Because Los Cabos has become one of the country's major resort destinations, the area is now home to a diverse population, and there are numerous restaurants representing the culinary styles and traditional dishes from many regions of México. At smaller, family-owned establishments, the bill of fare typically showcases specialties from the owner or family's place of origin (Acapulco or Mazatlán, for example). Larger restaurants, however, particularly those located in tourist areas or at local resorts, will often offer a representative sampling of regional specialty dishes from throughout the country.
Los Tres Gallos is a bit off the beaten tourist track, but this charming eatery in downtown Cabo San Lucas definitely falls into the latter category, offering visitors a delicious introduction to some of Mexico's most traditional regional cuisine. It may be the best restaurant in Los Cabos, with the memorable meals complemented by terrific service and a lovely courtyard dining area.
Hacienda El Coyote, a restaurant operated by the Solmar hotel group, and Hacienda Cocina y Cantina, the signature onsite dining establishment at Hacienda Beach Club and Residences, are also excellent options for those seeking a sampling of country's traditional favorites, which can range from Mole Poblano and lobster a la Puerto Nuevo to Yucatán style Cochinita Pibil.
10 Palomar Restaurant
People come to Santiago to see the nearby waterfalls, or to visit the zoo, and Palomar, located just off the main plaza, is a popular stopping place for food and refreshments. The restaurant and hotel - there are six double-rooms ringed around the courtyard dining area - have been around forever, or what feels like forever in Baja California Sur. Hollywood stars like John Wayne and Bing Crosby used to fly in for the world-class white-winged dove hunting, and co-owner Sergio Gomez is happy to show visitors pictures of his Mother with Bing Crosby, or photos of other celebrities who have eaten at Palomar over the years. The menu mainly features seafood and traditional Mexican cuisine. The pescado mojo de ajo (catch of the day cooked in garlic butter) is excellent, as are the combination plates with Mexican favorites like enchiladas and chile rellenos (stuffed chiles). ((624) 130-2019)
9 El Coral Restaurant
The first restaurant in Cabo San Lucas (El Coral opened in 1975) is still going strong, and is still owned and operated by the same family. The open air palapa setting, with its hand-carved and colorfully painted chairs and tables and a couple of friendly resident parrots, is relaxed yet festive, great for a group or a date. A full array of Mexican favorites should satisfy just about everyone, whether you're a steak fan or you prefer combo platters of burritos, tacos and enchiladas. The shrimp ceviche is excellent as well, and from 6-10 p.m., guests can enjoy all-you-can-drink tequila shots with dinner. (624-143-0150)
8 Pancho's Restaurant & Tequila Bar
Pancho's is one of the best Mexican restaurants in downtown San Lucas, and specializes in regional dishes such as Puebla-style chicken mole, Sonoran-style carne asada, and Oaxacan-style tamales wrapped in banana leaves. They also claim to have the largest tequila selection in the world, with over 500 separate producers represented. Whether this is the world's largest collection is debatable, but there is no question that the tequila and mezcal menus are enormous, with many labels you'll likely never see anywhere else. And it that weren't enough to pique your interest, the atmosphere is likewise exceptional, bright and airy, with traditional decor and accents, and live music nightly. (624-143-0973)
7 Girasoles de la Hacienda
The Sheraton Hacienda del Mar boasts several first-class restaurants, including the excellent Girasoles de la Hacienda. The restaurant focuses on regional Mexican specialties, and offers a superb terrace setting, with elevated views of Punta Ballena, the Cabo del Sol Ocean Course, and of course the glittering blue waters of the Sea of Cortez. Tacos, burritos, fajitas and other Mexican staples headline the menu selections, but there is always a slight twist to keep things interesting. The roasted duck tacos, for instance, are served with spring onion and green tomato sauce, offering a fresh take on a familiar favorite. Daily specials are served up throughout the week, and include molcajetes each Tuesday, and surf and turf combos every Wednesday. ((624) 145-8000, ext.)
