mango, and other fruit trees, and the service, like the food and atmosphere, is absolutely first-class. Best of all, Tres Gallos is very affordable, with everything on the menu save a few American style steaks priced at less than $25. The authenticity is ramped up another notch on Fridays between 9 and 11 p.m. when Los Tres Gallos features its Noche de Mariachi with a live charro-clad band playing Mexican favorites.
Recommended for Best Restaurants because: Los Tres Gallos is the top stop for traditional Mexican cuisine in Los Cabos.
Chris’s expert tip: The mole dishes (mole is a popular Mexican sauce, made in several regional styles) are magical here, particularly the enchiladas de mole.
Since its inception in 1994, Nick-San has been one of the most popular local sushi restaurants, with Chefs Angel Carbajal and Masayuki Nikura crafting a creative and innovative fusion of Japanese cuisine with traditional Mexican ingredients. This sort of fusion has become quite common among area restaurants, but Nick-San was the first and remains the best. Sample their extensive menu of rolls, as well as house specialties like tempura oysters curry yaki, bluefin tuna sashimi, and beef filet serranito. Lobster lovers may choose from an embarrassment of riches that includes clear lobster rolls, lobster angel sautéed in mustard sauce, fried lobster curry, and lobster sambal marinated in sake, soy sauce, ginger and garlic, and bathed in sweet and sour chili sauces. In addition to the Cabo San Lucas location, there is also a restaurant at Las Tiendas de Palmilla (The Shoppes at Palmilla), where the Saturday evening only Havana Nights special provides one of the most memorable live music experiences in Los Cabos,
Recommended for Best Restaurants because: Nick-San is the best sushi and Asian fusion restaurant in Los Cabos.
Chris’s expert tip: Nick-San also has its own apparel line, Wasabi, with shirts and other clothing available at their two local locations, Plaza de la Danza in Cabo San Lucas, and Las Tiendas de Palmilla in the Tourist Corridor.
El Farallón’s wow-factor asset is a breathtaking cliffside setting overlooking the Pacific Ocean at the exclusive Waldorf Astoria Los Cabos Pedregal in Cabo San Lucas. The restaurant pairs fresh local seafood with its romantic atmosphere, adding rustic elegant touches like lanterns and hand-crafted furniture and accents to its spectacular views. The fish is fresh daily and diners pick their dinner market style, choosing from a selection of sea bass, red snapper, striped bass, shrimp, tuna, dorado, clams and lobster. The fish is then weighed and taken to the chef to be grilled with an array of fresh chilies. Soups and salads are included with all entrées and rib-eye steaks are available for those who want the views without the seafood. This ranks with Sunset MonaLisa as one of the most romantic dining experiences in all of Los Cabos and the addition of a Champagne terrace has only enhanced the romance factor.
Recommended for Best Restaurants because: El Farallón is the best restaurant in Pedregal, the most exclusive neighborhood in Cabo San Lucas.
Chris’s expert tip: Take the time to explore the Waldorf Astoria Los Cabos Pedregal’s entrance tunnel, which is the longest privately owned tunnel in México, and outfitted with cool features like a chandelier and a private dining niche.
Set at retro-chic The Cape: A Thompson Hotel, Manta is helmed by acclaimed chef Enrique Olvera, whose Mexico City-based Pujol and New York City restaurant Cosme have been ranked among the 100 best in the world. The hotel enjoys a superb location on legendary surf beach Playa Monumentos, and Manta showcases spectacular views – particularly at sunset – of the granite rock formations at Land’s End in Cabo San Lucas. Olvera’s rotating menu focuses on Pacific Rim cuisine and fresh local seafood, with 15 to 18 dishes available on a nightly basis. Multi-course tasting menus are the preferred dinner option, with excellent pairing advice provided courtesy of the onsite sommelier, whose generous wine list includes numerous options from Baja’s wine country, Valle de Guadalupe.
Recommended for Best Restaurants because: Manta is helmed by one of México’s most famous chefs and was immediately recognized as one of the area’s finest restaurants upon opening in 2015.
Chris’s expert tip: Here’s some local knowledge to impress your travel companions. The name of the restaurant, Manta, has dual meanings: one, it’s the Spanish word for blanket, and thus signifies a commitment to the comfort of guests; and two, as a reference to manta rays, and by extension the restaurant’s reliance on fresh local seafood.
