Happy Hour at Baja Brewing in Cabo San Lucas
In early February, we decided to take a long weekend trip to get some sun and heat. After many deliberations, and narrowing down locations to Maui (Hawaii), Austin (Texas), San Diego (California), Los Cabos (Mexico), and Puerto Vallarta (Mexico), we chose Los Cabos.
Cabo had been on our radar for awhile but as we know we will love Hawaii, we are always hesitant to try new tropical destinations. It was an article in Vancouver magazine, decent flight options that maximized time there, and a promotion at the recently opened Hyatt Place Hotel that helped us make our choice.
“If you think Los Cabos is about tequila, all-inclusive resorts, and impulsive back tattoos… you’d be right. But for the discerning traveller, cool hotels, amazing chefs, and modern art lurk just below the surface.”
Los Cabos means “The Capes” and it is located at the southern tip of the Baja Peninsula. Hotels options are divided up mostly between San Jose del Cabo, Cabo San Lucas, and in between. The Hyatt Place is in San Jose del Cabo which is more quiet than Cabo San Lucas, but it is Cabo San Lucas that is home to the beautiful Medano Beach and stunning views of the “rock”. Cabo’s landscape is essentially a desert by the sea, which means you are almost guaranteed to have clear weather every day. Each day, we got to see the most stunning sunrise and the sunsets were pretty spectacular too.
The garden at Huerta Las Tamarindos
Somewhere in between San Jose Del Cabo and Cabo San Lucas, waiting for the bus
Much like when we arrived in Cancun and proceeded through customs and to find our arranged transportation, I was hesitant and a little uneasy. Compared to Hawaii, you definitely feel more of a party vibe in Cabo, and you are greeted by this as soon as you emerge from the airport, as people sip drinks from the arrival bar and smoke cigarettes. (**While we enjoyed our time in Cancun at the Westin Laguna Mar, we did feel that it wasn’t the type of vacation we would pursue again. Back then, the beach was not swimmable and it was difficult to find interesting dining options and culture. )
Once we checked into our hotel, we decided to walk around and go check out the beach. The beach in San Jose is nice to walk on but not the nicest to swim as the surf is a little rough and choppy and the water was a little murky. Most of the hotels on the beach are time shares and all inclusive resorts so it’s not easy to find a nice place to sit and grab a drink beach side, like it is in Cabo San Lucas.
While we did enjoy our stay at the Hyatt Place due to the friendly and helpful staff, room setup and cleanliness, and location, we will probably stay in Cabo San Lucas next time.
The beach in San Jose Del Cabo
In San Jose del Cabo, there is an “old town” that has restaurants, cafes, art galleries, souvenir shops, and pharmacies. We did enjoy the vibe and taking in the architecture. Due to reviews on TripAdvisor, we decided to have dinner at Salsita’s but it is definitely not worth the hype. The food was pretty pricey and so-so; the fish tacos were really greasy and more batter than fish, and the jicama tortilla did not go well (jicama tasted better on its own). That being said, we did enjoy the guacamole and chips, and the house drink (a little expensive), which was tequila poured over ice with whole pieces of grapefruit, lime, and orange. We also checked out the Baja Brewing location here but found it to be lacking compared to the other ones; did not have all the beers on tap and the washroom was pretty dirty.
The house drink at Salsita’s: Tequila over ice, with fresh pink grapefruit, lime, and orange.
Our favourite places in San Jose were: La Michocoana for Paletas, the Saturday Farmer’s Market, and Los Guacamayas. La Michocoana es Natural is a chain that makes water and milk based paletas. Some of the flavours have English translations but the more unique ones are unmarked so you have to have some knowledge of Spanish to understand. Our favourites were the “Pina ” (chili pineapple) and the “Coco”. The Saturday Farmer’s Market reminded me of the type of market you would find in Hawaii, or anywhere on the West Coast. You had lots of vendors and great food options. We had ceviche from the family that sells fresh seafood, and a tostada of sorts from Las Cazuela’s del Don. Our best meal in San Jose was at an outdoor taco restaurant called Los Guacamayas. While we loved all the tacos and the salsas were great, it was the tacos al pastor and chorizo that won us over; they were probably some of the best tacos we have ever had. Compared to back home, in Mexico you garnish your tacos to your taste.
