San José del Cabo's dining scene is in many ways more impressive than that of sister city Cabo San Lucas. San José is home to over a dozen first-class restaurants, and is home to some of the region's most accomplished and innovative chefs. Baja Mediterranean style cuisine and fresh local seafood are the focus of most menus, but there are a number of eclectic eateries that boast original and provocative concepts.
Farm-to-table dining, for instance, has been taken to an entirely new level at Flora Farm and Huerta Los Tamarindos, two organic farms that also offer cooking classes, fresh produce markets and terrific onsite dining spots (Flora's Field Kitchen at the former, an eponymous restaurant at the latter). At each of these remarkable restaurants diners can practically reach out and touch the food that will soon be on their plates.
Tadd Chapman is another local innovator. The chef has built an indoor wine cave at his new look Don Sanchez Cantina, and has helped lead the charge to promote top producers from Baja's Valle de Guadalupe. For more traditional fare, downtown favorite Tropicana rarely disappoints. Located at a lovely hacienda-style inn in the heart of downtown San José del Cabo, Tropicana is the city's top stop for traditional Mexican cuisine and live music, and has been for more than 20 years.
Grupo Mi Casa is responsible for some of the finest restaurants in Los Cabos, including Peacock's and Café Canela in Cabo San Lucas, and La Panga Antigua in San José del Cabo. Colorful Mexican décor and traditional standards are available at the group's eponymous restaurants in each of the cape cities, with charming locations overlooking the town square in San Lucas, and nestled amid the historic Art District in San José. Standouts at both Mi Casa restaurants include regional Mexican favorites like Chile en Nogada, Mole Poblano and Cochinita Pibil, as well as Baja style favorites like Almejas Rellenas, queen clams stuffed with bacon, cheese and veggies. Domestic beers and wines are also available, including some excellent selections from Baja's wine country, Valle de Guadalupe. Regional spirits like Damiana make an appearance on the dessert menu. ((624) 146-9263)
Habanero's Gastro Grill and Tequila Bar
With Don Sanchez and Habanero's, restaurateur Tadd Chapman is responsible for two of the best fine dining experiences in San José del Cabo. Habanero's Gastro Grill offers fine cuisine and exceptional beverages, including one of the largest collections of premium tequila in Los Cabos. It's a great spot for breakfast, lunch or dinner, with the focus on steaks, pastas and seafood. The tuna sushizza is spectacular, but you really can't go wrong with anything on the menu, particularly meaty favorites like the Chicken Voodoo and Chipotle Tequila BBQ Baby Back Ribs. Chef Chapman is an oenophile, so there are always several terrific wines available. ((624) 142-2626)
French Riviera Bistro & Bakery
It isn't hard to find Mexican and American breakfast favorites in Los Cabos. For lovers of French-style pastries, chocolates and crêpes, however, French Riviera is the mecca. It's worth a visit solely for the aromas of freshly baked bread, which envelop the entire block on which this San José del Cabo treasure sits. The food is terrific, from breakfast offerings like delicious homeade pastry samplers with brioche and croissants to omelets, fresh fruit and granola. French Riviera also serves wonderfully strong and aromatic coffees, sourcing all their beans from the highlands of Chiapas, one of Mexico's signature growing regions. For dinner, try Chef Dave's Boullabaise, Cassoulet Toulousain or Loire Valley style Coq au Vin. (624-142-3350)
Huerta Los Tamarindos
Like Flora's Field Kitchen, Huerta Los Tamarindos showcases intimate farm to table dining in a rustic restaurant setting outside San José del Cabo, and also offers cooking classes and an onsite organic market. Menu standouts at the scenic al fresco eatery- which overlooks the garden - include a ceviche trilogy, roasted tomato soup, and baked eggplant rolls, as well as entrée highlights like free range Cornish hen and pork shank with green mole. Weekly specials like Dijon rabbit and baked duck are also worth trying. The wine list primarily features producers from Napa and Guadalupe Valleys, and classic and tamarind margaritas headline the cocktail options. Fruits, vegetables and herbs are available from the onsite organic market, which is open 8 a.m. - 3 p.m., Monday through Saturday. Private cooking classes may also be arranged. ((624) 105-6031)
