Let’s Get Out Of Cabo!

Beat you to the car
BY: DAVID FLORES

There’s a big world just north of Cabo, and it’s all within an hour’s drive.

We’re talking about the small communities of Cerritos, Pescadero and Todos Santos, which was given the “Pueblo Magico” (Magic Town) designation by the Mexican government.

tsletsgo.JPGThere is a vast array of real estate opportunities, restaurants, farm to table dining, orchards, palm tree groves, art galleries, condos, quaint B&Bs, larger hotels, and the well-known San Pedrito and Cerritos surf spots.

Driving from Cabo, you will find Jungle Pescadero, a bar, restaurant and petting zoo (and soon-to-be tiny hotel rooms passing as huts). That’s at Km. 69, on your right. A child’s petting zoo and a bar? Well, you’ve got to do something with the rug rats while you’re drinking. Park them in front of large, scary animals. Owners Kimberly and Carlos personally take care of everyone. 

Continue on north, and at Km. 65 on your left you will see Cerritos Beach. You will know it by the big fancy house out on the point. Big. Fancy. Now open to the public. Hang a U when you see it, and backtrack two kilometers. Take a right at a dirt road with a small sign directing you to the Cerritos Beach Inn. It’s also a bar and a very good restaurant, right on the beach, and if you say hi to owner Jim Coulson, tell him we said it was OK to use his pool. But, don’t be a cheapskate, buy a drink.

Go back out to the fourlane and at Km. 65 take a left heading towards the beach. There you will find tacos, pizzas, and great seafood at the Barracuda Cantina, where owners Dano and Karla serve some of the best fish tacos in Southern Baja. Dano calls himself a mixologist, but we’re pretty sure that means he’s a bartender of fancy drinks.

You can also try FreeSouls, a second floor restaurant owned by a Frenchie that comes with a small swimming pool.

Look towards the water and you will see a big wooden building that is the well-known Cerritos Beach Club. The owner has taken it private now, but practically anyone who calls can get in. It’s kinda expensive, and the service sucks, but Daline Jones, who sings there on Sunday afternoons, swears that it’s all better now that it’s private. You can’t beat the ambiance of a pretty jazz singer and the Cerritos surf break.

Go back to the paved road and turn left onto it, continuing on for another three kilometers. You are now in the small Pescadero community. On your right is the only paved street with a median. Drive in and about 300 yards on your left there’s Carlito’s Place. Now that’s a unique restaurant in an unexpected place. Excellent seafood, sushi, sashimi and now Chinese food. Owners Carlito and wife Brianda will surprise you with their food. It’s an open-air patio with a large, newly remodeled kitchen, frequented by the owners of some of Cabo’s most famous restaurants, like Nick-San, The Office and Edith’s. Pricey? Some dishes are, some not so much. But you won’t leave unsatisfied.

Also in Pescadero, behind the Pemex station, you can drive a few hundred yards and encounter Hierbabuena, a farm-to table, open-air restaurant that’s literally surrounded by their product: An orchard. Salad fixings don’t come any fresher than this. They also have tacos, pizzas, you name it. Try Baja Beans for coffee, and if you’re there on Sunday, there is a lively handicraft fair under the big old trees. Often there’s a live band. The Oasis, which used to be Dana’s Diner, is near the corner of the highway and the Beanery’s road. Owner Cyndi Williams just suffered a bad fire to her palapa roof, but the plucky restauranteur/Realtor/firefighter is back in business in the backyard. She serves good old fashioned American comfort food.

Continue driving north for about 15 minutes and you will be entering the “magic town” of Todos Santos, home of the famous Hotel California (no connection to the Eagle’s song, despite their best efforts to promote that with T-shirts). In a marketing ploy, Mexico has designated more than 100 towns as magic. To qualify, a city must demonstrate a mix of historical, cultural and aesthetic qualities, so these are very special, and for sure worth a visit.

As you enter Todos Santos, take the first paved street to the right and go to the end of it. You will find the kind of new, but already famous, Jazamango restaurant. It’s owned by Chef Javier Plascencia of Mission 19 in Tijuana and Cocina de Raiz in San Diego. Chef Plascencia was named San Diego Eater’s Best Chef. The restaurant is literally surrounded by an orchard. Expect good food; we like the steak sizzled over an open fire. There is also a bike rental, and you can peddle seven miles of dirt trails to the beach.

There are plenty of good restaurants in Todos Santos, too many to review them all here. We will give you their names so you can Google or Facebook them. Our faves are: La Catrina, Chez Laura (a French restaurant that’s hard to find), Gallo Azul, Landi’s, Café Santa Fe, Derek’s, Alma and Manny’s (true Mexican food with excellent hand-made tortillas), Benno at Hotel San Cristobal, La Copa at the Todos Santos Inn, Los Adobes, La Posta del Oasis, The Guaycura Hotel, El Mirador, Café Todos Santos, Santo Vino, Miguel’s (best chile rellenos), La Santeña at Hotel Casa Tota, Rumi Garden (Asian food), El Faro beach club and more. As you can see, this is an eating town.

Got you thirsty? Look for the Todos Santos Brewery, which offers several artisan beers, hamburgers and more, or ask for directions to the winery, which is now releasing its own fruit-flavored wines. As in mango, hibiscus and some others.

My wife and I have actually found more pleasant bars and restaurants in Todos, as we call the town, than in Cabo. And most of them have much better prices. We have personally tried each of the places listed here.

Yeah, my boss thinks I am a food snob, but so is my wife and our 14-year old son, and we go to Todos at least twice a month. We have made many friends (chefs and bartenders, of course), and plan to move there in the near future.

If you fall in love with the area (and why wouldn’t you?), talk to Richard Friend at Ricardo Amigo Real Estate. He knows the area very well and will be happy to share it with you.