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No Mi Casa: the real scoop on Cabo eating.

I've been living in Cabo San Lucas for some time now, and I can assure you that Mi Casa, Ediths, and the rest of the frequently-named restaurants referred to on this board are sure to disappoint (while breaking the bank, too).

It's hard, but not impossible, to find fantastic deals in Cabo.

For authentic mainland Mexican fare (albeit in a corporate-owned restaurant), La Fonda is a better bet than Mi Casa. Mi Casa is a far cry from authentic. La Fonda is fabulous. Try their sopes with chorizo and potatoes and any of their soups.

Avoid Pancho's. I keep reading recommendations for Pancho's. Aside from serving top notch margaritas (IF you pay for the good tequila), the food is pretty subpar. American-owned-- what more do you need to know?

Salvatore's (which will change location soon, this summer '08) is an excellent choice for homestyle American Italian. The only choice, actually. Go on Friday and have the lasagna. And be prepared to head to the ER afterward. It's not "authentic" Italian, it's authentic Italian-American. And the ambience is great. We'll miss it when it changes locations. The entrance is on a side street off Hidalgo inside the hotel (which you can see above the street) that's painted blue and pink. But its grounds are separate from the hotel. it leases its space. It's not stunning, it's just a bite of home (for an East Coaster like me).

For truly authentic Mexican, try any of the taco joints downtown (we like La Taquiza on Leona Vicario for their al pastor, or their next door neighbor's caldo de frijoles, 4 blocks up from the mall). There is also a tiny, bright green restaurant with palapa roof on a dirt road near the Cruz Roja in Cabo. (Enter the parking lot for the delegacion and community center. In fact, park there, and cross the street on the side of the lot away from the Todos Santos highway light. Hang a left on the tiny dirt road. It's the only restaurant there.) Serving unbelievably good, cheap, fresh mexican breakfasts and lunches. the chilaquiles here are unreal, as are the egg scrambles (all come with fresh regional cheese, frijoles, and fresh bread). No english menus, though.

For non-Mex dinner options, try La Bodega in San Jose. Steak and starters are delicious and well-priced (relatively speaking). USDA prime, perfectly cooked to your specs. Baja Brewing Co, a new restaurant, has so-so "upscale pub" fare, but great curly fries and good home-brewed beer -- for those of you tired of Pacifico, Corona, Modelo, et al.

For a truly outstanding mind-blowing meal, you absolutely must visit Los barriles on the East Cape (about 45 minutes north of San Jose). beautiful quaint little town. But the killer is the Italian restaurant, La Taberna di Don Roberto, on the waterfront in front of the new Van Wormer property, Villas de Cortez. (Next to the flagship hotel, Palmas de Cortez.) Dinner only, kitchen hours 5 to 10, closed Mondays. A real cheese course unlike any I've ever had in Baja, unbelievably educated wine selection, and ridiculously good (and well-priced) entrees and first plates, too. The pea soup was stunning, the beef tenderloin to die for, and the service, unbeatable. Let Fabrizio guide you or design a menu for you. You won't be sorry. The chefs are straight out of Parma (literally). This is "real" Italian. On a strip of beach best known for sport fishing. let's hope it can stay in business. (This couple also opened a pizzeria, which I've yet to try, with Naples pizza chefs.)

Avoid the marina restaurants. They stink, pretty much across the board, although Solomon's has decent grub.

I've got more, just ask. ;)

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  1. Good information. My wife and I are heading down to Cabo san Lucas May 31. We love food and wine, but not at the expense of quality, character and value. We live in Manhattan and love to discover non-touristy spots where the food is excellent, the wine and drink selection reasonably varied and the price great. I'm not suggesting we'll find that kind of variety or choice in Cabo san Lucas, however I don't want to end up at Edith's paying a high price to eat mediocre food in a tourist trap (the impression I'm getting from other posts).

    So, here are some questions:
    - What's good for a local? Price is not as important as is value, authenticity and quality
    - Is it worth renting a car for the week we'll be there, and drive to various areas around the peninsula?
    - Are there any BYOBs (we can bring our own wine, and save on the 3x or so markup)
    Any other advice is appreciated.
    - If we had to choose 1 exceptional dining experience while there, what would it be?

