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The Art of Fine Dining: Dinner at Don Sanchez in San Jose del Cabo

The Art of Fine Dining: Dinner at Don Sanchez in San Jose del Cabo

Chef and restaurateur Tadd Chapman has been a force on the San Jose del Cabo dining scene for close to two decades, from early successes like Tulip Tree, Brisas and Purple Pear to his current triumvirate of acclaimed restaurants: Don Sanchez, Habanero’s and Retro Burger Bar.

But as recent visitors to Chapman’s signature downtown restaurant Don Sanchez can attest: Chapman’s mastery of the dining experience – from detail-oriented service and charming ambiance to ambitious tasting menus and creative wine pairing options – is at an all-time high.

Don Sanchez in San Jose del Cabo

Don Sanchez Restaurante in downtown San Jose del Cabo.

At Don Sanchez, the recipe for success is as simple as one, two, three. One, choose the right ingredients. Two, search for the perfect harmony between food and wines. Three, make the dining experience a memorable event.

Don Sanchez in San Jose del Cabo

Lush foliage and colorful appointments distinguish Don Sanchez’s courtyard dining area.

Choosing the right ingredients involves more than simply sourcing fresh meat, seafood and produce, although certainly that too is important. So important that Chapman has established his own organic farm, Sanchez Organico, to provide him with the fresh produce needed for his unique Baja Fusion cuisine. So important that he buys his seafood fresh from local fisherman, and sources grass and grain-fed beef that are wet-aged and seasoned with natural un-iodized sea salt from Guerrero Negro in the northern part of the Baja California peninsula.

Don Sanchez in San Jose del Cabo

Beet Mole with tempura avocado, baby carrots confit, and tortilla foam.

But there are other important ingredients, too: friendly, first-class service; a setting that seems to become more magical in direct proportion to the amount of moonlight and music; and of course a wine list capacious enough to complement the ever-shifting daily and seasonal tasting menus.

Don Sanchez in San Jose del Cabo

Pork and Pulpo, with Hoisin pork belly, grilled octopus, smoked carrot pure, yuzu pickled cauliflower, dehydrated onion, and pasilla sauce.

The cocktail menu is also excellent, of course, as I found out during a recent visit. A short detour down an anything but dusty Dirt Road – Mezcal with tamarind puree, angostura bitters, brown sugar and basil – was an immediate reminder that Don Sanchez’s commitment to a “the devil is in the details” philosophy is at the heart of the restaurant’s ongoing success. The perfection of each small detail, from custom crafted cocktails to romantic saxophone ballads, finally resolves itself, by meal’s end, in a whole that is greater than any constituent part.

Don Sanchez in San Jose del Cabo

Chef Tadd Chapman (left) and the author indulge in a bit of wine tasting.

But chefs and their restaurants are judged first and foremost on food. And the daily tasting menus at Don Sanchez can, at this point, properly be considered works of fine art. Not only in terms of presentation – although the pork belly and pulpo (grilled octopus) combo I sampled looked to have been plated by a mutual descendant of Mondrian and Matisse – but in terms of taste, texture, and originality. The menus change to reflect the freshest available ingredients, and the dishes themselves often involve reworkings of traditional favorites in new and interesting ways.

Don Sanchez in San Jose del Cabo

Grilled Catch of the Day with sundried tomato tapenade, quinoa, salad, pesto, and bruschetta salsa.

A great example of this idea would be the meat course served during my last visit, a new take on the old breakfast standard of steak and eggs. Only for this occasion, the stars of the show were done up in evening dress, sealed and slow cooked at low heat – sous vide style – and served with a truffle hollandaise that seemed a nod to another morning standard, Eggs Benedict. Yet the dish in its entirety – it also included arugula, potato and bacon – was decidedly unexpected, utterly original, and, more to the point, completely delicious. And, I might add, perfectly complemented by a Spanish Tempranillo, a pairing I had never for a moment considered during hundreds of previous encounters with steak and eggs. I’ll say this: it beats the hell out of coffee or orange juice.

Don Sanchez in San Jose del Cabo

Sous Vide Steak and Eggs with parmesan breaded hen egg, truffle hollandaise, arugula, potato, and bacon.

Tasting menus at Don Sanchez follow the five-course model of amuse bouche, appetizer, salad, fish course, and meat course, with each dish working as a standalone, as well as a segue from the dish it precedes to the one that ensues. During my last dinner, the narrative progressed with the character and complexity of a fine novel:  a rich beet mole with tempura avocado, baby carrot confit, and tortilla foam followed by an aesthetic masterpiece of Hoisin pork belly and grilled octopus; an interlude of baby arugula, beet, and blue cheese, with toasted pecan, strawberries, baked pecan apple crisps, and balsamic fig vinaigrette; Grilled Baja Med catch of the day – tower style – with sundried tomato tapenade, quinoa, salad, pesto, bruschetta salsa; and of course the unexpected twist of an ending – savory sous vide steak and eggs; plus a sampler of decadent desserts for good measure. All matched to order with wines that traced the globe from Mexico’s Valle de Guadalupe and Valle de Parras to South America, Europe, and beyond.

