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Cabo Lodging that Inspires Loyalty: Mar de Cortez and Its Regulars

By Chris Sands

I can name dozens of local bars and restaurants with devoted followings–residents and regular visitors who swear by the food, drink, deals, or atmosphere. However, there aren’t a lot of hotels or resorts that seem to inspire the same type of loyalty. In Cabo San Lucas, one stands out: Mar de Cortez.

Views of Mar de Cortez from the courtyard swimming pool.

Maybe it’s the central downtown location, or because the hotel has been around forever, or what feels like forever in Cabo (40 years). Maybe it’s because the room rates are almost impossible to beat. Maybe it’s the feeling of community, running into many of the same people year after year after year. Whatever it is, Mar de Cortez has it, and the hotel has long been one of the most popular budget-oriented accommodations options in town.

Beyond the value pricing and friendly ambience, there are many things to recommend about this small, colonial-style hotel. The central location puts guests within easy walking distance of the Marina, and all the downtown shopping, restaurants, and nightlife. Medano Beach requires about a 20 minute walk, but Cabo Wabo is less than a block away–a not insignificant factor on those nights of vacation-inspired indulgence.

A standard ground floor room at Mar de Cortez.

Mar de Cortez has 88 rooms and suites, including standard, terrace, and garden rooms, and extra-large and king suites. The large swimming pool is the centerpiece of the courtyard, as well as social life at Mar de Cortez, and headlines the list of hotel amenities. High-speed wireless service is complimentary, and floral arrangements may be reserved prior to arrival. There is even a book exchange behind the front desk, where guests can trade in the thriller they read on the flight down for something a little more appropriate for a day at the beach.

The hotel’s onsite restaurant, Baja Peppers, opened last year, and has quickly developed a loyal local following of its own. Restaurateur John Venditti was behind one of Cabo’s favorite locals bar, Cabo Lounge, and has brought the same combination of low prices and congenial atmosphere to Mar de Cortez. The menu is a mix of Mexican, American, and Italian specialties. The American breakfast offers three eggs, bacon, fruit, potatoes, beans, and toast, all for US$3.  Baja Peppers offers both indoor and outdoor seating, and happy hour and dinner specials are available on a daily basis.

Mar de Cortez will be closed in September, but reopens on October 1st.

General Information

Location: Mar de Cortez is on Lázaro Cárdenas, near the corner of Vicente Guerrero, in downtown Cabo San Lucas.

How to Book: For reservations, visit Mar de Cortez’ website, or call toll free 1-800-347-8821 from the U.S. or Canada. The U.S. Reservations Office can be reached at (831) 663-1904. Information is available via email at mardecortez4info@gmail.com.

Cost: Room rates are being raised in October for the first time in seven years. Don’t worry. The prices are still very value oriented. Standard rooms (single or double occupancy) are US$57; terrace rooms are $62 (single or double) or $67 (triple occupancy); garden view rooms are $67 (single or double) or $72 (triple); and suites are $74 (single or double), $79 (triple), or $84 (quadruple occupancy). Off-season rates are a little lower, and children under eight stay for free year round.

Transportation: Airport shuttle service is available for both arrivals and departures. The cost is US$14 per person, per trip.

What is your favorite hotel or resort in Cabo San Lucas? Let us know below!

All photos courtesy of Mar de Cortez.

Baja.com is a comprehensive online source of first-hand travel information for the Baja California Peninsula, supported by a full-service tour operator staffed by Baja locals (our “Baja Travel Savants”). We offer Baja travelers expert advice about local restaurants, hotels and vacation rentals, as well as guides, maps and articles about events, sports and activities. We provide bilingual customer support, information and sales seven days a week, 365 days a year.  For more information, please call toll-free (US/CAN) 855-BAJA-411 or email us at info@baja.com.


Specialties and Delicacies: Foods to Try in Cabo San Lucas

By Chris Sands

Mexican food is so internationally well-known that even first-time visitors feel an easy familiarity with the majority of menus. However, there are still some dishes and treats that are little known outside the country, and won’t be found at any of the typical tourist traps. Here are a few local specialties and delicacies that should favorably impress even the most seasoned of travelers.