6 Hacienda Cocina y Cantina
Located in the Hacienda Beach Club and Residences on Medano Beach, this casual yet stylish restaurant offers breathtaking views of the iconic rock formations of Land's End. Patrons choose from outdoor dining on the terazza or open air indoor dining. It also features a beachfront palapa bar and the ever popular "tables in the sand" option. Start with freshly made ceviche, tropical or verde style, before sampling crab flautas with mango baja slaw and hibiscus sauce, or the Oaxaca style beef medallions with ancho chile and peanut mole. Platters served family-style for the whole table are also available with choices such as marinated grilled skirt steak, slow roasted pork, or sea bass with garlic-chile sauce. (624-163-3144, 415-259-4170)
5 Miguel's Restaurant
Miguel's chile rellenos may not be the best in all of Baja California, as an enthusiastic reviewer from the New York Times once claimed, but they are amazing. The stuffed chiles - available with lobster, shrimp, cheese, and in vegetarian form - are certainly the signature dish at Miguel's, the top stop in Todos Santos for traditional Mexican favorites. Tacos, enchiladas, fajitas, and chicken mole are also on the menu, and this is a congenial pit stop for ice cold beers and tropical cocktails. The atmosphere is very casual and laid-back, and this is a comfortable place to hang out. Miguel's has a second location at the Hotelito Los Cardones in Cerrritos. ((612) 145-0733)
4 Campestre Restaurant and Bar
Campestre is a bit off the beaten tourist track, and can be a bit difficult to find without a local tour guide or taxi service. Despite its out-of-the way location, however, this is one of the finest purveyors of traditional Mexican food in Cabo San Lucas, and well worth a visit. Campestre draws large local crowds for its "comida corrida," a budget-friendly afternoon meal that includes a soup and agua fresca of the day, and a choice of entree options. The best lunch or dinner option for tourists is the Mexican combination plate, which includes flautas, quesadillas, chile rellenos, and delicious guacamole. Mexican coffee and dessert options like fried bananas are also available. ((624) 143-8830)
3 Edith's Restaurante
Owner Edith Jimenez is originally from the state of Guerrero, and her restaurant, a fine dining fixture in Cabo San Lucas for close to two decades, features a mixture of Baja California Sur and Guerrero cuisines, as well as generous helpings of fresh local seafood. The restaurant is located just a block from Playa El Medano, has a comfortably yet upscale Mexican atmosphere, and operates the finest mesquite grill in town. The vegetables are organic and locally grown, everything from the grill is superb, and there are some excellent soups and desserts, particularly the Aztec soup and the house flan. ((624) 143-0801)
2 Baja Maria
This local favorite used to draw its biggest crowds on Sundays for barbacoa (pit-roasted lamb), but following a change in ownership is now best known for Mexico City style menu items like quesadillas chilangas (fried quesadillas), sopa de médula (cow spine soup), and tacos à la Villamelón (tacos campechanos from the recipe made famous by Taqueria El Villamelón, a landmark eatery located near the bullfighting ring in Mexico City). The décor is casual, but enlivened by vividly colored paintings of classic Mexican movie stars and celebrities like María Félix and Pedro Infante. For the maximum amount of local color, drop by to watch the dominoes games on Tuesday and Thursday nights. ((624) 129-4346)
1 Los Tres Gallos
Los Tres Gallos not only features the best Mexican cuisine in Cabo San Lucas, it may be the best restaurant in Los Cabos. Everything on the menu is delicious, but the mole dishes, in particular, are spectacular. This is traditional Mexican dining at its finest. There is a romantic courtyard dining area shaded by apple and mango trees, and the service, like the food and atmosphere, is first-class. Best of all, Tres Gallos is very affordable, with all but one item on the menu save escamole, a seasonal dish made from ant eggs, available for $20 U.S. or less. Reservations are recommended. ((624) 130-7709)
About Chris Sands
Chris Sands is the author of Bohemia by the Bay, and writes about wine, golf and travel for publications such as Baja.com, Fodor's Travel, Los Cabos Magazine, 10 Best, U-T San Diego and USA Today. He is a full-time resident of Cabo San Lucas.
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