    Off topic: Any advice on getting a good deal on a round of golf (on top of twighlight tee times)?

    Thanks in advance...

    11 Replies
    1. re: imkosmic

      Excellent report linzercabo!

      My fav's in Cabo are Romeo & Julieta's for some of the best Italian and they do the best tableside caesar..great all around and cheap too..it's at the foot of Pedregal next to the Marina..
      The Office is a restaurant set right on the sand with views of the arches and it is one of those places that is a must even if it is for marg's/drinks..food is good but pricey.
      Trailer Park..the original up on the hill is traditon and fab but pricey..it is a must..it really is in a trailer park..very popular and l cannot say how many good times I have had there.
      Soloman's landing right on the Marina has some great fish tacos and cold Pacifico's for super cheap with the misters..love this place.
      I would bring your own mask and snorkel..Lover's Beach and towards the arch if conditions are right has some great snorkeling.
      I would only rent a car for a day or two and drive up to Todos Santos..the Cafe Santa Fe is a classic in design and in food..
      I use a panga/boat to get where I need to go..my same guy has been on the dock since the 80's..
      I have played Cabo Real and Cabo San Lucas Country Club and no deal on CR but I believe we got a twilight rate for CSLCR..google golf courses in Cabo and see what you get...some great golf courses in Cabo...
      If you take the shuttle bus down from the Airport of San Jose, make sure your driver stops at the first liquor store to have some cold beers on the way down..it's usually a tradition and a good start to your vacation.
      I have never brought my own booze to the restaurants but of course to my room.
      Have a great time imkosmic..it will be hot but a helluva a good time!

      1. re: imkosmic

        Definitely get a car..... as a Mexican I can say this... Cabo is a dump.... there is nothing there but resorts & makeshift infrastructure & public services for the tourist employees who are all from other restort towns like Puerto Vallarta, Mazatlan & Acapulco. With the car you should take advantage of checking out Todos Santos & La Paz... as well as the Cave Paintings & some sea faring.

        1. re: imkosmic

          Hi Imkosmic,

          I would certainly rent a car, although beware getting pulled over for a mordida (bribe). I would spend a day driving up to Todos Santos, as others suggested, and perhaps another day driving up to the East Cape area -- La Ribera, Los Barriles, Spa Buena Vista. The East Cape is being developed as we speak. Enjoy its quiet while you can, and go to Taberna di Don Roberto as I suggested on the waterfront for an unbelievable meal. Even by Manhattan standards. (I moved here from NYC, so I have an idea of what you mean!)

          Call and ask about BYOB. Buy a good bottle at La Europea, a chain gourmet food and wine shop that's got a few locations -- in the mall, and a few on the corridor, one in San Jose, too.

          Eat Nopal's suggestion that Cabo is a "dump" is a little disheartening, and I'm sure locals would disagree. It's no "authentic" Mexican experience, but it is authentically Cabo: unlike any other place. An equal mix of charming, dirty, lively and frustrating. I live there -- not in fancy digs, but a humble casita. It is in some ways, but you can still find local color if you look in the right spots. The so-called "barrio" a few blocks up from the main drag is very colorful at night. Churro stands, hot dog stands, taco joints in parking lots -- it's good fun. Of course, the real barrio is dreadful. The poverty in Cabo is disturbing, of the tar paper shack variety. Lots of do-gooders here try to "help" with handouts. Didn't work in Manhattan, won't work here, either.

          One exceptional dining experience? Hmm. I would argue for La taberna. Cafe Santa Fe is very good, in Todos Santos, but a little overrated in my humble opinion. Depends what you want in "exceptional".

          And yes, Mocambos and Nick San are up there, too. Nick San -- the original, in cabo, not at the Palmilla stores.

          But for sure, rent a car and get outta town! Cabo is mostly a tourist trap. The good stuff's around the bend. Pescadero is quaint, too, on the way to Todos Santos. And La Paz may be worth a trip too to stroll along its malecon, walk its well-planned streets (a real grid!), watch the sunset on the bay, and eat at Buffalo's. Meat cooked to perfection right in front of you and some salads and sides that are to die for. Humble little joint about three blocks up from the malecon with killer grub. Ask for it, someone will point you there.

