local 2, Blvd. Paseo de la Marina lote 10, Centro, 23450 Cabo San Lucas, B.C.S., Mexico
Few cuisines marry as well as Japanese and Mexican, a fusion that’s masterfully explored at Nick-San in Cabo San Lucas and San José del Cabo. Founding chefs Ángel Carabajal and Masayuri Niikura blend centuries-old Japanese recipes (including but not limited to sushi) with locally sourced ingredients to create exceptional bursts of flavor and a menu that has inspired additional locations around Mexico. The black and white tuna sashimi and tuna tostada are two of the most popular dishes, especially when paired with Nick-San’s own label of wines and sake. The original location is in downtown Cabo San Lucas, near the marina. A second Nick-San, in the Shoppes at Palmilla at the southern border of San José del Cabo, is a slightly more elegant space (gilding the lily, you might say) and includes a champagne bar.
Avenida del Pescador, Medano s/n, El Medano Ejidal, 23453 Cabo San Lucas, B.C.S., Mexico
In recent years, one restaurant has set the bar for cool in Cabo San Lucas. Bar Esquina, the Bahia Hotel & Beach House’s on-site bar and grill, features a chic casbah-like design aesthetic, a menu built on Mexican and Mediterranean flavors, and a commitment to organic, locally and responsibly sourced ingredients you taste in every bite. The menu is ever-evolving, but there are standouts you can always expect to find. The tuna tartare is a tiered, artistic creation, featuring tempura and an avocado-yuzu mousse. The Caesar is the signature Bar Esquina salad, here wrapped in a long, flat crouton and served with poached egg and prosciutto. Entrée selections include a generous filet mignon with potatoes au gratin and the short-rib pizza with blue cheese and arugula.
Cormoranes s/n entre pelícanos y acuario El, Medano, 23453 Cabo San Lucas, B.C.S., Mexico
SUR Beach House is everything a beach retreat ought to be. This chic Medano Beach property offers a relaxed, almost private-residence feel. Breakfasts range from healthy, green, and juicy to the indulgent croque madame. Pair any meal with a handcrafted cocktail; the SUR Caesar is a nice play on the classic Canadian cocktail and comes with crispy rib eye tips and roasted habanero sauce. The raw bar is like a love letter to the sea. Not least of all, the kitchen turns out delightful oyster preparations, but don’t leave Cabo without trying the raw chocolata clams. Named for their color, not their flavor, these meaty mollusks are best with just a little lime and hot sauce. (Come early for stand-up paddleboarding; Cabo SUP is located on-site and offers rentals as well as lessons.)
Ignacio Zaragoza 20, Centro, 23400 San José del Cabo, B.C.S., Mexico
One-hundred-fifty-year-old walls and tropical foliage frame the courtyard dining area at La Panga Antigua, an enchanting restaurant in downtown San José del Cabo. Walking through the unassuming front door is like taking a step back in time; there’s an old-world charm that envelops La Panga Antigua (and the whole arts district, for that matter). The menu, however, demonstrates a distinctly contemporary sensibility, blending ancient Mexican recipes with a 21st-century commitment to locally sourced and sustainable ingredients. Seafood comes from regional fishermen, vegetables from an organic farm in nearby Pescadero. The menu changes regularly, but you can expect items like scallop carpaccio, grilled rib eye, or the catch of the day, grilled with a pumpkin seed crust.
Fracción Hotelera FH5-C1, Subdelegación de la Playita, Puerto Los Cabos, 23403 San José del Cabo, B.C.S., Mexico
Chef Thierry Blouet’s Café des Artistes made an immediate impression on the region when it opened inside the JW Marriott Los Cabos Beach Resort & Spa in Puerto Los Cabos. Blouet has spent more than a quarter century perfecting his Café des Artistes concept, one that blends gourmet French techniques with highly curated Mexican flavors. The results are magical: A tuna tartare is stacked delicately with pickled vegetables, avocado slices, and crispy fennel; pork belly is served with hibiscus and red wine sauce; and shrimp comes with a plum-habanero mole. The setting is equally striking: A sophisticated dining room opens to a terrace with breathtaking views of Cabo San Lucas Bay and, in the distance, city lights.
