By Misty Tosh
Todos Santos is a very tolerant village. She dusts off nasty hurricanes, she kisses the faces of exhausted tourists, and mostly she welcomes all levels of epicureans into her sun-dappled streets. Once you get to know her, you’ll come to find that the patchwork dirt roads that make up this tiny town literally drip with top notch meals – from street food to fine dining she welcomes them all into her strong arms. Some old, some new, here’s a round up of some of the yummiest bites Todos is reveling in right now. It’s her time and she’s not going to let you go away without noticing just how rich with layers she really is.
Mini Super Munchies – Now this is a tucked away spot I stumbled onto Day 1 of my latest 2-week vacation in El Pescadero, a wee farming village just south of Todos. When I say spot, I mean my perfect spot on earth. We’d rented a beautiful house with a pool and giant enclosed yard for our dog to roam free and every day we’d wander to the beach to romp. Along the way, our morning coffee break happened at this brand new, stocked-to-the-brim corner market and hot spot for all things good. The gal who built the beautiful structure with her Brazilian boyfriend is a bright light – full of sass and energy and ready to tackle the world with her shelves full of fine wines, craft beers, homemade treats, healthy take away snacks and local artisans wares. It’s the type of place that digs deep into the caverns of my soul and makes me remember what it’s like to be free, with no plan and what can happen if you find a patch of land and set up shop. Munchies is the most unexpected delight I’ve come across in all my travels in Baja and is not to be missed - if you build it, they will come.
Café Santa Fe – Never a day passes that I don’t crave a crisp caeser salad and a chilled glass of champagne in an environment that reminds me of my favorite Italian village on the shores of the Adriatic Sea. You can find all three at Café Santa Fe – the food, the drink and the vibe are all there, wrapped up into one gorgeous historic package right on the town square (complete with little girls dancing on the stage in the square). The best place to relax is on the dog friendly and very private back patio where you can just let the impeccable service begin smack in the center of an al fresco garden. Start with the best caeser in a clay bowl that Baja has going for her and don’t even think twice about ordering the lush lobster ravioli. You might want to get two orders of the spaghetti pomodoro just because Northern Italians know how to do it right. And, I cannot even begin to praise just how spotless their stemware is; when eating such fine food it helps to have a pristine glass of pinot to go along with it.
Tequila Sunrise – This corner side café on the main drag of town is a bustling haven for margarita lovers. Perch outside to people watch and have your pup fawned over, while imbibing in the perfect first blended margarita of your trip. My boyfriend moaned over how delicious the chicken chimichanga was while I snacked on creamy chile rellenos. The staff goes out of their way to make you comfy – grilled chicken for the dog; free cheesecake; freshen up the margarita; adjusting the fan for optimum air circulation; loads of menu details shared and all served with great flourish. This family run joint should be the #1 spot to hit the minute you get to town – it puts you smack dab into the Todos Santos hospitality element straight away.
Rancho Pescadero (Garden Restaurant) – I never tire of thinking, dreaming, wondering and talking about Rancho Pescadero and now that they have their new restaurant open, that level of thought just went up even more. This big sparkly pavilion is situated just before you enter the main estate of the hotel, and is a lovely nighttime escapade – you feel like you are at a real restaurant, not just one set up inside of a hotel, which is way more appealing to locals. Though they aren’t dog friendly (they already have too many dogs onsite), it’s ok – they more than make up for it with their fresh fish, farm-to-table approach to all meals (the tables are literally right next to their organic garden), wood-fired pizzas, and superb drinks. Another win for the ranch that put Pescadero on the map; thankfully, they have morning yoga classes available for drop ins.
Baja Beans – There is something to be said for setting up shop on a big plot of land outside town. You are able to expand in ways that most small entrepreneurs aren’t. Tables are spread wider, folks camp a bit longer, new enterprises can be thought up, weekly farmers markets (with locally grown produce) can be held onsite, and live music can be heard. Such is the case with Baja Beans. But, all I really care about are the enormous egg and avocado biscuits fresh out of the oven each morning. Even my dog drooled for a bite. Of course, because the coffee is rock solid and the Wi-Fi is strong, the surfers, artists, expats and vacationers never want to leave but, for me, it’s the baked goods (dense scones, thick chocolate and carrot cakes, flaky pastries, chunky cookies) that will bring me back again and again. These folks take their coffee and their flour seriously!
El Molino Tacos – Oh, the street food of Todos Santos sings my name every time I wander though town. Be it thick tamales, fresh fish tacos or piles of shaved nieve, there is always something to be had from a cart. But, the best thing going after a morning of surfing has got to be hawked from the birria stand on the left side of the street under a big tree as you make the first big curve into the town proper. The wafting scent of slow cooked brisket being whipped up hits you like a ton of bricks if you drive with your window down, which you should be – you’re in Mexico! This tidy spot whips out one thing only – tacos – and lots of them. There can be a line so be prepared to wait, or just get there early like I do and simply glaze over watching the juice seep off the meat on the griddle. It’s a glory to behold when you witness a fresh hand slapped tortilla being dunked into perfectly seasoned fat and fried up. A half dozen please.