La guia de Cabo de Psaltis
(The Psaltis Guide to Cabo, most recently updated February 2022)
This is not "the" ultimate guide to Cabo. We simply want to share our own perspective of this fabulous destination. All information here is our bias. We're listing what we like and hope it helps!
Our guide began many years ago and has been continuously updated to keep it current. Cabo San Lucas has morphed into a genuine “destination,” as opposed the cute little fishing town we found on our first visit in 1993. It is both a good and bad. The degree of Americanization has certainly impacted the Mexican “feel” for the town. We had always enjoyed the fact that Cabo, unlike Puerto Vallarta and other big-name Mexican destinations, had maintained its local flavor. Now it is more difficult to find that. Cabo has become far more upscale in its restaurants, shopping and overall feel. There are more cars, more paved roads, more American restaurants, more luxury items and more people than ever, but parts of Cabo will never change. It is sunny, warm and dry, which, for a Washingtonian, is about as good as it gets. There is plenty there for all, even if Cabo is more cosmopolitan.
As meal prices have risen, we have ventured into areas of Cabo that we didn’t know existed. Some of our recommended places are the old “tried and true” spots but we have also found neighborhood eateries where the locals eat. It has been fun, not always delicious, but invariably cheaper than some of the easy-to-reach places in the tourist areas. If you like bargains we’d suggest you shop at the local markets and spend a bit of time making your own meals. Leftovers from huge portions can serve as tomorrow’s lunch.
The current version specifically targets places that have more “local” flavor. They have given us more variety and helped our wallets a bit. If you are like us, you may not go on vacation to save money, but it doesn’t hurt to enjoy some local color (and cuisine) for less than $30 for two. This version is an eclectic mix of places, prices and atmospheres. We do our best to be honest and accurate. As with the rest the world, things are always changing in Cabo, so what appears here is true as of February, 2022.
Included are websites for the many places listed. Some restaurants don't have websites, so Trip Advisor, Google Plus or Facebook are included as alternatives. In many cases, the menus are posted as are opinions of other people who have gone, so if you don't get enough information from our thoughts, you have access to opinions and ideas via the Internet.
Our expeditions provided exhilarating times. These places are fun and, in our experience, safe (health-wise). Many are located in an area that is a mere 2-3-4 blocks off the main drag, but it feels as if it is 50 miles from the nightclub like atmosphere of the touristy section of Cabo. Some of the places are very basic and speaking Spanish might help. We suggest that you simply meander up and down Jose Morelos Street or Leona Vicario Street (both come off Lazaro Cardenas Street near the Porto Paraiso super mall) and decide for yourself where you might want to eat.
Eating in Cabo
You are in for many treats in Cabo
and here are the ones we particularly like. There
will be many choices, so if you don't follow ours,
you'll still do well. Just keep in mind that places
come and go. They also blow hot and cold, It is
always amazing to us how many restaurants we
previously loved have closed and how a given place
(can you say "Pancho's?") can be so erratic. We have
been in Cabo many times since 1993, and feel that we
can save you some time by going to any of the
Our TOP RESTAURANTS (new ones listed in red)
SALVATORE on Zapata Street Click here for website
A local told us about this place and recommended the lasagna, which is the special of the night on Wednesday and Friday. We dropped in on Wednesday only to discover the place packed. We made reservations for the next Friday and weren’t disappointed. We ordered the spinach salad, which was easily enough for 3-4 people. The special, we’d been told, comes in large portions, so we ordered a single plate and the two of us could barely make it past the halfway point. The lasagna was tasty and the service was excellent. I’d recommend this to a family, as the price for our meal (as described above) came to $50 with wine. The place is very popular, so get reservations if you are headed there later than 6:00. Note: in 2022 we did not know if the lasagna "special" was on Wednesday and Friday, so you may need to ask. Rated—4 stars
MARIA JIMINEZ on Calle Narcisio Mendoza Click here for Trip Advisor
CAPTAIN TONY'S on the Marina Click here for website
There are several little restaurants along the marina
more and more
each year we
go. Much like
right on the
marina so that
you can drool
in front of
you. A better
would be to
drool over the
there are many
places in town
these up, we
feel these are
the best. One
"catch" (so to
speak) is that
they are only
lunch time. Of
are many other
palate, so you
if you head
dinner. Rated-- 3
PANCHO'S on Miguel Hidalgo Click here for Website
Perhaps no place has had as many ups and downs as Pancho's. It is renowned for having the "most tequilas in the world," but that is hard to believe. It was a regular place for us early on and it has since had good days and bad (like many of us). The breakfasts still appear to be a bargain, but at a trip a couple of years ago, we were shocked by our dinner bill of $80 for a couple of margaritas and two entrees. Still, it's a fun place, but you might want to check prices before entering. Rated-- 3 1/2 stars
