By Misty Tosh
When May rolls around the corner down South, it brings two things – the cheer of Cinco de Mayo and start of major heat waves across the peninsula. Most of the snowbirds have either left or begun their migration back north by early summer, but for those that stick around, there are still loads of fun things to do to snap the escalating temps and bring the chill factor back down. Here are three that are certain to keep you entertained.
Hotel Punta Pescadero – North of Los Barriles
When is the last time you’ve gotten wrapped up in a mega ping-pong competition? It’s been decades for me, but when I go, I go hard. The seaside escape that is Hotel Punta Pescadero is quite literally the most enchanting place to get a fierce game going. It goes a little something like this. Stroll into the bar area. Have the staff toss on some kickin’ mariachi music. Order up a few blended margaritas. Take in the epic cliff side view over the Sea of Cortez. Order up some grilled fish tacos. Proceed to dominate the table with your partner in crime. Things get saucy as the game gets more intense. Ping-pong balls launch into the restaurant. The battle continues as the margaritas keep flowing. Sassiness reigns supreme. Order more tacos because the battle has now been going for three hours and shows no sign of stopping. Take a dip in the pool to cool off. And, if you decided to not head back to your own in-town rental, feel free to secure a cozy room onsite. There is always snorkeling on their private beach, an elegant dinner under the stars, chillin’ in the reading library, live music and more ping-pong to keep you occupied. Just be careful, the 15km dirt road that leads here from Los Barriles is a true switchback Baja adventure - one experts write books about. The road to championship ping-pong never looked so good!
Awesome side note: I stayed here once and needed a haircut immediately. The front desk gave me a phone number and the stylist from town came right to my secluded room within a few hours, set me up on the balcony overlooking the ocean and chopped away. Impeccable customer service on demand.
Chez Laura – Todos Santos
Sometimes, it just takes a very, very chilled glass of white wine on a sweltering day to make one feel reborn. This semi-hidden French restaurant and tropical oasis is just the place to find your soul again. It’s simply an oasis of calm – low music, concrete counters at the bar, and a wonderful staff waiting to pour for you, feed you and bring you back down to earth from your surfing expeditions. Steaming bowls of creamy mushroom soup blew our collective minds while the house made pate and chicken liver mousse was on another level. You just don’t expect this kind of food in a tiny Mexican village, but when you find it, you go back. Again and again. Especially when the preparation of the Baked Alaska is a total tableside showstopper that draws the eyes of every table around. I don’t even like this type of sweet, but this version was like no other icy/hot concoction I’ve ever had, especially in 90-degree weather. Just remember to bring cash – that’s all they take. Run like a true French countryside proprietor would.
Awesome side note: You know a place is amazing when the owner drags all of his friends in and shares red wine all day and makes you feel at home – his French home – every step of your meal.
Farmers Market – Loreto
This market adventure is not a place you just happen upon. You hear about it around town, but to find it, you need to know which side road you are taking from the highway (look for the taco truck on the north east side of town and turn west – the market is on the west side of the Highway 1). However, once you get out and wander about, you won’t regret it. This weekend market has the best local fruit, veggies, and meats that you simply will not find in the Loreto supermarkets. It’s like the sun just shines harder and better on the local bounty. Think beets (with enormous greens still attached), lovely asparagus, piles of thick spinach, stacks of nopales, juicy tomatoes. All the things you need for a feast are right at the market, even locally made cheeses that melt into the most legendary quesadillas imaginable. But, the best part of the whole market is the set up of little tin-can vendors whipping out puffy gorditas, thick tamales and bowls of just made pozole. This is truly where I developed not only a gordita obsession, but also a for real watching gorditas get made obsession. The process is so simple – make up the batter off the back of a dusty pick up truck, hand-slap together little balls of dough, fry in a giant vat of oil, slice a hole in the top and stuff with all kinds of delicious items – the creamed chilies being a mega fan favorite. One gordita is enough for a full meal if you stuff them like I do, but the wait is so long – just grab three at the start. Trust me, you will want them all.
Awesome side note: You will most definitely see everyone that you have met in town at this market (waiters, hotel concierge, cashiers). All you have to do is warmly greet them, ask them what they think the best thing to eat is at the market and suddenly you have the inside edge from the locals who know best. Hello goat stew galore!
Visit the Hotel Punta Pescadero website
Visit the Chez Laura Facebook page