Mexican Horchata

When I tell  friends and family how much I love eating huaraches, they generally assume that things are going so poorly in the writing game that I have taken to eating my own sandals.

In fact, huaraches are fried masa in the shape of a sandal, covered with a variety of toppings like chicken, lettuce, tomato, avocado, sour cream, and cheese. This delicious dish originated in Mexico City, but the best place in Cabo San Lucas for huaraches is Tacos Guss, a colorful local eatery featuring traditional Mexican specialties, as well as some excellent horchata.

One of the easiest ways to delight visiting children is by giving them a cachetada, which is as much toy as it is lollipop. Shaped like a long colorful fish attached to a small white stick, you prepare a cachetada by gradually peeling back the plastic covering, folding the sucker over from the top down, and then slapping at it  with great vigor and enthusiasm. This step is repeated until you have what looks to be an anvil on a stick, at which point you begin folding the sides over, eventually achieving the shape of a small square American-style lollipop. Cachetadas are available at all the local dulcerias (candy stores), with the one of the most easily accessible for tourists being Dulceria Micky, a three block walk from Cabo Wabo.

Cabo San Lucas is justifiably famous for the quality of its seafood, and one of the most interesting ways to prepare fish on Mexico’s Pacific Coast is called zarandeado. Essentially, an entire fish is laid out on foil, brushed with a garlic and chile paste, covered with onions, tomatoes, and bell peppers, then charcoal grilled to achieve a smoky flavor. The finished dish typically weighs out at about a kilo, and can feed a small family. The best place in Cabo for pescado zarandeado is El Torito de los Mariscos, a restaurant that is beloved by the local Mexican population, and is one of the most popular spots for family dinners.

Where To Go

Tacos Guss – On Lazaro Cardenas near the corner of Melchor Ocampo, and open daily from early afternoon to about 5 a.m.

Dulceria Micky – At the corner of Miguel Hidalgo and Ninos Heroes. Open on school days from early morning to late afternoon.

El Torito de los Mariscos – Located a bit off-the-beaten-path at 1534 Janette Wilson, El Torito is open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. (624) 144-4682.

Where’s your favorite place to eat in Cabo?  Tell us below!

Baja.com is a comprehensive online source of first-hand travel information for the Baja California Peninsula, supported by a full-service tour operator staffed by Baja locals (our “Baja Travel Savants”). We offer Baja travelers expert advice about local restaurantshotels and vacation rentals, as well as guides, maps and articles about events, sports and activities. We provide bilingual customer support, information and sales seven days a week, 365 days a year.

Coffee in Cabo

By Meghan Fitzpatrick

There are several places of note in Cabo in which to have your daily caffeine fix, but here are some favorites:

The Cabo Coffee Company is one of the primary Cabo coffee suppliers

1) The Cabo Coffee Company – this place has some serious coffee. A local favorite, their tagline, “Death before decaf” is no joke — a cup of coffee from this place will have you wired for hours. That being said, they also brew excellent decaf coffee. Their coffee is also available to buy online if you can’t make it to to their store; it is sold in 3 main varieties: dark (for  US $13.75), medium (for US $13.75), and decaf (for US $14.00). They have no ‘light’ option – it’s all or nothing here.

Cabo Coffee Company also boasts a strong and reliable internet connection – something which is good to know if you’re in the area. They have food too, including large breakfast bagel sandwiches (very filling), cookies, muffins, pastries and pies. If you plan on frequenting the Cabo Coffee Company on a regular basis, make sure you ask about their loyalty program, nine cups of coffee (or tea) earns you one on the house.

All the coffee from Cabo Coffee Company is grown in the Sierra Madre Mountains of Oaxaca, in mainland Mexico. The beans are called Pulma Hidalgo beans and their bold, complex flavor make them some of the most desired coffee beans in the world. Once they are grown, all of the beans are then freshly roasted in Cabo. This means that their coffee is the 100% fresh and of the highest quality you can get your hands on in Mexico. It is no wonder why this place is a local favorite.

