My stomach and her demands are governed by a different compass - one that leads me down forgotten backroads, through dark alleys and into overlooked street side cafes.
The real reason that I adore Baja so much is that it has just one main road, the one that spits you out in Cabo once you have made trails through the most spirited land many tend to ignore – you know it as the infamous Highway 1. There are always guarantees for my taste buds up and down the entire peninsula and I never have to stray that far to find them. Here are a few pit stops along Highway 1 that will get you amped for your next Baja adventure. Starting at the top of the craggy peninsula, we work our way down...bite- by-bite!
Pozole Stop at the Butcher Shop
Now, this isn't your regular dime store pozole. Nope, this is some kind of fresher than fresh concoction that will blow your mind and demands a slam-on-the-breaks reaction. The secret to a good bowl of pozole? First comes the butcher – he preps some fresh pork, boils it down with piles of bones to make some flavorful stock and then, simply gets to it - ultimately making a long simmering pot of the best dressed soup you will find in all of Baja. Why is it so otherworldly? Is it because the meat man is onsite? Is it because the morning air is so chilly and the steam rising from a bowl is worth crying over? Is it because the locals happily explain to you exactly how one should dress a bowl of red joy? I think it’s because in the pot next to the pozole is a giant selection of steaming tamales. When you mix these two epicurean delights together, you have a road trip that just hit Mach 10.
Loncheria La Mision Kadakaama
San Ignacio to me represents life after the desert blues. When you hit this oasis full of super green palm trees, you know that you are on the verge of landing where you are ultimately headed. It’s a lovely place to park your wheels, wander about the town square, and just take a load off from cranking so hard. Perched on the corner just across from the towering church is a wee food truck whipping out snacks (antojitos) that set you up for the next power blast south. Cheese stuffed tortillas are rolled up, charred a bit and then, dunked in fiery salsa. Coupling them with a piping hot cup of coffee might seem like a weird match, but no road trip in Mexico is complete without a few slugs of Nescafe. Don’t miss the gooey chile relleno – my dog, Minka, was caught salivating tendrils of drool to the ground when that treat was being griddled up.
Armando’s at Santispac
Once you blast over the final bit of desolate desert in mid-Baja, you finally hit the Sea of Cortez and it’s as if the skies have opened up and all hope in humanity is restored; time for a chilly margarita, a dip in the “pool” (which is what the bathwater warm ocean feels like) and a big platter of seafood. Turns out the former owner of this tidy seaside shack died recently and left his joint to his former employee, who took the initiative to make some improvements with his wife. They live onsite in their RV with dogs and babies galore. What impresses me most is just the sweet vibe of the place. Soft music, delicious fish, really fair prices, someone constantly sweeping and arranging tables to look just so, and the killer view of the ocean sprinkled with sailboats gone rogue. This is the spot that makes me want to make like some Americans perched on the beach in the RV setups have done and go full expat. Lobster with fresh lemons on a daily basis, anyone?
The PERFECT Baja Bar at Flora Farms
Call me crazy, but the folks who crafted up Flora Farms must have drank some kind of freaky genius Kool-Aid because for me to make it a point to drive there no matter where I am camped in lower Baja is just straight up impressive. My favorite spot to kick back is at the bar (of course, the restaurant is wonderful too) where the bartenders take the cocktail game seriously and the service has a little more low-key beach feeling to it. This is the area where you will catch the family of the owners gabbing it up with the in-the-know Cabo locals who dub this their local hangout. This is also where you will tuck into some killer food while lounging way longer than you ever expected. My usual go to is very cold Prosecco, while snacking on dense chunks of nutty housemade bread (still warm, mind you). Minka obsesses at the turtle pond, kids swarm the garden, my man slings back a jalapeno-laced margarita and I just transport myself to one of the onsite culinary cottages that fringe the grounds and imagine living a simple life on an organic farm in Mexico. Get on Flora’s email list straight away for updates on movie nights in the park, special Sunday brunches, cool cooking workshops and other news about what is quite possibly my favorite spot in all of Baja. Just don’t tell anyone about it, it’s already packed enough – EXCEPT at the bar!
Pozole Stop - Located in San Vicente on the north side of town and directly in front of a butcher shop on the west side of the Highway.
Loncheria La Mision Kadakaama – Located just across from the church in the San Ignacio town square.
Armandos – On the beach at Santispac
Flora Farms – San Jose del Cabo - Visit the Flora Farms website