The stats on Loreto, a Sea of Cortez based expat haven, are somewhat mind-boggling. Colonial village atmosphere? Check. Shimmering ocean front perch? Check. Usually deserted international airport? Check. Affordable casitas for rent/sale? Check. Friendly folks and delicious food? Double check. Even with all those boxes checked, it’s real easy to crave more. Here are a handful of local spots oozing with that Mexican hospitality that keeps everyone coming back to the seaside for more.
When you crave: Pasta, Pizza and All Things Bread
Head to: Pan Que Pan Bistro & Bakery, Loreto
Overlooking the main drag heading toward the malecón, this bakery is guaranteed to get a handful of newbies every single day, thanks to the heavy scent of baked goods permeating the air for a full city block. The shaded patio is a perfect spot to people watch with your happy mutt and gorge to your hearts content. Homemade pasta (it just looks so different than the store bought kind) shares space with crispy edged pizzas and light salads. There, onion laced olive oil dip is drool worthy and spoonable onto the most succulent roast chicken sandwich you’ll find in town. Again, the homemade bread takes the cake, but make sure to get there early – the baked goods sell out quickly. How they survive with that bread aroma all day and don’t lose it is beyond me - must be all the crunchy granola they’re making.
When you crave: A Supersonic Clean Burrito
Head to: Mita’s Hoya 19, Loreto Bay
This isn't your typical street mess. Nope, this bad boy is the beyond fresh country club burrito you never really knew you were craving 'til you washed one down with a cold beer while watching a few rounds of golf. Imagine a giant flour tortilla charred just right, topped with a boatload of juicy chopped chicken, some just made avocado lime diddy, a pile of greens and just a splash of tomato for color. But, the thick and pulpy salsa is the winner – it puts this pound of goodness just one hair over the edge of fully obsession worthy. They also have a sister restaurant in town right in the town square that is a lovely place to wile away the day. But – for my money - golf, beer and burritos doesn’t get much more delightful than in this Loreto Bay mainstay.
When you crave: A Margarita
Head to: Orlando’s Restaurante, Loreto
This pocket-sized restaurant is just one block off the main square, but it feels a world away from the hustle and bustle of the more tourist minded restaurants located there. Sink your feet in into the gravel "floor" and sip a cup of steaming coffee while listening to the school kids next door raise the roof at the crack of dawn. Or maybe that’s the dual whir of the house blenders going to war, whipping up fresh margaritas and boatloads of salsa for those visitors in the know. Their marg might just be the best in Loreto village proper, and their icy cold michelada ain’t that far behind. By the time you’ve swilled down a few of these, the time for lusty huevos rancheros has passed, and it’s time to scan the lunch menu – one can never go wrong with just caught cilantro fish and piles of buttery rice, and I’m one to love me some chilaquiles any time of the day. Finish up with yet another craving – a soothing cup of ice cream just next door at La Michoacana (salted caramel peanut and banana both hit the spot).
When you crave: Simple Ceviche and True Ensenada Style Tacos
Head to: Loreto Bay Resort + Pool Bar
The view of the picturesque Sea of Cortez is spectacular and with good views usually comes sub-par food, especially at a resort. Not the case at the recently purchased Carlos Slim property. Every marg is spot on perfect (even when they haul it to you down at the beach), the shrimp ceviche is rave worthy, and the fish tacos are EXACTLY like their brothers up in Ensenada. Somebody in that kitchen is doing something right. I’m always expecting to be disappointed in resort atmospheres, but this soon-to-be-revamped hotel is always on the money. (Who wouldn’t love a quick SUP session right after lunch – swimming’s for the birds on a full belly – and you can rent them right on the beach). It’s such a joy to strike up multiple conversations over lunch with various folks about why in the world nobody knows about Loreto and all her charms. Let’s try to keep it that way, with or without Slim.