2) Cafe Cabo – One of the best, Cafe Cabo has everything you could want from a local coffee place, including excellent value for money. I spent the whole day at Cafe Cabo last week and I had a large latte, a turkey sandwich, a large coffee and a large bottle of water – all for US $6.85 (MX $88). CC also has excellent wifi – I wasn’t knocked offline once the whole day. If you’ve ever needed the internet in Cabo, then you know that finding a reliable, high speed internet connection is no easy feat. Thus far, out of all of the places I’ve been to in Cabo, Cafe Cabo definitely has one of the best internet connections, and it’s free.

The Cafe Cabo offers a variety of breakfast and lunch food items – they have a selection of freshly baked pastries, muffins, cookies, croissants, and also a variety of sandwiches and baguettes to choose from. Since I ate there, they heated my sandwich up for me and added a generous amount of salad to my plate.

Cafe Cabo is open every day except wednesdays, from 7am until 10pm.

3) Starbucks – everyone can recognize Starbucks. Cabo San Lucas is home to one of two Starbucks — the only two in all of Baja Sur. The menu requires no description, as it is the well-known, classic Starbucks food menu with the standard tall, grande, and venti drinks. The prices are given in peseos, but like anywhere in Baja, you can pay in either dollars or pesos.

The Cabo San Lucas Starbucks is located in Plaza Bonita, across from Squid Roe and next to La Trattoria restaurant. It sits right on the main street running through Cabo, Boulevard Paseo de la Marina, so you can’t miss it as you drive into town. The second Starbucks in Los Cabos is in San Jose, next to McDonalds, near the the big Mega store at the roundabout where you turn to drive to the airport, Boulevard Nauricio Castro no. 4650 Col. Both locations have reliable wifi and strong A/C — making them welcome sanctuaries in the summer. For store hours and information you should contact the locations directly as their hours and opening days vary by season.

4) Bar Esquina  - this local hot spot is a great place to have some seriously high quality coffee. They have an excellent menu for breakfast lunch and dinner, in addition to a full bar that is open well into the night. Bar Esquina is the restaurant and bar at the Bahia Hotel and though it gets pretty busy at night, during the day it is a much quieter environment and is a great place to work, have a nice meal and some truly excellent coffee.

Starting at 7am every day, Bar Esquina brews specialty organic Mexican coffee from Chiapas and Oaxaca. This is definitely some of the best and highest quality coffee in Cabo. They also have a delicious and thorough breakfast menu that should not be ignored, menu choices include a breakfast burrito, eggs benedict, pancakes, French toast, omelettes, huevos rancheros, fruit, granola, and more – all for between MX $60 and $85 (US $4.75 – $6.60). Breakfast at Bar Esquina is an experience not to be missed – this is not just a nightspot. Breakfast is served at Bar Esquina from 8am-11:30am, and you can come in anytime between 7am and close (which is late) for some excellent, organic Mexican coffee.

Where is your favorite coffee place in Cabo? If you know of any other great places for coffee please share with us below.

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Piquant Pleasures: Special Dining Experiences in Cabo San Lucas

By Chris Sands

There are many excellent Cabo San Lucas restaurants, from modest family-owned cafés to elegant fine dining establishments at top area resorts. The best local eateries boast an eclectic variety of charms, ranging from traditional Mexican ambience to innovative fusion menus from Los Cabos’ most talented chefs; silver tray service to romantic Sea of Cortez views. For those seeking the full package — that elusive combination of world-class cuisine, first-rate service, and awe-inspiring seaside settings — there are only a few true standouts.

Elegant cliffside dining at El Farallon.

Located on the grounds of the luxurious Capella Pedregal, perhaps the finest resort in all of Cabo San Lucas, El Farallon sports spectacular cliffside views of the Pacific Ocean, and a dining experience that features plenty of fresh market-style seafood. Begin your culinary journey with crab and chipotle soup, enjoy a trio of appetizers that includes crispy calamari and sea bass ceviche, then choose an entree from salty selections such as red snapper, tuna, dorado, lobster, and Pismo clams. Ribeye steaks are available for meat lovers, and the Amaretto poached pear provides a perfect capper for your moonlit meal.