Salvatierra s/n entre Lopez Mateos y Camino al Faro, Mariano Matamoros, Ampliación Mariano Matamoros, 23460 Cabo San Lucas, B.C.S., Mexico
This local favorite breakfast spot has quickly become Los Cabos’ worst-kept secret. Far removed from the main tourist zone, Restaurant Bar Campestre has for years catered to local businesspeople, families, and in-the-know visitors. Even after a renovation that upped seating capacity, it remains a no-frills flavor palace well worth the wait for a table and the effort to find it. Come early for a heaping serving of chilaquiles (strips of fried corn tortillas). They’re available with red or green sauce, and topped with chicken or steak. All the breakfasts pair perfectly with just-squeezed orange juice and cup after cup of fresh-brewed coffee.
Ignacio Zaragoza s/n, Centro, Ildefonso Green, 23450 Cabo San Lucas, B.C.S., Mexico
La Casa de Don Juan knows how to do breakfast. An instant hit when it opened, the restaurant initially focused entirely on the most important meal of the day with dishes like pancakes, huevos divorciados (two fried eggs, separated on the plate by refried beans), chilaquiles (eggs, scrambled or fried with crisp strips of tortilla and topped with salsa), and several other Mexican favorites. Its café de olla—a traditional cinnamon-sugar coffee—might be the best in all Los Cabos. Everything tastes like the most incredible home cooking, and the space itself more resembles a two-story residence than a traditional restaurant. The menu and hours have now extended to include lunch. Opt for the prix fixe menu or à la carte on taquitos (rolled tacos), cochinita pibil (slow-roasted pork), or chile relleno (a poblano chile stuffed with cheese and then batter fried).
Mariscos El Torito may be the most popular Los Cabos restaurant you’ve never heard of. The cavernous seafood spot is a favorite among locals, and it does appear as a lunch stop in some city tours. But by and large, it flies under the tourism radar. Seek it out and you’ll find heaping portions of affordably priced ceviche, stuffed clams, fish tacos, and pescado zarandeado, a pre-Columbian recipe of butterflied whole fish that’s grilled over holm-oak coals for a marvelously smoky flavor. The almejas especiales are a souped-up preparation of raw chocolate clams with octopus, fresh salsa, and more. You’ll spot families celebrating special occasions here, and it’s so kid-friendly there’s even a play area, complete with a miniature merry-go-round.
Av. del Pescador, El Medano Ejidal, 23453 Cabo San Lucas, B.C.S., Mexico
While much attention is paid to the Japanese and Italian influences on Los Cabos cuisine, one of the very best spots in town is an Argentine entry. The low-key, low-lit courtyard restaurant Chamuyo features a dozen or so tables, a long bar, and a traditional Argentine grill. The steak-house menu sends you on a culinary adventure through Buenos Aires dance halls and the verdant pampas. Meat-stuffed Argentine empanadas (markedly different from the Mexican variety) are served oven-baked or fried, and make excellent starters. For your main course, try chef Marcelo Romby’s 22-ounce beef ribs, which he slow-cooks for more than four hours. Pair it with a bottle of Baja red and, if you can, save room for some first-rate alfajor cookies.
23470, Lázaro Cárdenas 1112, Centro, Ildefonso Green, 23479 Cabo San Lucas, B.C.S., Mexico
Pioneering Los Cabos chef Ángel Carbajal is best known for Nick-San, his enormously popular collaboration with Japanese chef Masayuki Niikura, which has spawned several restaurants throughout Mexico. Now Carbajal has launched a new solo project: Fat Tuna Copas y Cocina. The chic three-story restaurant in Cabo San Lucas’s nightclub district is a fun new vehicle where Carbajal can showcase his seafood mastery. There’s charred octopus and sea-salt-crusted whole fishes, plus lobster stroganoff, in addition to a wide selection of pastas and meat-centric dishes. The cocktail menu also demands attention; a signature Bloody Mary pushes the envelope with a blackened-tuna garnish.
