For local color in Todos Santos, it's hard to top La Garra, one of the town's top restaurants, sports bars, and live music venues. La Garra suffered fire damage early in 2013, but quickly bounced back. The place still boasts the same atmospheric movie posters from México's golden age of cinema, and the same excellent, unpretentious food. Chile rellenos and the fish and scallop sashimi are the two most popular menu options, but La Garra also offers salads, burgers, tacos and other tasty Mexican and American favorites. All the latest sporting events are shown on large screen televisions, and live music is a big draw on weekends.
Recommended for Todos Santos' Best Restaurants because: La Garra serves up the best tacos in Todos Santos.
Chris's expert tip: Cinephiles will want to check out La Garra's superb movie poster collection.
Elegant garden surroundings distinguish this patio restaurant at the Guaycura Boutique Hotel & Spa in Todos Santos, as does excellent food from a menu that blends Mediterranean and Mexican sensibilities. Small tapas plates are popular and include highlights like the grilled octopus with smoked potatoes, and Acapulco style shrimp cocktail. The ingredients are primarily locally sourced, with a tendency towards traditional Mexican favorites like huitlacoche (a kind of Mexican corn truffle) and epazote (an indigenous herb). El Jardín also boasts a very good wine list, as well as a healthy selection of martinis and tropical cocktails. Open for breakfast, lunch and dinner.
Recommended for Todos Santos' Best Restaurants because: This is one of the finest hotel-based restaurants in Todos Santos.
Chris's expert tip: Before dinner, enjoy tropical cocktails and ocean views at the Sky Lounge.
Baja Beans isn't a place you'll accidentally stumble upon. It's located off a dirt road in the small town of Pescadero, just south of Todos Santos. But this locals' favorite is well worth seeking out, not only for the terrific coffees, but also the fine food and rustic outdoor atmosphere. The company sources their beans from Finca Los Puentos in the Sierra Madre Oriental of Xicotepec, Puebla, roasts them with a vintage 1980s Probat roaster, and sells the finished product to many of the region's best hotels and restaurants. The onsite café and restaurant also offers pastries and other light fare, which can be enjoyed al fresco on the sprawling property. Sunday is the best day visit, with brunch specials like vegetarian frittatas, as well as a farmer's market and live music.
La Coronela is the signature restaurant at Hotel California, the most famous and frequently photographed lodging in Todos Santos. Talented Belgian Chef Dany Lamote's menu focuses primarily on dishes made from organic and locally sourced ingredients, and although there are unconventional and somewhat exotic dishes, the restaurant boasts plenty of popular Mexican and American fare, including pizzas and burgers. Highlights include the eggs Benedict with smoked marlin and cilantro hollandaise, and delicious lamb burgers with caramelized onions. Outdoor dining is available in the expansive courtyard, and the colorful bar is a great place to belly up for margaritas or martinis.
Recommended for Todos Santos' Best Restaurants because: La Coronela is the signature eatery at the historic Hotel California.
Chris's expert tip: After the meal, ask to sample the house's Hotel California tequilas.
The fact that you can enter from two different streets is one of many idiosyncratic charms at this aesthetically pleasing restaurant and café set in the heart of Todos Santos' historic downtown district. Enter from one side and you're in a rather traditional café - espresso style coffees, pastries, hot cakes and omelets - albeit with the sort of eye-catching artwork and furniture one might expect in a noted artists' colony. Enter from the other side and in you're in a shaded outdoor restaurant serving up fresh local seafood, Mexican standards like burritos, flautas and tamales, and Italian specialties transplanted from Tre Galline.
Recommended for Todos Santos' Best Restaurants because: This is the best coffee and breakfast spot in Todos Santos.
Chris's expert tip: The small tables out front are perfect for coffee drinking and people watching.
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 Todos Santos' Best Restaurants because: Miguel's makes the best chile rellenos in Baja California Sur.
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.
Entering Los Adobes is like stepping into another world - the first thing one sees is a beautifully landscaped desert scene, a striking sight (particularly when it is lit up at night), and one that would appear more fitting in a botanical garden than a popular downtown restaurant. The food is equal to the views, however, and this is one of the top destinations for diners seeking traditional Mexican specialties, as well as vegetarian dishes. Like many places in Todos Santos, Los Adobes changes its hours according to the season. It's open for lunch and dinner year round, but closes rather early during the slow months (Jul. to Oct.).
Recommended for Todos Santos' Best Restaurants because: In addition to being one of the town's best restaurants, Los Adobes is also one of the most romantic dining options in Todos Santos.
Chris's expert tip: Try the fennel and cilantro spiced chicken breast in a delicious hibiscus sauce
Farm-to-table dining concepts have become popular in Baja California Sur, and few do it better than the Garden, the restaurant at boutique beachfront resort Rancho Pescadero. Located just south of Todos Santos, the Garden specializes in dishes made from local produce - much of it sourced from the garden the charming outdoor eatery overlooks - as well as the abundant fresh local seafood. Chefs Jeff and Susan Mall, formerly of Zin Restaurant and Wine Bar in Sonoma County, reinvigorate traditional standards with regional favors and flair, as evidenced in delicious house specialties like Posole de Pescado y Mariscos, and Crispy Sopes with Smoked Marlin Salpicon. In addition to the fine food, tours and cooking classes are also available, and the resort welcomes celebrity guest chefs each tourist season for memorable culinary weekends featuring brunches, dinners and tastings.
Recommended for Todos Santos' Best Restaurants because: The Garden offers the finest farm-to-table dining experience in the Todos Santos area.
Chris's expert tip: The resort's guest chef weekend series is a highlight of high tourist season (Nov. to May).
Few places embody the Todos Santos vibe - artsy yet unpretentious, laid-back yet sophisticated - more than Michael's at the Gallery, a seasonal eatery that showcases Pan-Asian cuisine in an outdoor setting behind one of the town's signature art galleries: Michael and Pat Cope's Galería de Todos Santos. Have a look at the work of prominent local artists while enjoying a cocktail or glass of wine, then settle in for a memorable meal featuring regional specialties from China, Japan, Thailand and Vietnam. The restaurant is open for dinner on Friday and Saturday evenings during the tourist season (Nov. through May).
Long the lunch and dinner place du jour for local artists and expatriates - it opened in 1990 - Café Santa Fe remains one of Todos Santos' benchmark dining spots, and is a mandatory stop for first time visitors. Located just across from the town square and historic theater in a restored 19th century building, this authentic Italian eatery specializes in homemade pastas and sauces, albeit with plentiful helpings of fresh local seafood. Start with a creamy soup or seafood salad before moving on to main courses like the superb lobster ravioli. Indoor dining is available, but the courtyard is the place to see and be seen.