          1. re: linzercabo

            We were in Cabo the week of Dec 2nd. Followed many of the suggestions in this thread - some hits, some not so hot. Biggest disappointment:? NickSan in Cabo (not at the Palmilla). I believe the tab for 4 of us came to over $300 US and we left hungry... did we order wrong? Maybe, but we are all experienced sushi eaters. Service was impersonal and we left just feeling that we'd been ripped off.

            El Chilar was ok... Innovative and interesting but some of the ingredients were less than fresh (one piece of fish tasted like it should have hit the trash can before it got on our plate).

            The really sad thing was our traveling companions were not adventurous so I couldn't get them to try any of the interesting barrio shacks...

            1. re: RWCFoodie

              Nick San.. was it poor quality, service, creativity(lack of)?

              We're going next week and I know some of the fish is local(no excuse for poor quality), some imported.

              I've enjoyed in the past but can skip if it's on a downhill.

              1. re: 9lives

                I don't want to sound harsh, but it seemed like all of the above. While some dishes showed creativity, we felt that in general we received poor value for the price. Service was perfunctory and disinterested. When we asked questions about where the fish was from we didn't get much info. and the servers just seemed like they wanted to drop the plates and flee...

                1. re: RWCFoodie

                  That's disapppointing to hear. No excuse for that kind of meal.

                  1. re: 9lives

                    Yes, we were very disappointed and so were our friends...

          2. re: imkosmic

            Here's my recomendation. I was in Cabo 4 times last year and I can guarantee you that most of the restaurants are over priced for what you get. We were a group of 8 and with drinks and wine we averaged $150 - 200 per dinner. YES IN MEXICO.

            I recommend going to San Jose Del Cabo and eat at Morgan's. They own two restaurants. Morgan is the female owner who is an interior designer. Her boyfriend is a chef from Toronto. FANTASTIC food and ambience. In the range of $100 -200 with drinks and wine.

            For inexpensive eats that are local, head to Palapala on a back street behind Cabo Wabo. For our group we had the most memorable evening of good local food. We actually hired a street musician to come in and play songs for us all night.

            Baja Cantina has good food too if your in the harbor. Pricey for what I would say you get at your local mexican restaurant.

            I found Ediths to be ridiculously expensive and demanding of reservations even if they are empty!

            Mi Casa is not as good as it use to be. They expanded and their food went down hill.

            For breakfast...Mama's Royal Cafe. Wonderful stuffed french toast and an extensive american and authentic mexican menu. Only open for breakfast.

            As for bringing your own wine. We brought our own wine to Ediths and they charged us a $50 per bottle corkage fee...Hi-way robbery.

            The Office is great for eating right on the beach in the sand. The food we had there was good.

            The Trailer Park has great ambience and good food. Just be careful not to order too much food. The dinner is more than adequate so you won't need an appitizer or salad. It's pricey but as I said great ambiance.

            Rent a car and head to San Jose del Cabo. There's a really interesting bronze gallery there with some world class art (that's if you like what kind of sculpture they have)and there is also a great Pastry shop in town. This town has a real traditional Mexican Plaza.

            You could head to Todos Santos and have lunch at the Hotel California.

            As for Golf...their all expensive. The only way to get away cheap is to go on a time share tour and believe me paying for golf would be cheaper than a tour if you catch my drift. Be careful of the time share people. They are EVERYWHERE and out to get you. You have to be very direct in saying no to get them off your back. You will be accosted as soon as you come out of customs at the airport.

            As for exceptional dining in Cabo...for the price I haven 't experienced it yet.

            Have a great time. It's got beautiful beaches and resorts. Outside of the resorts it can be quite dirty!! I've been there at New Years, Spring Break, and September and it's always dusty and dirty. Cindy

            1. re: jmp7020

              I insist try La Frida in Pueblo Bonito Sunset....

              1. re: jmp7020

                Hi. We are going to San Jose in 1 week. Have had recommendations from friends for Morgan's. Is there a difference between the 2 restaurants? If so, would you recommend one over the other? Also, do you know if they have a website? Thank you.

            2. A great post that I wish I had before my recent trip. Ediths was a joke, the 'Office' smelled like a latrine and I think the Mi Casa 'maragritas' were made with limeade. We did have nice meals at La Fonda, Mocambos and Nik-San.