Set on a promontory overlooking Land’s End, Sunset da Mona Lisa combines stunning views with seafood and homemade pastas from Italian chef Salvatore Messina. The restaurant operates its own charter fishing fleet, so the seafood is as fresh as fresh gets. The Sea Lovers Tasting, a five-course tour of Sea of Cortez treasures, is a popular choice, as is the Linguine di Mare with shrimp bisque, baby scallops, squid, and mussels. Sunset Point Wine & Pizza Lounge offers a more relaxed, casually upscale atmosphere, with with a menu that features gourmet pizzas and tapas, and ace sommelier Sabrina Sanchez on hand to steer tipplers through an extensive wine list that includes more than 140 premium selections. Celebrations are a specialty here, with services available for birthday and anniversary parties, as well as wedding ceremonies and receptions.

More Top Restaurants:

Best Mexican Food – Los Tres Gallos, 20 de Noviembre at Leona Vicario, (624) 164-5869.

Best Seafood – Lorenzillo’s, Cabo San Lucas Marina near Plaza Bonita, (624) 105-0212, www.lorenzillos.com.mx/cabos/.

Best Steaks – Chamuyo, Emiliano Zapata at Miguel Hidalgo, (624) 143-2010.

Land’s End views from Sunset da Mona Lisa.

Best Sushi – Nick-San, Plaza de la Danza near Wyndham Los Cabos, (624) 143-2491, www.nicksan.com.

Best Mediterranean – Alcaravea Gourmet, Ignacio Zaragoza at 16 de Septiembre, (624) 143-3730, www.alcaraveagourmet.com.

Best Wine Bar – DOC Wine Bar, Cabo San Lucas at Plaza Amelia Wilkes, (624) 143-8500, www.docwinebarcabo.com.

Best New Restaurant – Maca Restaurante, Miguel Hidalgo at Emiliano Zapata, (624) 143-4143.

Best Breakfast – Mama’s Royal Cafe, Miguel Hidalgo at Emiliano Zapata, (624) 143-4290.

 

What are your votes for best dining experiences in Cabo?  Share with us in the comments below!

Cooking and Dining at Cabo’s Maria Corona Restaurant

By Meghan Fitzpatrick

Recently, the Cabo Wine Club invited me to attend one of their renowned cooking lessons, this one being hosted at the Maria Corona restaurant in Cabo San Lucas.

Maria Corona sits on a side street, tucked away behind Boulevard Paseo de la Marina and Lázaro Cárdenas. With a welcoming white and terracotta exterior and a lovely garden bounded by a low wall, the restaurant’s charm and character are evident at first glance. Surprisingly, the eatery is much bigger inside than it appears from the outside; however, even with its high ceilings and spacious floor plan, Maria Corona feels cozy. It is decorated in a traditional Mexican theme complete with hanging lanterns and a woven, palapa-style ceiling. A color scheme of warm red and orange add to the pleasant, friendly atmosphere.

The restaurant itself is part of the Baja Cantina Group in Cabo, a network that also includes the Baja Cantina Marina Restaurant, Baja Cantina Beach Restaurant and the Tiki Bar.  Owner Jorge Gonzalez Sanchez opened Maria Corona  in May, 2009. The restaurant was named for his grandmother Maria Corona, born in 1916, whose recipes have been passed down through the generations. One of the restaurant’s classic recipes is Mole Poblano, ground beef picadillo with almonds, raisins and cumin; the mole is handmade with toasted chiles and almonds, handmade tortillas.  And there are always handmade salsas prepared in a traditional stone molacajete with a tejolote, otherwise known as a mortar and pestle. The entire menu is orchestrated by Executive Chef Javier Galindo.  Chef Galindo complements the menu at the Maria Corona with authentic Mexican fare — tamales, homemade tortillas, tortilla soup, an excellent selection of seafood and high quality meats.  For me, a personal favorite is Maria Corona’s own signature cheese fondue.

Chef Galindo also supervises cooking classes (classes can be booked for groups or individuals) at Maria Corona, teaching things like the history of the ingredients and how to use classic tools in Mexican cooking (like the molcajete and tejolote), as well as preparation.  In our class, that lasted 3-4 hours, we ground up spices, roasted them, cooked cheese fondue, and learned how to crush serrano chiles. We also learned the secrets of making fabulous guacamole.

