The best burger place in La Paz is notable both for its grill - it's set under the open hood of the front half of a pick-up truck - and its al fresco charms. The spacious outdoor dining area is quite pretty after dark, when the lights strung between palm trees cast a muted glow on the red and white checked tablecloths. The simple décor, combined with the old rock n' roll playing in the background and the paper lined baskets of burgers and fries, gives the place a rather warm-hearted, nostalgic atmosphere that undoubtedly accounts for a large measure of its popularity with the local crowd. The location - a block from the water, and walking distance from the malecón area - doesn't hurt either. Bandido's is only open during evening hours (5 p.m. to midnight).
Recommended for Best Value because: Bandido's is the perfect budget-friendly burger stop in La Paz.
Chris's expert tip: The best burgers at Bandido's are topped with egg or multiple slices of bacon.
Poll locals on the best place to get tacos in Los Cabos, and Los Claros will be the consensus winner. Maybe that's why there are now six plus locations in downtown Cabo San Lucas - as well as the original in San José del Cabo - with new sites popping up at semi-regular intervals. Seafood is the specialty of the house at Los Claros, with tortillas filled with ingredients like clams, shrimp, oysters, scallops, octopus and marlin. The fish and shellfish are brought in fresh daily, and diners can enhance their tacos with a choice of fixings and hot sauces. Quesadillas and tostadas are also available.
Long known as one of the top local stops for cheap seafood, Crazy Lobster is a fixture on Cabo San Lucas' restaurant row: the stretch of eateries that runs down Calle Hidalgo from the town square to Marina Boulevard, the main downtown thoroughfare. Crazy Lobster's signature menu offering is a moderately priced surf and turf special - steak and lobster tail dinners served with rice and beans - but the place also features plenty of other savory, value-oriented options. Lobster tails are $16, and steaks, shrimp fajitas and barbecue ribs cost $10 each. Cheap drink prices -happy hour extends from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. - include Cuervo shots for 70 cents and Don Julio for less than $3. The restaurant is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner.
Recommended for Best Value because: Crazy Lobster has some of the best steak and seafood specials in Cabo San Lucas.
Chris's expert tip: Rib-eye and New York style steaks cost only $10 each, and are served with rice and beans.
Miguel's chile rellenos may not be the best in all of the Baja California peninsula, 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 comfort food. 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, perfect for whiling away a lazy afternoon.
Recommended for Best Value because: Miguel's makes the best chile rellenos in Baja California Sur, and is a top value option in Todos Santos.
Chris's expert tip: The chile rellenos are mandatory, and it's not a bad idea, particularly when dining with friends or family, to order all four options.
The name Stop Light made sense at its previous downtown location; now, it might as well be named "behind Office Depot." It scarcely matters, though. The attractions at this locals' favorite are the excellent food and service, and the very modest prices. There's nothing showy at Stop Light: just red brick and polished wood appointments, colorful table linens, and no frills Mexican comfort food fare like tacos, chile rellenos, enchiladas, flautas, fajitas, quesadillas and tostadas. Breakfast favorites range from huevos al gusto (eggs any way you like them) to five styles of chilaquiles, while lunch specialties include healthy options like grilled chicken breast and green salads. For dinner, try the surf and turf for two with arrachera (skirt steak), chicken and shrimp.
El Peregrino , or "The Pilgrim," used to be just a locals' favorite, but has since been discovered by area resort concierges, who have passed the recommendation on to their guests. It's a congenial little bistro, with colorful décor, televisions tuned to international soccer, and the best daily dinner specials in the area. New York style steak, octopus sautéed in garlic butter, a tender cut of Argentine style vacío, and slow cooked BBQ short ribs are among the seven daily specials, all of which are moderately priced between $10 and $14 U.S. The standard menu is international in focus - as befits a place named for the intrepid traveler - and also includes sandwiches and American style comfort food fare.
Recommended for Best Value because: El Peregrino is one of the best moderately priced dinner destinations in Cabo San Lucas.
Chris's expert tip: Try the BBQ short ribs, slow cooked for 14 hours.
Under the guidance of Chef Enrique Díaz, Alcaravea Gourmet has evolved over the past decade from a small eatery into one of the benchmark fine dining restaurants in all of Los Cabos. Guests enter through trellised vines and flowers into a casually upscale dining room, with an atmosphere perfect for romantic dinners, family outings and special events. The menu features Italian cuisine with Mediterranean accents, and is complemented by warm Mexican service from the well-trained staff. All entrées include salad, pasta and bread courses, and wines are available by the bottle or glass from their international wine list. Alcaravea also offers the best lunch deal in Los Cabos: soup or salad, entrée with veggies or pasta, plus dessert and drink, all for $10.
Salvatore's has a stellar reputation with locals and return visitors, and the reason is pretty simple: there is no better combination of quality and quantity anywhere in Cabo San Lucas. The food is tasty yet straightforward, the prices are affordable, and the portions are absolutley enormous. The lasagna alone could feed a small village. Everything here is consistently good, however, and consistently satisfying: mushroom risotto, ravioli quatro formaggio, lamb ravioli, shrimp and sausage diablo, shrimp scampi, seafood puttanesca ,and the delectable pork scallopini, to name but a few popular entrées. For dessert, pair a shot of espresso with the tiramasu or chocolate flan.
Recommended for Best Value because: Salvatore's boasts the largest portions of any restaurant in Los Cabos.
Chris's expert tip: The lasagna is legendary, and a single portion can easily satisfy two diners.
Rodizio is not the only local showcase for Brazilian churrasco-style dining, but it is much cheaper than its competition despite offering comparable food quality and superior service. In fact, its $14 price for salad, vegetables, rice and garlic bread, plus a parade of choice meat cuts (arrachera, ribeye, New York, chorizo, chicken, etc.) and palate cleansing pineapple may be the best dinner deal in town. Only one block away from downtown Cabo San Lucas, Rodizio nonetheless feels a bit off-the-beaten-path, not least of all because of the eclectic block in which it is situated, which includes everything from restaurants and residential homes to a parking lot, strip club and law offices. It is family owned and operated, and the staff extend the warm family atmosphere to guests. Tables are set up on the sidewalk for aficionados of al fresco dining, but the colorful interior dining area, with its ceiling and wall-mounted fans, is preferable during the hot summer months.
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 Value because: Los Tres Gallos is the best restaurant in Cabo San Lucas, yet most of its signature dinner entrees are only about $18 U.S.
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.