I have spent most of my adult life attempting to sort out where to keep my sailboat. I have always reasoned, if I could just manage to figure out that one thing, my life would somehow be complete and have greater purpose. I’ve had a variety of sailing vessels – all the way from the frigid waters of Lake Michigan (summer is good, but after three months, it’s just way too cold), to the smashing gray of the Pacific (packed-to-the-gills Marina del Rey, where the prices finally just got too high) and now finally, after all these years…my current sailboat (a 36’ Chung Hwa ketch pirate ship) has finally landed on the awe-inspiring Sea of Cortez. Right where she belongs.
It’s been a long time coming and truly, Enola (Alone spelled backwards) finally feels like she is where she needs to be. The path getting her there was an arduous one, but now that she is there full time – nestled up against the mountains at the impeccable Marina Escondido - it’s all the more reason for my gang to head to Baja for long, long spells…partaking in piles of fresh seafood and maybe, as the whimsy strikes, actually heading out and fishing for our own this summer. And tip to the wise, a few extra feet on a sailboat really do make all the difference in the world.
Here are a few super chill spots to partake in some of the freshest seafood you will ever scarf down in the Baja. All of it so fresh, it was if I reeled it in myself. On my own sailboat. On the Sea of Cortez. Yep, 2019 is shaping up to be a banner year when it comes to life goals.
Since the historical town of Loreto has become the ultimate home base for my girl, I have been spending lots of time roaming her streets lately. Quick jaunts down the peninsula have been happening more frequently (it’s about 1.5 days drive – with doggies – from the border) and one sweet spot I discovered on this last trip was Jr’s and George’s. Tucked into a cozy, tree lined nook off the main plaza, this family owned restaurant has everything and then some going for it. Super friendly staff, incredible margaritas, crazy cheap prices, and the perfect location. It’s the kind of place the locals call a constant hang out because of the vibe and the ice-cold beer. Kids running about add to the familial scene and the appreciative owners seem to know everyone who strolls through the gate.
But, most importantly, it’s the food that keeps me thinking about this place. They just amp it up an extra notch when it comes to the offerings and the presentation for a wee little Mexican institution. They bring back the crowds with little touches like homemade tortilla chips with chunky mango salsa - on the house, mind you. Insanely cheap fish and shrimp tacos stuffed in thick flour tortillas make their way to the table on cast iron platters with a litany of perfect toppings right behind them – pickled onions, creamy ranch cream sauce, grilled onions, spicy salsa, cold cabbage slaw and guacamole all end up taking their tacos ($1.50 each) over the edge and turning them into a meal in all by themselves. How can so much food, this good, be so cheap?! Made to order chargrilled shrimp as big as prawns come out with a rich and tangy tamarind sauce, all flanked by a soft pile of Mexican rice and matchstick steamed vegetables. Nice touch. Jorge looked at me like I was crazy when I asked him if he made a good margarita. Turns out, he only carries top shelf liquor and has been making margaritas since he was born practically. Now, that’s an even nicer touch! And, something I’ve not come across in Baja in all my years, the music playing from the sound system is all Christian, all the time. Every single tune. I couldn’t believe my dining companion knew all the words. Where in the world are we, I though as I bit into another shrimp? Well, if you must know…just a nice coastal village on the best sea in the world.
Now, on down the coast a ways, is the epic seafood hut and partially hidden from sight, Mariscos Evaristos Hermanos. We happened upon this oversized shack on a spur of the moment trip from Los Barriles to SJD – just out and about looking for good food on a Saturday afternoon. If a massive palapa is the roof and old timey pictures of Che Guevera and wanted signs of Pancho Villa pepper the walls, you know it must be a spot worth hitting the breaks for (well, that and gas, which is to be found at the Pemex across the street). Turns out, we were correct.
Within moments after sitting down, our table was loaded with shiny, just shucked oysters and perfect salty little clams, each topped with a sliver of fresh lime so juicy you could put an eye out with the squeeze remnants. But that tiny lime is just about all you need with seafood this ripe from the sea. Next came the goblet of ceviche, then the exquisite fried fish tacos, all with layers of crunchy cabbage, thick crema and snips of avocado weighing them down. Between the kitsch (think tiny superman toys dangling from trees, giant shark piñata’s, huge rounds of coral, and a mess of live birds tweeting in a pretty yellow cage) and the string of happy locals piling through the entry for their weekend feast of all the goods the Cape has to offer, we were smack in the middle of a real-deal Mexican seafood nirvana.
Not a lick of English was spoken though, so be prepared to point and practice your combat Spanish like us…sometimes all one needs is a glance at the table next to them to know what to order. Accompany the point with one word: todos (all), and you will be set for life.
Jr’s and George’s, Loreto
Ave. Savatierra 36
Directly across the plaza from the church as you are walking toward the Sea of Cortez.
Mariscos Evarisos Hermanos, San Jose del Cabo
Across the street from the Pemex right before you get to the airport. Located on the West side of the road.