Vicente Guerrero 6, Centro, San Lucas, 23450 Cabo San Lucas, B.C.S., Mexico
The best of Brazil is only a short walk from Cabo San Lucas’s downtown tourist heart. Madeira Bistro, a burnt-orange corner joint, features a wide entrance and wall made nearly entirely of windows. The airiness invites breezes in and allows the intoxicating aroma of the rodízio-style grilled meats to waft out. Here, round after round of rib eye, hanger steak, top sirloin, and other preparations are served, along with sides of basil mashed potatoes, coleslaw, sweet potatoes, and more. The food keeps coming until you cry uncle. The knowledgeable staff is there to help with pairings and perhaps wheel you out.
Av. del Pescador s/n, El Médano, 23410 Cabo San Lucas, B.C.S., Mexico
A pioneer in locally, sustainably sourced ingredients, Peacock’s in Medano Beach is proof that responsible sourcing can lead to delicious results. Produce is grown locally at the restaurant’s own organic farm in nearby Pescadero, and chefs opt for noncommercial species of fish, sourcing from local fishermen instead. Only the beef is purchased outside the Baja Peninsula, and it comes from a Sonoran ranch that disdains both growth hormones and GMO corn feed. The menu takes inspiration from Europe as well as the Americas in dishes like a grilled octopus appetizer with grasshoppers, handmade fettuccini and tlayudas (an open-faced tortilla piled with toppings that’s a Oaxacan specialty), and filet mignon with a garlic-bacon sauce.
Sheraton Grand Hacienda del Mar Los Cabos, Carretera Transpeninsular Km. 10 Lote D, Cabo del Sol, 23450 Cabos San Lucas, B.C.S., Mexico
For more than two decades, Chef Volker Romeike’s standout restaurant has charmed patrons at the Sheraton Grand Los Cabos Hacienda del Mar with its Pacific Rim concept, ocean views, and dramatic design. Pitahayas—both space and the menu—got an updated look in 2015. A newer focus on blending Mexican and Asian flavors has allowed Romeike to show off his culinary creativity. Duck lumpia (like a spring roll) is served with a papaya salsa; a taro tostada comes topped with carnitas (braised pork); and tuna poke comes with watermelon and chili powder. For special occasions, consider the Cava de Santiago wine cellar, which houses some 400 vintages. The restaurant’s bar also offers Social Fridays, when limitless drinks can be had for a not unreasonable tariff.
3 Paseo de La Marina
You can’t come to Mexico without eating at least one, or 20, tacos. The Mexican staple has an addictive quality, especially with its many preparations at the legendary Tacos Gardenias in downtown Cabo San Lucas. This no-nonsense, frills-free taqueria has been around for more than three decades, perfecting family recipes that go beyond what you might expect. This being Baja, of course there are fish and shrimp varieties. Moving along, you’ll find shredded chicken, beef, carnitas (braised pork), cactus, chicharrón (fried pork rinds), and cochinita pibil (slow-roasted pork) iterations. There’s no wrong time to eat a taco, of course, so Gardenias opens early, at 8 a.m., with all the toppings on hand to get you eating.
km 6, México 1 1, Misiones del, 23455 Cabo San Lucas, B.C.S., Mexico
Sunset Monalisa is one of the most romantic restaurants in the world. Its views of Cabo San Lucas Bay and the arch at Land’s End are spectacular any time of day but particularly at sunset, when the sky turns vibrant shades of red, yellow, and purple. Love is definitely in the air here: Servers report at least one engagement per week, and it’s a favorite wedding venue. The multitiered cliffside restaurant features a Taittinger Terrace Oyster and Champagne Bar, as well as an exceptional Mediterranean menu from chef Paolo della Corte, who trained in Michelin-starred kitchens. Navigate the à la carte options independently or opt for the prix fixe or tasting menus.
Carr. Transpeninsular 6.5, Tourist Corridor, B.C.S., Mexico
Sunset Monalisa’s sister spot, Sunset Point, offers the same exceptional vistas as the landmark restaurant plus a menu that focuses on wine, tapas, and pizza. Enjoy 180-degree views of Cabo San Lucas Bay, Land’s End, and Los Cabos’ famous sunsets. There’s a three-course tasting menu, Italian tapas (try the meatballs stuffed with salami and mozzarella, or the handmade focaccia with Parmesan, mortadella, and truffle essence), and gourmet pies. The pizza menu is where you’ll find incredible creativity, with options ranging from tuna sashimi to kale and goat cheese. Save room for dessert—there are traditional sweets as well as cocktail desserts like a liquid tiramisu.