The restaurant is reputedly a former trading post and got its name from the owner who took an annual trip to the mission at San Juan Capistrano. We all know what happens there every year and you will not be surprised to learn that “golondrina” means swallow. The setting of this restaurant is lovely—a grove of trees that have been festively lit with spiraling lights make up much of the garden décor. The menu is posted on a wall next to the open-air kitchen, which affords you a clear view of the chefs, the flames jumping around and the beehive of activity. Two of us ordered the jumbo shrimp dinner for two and we were pleased. All came with four different dipping sauces. Included in the meal were a tostada salad, soup, garlic bread and a choice of potatoes, vegetables or rice. This place is not cheap, but well worth the cost. The setting is marvelous. Rated-- 3 stars
MARISCOS MAZATLAN on Narciso Mendoza on the corner of 20 de Noviembre Click here for website
Located just off the main street, this is a good restaurant for seafood. It is a bit more expensive than average, but it is also easy to find. As with other seafood places in town, you will find the full gamut of fish, shrimp, etc, and the decor is reminiscent of the "old" Cabo we found back in 1993. If you are a fish fan, I would recommend this place quite highly. Rated—3 stars
LA CASA DE ABUELA on San Lucas Click here for Yelp
You will need to "get out of town"
to reach this place. It is a very cute, simple
restaurant that is probably family-owned, as the
name implies. I have eaten there twice-- once for
breakfast and once for dinner and found the prices
and quality to both be excellent. We had
chilaquiles, coffee, scrambled eggs, tea and some
tortillas one morning and I think the bill came to
less than US $10. It's not as if I drive all over
the place to save a buck or two, but the ambiance of
the place was rustic and charming. Rated—3 stars
A Coffee House other than Starbucks
CABO COFFEE COMPANY on Miguel Hidalgo Street Click here for website
Two Americans who want to provide
quality espresso and want to support the coffee
farmers own this coffee shop. They buy directly
from organic coffee growers so that the farmers
receive more money themselves. The coffee is very
good. If you like mochas, they use Ghirardelli
chocolate instead of Hershey's, which we also
prefer. They have limited seating and only a few
little muffins. I still like this place quite well
for my “cuppa” and enjoy the alternative to
Starbucks, which has shown up on the main street
of town. Rated—3 1/2 stars
Other places to eat that we have enjoyed, but just didn’t make it into our Top 20:
CABO WABO on Vicente Guerrero Street Click here for website
This is a "cute" restaurant. Quite a number of the eateries in Cabo try hard to be funny, off-the-wall, unique or whatever adjective you decide is most appropriate. At the Cabo Wabo, they have a number of unusual drinks, food, including breakfast specials. It can be wild at night (we've heard) and is owned by Sammy Hagar.
LAS TRES ISLAS on Revolucion de 1910 Street Click here for Trip Advisor
Highly recommended by several locals, we tried this and found it to have a mixed performance. Eight of us went and four of us liked the food and four did not. The service was spotty, as the waiters did not seem as responsive and we would like, but the place was packed, is a good sign. We will give it another try since we liked it. It is on the periphery of the touristy side of Cabo, which I liked.
EL PAISA on Leona Vacario Street/corner of Alikan (one block down from Las Guacamayas) Click here for Trip Advisor
Six of us went there and found it be very, very basic with a limited menu. They do have soups, quesadillas and tacos. Most items have meat. No alcohol is served. The online feedback was nothing short of spectacular, but we found this to be all right. The conspicuous pluses were that you can practice your Spanish and that prices are a bargain. Tacos are served on soft tortillas and have only the meat on it. There is then a help-yourself bar with salsas, cheese, onions, guacamole, etc, to "doctor" your tacos. It is similar to Gardenias.
LOS MICHOACANOS on Leona Vicario Street Click here for website
This is a carnitas place, which means it has a wide variety of meats, including some that you are better off enjoying without knowing exactly what it is! Some locals, who ordered for us, took us to this place, but I am certain that pointing and asking questions could also work.
SAN JOSE DEL CABO
The “other” town in the “Los Cabos” title is San Jose del Cabo. For many years it retained its Mexican flavor, but depending on which direction you take into town, you will find that the big hotels and timeshares have made a significant impact. The downtown area very much feels like an old Mexican town with a nice cathedral and many art shops, particularly in the area known as the “artist area.” The heart of that area is Guerrero Street and is well worth you while to take a leisurely stroll thought the many shops that have hand-crafted wares. It is a step up from the more touristy trinkets in the shops in Cabo San Lucas.