              1. What kind of food is La Fonda and Mocambos and where are they?

                We like to eat in San Jose. How about The orginal trailer park and lennys?

                2 Replies
                1. re: Loradio

                  There is a little place next to the airport called Mariscos Evaristo where I've had one of the best Aguachiles of my life (I've been cooking profesionally for + - 20 yrs.) both with shrimp and scalops only locals with norteño music fantastic place, the ceviche de camaron tostada is so big you could make about four normal ones . Don Emiliano In San Jose has a fantastic chicharron soup and the chef there now was the chef at the famous Aguila y Sol in D.F. I havent't been there since he got there but I'm pretty sure It must be good. Esperanza for the high end places was my favorite in Cabo. La Frida is run by a very good chef from Mexicali who worked in Boston for many years he is doing a great interpretation of modern Mexican food I think It's in Pueblo Amigo or Bonito I don't remember.
                  In Todos Santos Santa Fe Cafe Is very good great fresh pasta , fish carpaccio.
                  La Paz Buffalo for great meat, Tanino has a good selection of Mexican wines and Biskmarcito for smoked marlin tacos.
                  Cabo is not a dump just need to know wher to look !
                  Salud

                  1. re: bigotes

                    Muchas gracias, Maestro! This helps alot.

                2. Thanks for the tip about La Taberna di Don Roberto! Where else should we be eating in and around Los Barrile?

                  13 Replies
                  1. re: not the bad Steve

                    Just have to chime in here. I totally agree with the assessment of The Office and Edith's. They are basically the same food (same owners) and equally bad, equally over-priced although I must say the Ceasar Salad prepared table-side at Edith's is very, very good except that you only get about three lettuce leaves!

                    I beg to differ regarding the comment about Esperanza. The food is really bad, portions are tiny and the pricing is outlandish - shocking even ... what nerve they have to charge the prices they do. The service is so over-wrought, they mean well but seem to be quite awkward. I've eaten at all their restaurants multiple times and am always disappointed. It's too bad because the setting is absolutely stunning - even the pool restaurant has a lovely ambiance.

                    1. re: seabreezer

                      ok now I am stressing. We are arriving Friday nite and my hope was to never leave the Esparanza. With no transport, where should we eat? I divide my time between NY/LA/TX so I don't have a need for touristy Mexican food. Should I bring some balance bars give up?

                      1. re: carfreeinla

                        It's very easy to get a taxi and go to either Cabo or San Jose. We'll actually be there this weekend, too and we're planning to eat at El Chilar and Nick-San. We're staying in and cooking one night and we'll brave one of the Esperanza restaurants just one night to see if things have changed at all.

                        1. re: seabreezer

                          well for your sake and ours, hopefully they have! I could happily live off great tacos for the few days that I am in town ( would feel like home...)

                          1. re: carfreeinla

                            Now that I'm back from Cabo I wanted to add my thoughts about El Chilar and Nick-San. I have to agree with all the positive posts about these two restaurants. El Chilar is just lovely. The decor and ambiance are perfect, the service and friendliness of the staff are super and best of all the food is inventive, generously portioned and prepared. What a delight .. we'll be back. Nick-San in Cabo was also a pleasant surprise. My husband kept asking why we were going to have sushi in Mexico. Well, he realized why with the first bite of the Tuna Tostada and Black and White Ahi. The least interesting items were in fact the traditional sushi's. They were not actually all that well prepared - a little sloppy and the rice was not quite right but all the fish was incredibly fresh, even on a Sunday night. Service was great and friendly. And then the letdown was dinner at Esperanza at the Palapa restaurant... skimpy portions, bland and just plain medicocre. Service, however, has improved markedly.

