Cabo: Mexico with Pasta

“How was the food”? people ask when I get back from anywhere, and my recent trip to Cabo was no exception. As it turns out, this year’s “best” was a tie between La Forchetta (the last visit’s best) and the mushroom quesadillas at Wirikuta, an outdoor, culturally-oriented production that starts with cocktails and ends with a show reminiscent of Cirque du Soleil.

After making several visits to Cabo together, my friend Mike and I have a list of favorites, and we make a point of revisiting at least a few of them. The first night is usually spent at one of the on-site restaurants at Raintree Resorts' Club Regina, where he has a timeshare. After a long plane ride, followed by a stop at the car rental, some unpacking, and a trip back to the grocery store in San Jose, it would have been difficult to convince me to eat anywhere else. And lest you think dinner at Club Regina is a “hardship,” let me assure you that the restaurant has both excellent food and al fresco seating, complete with an up-close view of the waves crashing on the rocks below.

Club Regina is half-way between Cabo San Lucas and San Jose del Cabo. We generally make at least one trip to Cabo San Lucas, and when we do, we eat at Alexander’s Restaurant on the waterfront at the marina.

This year’s visit coincided with Children’s Day, and the marina was crowded with parents and children celebrating the holiday. The entertainment was near the exit from the mall, which is also the entrance to the marina. We asked to be seated on the open terrace at Alexander’s, as opposed to “outside,” so dinner was largely undisturbed.

Alexander’s has a varied menu, but we always wind up ordering fish. When you’re sitting a stone’s throw from the water and the fishing boats, it’s hard to order anything but fish or seafood. Yellowtail was the fish du jour, and it was a good choice; ordering it cooked “medium” made it an even better choice.

After a several year hiatus, we decided to visit Todos Santos, home to the Hotel California, to check out the changes. It’s an hour- plus drive from Cabo San Lucas, and the scenery along the road isn’t particularly interesting. Bottom line, don’t expect the famed “Road to Hana” on Maui or the spectacular “Seventeen Mile Drive” in California.

Once we were in Todos Santos, we agreed that not much had changed, except that the woman from Wilmette who ran–or owned-one of our favorite shops was gone. In the end, we took took a leisurely stroll through the shops in the Hotel California and split a pizza at the Café Santa Fe.

If eating “pizza in Mexico” seems strange-we were in Mexico after all-, it isn’t. Todos Santos, like Cabo San Lucas and San Jose del Cabo, has a lot of Italian restaurants, and there were times when we felt like we’d sent our tastebuds to Italy while the rest of us went to Mexico. In short, restaurants on the southern tip of Mexico’s Baja Peninsula (at least in areas popular with tourists) offer a mix of Mexican and Italian food, seafood, steaks and burgers. Be forewarned: if you have a taste for pad Thai, you may be out of luck.

Thursday night in San Jose is gallery night, and it’s a “don’t miss,” even if you’re not particularly “artsy.” We love strolling the galleries, perusing the paintings and pottery (especially if it’s high end), and schmoozing with the artists and tourists. Dinner at La Dolce (the restaurant also has a venue in Cabo San Lucas) is a gallery-night tradition. I had the seafood pasta this time, and there was so much seafood that the pasta and sauce were almost superfluous.

La Forchetta was the “new ” place in town the last time we were in San Jose, and we ate there three times during the week-long visit. Happily, nothing’s changed. The food is superb, the location in an expanding hotel district in downtown San Jose del Cabo couldn’t be better, and the signature chocolate dessert is spectacular. Check out the post I did the last time I was in Cabo for details.

Okay- enough with the pasta and the pizza. We were in Mexico, and it was time to immerse ourselves in the culture and the cuisine. Wirikuta offers both, and it’s hard to find fault with either. Starting time varies with the season, since the show has to be done when it’s dark. Cocktails and a buffet dinner come first, although a lot of people buy show-only tickets.

Buffets are rarely better than mediocre, but this time the food was good enough to justify the cost. The “heat” level leans toward mild to moderate, but if you either love chilies or have trouble tolerating them, ask the server for help. Just remember, she/he has been eating chilies their whole life, so his/her definition of “hot” may not be the same as yours. Heat levels aside, the quesadillas, flan, and coffee are “don’t miss.”

“Organic” is the key descriptive for Flora Farms. Much of what’s used in the restaurant (Flora’s Field Kitchen) is grown on site, and if it’s not, it’s purchased from organic purveyors. Make reservations ahead of time if you want to eat at the restaurant (they serve breakfast, lunch, dinner, Sunday brunch), and be sure to browse the grocery and shops. If you're not familiar with the area, don't go for dinner because the access road is rough and unlit.

There’s also a once- a -week farmers’ market (November-May) near downtown San Jose that features organic food, along with crafts, art work, books, lotions and potions, and even furniture. It’s a great market for browsing, and if you’re there when it’s open, it’s yet another “don’t miss.

Note: I took lots of pictures, but my phone, much to my surprise, has been deemed “obsolete,” and it’s hard to access the photos. I’ll post whatever I can and then add the rest when I get a new phone.

Leave a comment