The onsite restaurant at the Hacienda-style Tropicana Inn, also known as the Tropicana, has been considered one of the best in Los Cabos for over 20 years. It's certainly hard to beat the location, which offers al fresco dining in the heart of downtown San José del Cabo. Tropicana is located less than a block from City Hall, and two blocks from the old church, Parroquia de San José del Cabo. The food is terrific, with Chef Antonio Aviles' menu focusing on traditional Mexican cuisine and fresh local seafood. In addition to the tables out front, there is a lovely colonial-style indoor dining area with colorful murals. (624-142-1580)
Find your vacation bliss to the sound of cascading waterfalls and rustling palm fronds combined with the savory delights of signature dishes like Med-Mex fajitas, roasted chicken with chocolate, and a New Zealand baby rack of lamb. Chef Loïc Tenoux's innovative Mexican-Euro fusion cuisine is the main attraction at Mi Cocina, a San José del Cabo fine dining fixture that boasts a lovely courtyard setting at the boutique hotel Casa Natalia. But outstanding service and a serene and central downtown setting also contribute to the restaurant's sterling reputation locally, as do the masterfully mixed martinis and impressive array of blanco, reposado and añejo tequilas at the palapa-shaded bar. (624-142-5100)
7 Seas Seafood Grille
A gorgeous palapa-shaded setting and beautiful views of the incoming surf from the Sea of Cortés distinguish this hip onsite eatery at the boutique Cabo Surf Hotel on Acapulquito Beach. As you might expect of a seaside restaurant, fresh seafood is the focus, although 7 Seas showcases some traditional Mexican dishes, and a large selection of delicious desserts. Highlights include the tuna tartar, shrimp ravioli, and mole and tamarindo baby rack of lamb, as well as an excellent internationally representative wine list, and rich gourmet Mexican coffees from the highlands of Chiapas and Oaxaca. Notable events include memorable full moon dinners pairing specially designed menus with live jazz. (624-142-2666)
Agua by Larbi
Although the restaurant recently received a redesign as part of the ultra-luxury One&Only Palmilla resort's renovation post Hurricane Odile, Agua by Larbi is still one of the finest restaurants in Los Cabos, distinguished by its superb food, impeccable service, and romantic candle and moonlit views of the Sea of Cortés. Chef Larbi Dahrouch's focus continues to be on Mexican cuisine with Mediterranean influences, with menus changing seasonally - some dishes are changed daily - to reflect the finest available ingredients. Many specialties are made tableside, including handmade tortillas, guacamoles, ceviches and moles. Start at the bar for sunset cocktails. ((624) 146-7000)
"Contemporary Baja fusion" is the focus at Chef and restaurateur Tadd Chapman's signature downtown dining fixture, Don Sanchez. Daily tasting menus showcase the freshest local and seasonal ingredients. Chapman sources organic produce from his own local farm, Sanchez Orgánico, and grass and grain-fed beef that are wet-aged and seasoned with natural un-iodized sea salt from Guerrero Negro. The wine program here is the best in Los Cabos, with sommelier Nizuniro Altamirano on hand for advice on pairing options from the list of 300 plus wines, or sales from the carry-out wine shop. Wine themed events are hosted on a monthly basis, and live entertainment is also a big draw, with the outdoor courtyard hosting a stage and spacious dance floor. The old upstairs location is now known as Retro, and is a sports bar featuring gourmet burgers. ((624) 142-2444)
Flora's Field Kitchen
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 pastas. Sunday brunch is particularly 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 quaint culinary cottages. ((624) 355-4564)
About Chris Sands
Chris Sands is Editor at Baja.com, co-writer of Fodor’s 2015 guide to Los Cabos, and a regular contributor to Los Cabos Magazine and 10 Best/USA Today. He lives in Cabo San Lucas.
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