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East Cape Eats: The Best Restaurants on Baja California Sur's East Cape



The East Cape describes a roughly 70-mile coastal arc from San José del Cabo to Los Barriles. Beloved by “Old Baja” heads for its dirt roads and off-the-grid communities, the East Cape is also home to many fine resorts and restaurants, which cater to those drawn by the region’s beautiful beaches and world-class fishing, diving, surfing and windsports.

Buzzards Bar and Grill is one of the first restaurants of note on the road from Puerto Los Cabos to La Ribera, and savvy travelers will want to tank up for the drive ahead with fish tacos and coconut shrimp in pina colada dipping sauce. After journeying on to Cabo Pulmo to explore the living coral reef in the offshore marine sanctuary, Cabo Pulmo Beach Resort’s Coral Reef Restaurant is the de rigeur post-dive dining spot, serving up generous portions of Mexican specialties like burritos and enchiladas.

Los Barriles is the de facto capital of the East Cape, and boasts many of the region’s best restaurants. Roadrunner Cafe and Bakery is perhaps the town’ most versatile eatery: Not only does it offer wonderful baked goods and breakfast specialties, but also diner style specialties like burgers and shakes, and popular live music showcases on Wednesday evenings.

Tio Pablo’s, meanwhile, is a popular Los Barriles based pit stop for pizzas, steaks and televised sporting events; and El Viejo is the best taquería along the coast that stretches from San José del Cabo to La Paz.


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Once a hot dog stand, Tio Pablo's has undergone an evolution in the last 25 years: to the point that's it now a staple of the Los Barriles dining scene, and the dinner stop of choice for local lovers of steak, pizza, darts, and televisions showing live sporting events. Tio Pablo's is a short walk from Hotel Palmas de Cortez, and thus also a popular alternative for visitors who want a change of pace, a chance to have cocktails with expats, or simply to soak up the Los Barriles nightlife scene (such as it is). The ice cream isn't bad either.


Locals crowd El Viejo at lunchtime, and why not? This unprepossessing little eatery is the best taquería on Baja California Sur's rugged and beautiful East Cape, as well as being one of the best restaurants in Los Barriles. Grab a table in the shade, order a couple of cold Pacíficos, and dig into the taco of your choice (pescado or al pastor preferred). There's a fixing bar where patrons can add their own toppings. This is the perfect midday pit stop - only a block or so from the beach, and a short walk from several hotels - and it's also conveniently located next door to ExotiKite, the premier kiteboarding rental and apparel source for the windsports enthusiasts who flock to the East Cape during the winter months.




The signature restaurant in the boutique Hotel El Ganzo (the name is a portmanteau combining ganso, the Spanish word for goose, and gonzo, the outlandish journalism style pioneered by Hunter S. Thompon) at Puerto Los Cabos, Ganzo downstairs offers stylish retro surroundings, and delicious traditional and contemporary Mexican cuisine. The outdoor deck is de rigeur for breakfast offerings like chilaquiles. For lunch and dinner, dine indoors at distressed wooden tables on lion's paw scallos and Tlacoyo de Pollo (chicken with corn milk, refried beans, cactus slices, queso cotija and pasilla chili sauce). Live music is offered during dinner hours on Thursday and Friday evenings. Hotel guests will also want to sample the fresh seafood delights at Gachoo Sushi Bar.


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This great little 1950s style cafe, bakery and beer garden is located in the plaza just off as you turn off Highway 1 at Los Barriles. Road Runner serves up the best breakfast in town, with an excellent menu of omelets, burritos, waffles, pancakes and heart-starting espresso drinks. The cafe is also open for lunch and dinner, and is a great stop for American-style burgers and comfort food, as well as old-fashioned milkshakes. Local musicians perform here every Wednesday evening, and buckets of beers are an excellent value buy, particularly during the hot summer months. Free Wi-Fi is also available.




The best dining in the small East Cape community of Buenavista is found at El Navegante, a beachfront restaurant at the Hotel Buena Vista Beach Resort. Gringos with little imagination will find burgers and hot dogs on the menu, but the best bet is enjoy the sultry sea breezes on the terrace, and feast on machaca Sonorense, ceviche pescado, fish tacos a la gobernador, or chile rellenos in a huitlacoche cream sauce. Or, if you're taking advantage of Hotel Buena Vista's fishing charters, you can have the chef cook up the day's catch any way you like it. A special fishermen's buffet breakfast is served at 6:15 a.m., and American and European meal plans are available for hotel guests.


Palomar Restaurant
Photo courtesy of Michael Kull

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 - has 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 Mom with Bing Crosby, or photos of other celebrities who have eaten at Palomar over the years. The menu mainly features seafood and 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). The hamburgers are pretty good, too.


Off-the-grid at Zacatitos, but only 8 miles from San José del Cabo, Zac's is a popular destination for those seeking the laid-back pleasures of East Cape life. Palapa shaded views, ice cold beers and cocktails, and Mexican and American comfort food favorites like fish tacos and burgers are among the restaurant's chief pleasures. You-hook-it-they-cook-it deals are also a draw, as are weekly theme nights: Monday Night Football watching is a staple during autumn and winter months, Tuesdays are taco centric, video concerts are paired with dinner specials on Thursdays, and all-day buffets on Saturdays include a fully loaded salad bar. Local beers from Baja Brewing Company are on tap.




If you're spending a few days in Cabo Pulmo to experience the incredible diving in the offshore marine sanctuary - home to the only living coral reef in the Sea of Cortés, as well as its highest concentration of marine life - you're probable staying in an eco-bungalow at the Cabo Pulmo Beach Resort. But even if you're only driving through, you'll want to stop at the resort's Coral Reef Restaurant, which serves up a delicious array of Mexican and American favorites. Burgers, BLTs and fish tacos headline the lunchtime offerings, while dinner guests will want to check out the filet mignon, or the Charro combination plate with a stuffed Poblano pepper, enchilada, quesadilla and arrachera (flank steak), plus sides.


Menu items are scribbled on a surfboard at this laid-back, palapa-topped East Cape eatery, located near the small seaside community of El Encanto de la Laguna. The coconut shrimp in pina colada dipping sauce is the probably the signature dish, but a variety of Mexican and American favorites are offered, from omelets and huevos rancheros to burgers, tacos, and seafood and vegetarian specialties. For overnighters, the owners of Buzzard's also manage La Fonda del Mar, a neighboring solar powered bed and breakfast. The bar and grill is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner every day but Sunday, when it closes at 2:30 p.m. It's closed completely during August and September.




A favorite of East Cape cognoscenti, Crossroads is the beachfront restaurant at Hotel Vidasoul, a boutique 16-room eco-resort near Cabo Pulmo. Mexican comfort food favorites (chilaquiles, huevos rancheros, tacos, burritos and quesadillas) and Italian pastas (chicken picatta, pasta puttanesca), plus healthy helpings of fresh local seafood rule the menu at this laid-back oasis. The specialty of the house, however, is a Surfer Omelet with cheddar, bacon and cream cheese. Ice cold beers and tropical cocktails are available at the beachside bar, and live music draws locals from miles around on Saturday nights, November through May. Open daily from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m.


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Meet Chris Sands

Chris Sands is co-founder of CaboVivo, co-writer of Fodor's Los Cabos travel guidebook, and a contributor to 10Best at USA Today, as well as other websites and publications. His specialty is...  More About Chris

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