Don Sanchez in San Jose del Cabo

A sampling of desserts.

Wine is a particular specialty at Don Sanchez, and the state-of-the-art wine bar and exposed cellar area and wine shop was a major focus when the restaurant was renovated several years ago. Not only does the onsite wine shop stock over 300 labels from benchmark producers around the world, but a sommelier is on hand to offer purchasing advice, and carry-out sales are permissible until 11 p.m.

Don Sanchez is located on Blvd. Mijares in downtown San Jose del Cabo, a block from City Hall and the plaza principal. For reservations, call (624) 142-2444. For more information, visit

Don Sanchez in San Jose del Cabo

The exposed cellar area and carry-out wine shop stocks over 300 labels from around the world.

All photos courtesy of Perla Pulido. is a comprehensive online source of first-hand travel information for the Baja California Peninsula. We offer Baja travelers expert advice about local restaurantshotelsvacation rentals and activities, as well as guides, maps, complete event calendars and great stories about incredible travel destinations, from Tijuana to Cabo San Lucas.  We also provide free personal travel consulting, planning and booking services in Los Cabos, Todos Santos and La Paz, with prices that match or are below best advertised price. For more information, please call toll-free (US/CAN) 855-BAJA-411 or email us at

San Jose del Cabo: A Family Friendly Organic Market

San Jose del Cabo’s Organic Farmers Market is family friendly and much more than just an organic market!

“Nieves (ice cream), pizza, wheat grass, coffee, water, the music, and all of the artisans, cooks, jugglers, and growers. You have created a very lugar tranquilo especial (special quiet place). Whenever we come to Cabo, we will be coming back to this market. We want to see this same caring for the environment and each other spread around the world. Thank you for understanding this and putting it into reality.” Greg & Robin from Olympia, Washington.

San Jose del Cabo’s Organic Farmer’s Market is a family friendly organic market and more!

Organic food and produce, music, art, fun, workshops: San Jose del Cabo’s organic  market  is a special place on earth.

San Jose del Cabo is, in itself, a natural retreat in Baja California Sur’s ‘lands end’.  It is a place that keeps cultivating its beauty and reputation as a small artsy/surfing/world-class culinary Mexican town by the Sea of Cortez.  It is also guaranteed that you will find some very unusual people here, particularly in the word of food and cuisine. To give you an example, there is Mexican Chef  Pia Quintana (whose new book  “Mexico Sano” (“Healthy Mexico”)  has just been awarded The Gourmand Best in the World Health and Nutrition Book in Mexico and will compete in February on the World Stage of The Paris Cook book Fair). She is recognized as a pioneer in the effort to offer organic products in our town — the kinds of products that are rapidly becoming part of a lifestyle here.  As a testimony to this you can find  a fabulous organic farmer’s market every Saturday from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., at “La Huerta Maria” near downtown San Jose Del Cabo,  (located directly in front of the Jockey Club  on the road to Las Animas).  The organic market actually is seasonal, and runs from November 3rd through May 25th 2013.


The produce and products of the market include jewelry, clothes, Mexican-flavored dips, leather goods, crafted cards, Huichol arts, furniture, paintings, indigenous lotions and potions and botanicals, pottery, books and maps, stones, basketry, and so much more.  Besides the obvious fact that there is organic produce in abundance, food items include organic breakfast cereals (notably Casa Dahlia’s), casseroles, ceviches, fresh baked bread and artesanal bakery items, coffee, curries,  ice cream, gourmet handmade Mexican candy, escabeche, middle eastern cuisine and the list goes on.


Produce is abundant at the San Jose del Cabo Organic Farmer’s Market


There are also services offered, from healing massage and therapies to animal care, rolfing, Spanish lessons, tarot reading, and so forth…and so forth!  San Jose del Cabo: A family friendly organic farmer’s market that inspires soul evolution for young, old and inbetween.

Kids play with each other while their parents sit to hear the live music, take a yoga session, enjoy a massage or even participate in a workshop.  Everyone has a chance to eat, or simply talk with the vendors about their art.  Vendors, many of whom are parents themselves, make this their way of life and nurture the ‘family’ approach:  An environment where children experience natural joy, education in the arts and friendly social skills.  What’s best is that a practice of healthy eating becomes not a parental ruling but a fun way to understand and celebrate the way to life.


The San Jose del Cabo Organic Farmer’s Market is a family friendly experience.

