There are restaurants that take the farm to table movement to heart and source locally, with a keen eye kept on serving organic produce and sustainable practices and then there are restaurants that are full on culinary compounds – made to bring you back time and time again. The lovely and addictive Flora Farms in San Jose del Cabo is the leading example in all of Baja, but recently a much-lauded Chef, Javier Plascencia, opened up his own delectable version of foodie paradise in Todos Santos. The scope is epic for an artsy fishing village, but as the saying goes, if you build it, they will come.
With access to just caught seafood and scores of farms, Todos Santos has had its roots firmly planted in the ground of Baja's gastronomical movement for the last decade. However, no one in town has taken it quite as far as Jazamango does. More a community based on the beatific things that make this seaside village so spellbinding, this half-year-old stomping ground for the food obsessed has already garnered a reputation around town as ‘the place to eat,’ and I can see why once we rolled in – reservation free – one sunny afternoon.
First off, it’s a total arrest to the senses. The eyes don’t know where to land because everything is put together so well, with such uncommon design practices rarely found down dirt roads (think rustic log stumps, open fire pits, reclaimed scrap metal all made into powerhouse seating situations). The nose can’t stop crinkling up because the scents wafting from the open kitchen and wood fired oven tantalize the second you step out of your car. And, the ears just get happy at the sound of clinking glassware and convivial customers chatting about the day’s surf or morning hike, or what they found at the farmers market that week. It’s an intoxicating environment, one you just want to wander around in, which is exactly what I did once I had chilly mixed wine sangria in my hand.
The garden that flanks the property is already enchanting, even though it’s only in its first season. Pretty much everything you can plan on ordering off the menu is destined to be grown on site and it’s only a matter of time before savvy brides-to-be make this their spot for tying the knot. With its open building design situated to get the most shade possible in the relentless desert heat, it’s a prime location for any sort of event or party one could conjure up, especially with such an aggressive cocktail menu. Or it could just be a party in your mouth for lunch or dinner a few times a week. Unlike other destination restaurants, where you only stop by once on your trip for a special occasion, Jazamango has the ability to become a local’s favorite, especially if you get there early, plop down at the bar and stick with the small plates.
Speaking of the food. Now, to be fair, I’d stalked their Instagram site for months before we arrived and already had a good idea that we were in for something totally different coming out of Baja. I’d also already become a rabid fan girl of Finca Altozano, Javier Plascencia’s incredible fire-cooked enterprise in the Valle de Guadalupe over the years, so I already had some kind of expectation of what I’d be getting dished up. However, in lower Baja, outside of Flora Farms, I don’t think we’ve had quite the taste sensation hit our mouths like Jazamango did.
We started with local oysters and buttery chocolate clams. The display alone was swoon worthy, with each shell resting on a bed of chunky sea salt. Each oyster was topped with a miniscule edible flower or a sprig of torn fennel or a sliver of arugula and it was almost just too pretty to eat. That said, we devoured them in no time. And, oh…the clams. The curve of their shell held so much melted local butter and fresh herb mixture it was almost impossible to not just drink them up in five seconds flat, but when you took a handful of the house made bread and dunked it into the whole concoction, it was quite possibly my best bite of 2017. Next up came the local smoked pork belly with herbaceous risotto and pickled onions. Another revelation in how food should be prepared the world over. We were already too stuffed to finish our creamy walnut ravioli, but each and every bite was coo-worthy.
I’m not sure I’ve been to a restaurant where all of my senses were so enticed. Might have been the sparkling sunshine, the fruit in the sangria, the smell of the flowers in the garden, the relaxing vibe of the tunes, or all of them jumbled up together. But, I can tell you this, once the deli opens and the garden fills out and the crowds die down, you can bet this will become my usual weekly pit stop when in Todos Santos. It’s been hand crafted to make you believe that you have been accepted into the tribe. A tribe called life lived to the fullest.