There are two restaurants in San Jose del Cabo that we feel are sure things for your visit if you plan to eat there:
"H" in San Jose del Cabo at Guerrero and Obregon Click here for Trip Advisor
Owned by Luis Herrera (hence, the
"H") this is a jewel with an interesting menu and a
uniqueness that shot it far up on my scale. Those of
you who know me are aware that I claim bragging
rights to the best margarita you have ever tasted.
When Luis mixed one for me, he explained that it was
the "simplest recipe" in the world. Perhaps. I
remain convinced that he has a magic ingredient that
he is not divulging. This is not your rock-bottom
bargain-basement place, but is worth the price
and the visit. The food is exquisitely prepared and
has both Italian and French flairss. If you are
going on Arts Walk night (every Thursday) be sure to
make reservations. Rated- 4 1/2 stars.
FLORA FARM in San Jose del Cabo Click here for website
If you want a unique experience, you'll want to go to Flora Farm. It is entirely organic and has a restaurant (a bit pricey) as well as cooking classes that are both fund and educational. I would recommend going to the website and reading more about this remarkable place. The history of it is inspiring and attention to detail is remarkable. We have gone to two cooking classes there-- one for chicken tamales and the other for vegetarian tacos. During the class, you will also hand-make salsa and guacamole. The class includes a tour of the farm and after it is finished, you are served the food that you, yourself prepared. You will also receive the recipes for everything you made. The only thing that takes a half star off the rating is getting there. It's a bit far and the final half mile or so is on a rutted, dirt road. Don't let that stop you! Rated—4 1/2 stars
LA PANGA ANTIGUA in San Jose del Cabo Click here for website
This beautifully appointed restaurant is a part of the Mi Casa family (above) and is worth the trip alone. It is housed in an old hacienda and the entry way is already enough to lure you in. The tables are arranged on a multi-tiered patio giving more of a sense of privacy. The lighting on the bougainvilleas and other plants is inspiring, as is the food itself. We enjoyed a variety of dishes and even though the bill was substantial, we found ourselves not really caring, given the enchanting evening we had enjoyed. It is located in the heart of the old town on Zaragoza Street, almost directly across from the main church in town and a stone’s throw from the main plaza. Rated—4 stars
Known for its many art studios and shops, Todos Santos is now a mere 40-45 minute drive from Cabo San Lucas now that the new highway has been completed. The town, while touristy because of its survival from the visitors, is a charming piece of old Mexico. The streets are up an down hills and many remain unpaved. For a delightful day outing, this is a wonderful choice. Shortly before arriving in Todos Santos (from Cabo San Lucas) you will pass Cerritos Beach, which is another potential outing. There, you can sit on the beach, have beers and/or food and watch surfers. Back in Todos Santos, the restaurant we feel is the clear choice is:
LOS ADOBES Click here for website
It is a small place and the food is
organic, elegant and reasonable. As it that weren’t
enough, the restaurant also has a stunningly groomed
cactus garden to view while dining or enjoy before
or after your meal. We particularly enjoyed the
chiles en nogada, a traditional dish prepared
without frying anything. There is a wide variety of
items on the menu but the ambience alone is worth
the visit. Rated—4 ½ stars
PLACES NOT TO EAT WHEN IN MEXICO
Cabo is being "Americanized" more and more, so that you will find Subway, Dominoes Pizza, Dairy Queen, Kentucky Fried Chicken and other disgusting imports (such as the Hard Rock Cafe) that mar the landscape on Cabo. I feel it's too bad that Cabo has lost part of its character in order to cater to tourists. We avoid these places as much as possible and heartily suggest not going to the places that are available in the U.S. for their processed and predictable food. Instead enjoy the unique places of Cabo. This is the end of the editorial.
OTHER IMPORTANT INFORMATION
Just so you are aware of a couple things that many inexperienced Mexico travelers seem to worry about, here are a couple of “little details” about your time in Cabo:
Relaxing-- We mostly go to Cabo to RELAX, so our main recommendation is to enjoy the weather, which is nearly always sunny and clear.
Timeshares-- Unless you are sure you want to buy (or are considering buying) a timeshare, you should avoid the “welcome breakfast," or any other variation on the rip-off theme of cheap cars to rent, $100 gift certificates, free breakfasts, or anything else that requires you attend "a presentation." These people are relentless (and even rude) and will NOT "take only 1 1/2 hours of your time" to tell you about the wonders of timeshare. They will easily suck up 2-3-4 hours of your precious vacation time making you agonize over spending lots of money. Trust us—you are better off avoiding them. When you arrive at the airport, there are two rooms full of these sharks and they will all tell you they are "helping you with a taxi." They are doing that, but will also cajole you into a "presentation." It’s smart to march directly to the booth at the end of the second room (after customs) that is clearly marked "TAXI" and purchase your ticket there. It is not cheap. There are shuttles, but depending on the location of your destination, it might take you quite a while in the shuttle. It drops off other passengers. The shuttle costs $18/person, while a taxi costs an astonishing $80. We are in Cabo to be in Cabo, not to be in a shuttle that is eating up our time for a "mere" $44 savings (for two). Just a thought!
