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One of the Top Todos Santos Restaurants, La Garra Claws its Way Back

One of the Top Todos Santos Restaurants, La Garra Claws its Way Back from Fire Damage.

The fire in Todos Santos in February, 2013, did some serious damage. Not only were homes lost, several local businesses were affected, perhaps none so much as the popular restaurant and sports bar La Garra, one of the top Todos Santos restaurants. Despite the best efforts of owners, employees, neighbors and the volunteer fire department, the popular local hangout lost its palapa roof, and sustained a good deal of additional property damage. But when your name means “eagle claw,” you don’t quit. You fight your way back.

fire in La Garra Restaurant bar Todos Santos

The palapa roof was a casualty of last month’s fire, but the restaurant remains among the top Todos Santos restaurants.

Owners Jesus and Happy Cota are a resilient couple and with the help of their family, friends, and the Todos Santos business community, they hope to repair and replace that which was damaged or lost. The fact that the fire occurred hard on the heels of La Garra’s hugely successful 3rd anniversary celebration was a tough blow, but there is never really a good time for adversity. And despite the misfortune, the restaurant remains open, and remains busy.

“It’s been very humbling,” Happy said, “to see the huge support from the community.”

aniversary La Garra Bar

Things have changed since January’s 3rd anniversary party, but La Garra is still pulling in the crowds.

A little more than one month removed from the fateful day, La Garra is still trying to get back to normal. In addition to the building of a new taco stand out front, repairs continue in the interior dining areas, and it may be several more months before the restaurant begins to resemble what it was before the fire. But the important thing is that La Garra survives. The restaurant is still keeping the same hours, and is still dishing up some of the best Mexican food in Baja Sur.

chiles food

Comfort food and healthy seafood and salads have made La Garra one of the top Todos Santos restaurants.

The chile rellenos are as good as they ever were, which is to say spectacular. Made from an old family recipe, the shrimp or cheese  stuffed chiles are certainly La Garra’s most celebrated dish, although Jesus’ special fish and scallop sashimi is rapidly gaining ground. La Garra excels at serving up comfort food favorites, but they manage to do so without artery-clogging cooking methods (their excellent fish tacos are neither breaded nor deep fried, for example), and their heart-healthy salads are nearly as beloved amongst locals and expats as the hamburgers and cold beer.


Artsy appointments and vintage Mexican movie posters add to La Garra’s charm.


Although several televisions were damaged in the fire, this is still the best sports bar in Todos Santos, and you can still show up to cheer on your favorite teams, whether they play baseball, basketball, football, hockey, or soccer. On the subject of entertainment, most of the restaurant’s beautiful old movie posters – donated by a relative who owned a theater during the golden age of Mexican cinema – also survived, although there were a few casualties. For those who know love popular Mexican culture and remember movie stars like Maria Felix, Pedro Infante, and Cantinflas, these framed posters are a priceless part of La Garra’s charm, and virtually irreplaceable. Luckily, the bulk of the collection was unharmed.


Live music and live sporting events are staples at La Garra.


Live music remains the big draw on weekends, from jazz and blues to reggae, rock and roll, and traditional Mexican standards. A benefit is the planning stages that would help local families who lost homes during the late February blaze, and other community-based recovery efforts are also expected. In short, La Garra was bloodied, but unbowed. So, too, the town of Todos Santos, which banded together to protect its own.

But don’t take my word for it. Stop by and see for yourself, and help support the repairs and renovations. And find out more about Todos Santos and places to stay on 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 La Garra Restaurant and Sports Bar.


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About Chris Sands

Chris Sands is the author of Bohemia by the Bay, and writes about wine, golf, and travel for publications such as, Los Cabos Guide, Los Cabos Magazine, 10 Best, and USA Today. He is a full-time resident of Cabo San Lucas.


  1. Happy Cota says:

    Thanks Chris and for a great article! This Saturday we will have a Funky Reggae Party if you are around and want to join!!

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