La Michocoan Paleteria in San Jose Del Cabo
The pineapple chili and coconut paletas
The Saturday Organic Farmer’s Market in San Jose del Cabo
The chicken stew with bacon at Las Cazuela’s Del Don
The tostada from Las Cazuela’s Del Don
The Mexican ceviche from the seafood shop
Another good option in San Jose Del Cabo is Cynthia Fresh. It’s an organic cafe/bistro with lots of vegetarian options and healthy meals. I had the grilled fish sandwich with a salad and it was super filling and tasty; a great meal before starting a long flight and drive home. The staff are also very friendly and the outdoor patio is comfortable. After having lunch here, we concluded this would have been a better dinner choice than Salsita’s.
The fish sandwich and salad at Cynthia fresh, and fish tacos in the background.
You can definitely get around without a car by using the public transit system, walking, and/or taxis. We got around by walking and taking the public bus. It takes about 30 minutes to travel between Cabo San Lucas and San Jose Del Cabo on the public bus and it costs about $2.50US per way. In the town, you can hop on an Urbano bus, usually school busses that will stop when you flag them down and let you off wherver you want on the route for $1.00US.
The Urbano bus for travel within the city
On our way to Cabo San Lucas, we decided to get off the bus to try Asi y Asado, a renowned taco restaurant featured on Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives. You will want to get off the bus about 30 seconds after the Costco if my memory serves me right. They have a good selection of seafood and meat based tacos, options for vegeterians, and the most impressive salsa/condiment bar I have ever seen. We had the fish, octopus and shrimp tacos, and had fun experimenting with the different salsas and pickled vegetables. After ordering the Agua fresca with fruit, I was a little concerned but the pineapple and cucumber combination was definitely worth it for the taste and I didn’t get sick.
The salsa and condiment bar at Asi y Asado
A grilled octopus taco at Asi y Asado
There is also a Los Guacamayas in Cabo San Lucas so we had dinner there and found it to be just as good as the location in San Jose del Cabo. This time, we ordered the Molcajetes, which is a stone bowl with grilled meats, cheese, veggies, and nopales (cactus salsa). It comes with tortillas and various salsa’s. It reminded me of fajitas but way better.
The pastor tacos from Las Guacamayas
The molcajetes (meat) from Las Guacamayas
Medano Beach is right in the centre of things and despite being busy, it doesn’t feel crowded or dirty; its a great place to swim and just walk to enjoy all that Cabo has to offer; sunshine, warmth, stunning landscapes, and beautiful sea.
While in Cabo San Lucas, we had great happy hours and got to enjoy craft beer! On the bus, I spotted the word “brewery” and asked J. to walk with me to see what it was all about. It turns out a new craft brewery based out of Tijuana had opened recently. Ramuri Cerveceria was a great place to enjoy some IPA and snacks; the foccacia and chimichurri combo was incredible. Happy hour runs from 4-7 and it’s by 1 get 1 free. Our favourite though, had to be the Baja Brewing location in the Cabo Villas due to its stunning views. The beer is pretty good too; their Peyote Pale Ale is hoppy and drinks more like an IPA. Happy hour also runs from 4-7 and drinks are half off.
Beer list at la Cerveceria Ramuri
Baja Brewing by the marina
While in Cabo San Lucas, we decided to try Los Tres Gallos, an authentic Mexican cuisine restaurant set in a beautiful courtyard. The food here was excellent, and this is what we were expecting at Salisata’s. The ceviche, grilled cactus, and cochinita pibil did not disappoint and gave us more insight into the complexities and ingredients used in Mexican cooking.
Los Tres Gallos in Cabo San Lucas
The grilled cactus dish with black bean sauce
The ceviche tostada
The cochinita pibil plate
Overall, Cabo met and exceeded our expectations. We had such a lovely time and are definitely hoping to go back sooner than later to explore more and to re-visit familiar favourites. If you are looking to enjoy tasty Mexican food, enjoy a beautiful and safe beach, enjoy craft beer, and want to wander safely, then it’s a great place for you! All inclusive options are also available, but it’s worth venturing off the resort to take part in the culture of Cabo.