The water-- it is ABSOLUTELY FINE to drink the water. I am certain that the locals would not want anyone to get sick from the water, so feel free to drink water everywhere. You will usually see signs at restaurants (or on the menus) that indicate that all water is filtered and that all fruits and vegetables are washed. Most time-shares have filtered water systems so that drinking the water out of the tap, brushing your teeth, etc., are all fine. If you continue to have any worries, you can always purchase bottled water at the markets.
Montezuma's revenge-- another myth that cannot seem to die. We have now been to Cabo about 50 times (literally) and experienced only one episode of anything that resembled GI distress. After so many years, it is our opinion that Montezuma probably visits all the Gringos who spend too much time in the sun drinking too much alcohol. This is not scientifically proven, but much like comments above about the water, tourism has become such an enormous industry in Mexico that I am certain all efforts are being made to avoid people getting sick. You should still rinse off any fruits.
Theft-- we feel utterly safe in Cabo at all times. We don’t worry about being held up or mugged. With the advent of the “chip” credit cards, it is more difficult to life the card numbers, which has been a problem in the past. Most places bring the portable card machine to your table anyway, so this adds to the sense of safety. More and more people ask us if we “feel safe” in Mexico. We do, absolutely. An article in the Los Cabos magazine in February, 2011 cited some statistics that may help you gain perspective. Based on actual homicide rates, Cabo San Lucas is: 12 times safer than Honolulu, 18 times safer than Miami and a stunning 26 times safer than Orlando. Feeling safer?
Money-- You don’t need to convert dollars into pesos before you go—they are readily accepted everywhere, ranging from taxis to street side vendors. Bring some cash, largely because you can only pay for a taxi/shuttle/bus from the airport with cash. After that, it is handy to have both one dollar bills and five dollar bills—these are handy for taxis, tipping people or buying little trinkets or gifts. There are also plenty of ATM machines, which mostly dispense US dollars. If you have an international credit card (with a chip) that does not charge you 3% “foreign fee” it is best to pay with that every time you can. Restaurants and stores will typically present your bill both in dollars and pesos and their exchange rate is not as good as the one you get with your credit card. Always pay these bills in pesos, not dollars. It’s a better deal. If you want to include a tip, you can but it needs to be added in before they run your card.
Grocery Stores-- there are several and each has advantages. In the middle of Cabo San Lucas is your basic “Mercado,” which is now much like a 7-11 store, but is most convenient. The prices are considerably higher. You “buy” your conveniences there. It is good if you need some beer or tortillas. A relatively short taxi ride away is the Chedraui Market, which is a real grocery store with better variety of foods (fruits, vegetables, etc). It has better prices and much more variety than the Mercado, but requires some effort to get there. Across the street from Chedraui is La Comer. It is big, clean and has the best produce we have seen. Costco is also now in Cabo San Lucas, so if you are looking to buy in bulk, you can do your usual Costco trip in Mexico now.
THINGS TO DO IN CABO
There is a multitude of things to do in Cabo. Our favorites are resting and reading books that we have no time for at home. If you are more adventuresome, here are a few things to consider:
· Whale Watching--
Jan-March. various boats go out into the
Pacific--- day and evening
· Parasailing-- generally available from vendors around the Marina or Medano Beach
· Deep sea fishing-- marlin, dorado,
etc.-- nearly all-day events/can be expensive
· Sunset cruises-- these are party boats with a live, loud band and lots of alcohol.
· Glass bottom boats/good to see fish, fun for kids
· Lover's beach-- need to be taken out there by water taxi
· Waverunners-- readily available
· ATV's-- for into-the-desert adventure/these are guided tours
· Snorkeling and scuba-- some of the beaches outside of town are best
· Golf-- world-class courses; stunning scenery, equally stunning greens fees
· Horse back riding-- either at the Hotel Melia or Pueblo Bonito/just ask
· Glass factory-- it was interesting and fun/good for children
· Shopping- there are many, many little shops all over Cabo with nothing in particular that is a "must buy" but there is plenty of bargain jewelry, hats and souvenirs
· Porto Parasio Mall-- the huge mall on the marina is very upscale and interesting just to browse. It is impressive with lots and lots of granite, fountains, etc.