When you think of traditional Mexican dining, perhaps touristy Los Cabos – which is actually an amalgamation of the celebrity favorite resort town Cabo San Lucas and the more laid-back, artsy San José del Cabo, wouldn’t be the first to come to mind. However, this scenic and popular zone of Baja California Sur is actually home to some excellent traditional dining options.
Because Los Cabos has become one of the country’s major resort destinations, the area is now home to a diverse population, and there are numerous restaurants representing the culinary styles and traditional dishes from many regions of Mexico.
At smaller, family-owned establishments, the bill of fare typically showcases specialties from the owner or family’s place of origin (Acapulco or Mazatlan, for example). Larger restaurants, however, particularly those located in tourist areas or at local resorts, will often offer a representative sampling of regional specialty dishes from throughout the country.
Here are some of the top restaurants in Los Cabos for authentic Mexican cuisine:
Waldorf Astoria Los Cabos Pedregal ranks with One & Only Palmilla as one of Los Cabos’ most exclusive and luxurious resorts, with a host of first-class amenities that include two of the area’s best restaurants. The cliffside El Farallón is well-regarded for its stunning views and market-style seafood, while the resort’s signature restaurant Don Manuel’s boasts old-world hacienda style atmosphere, and a large open kitchen that dishes out superb Mexican accented cuisine. Don Manuel’s is a fine dining establishment of deserved repute, yet they favor a more comfortable and relaxed approach than most restaurants of the same quality, with a gracious and welcoming staff adding to the charming, old-fashioned ambiance. The menu changes daily to reflect the freshest local ingredients, but some dishes are offered consistently, including the delicious pork belly tamal.
Named for the macaw, each of Las Guacamayas’ three locations – two in Cabo San Lucas, and the original in San Jos– del Cabo – feature colorful parrot-themed murals, as well as authentic and affordable regional Mexican cuisine. Popular among visitors for their excellent tacos al pastor, quesadillas are their claim to fame locally, particularly the delicious quesadillas chilangas, a Mexico City style version featuring fried tortillas and a variety of tasty fillings. Other menu highlights include homemade chicharron de queso and churros.
This popular stop for traditional cuisine is located near two other locals’ favorites, seafood specialists Mariscos Mazatlán and Tres Islas. All three offer authentic Mexican dining at budget-friendly prices, but María Jiménez is the preferred stop for those seeking signature comfort food standards like tacos, quesadillas, fajitas, chile rellenos and enchiladas. Combo platters featuring multiple options are featured, and there is a good selection of Mexican beers and tequilas on hand, as well as sangría and several delicious margarita varieties. Wines are served by the glass or bottle, primarily from México and the U.S. For dessert, try the caramel flan.
Hacienda Cocina y Cantina
Hotel Hacienda was the first hotel ever to open in Cabo San Lucas in 1963, although there’s a world of difference between that modest property, built by pioneer developer Rod Rodriguez (of Palmilla fame), and the luxurious Hacienda Beach Club & Residences developed on the same magnificent site, at the juncture of the Marina and Medano Beach, by another pioneer developer, Don Koll, in the early 2000s. The latter is among the most exclusive, expensive and spectacular properties in the region, although anyone who is either curious or hungry is welcome to dine at the superb onsite restaurant, Hacienda Cocina y Cantina. Traditional Mexican cuisine and an elegant barefoot-friendly setting distinguish the beachfront eatery, which looks out across the bay to Land’s End. Tortilla soup, chicken mole, and shrimp chile rellenos are among the many house specialties.
The latest addition to the Baja Cantina Group of restaurants opened in 2009, and specializes in traditional Mexican cuisine. All the recipes were passed down from the owner’s grandmother, and hark back to the days of the Mexican Revolution. The cooking and prep methods are likewise old-fashioned, from hand rolled tortillas to guacamoles prepared tableside. Menu highlights include tortilla soup, panela fondue, Mayan-style Cochinita Pibil, and the María Corona platter with chorizo packed chiles rellenos, and chicken smothered in mole sauce. The charming patio dining area reinforces the old-fashioned image, with colorful lights hanging from trees, and musicians Los Príncipes performing traditional Mexican ballads nightly. Air-conditioning is available in the indoor dining area, and cooking classes are also offered.
Owner Edith Jiménez is originally from the state of Guerrero, but she’s been a leader in the emergent Los Cabos dining scene for decades, not only at her namesake eatery, but at restaurants like The Office, La Pintada, and most recently, Don Sanchez in San José del Cabo. But Edith’s was the first, and remains her must-try restaurant for first-time visitors. Set half a block from Médano Beach, Edith’s offers one of the most reliablly enjoying and invariablly satsifying dining experience in Cabo San Lucas, thanks to a menu rich in Mexican cuisine and fresh local seafood, both enhanced by flavors from the magical mesquite grill. Time-honored offerings here include the Coqueta salad; the “Wally Special ” with grilled lobster, garlic shrimp, and mesquite grilled catch of the day; and the Pancho Villa with grilled chicken breast, stuffed poblano pepper and chicken enchilada. Al fresco seating beneath the enormous palapa is preferred during the high season, but the air-conditioned wine cellar is an excellent alternative during the hot summer months.
The signature restaurant at the Chileno Bay Resort & Residences is certainly a feast for the eyes, with stylish décor from a high-profile Los Angeles-based designer, and a picturesque perch overlooking the Sea of Cortés. The sense most likely to be gratified, however, is taste, thanks to its two top talents: Chef Yvan Mucharraz, formerly Director of Food and Beverage at Waldorf Astoria Los Cabos Pedregal; and Beverage Manager Osvaldo Vázquez, fresh off a notable stint creating the innovative cocktail menu at The Cape. Chef Mucharraz’s menu has shifted from its original Latin American orientation towards a more seafood focused Baja style approach, evident in dishes like grilled chocolate clam, totoaba ceviche and Baja mussels with chorizo. Lovers of traditional mainland Mexican cuisine, meanwhile, will also find plenty of favorites, although often in elevated fine dining form (duck carnitas, wagyu barbacoa, etc.). A generous wine list offers plenty of pairing options – including many from Baja California’s Valle de Guadalupe – and Vázquez unveils freshly minted cocktail recipes on a regular basis.
Los Tres Gallos
Named for three legendary actors from the golden age of Mexican cinema, Pedro Infante, Jorge Negrete and Javier Solís were collectively known as Los Tres Gallos (The Three Roosters), this charming restaurant has been a shining light of the Cabo San Lucas dining scene since 2010, and is now working the same magic in San José del Cabo thanks to a gorgeous new location in the heart of the city’s Distrito del Arte, which officially opened in November 2020. The new restaurant has one of the most remarkable features of any local eatery, since it is essentially designed around a trio of huanacaxtle trees which have grown together into one enormous tree. The focus in both locations, however, is on delicious traditional Mexican cuisine, from mole with chicken to pit-roasted cochinita pibil and much, much more.