                            1. re: seabreezer

                              The chef at Esperanza when I did my previous post Flynt Payne has now left the resort I think he went to Oregon . I haven't been there since he left I'm sorry to hear that because I had there a huitalcoche lasgna that was fantastic.
                              Try la Frida in Pueblo Bonito Sunset you will not be desapointed I was there a couple of weeks ago and it was very good . He does Gorditas de Bacalao en salsa verde that are really good
                              I also ate at Fellinis In Pueblo Bonito Rose very nice Italian both restaurants are runned by the same chef he also runs las Palomas wich is the restaurant next to the pool in the same hotel the food there was consulted with Ricardo Muños Zurita who is the chef for Azul y Oro in UNAM in Mexico city a very important reasercher of traditional Mexican food. I would strongly recomend to try it. The other thing I heard was that Charly Trotter's C restaurant in Palmilla is not there any more and that Jean Georges wil be taking it over. I also went to Evaristos and the Aguachile is still to kill for .
                              Saludos

                              1. re: bigotes

                                Just came back from a few days at Esparanza. If we had not committed to stay at the resort, I would have gladly eaten somewhere else. We wound up eating breakfast- which was great- and dinner. Prices were way out of line, food was just ok and service was usually fine.

                                1. re: carfreeinla

                                  we're at esperanza as i write this...and i'll agree about the food. portions shockingly small for the price--i hate when people write that, always assume i'm dealing with some enormous person who eats too much, but this was ridiculous. a *tiny* portion of not very good fish ceviche and four beers for $61 dollars?! really? it was room service, but...still.

                                  breakfast is included in our rate, and we're very happy with it (love, love, LOVE 'the tower' which is part of the meal; it's fruits and well-done pastries and breads and cheese, plus really tasty fruit juice concoctions,) but are very happy to have rented a car for the stay for other meals.

                                  we've found the service at esperanza to still be exemplary, fyi...but the food isn't what it once was, and at the price point i'm wondering what the business model is.

                                  in cabo san lucas, so far we've had amazing meals at carnitas michoacan, terrific tacos at las paisas and a wonderful ceviche and lobster at mariscos mazatlan. we also spent a few days at both the sheraton and the westin, and were surprised and pleased by the food quality at the sheraton, both the ceviche/guacamole by the pool, and the lovely dinner we had at pitayas.

                                  1. re: karenkay

                                    Wish that we had also rented a car. I would say shockingly small portions for the price- but I would rather say shocking prices. If they offer the banana and basil smoothie ( yes!) go for it.

                                    1. re: carfreeinla

                                      I'm not sure about driving distances but has anyone ever tried Don Emiliano restaurant in San Jose del Cabo?
                                      With Chef Margarita de Salinas as chef owner this restaurant has so much going for it including its recent 'Award of Excellence' from Wine Spectator magazine . Take a look at this link
                                      http://www.loscabosguide.com/restaura...

                                      and then get back to me!

                                      1. re: Ruth in Condechi

                                        Just in case anyone reads this post from 2008, Don Emiliano closed several years ago.

                                        Chef Margarita Carrillo viuda de Salinas has moved back to Mexico City and opened a different restaurant, Turtux.

                                        http://www.mexicocooks.typepad.com

                                        1. re: cristina

                                          Loved Don Emiliano's and really sad to hear it closed. Any similar restaurants out there? Any idea what went into the same space? Was hoping to revisit Don Emiliano's this week but will have to find something else!

                                      2. re: carfreeinla

                                        that smoothie was awesome, you're right, carfreeinla...there was another one one morning that was mint, mango and something else...very, very sabrosa!

                    2. Nice report. I'll give some a try. There's an awful lot of poor and overpriced food in Cabo. We've been going down for a number of years..and have some favorites; if I don't catch a fish or cook at home.

                      Here's a photoset of a few of our favorites..I'll add Tacos Los Claros..for seafood tacos..Tacos el Paisa for beef and there's a few taco stands whose names I don't remember..good rule is to get OFF the main streets.

                      Solomon's is an old fave cuz I remember when he first opened and I enjoyed the Super Bowl there last year..very much..:) Avoid the rest of the marina side places. The "beach places," Office, Biilygans, Mango Deck have steadily gone down in quality and up in price..but they're a fun day if you have a lot of time there and want a party atmosphere. If I want sushi out, I go to Nik San; but I usually catch my own..:)

                      Hope you enjoy the pics as much as i enjoyed taking them. We'll be back down early next year.

                      http://flickr.com/photos/61246842@N00...

                      ..

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: 9lives

                        loved your pictures they made me hungry! the pics help.. gonna find some of those places when we go down after christmas! that goat looked so good i think i am gonna try it.