Toro is one of the jewels of acclaimed restaurateur Richard Sandoval, who to date has opened some 40 Latin-themed restaurants at locations that span the globe. His elegantly appointed Los Cabos eatery is set near Punta Ballena and offers one of the more creative local fusion concepts: a Pan-Latin blend that marries Latin standards and fresh local seafood with South American, Japanese and Chinese influences. Diners are encouraged to sample appetizers, shared small plate delicacies, and fresh daily offerings from the ceviche bar before progressing to chef’s specialties like the superb miso-chipotle escolar fish with grilled asparagus and daikon, kabayaki and togarashi aioli. Toro also boasts an extensive wine and beverages menu, showcasing onsite mixology skills with a dozen or so signature cocktails (try the Toro Mule with Montelobos Espadín Mezcal), as well as an extensive selection of tequila, mezcal, rum and other international spirits.
Recommended for Best Restaurants because: Toro is one of the finest fusion restaurants in Los Cabos, as well as one of the top dining stops in the Tourist Corridor.
Chris’s expert tip: If you like churros, you’ll love the homemade ones at Toro. The sugary fried-dough desert treats are served at exactly the right temperature, with a trio of dipping sauces.
Flora’s pioneered the farm-to-table dining scene in San José del Cabo and remains a mandatory stop for visiting foodies. The restaurant looks out over a 10-acre organic field at Flora Farm, so close diners can almost reach out and touch the food they’ll soon be eating. Well, actually the meat is sourced from a nearby ranch, but you get the picture. This is fine dining at its most intimate. And it is fine dining. The food is superb and ranges from gourmet pizzas to heartier fare like farm-raised pork or homemade pasta. Sunday brunch is especially popular, although reservations are recommended for any visit to the restaurant. The adjacent Farm Bar serves up fresh fruit juices, wine, craft beer and cocktails. In addition to the onsite bar, bakery and organic grocery, the property also includes boutique shops and some charming culinary cottages.
Recommended for Best Restaurants because: Flora’s Field Kitchen offers the most intimate farm to table dining experience in Los Cabos.
Chris’s expert tip: Good luck finding this place without directions. Luckily, they’re available for download on the restaurant’s website at www.flora-farms.com/location.
Acre Baja may be best known now for its boutique treehouse accommodations – the only ones of their kind in Los Cabos – but for locals or visitors staying elsewhere in the cape cities, the primary reason to know and visit this picturesque property is its superb farm-to-table restaurant, Acre Restaurant & Cocktail Bar. Here lies a foodie oasis, with dishes and drinks crafted around ingredients found on the 25-acre property’s farm, or sourced from local ranchers and fishermen. Opened in 2016 by Stuart McPherson and Cam Watt, owner of Vancouver’s renowned The Keefer Bar, Acre has quickly become one of the leaders of San José’s thriving locavore movement; a standing that should only rise now that Alex Branch has taken over executive chef duties. Branch has been a major culinary figure in Los Cabos for years, working as executive sous chef at ultra-luxury One&Only Palmilla, helming Enrique Olvera’s Manta at The Cape: A Thompson Hotel, and acting as executive property chef for the Hakkasan Group at The Grand Mayan at Vidanta Los Cabos. Branch’s arrival signals the best is yet to come for what is already a benchmark local restaurant.
Recommended for Best Restaurants because: Acre is the best restaurant in San José del Cabo.
Chris’s expert tip: Try the Perla de la Baja cocktail, made with mezcal, reposado tequila, lime, pineapple, passionfruit, verbena honey and bitters.
The signature restaurant at the newly opened Chileno Bay Resort & Residences is certainly a feast for the eyes, with stylish décor from a high-profile Los Angeles-based designer, and a picturesque perch overlooking the Sea of Cortés. The sense most likely to be gratified, however, is taste, thanks to its two top talents: Chef Yvan Mucharraz, formerly Director of Food and Beverage at The Resort at Pedregal; and Beverage Manager Osvaldo Vazquez, fresh off a notable stint creating the innovative cocktail menu at The Cape. Although broadly billed as a celebration of Latin American cuisine, what Comal does best is to offer contemporary twists on traditional Mexican favorites, from ceviches and chilpachole broth to duck carnitas and chicharrón. A generous wine list offers plenty of pairing options – including many from Baja California’s Valle de Guadalupe – and Vazquez unveils freshly minted cocktail recipes on a regular basis.
Recommended for Best Restaurants because: COMAL is the best resort-based restaurant in Los Cabos.
Chris’s expert tip: For further tasting adventures, stop by the Chileno Bay Resort’s TnT to sample a range of delicious tacos and tequilas.