There comes a time in everyone's travels where the eating marathons must end - where the portions have to become smaller and the eyes a little less big. It must stop at some point and when that time comes, it’s time to go clean with all that enters the system - back to nature if you will. Not that it’s easy to find vegetarian, spa like food on the road in a country known mostly for meat packed tortillas, but when it comes to Baja, there is always a surprise around the corner. Times are changing in the Baja when it comes to cuisine and when you can stomach no more meat, here are a few spots to grab some green herb, some clean seafood, and some nutty grain. A votre santé!
The Shrimp - Mediterraneo, Loreto
In all the years I have been coming to Baja, never once have I stepped into this seaside haunt. With breathtaking second floor views of the Sea of Cortez, I just assumed it was a tourist trap. However one fine afternoon, the water was just too sparkly and the menu just too fresh sounding, I had to break down and give it a go. Fresh mango margaritas were the first sign that I had been missing out for many, many years. The second sign was the house favorite, a plantain stuffed chile relleno smothered in ranchero sauce. It was a breath of fresh air compared to the usual cheesy mess that can be found all over town - perfect for my dairy sensitive stomach. The bowl of linguine with local shrimp tasted as if it came straight out of a healthy spa kitchen, with only the freshness of the herbs and seafood bursting out. It’s a quiet place to reflect over the sea, the sun, and the bounty that can easily evade Baja rebels during the scant time they have to really live large on the beach.
The Fish – La Casita Tapas and Wine Bar
If you read the famous Blue Zone book, the author shares the tricks of what folks that live to be over 100 have done all their lives. One is to drink sake every day. That’s what one can easily do at La Casita, especially if you are partaking in the array of wildly fresh sushi of the day that the chef is concocting in the open kitchen. Sake goes quite nicely with the just caught fish delivered every day. A small garden is managed by the staff daily, so the cukes you see sliced paper thin on your plate likely came from the ground earlier in the morning. You’d never expect such good sushi to come from a “wine bar” but you know what another secret is from the Blue Zone book? The Sicilians drink red wine every day, which is rather easy to do at La Casita as well! Especially is their much larger and saucier new digs just down from Hotel California.
The Grain - Pura Vida, Todos Santos
It’s a mini-market meets gypsy café meets coffee/tea house all mashed up into one spectacular space that Todos has needed for many moons. I’m surprised nobody else had the foresight to read the minds of the villages many bohemian artists and whipped up a vegan, raw, organic deli hot spot that has the town aflutter. You carry Ezekiel bread and barley!? There is homemade cashew cheesecake and vegan lasagna, no way! I found this spot to be a wonderland in an otherwise pretty barren village when it comes to uber healthy grains, fresh herbal juices and Whole Foods style pantry essentials. The gorgeous couple that runs the joint pumped me up with the fact that they make the “best cup of coffee you have ever had” and of course, I was a skeptic, until I handed it over to my boyfriend waiting outside in the truck with the doggies. He took one sip and honest to God, proclaimed it the best cup of coffee he had ever tasted. Even though it opened a few years back, Todos has never had veggies so good - I just can’t believe it took me and my saturated tummy this long to find it.