Villa Valentina, Drunken Sailor and Cazuelas in San Jose del Cabo
Although it’s summer in the Bay Area and my vacation now seems so long ago (really only a month ago) I’m still hungering for Baja and the food I love so much. Tacos were the vision – and we did partake – but we also ventured out to restaurants for meals which captured the essence of the region and time and time again reflected the hospitality of the people.
Three standouts on this trip include the following:
The Drunken Sailor
Located near the new marina (look for Hotel El Ganzo) and sporting a casual, beachy vibe this place really delivers. We ordered the taco chino; a tortilla filled with panko coated shrimp and topped with a cilantro sesame dressing. In addition I tried the enchiladas verde filled with shrimp and just the right amount of tang and spice. This was a nice start to the trip in the Bay Area….
After dinner we hung on the deck of the very cool and sophisticated Hotel El Ganzo. El Ganzo is jaw-dropping with it’s chic decor, relaxed vibe and roof top pool. The rooms vary from waaayyyy over the top (one has a ping pong table AND workout room) to more subdued but all boast views of the marina and on this night were served up by Gerry, our effervescent host and impromptu tour guide.
Next up a trip to Todos Santos to see the real Hotel California. Of course we were famished upon arrival and a taco platter plus ceviche with red pepper cream salsa was in order. I admit I had an Eagles soundtrack playing in my head “Welcome to the Hotel California…” but it wasn’t until we visited Hacienda Cerritos I felt the dream materialize. Beautiful stonework, pools overlooking the Pacific and a friendly cat jumping around to greet us made for a delightful day trip away from the core.
Part home decor store, art center and restaurant is the best way I can describe Villa Valentina. Throw in well-prepared food and the sound of a local musician on his guitar and you’ve almost got your own romantic movie.
My dinner companions ordered the huarache (chipped duck with mole, really terrific) and chicken with – you guessed it – more mole. As odd as this sounds, I ordered the fish and chips thinking it would be fun to see how other cultures prepare this iconic American dish. In this case, Villa Valentina nailed their rendition and put their own stamp on it with fresh local sea bass perfectly cooked and served alongside wedge cut potatoes. And don’t forget the tarter sauce (I didn’t!)
Cazuelas del don
Located in San Jose del Cabo off the tourist loop this local restaurant is about as authentic as you can get. The premise is that each day the owner slow cooks meat, vegetables and spices and then you get to choose how the concoction is served up. On this day we were treated to La Ira; arrachera, chile poblano and cebolla (plus a few other ingredients.) I opted for the baked potato, my companions the torta (sandwich) and volcan which seemed to translate to “all piled up on a crispy tortilla”.
This was probably one of my favorite places from the Bay Area and not just because the food was so interestingly delicious. It’s because it was served with a dose of pride and much warmth by the owners themselves. To this day my travel companion lights up when talk turns to Cabo, Cazuelas and that lovely torta!