The music is always different:  One weekend you can find a Mexican group with marimbas, another you’ll enjoy pop, rock, jazz, guitar duets, tangos, new age. People remark that it is a beautiful experience, even if you end up not buying something.  But it is important to buy because 10 percent of the contribution from market-day sales goes toward the costs associated with market operations such as rent, personnel, promotions, fees. So, buy!  Remember that each vendor’s contribution makes it possible to operate and maintain the market..and so does yours.

San Jose del Cabo’s Organic Farmer’s Market strives to create a place where local products and art can be available to and supplied by a multicultural community. Besides  promoting  local organic agriculture, arts and crafts, music and educational resources, this organic market promotes and emphasizes the importance of low impact ecological/sustainable packaging, recycling, and producer-buyer awareness, all of which not only educate but improve the quality of life for everyone in the community.

See you there! For more information about the San Jose del Cabo Organic Farmer’s Market, visit their website!

Looking for a vacation rental with a kitchen, where you can cook up some fabulous Baja Sur cuisine with your organic products? 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

photos: courtesy of  Casa Dahlia & Farmer’s Market

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Gaia: Life Awareness in Baja

By Yesica Pineda

A journey of a thousand miles must begin with a single step.  — Lao Tzu

Gaia in Greek mythology was the mother of all. We used it to call to the Earth. So in the present, when we see the name Gaia, we think of our mother Earth–She,who provides our life needs. Which is exactly what Gaia, the store and workshop, offers to us, right here in San Jose del Cabo.  Gaia:  Life Awareness in Baja…

Gaia ~ Store and Workshop ~ is a Baja land experience; one that awakens us to a real-earth consciousness.  It is a food store which makes available healthy and organic sustainable foods that are not genetically modified and are created without chemicals or additives.  This is clean and living food like nuts, seeds, grains, spices, alternative flours, vinegars, oils, alternative pastas, breads, crackers, fresh goat milk, yogurt, and cheese, soy yogurt, agave syrup, honey, stevia, turbinado sugar, seed crackers, sprouted cereals, seed and nut milks, fresh  juices, fresh vegetables in season, a natural personal care line, and so forth.  They are the things that are really needed to sustain and nurture.

Located at the Montessori school, Educarte,  in San Jose del Cabo, this space hosts community workshops in the afternoons and evening, that focus on sustainability and permaculture,  healthy, vegan and raw nutrition,  and holistic wellness.

“I realized how passionate I was to be able to share shifts in nutrition, permaculture and  sustainability awareness. Helpful skills so that we can all be healthy and autonomous in our care for the planet, lives, food choices,” says Kim Clapham, the owner.

How to Get There: Gaia ~ Store and Workshop ~  address is PADRE MANUEL GARCIA 1339 COL: MAURICIO CASTRO C.P. 23443 SAN JOSE DEL CABO, BAJA CALIFORNIA SUR.

What to expect at Gaia: An organic food store and a Urban Garden that offers workshops that teach how to cultivate food in your own home and how to prepare and cook healthy dishes.

Have you been to Gaia?  What did you think?  Share your comments and experiences with us below. 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.

Can You Eat Organic in San Jose del Cabo?

By Yesica Pineda

One of the greatest pleasures of travel is the opportunity to encounter new cultures through local food. In seaside San Jose del Cabo, you will find an eclectic assortment of foods and styles, from fresh fruits and veggies to seafood, Italian, California-style, European, Turkish, Spanish, French, American, Chinese, Japanese—and of course, traditional Mexican tacos.

Did you know that many of these local restaurants source their ingredients from the San Jose del Cabo Organic Farmer’s Market? Here, you can find produce from a variety of local organic farms, such as that produced by Sabor de Amor (Taste of Love).

A branch of the organization Raices y BrazosSabor de amor is located at Colonia Chamizal San Jose del Cabo. Its mission is to “reach out and nourish folks through homegrown local organic foods infused with love and intention.” Raices y Brazos is an integral center for the exploration of individual and collective evolution. Its areas of exploration include: art, music, yoga, dance, healing, spirit, ecology, activism, education, organizing and community building.

The growers are a mix of volunteers who travel from all over to sustain the gardens and the local community that works on it; it is a significant community effort, directed and founded by Peter Domecq. You will find them as a strong presence in the Farmers Market, offering the veggies of the season. You can find out in detail which veggies and fruits are in season at San Jose del Cabo Organic Market’s website.

What is organic?  Organic food is produced by farmers who emphasize the use of renewable resources and the conservation of soil and water to enhance environmental quality. Organic foods are produced using methods that do not involve modern synthetic inputs such as pesticides and chemical fertilizers.

You will find variations of this definition often, but they are incomplete. What is special about our Farmer’s Market in San Jose del Cabo is its resonance with what many of us feel and believe. Being organic is a natural way of life in spirit, in words, and in actions.

So yes, you can eat organic in San Jose del Cabo!

How much do you know about organic food in Mexico or even organic food in general? Comment with your experiences and knowledge.