If you are looking for authentic Mexican food in an establishment where you can dine in style, Maria Corona is definitely the place to go. In addition to its excellent food menu, the restaurant also boasts a large beverage menu. There is an extensive selection of wines, beers, and a full cocktail menu including the restaurant’s signature mango margarita.

The Maria Corona restaurant is open seven days a week from 2 p.m. – 10:30 p.m.

The Cabo Wine Club hosts cooking lessons throughout Baja Sur every month. For more information about their cooking lessons or any of their tastings or events, visit their website.

Baja.com is a comprehensive online source of first-hand travel information for the Baja California Peninsula, supported by a full-service tour operator staffed by Baja locals (our “Baja Travel Savants”). We offer Baja travelers expert advice about local restaurants, hotels and vacation rentals, as well as guides, maps and articles about events, sports and activities. We provide bilingual customer support, information and sales seven days a week, 365 days a year.

Cornering the Markets: Where to Buy Groceries in Cabo San Lucas

By Chris Sands

There are many great Cabo San Lucas restaurants, but if you’re staying at a villa, condominium, or other accommodation with kitchen or grill facilities, the most relaxing meals are often those shared in the comfort of your home away from home. Groceries can be purchased at many locations throughout the city, from large American-style supermarkets to corner stores and specialty shops. Both dollars and pesos are accepted everywhere, but bargain shoppers will find pesos the better option, as conversion rates at stores are often set below that of currency exchanges.

Plaza Aramburo has the greatest selection of all the downtown markets.

Supermarkets

For the largest selection, as well as access to American products and producers, there are several large and well-stocked supermarkets. Transportation is necessary, by bus or rental car, to reach chain stores like Walmart and Costco, but those staying in Cabo San Lucas will find the market at Plaza Aramburo a relatively short walk from the Medano Beach and Marina areas. If you buy too much to carry, taxis are stationed in front of the store.

Mini Supers

There are many small markets offering basic food and beverage items. Oxxo, a sort of Mexican version of 7-11, is the most common, but stores can be found on virtually every corner. California Ranch Market (formerly Tutto Bene) and Mini Super El Gallo are excellent options for those staying in and around Pedregal.

Specialty Markets

Mexican shoppers typically augment supermarket purchases with items from local markets. For a touch of the exotic, try shopping at one of Cabo’s specialty shops. A stroll through the downtown streets will introduce visitors to pescaderias (seafood), carnicerias (meats), panaderias (breads, pastries, and cakes), tortillerias (tortillas), and many other Mexican-style grocery stops.

Common items often seem exotic. Cans of chicharos, aka peas.

Where to Go

Walmart – Two miles outside the city at Plaza San Lucas. Accessible from the main highway (Carretera Transpeninsular) between Cabo San Lucas and San Jose del Cabo. (624) 144-7114
Costco – Just outside the city, at Carretera Transpeninsular Km 4.5. (624) 146-7180.

City Club – Paseo del Pescador and Lazaro Cardenas. Nonmembers must pay a small fee. (624) 143-9492.

La Europea – Wine, liquor, and deli emporium at Puerto Paraiso. (624) 105-1818.

Soriana – Supermarket located at Plaza Sendero. Delivery is available. (624) 105-1290.

Plaza Aramburo – Supermarket with a central downtown location at Lazaro Cardenas and Ignacio Zaragoza. (624) 143-0939.

California Ranch Market – Organic specialty market located on Marina Boulevard, near the Cultural Pavilion and entrance to Pedregal. (624) 144-3300.

Mini Super El Gallo – Convenience store one block from the main square, Plaza Amelia Wilkes, on Emiliano Zapata. (624) 143-0370.

Pescaderia Cabo Mar – The freshest local seafood is found here, a little-off-the-beaten-track, at the corner of Melchor Ocampo and Alíkan. (624) 143-4866.

Do you know of any other places to buy groceries or specialty foods in Cabo? Share your knowledge with us below!

Baja.com is a comprehensive online source of first-hand travel information for the Baja California Peninsula, supported by a full-service tour operator staffed by Baja locals (our “Baja Travel Savants”). We offer Baja travelers expert advice about local restaurantshotels and vacation rentals, as well as guides, maps and articles about events, sports and activities. We provide bilingual customer support, information and sales seven days a week, 365 days a year.