Los Cabos: Delicacies Between Sea and Desert, with Michelin Stars on the Horizon.

Cecilia Núñez, travel and culinary journalist, experienced the idyll of the flavours of this Southern California destination, inspired by the list of nominees for the Culinary Awards 2023. A route of four restaurants not to be missed.

Photos: Courtesy of the restaurants and Carlos Sanchez Pereyra

I am seduced by this idyll between sea and desert, by the rock formations that seem to tell the ancestral history of this Mexican Finisterra. Since the early 1970s, Los Cabos and its surroundings have been the guiding star for lovers of travel, connection with nature, good living, good food, wellness and honouring a unique Mexico privileged by nature.

For us, the welcome to this destination was provided by a whale and her pair of calves just off the shore. We could see their playfulness from our suite on the beach in one of my favourite hotels in this destination, which offers so many beauties in abundance.

We are privileged travellers to be here at the same time as they are: these majestic animals that, between December and April, leave the cold waters of the north and head to the Mexican Pacific to mate and have their young.

The humpback whales show off our excitement by flapping their tails and flapping their fins. We are already too lucky. As the sun sets, it saturates every inch of the monoliths of Cabo San Lucas in reddish and fuchsia tones, creating a memorable and stunning play of light and shadow.

And we will be more so when we see the sun hide in the reddish and fuchsia tones that colour with their lights and shadows to the smallest nook and cranny of the monoliths of Cabo San Lucas. Thanks to talented chefs, the restaurants of Los Cabos, Todos Santos and Pescadero are reaping national and international recognition and, above all, profoundly conquering the palates of lovers of Mexican and world cuisine.

The (Michelin) stars are approaching.

The rumour was confirmed a few months ago and became the news spreading like wildfire among foodies worldwide: Los Cabos is about to receive its first Michelin stars. The prestigious gastronomic guide carefully evaluates the region’s restaurants, and it is expected that, in its next edition, some of them will be recognized for their gastronomic excellence, unique proposal, and unmissable ambience.

Since I still don’t have the Michelin Guide in my possession, I decided to put myself in expert hands. I went after the Culinary Awards, which provide, with their nominees and winners, a thermometer of good taste in Los Cabos, Todos Santos, and Pescadero. The gourmet itinerary, then, is coupled with the masterminds behind these awards, which are held annually in Los Cabos.

For me, these recognitions are a true reflection of the gastronomic boom that the region is experiencing. In this event, chefs of international stature and residents of the Baja Sur peninsula meet to compete in different categories, highlighting the creativity and talent that characterizes the local cuisine.

My Gastronomic Trends Route

Los Cabos restaurants are characterized by offering a wide variety of culinary proposals, from traditional Mexican cuisine to the latest international trends. Among the common denominators of the best restaurants that are setting the standard in the region, I highlight in my gourmet route the attention that restaurateurs pay to the use of fresh and local products and the mastery with which they create an exquisite fusion of cultures, which has characterized the area throughout its history.

I rediscovered the vibrant, authentic cuisine of Los Cabos and its surroundings, led by entrepreneurs and chefs who provide an exquisite sample of the amalgam of flavours and traditions that this desert, marine and abundant region offers.

The Los Cabos chefs with whom I had the delicious privilege of meeting focused on using products from the region, which guarantees the authenticity of flavours in each dish. And to all the waiters, cooks, drivers, public relations specialists, hoteliers, tourism service providers, travellers and professional gluttons, locals and residents of all the cultures that converge here, we all notice how much we love these lands.

My Recommendations, Inspired by Culinary Awards

1. Nicksan; Cabo San Lucas

Since 1994 and with the help of Chef Ángel Carbajal and Executive Chef Nick Badovinus, the proposal is based on dishes with Asian trends, especially Japanese, and a true honour to the season, the local product, the relationship with fishermen and producers with an innovative touch and an impeccable presentation. Nicksan is a tribute to flavours and good food in a place with a sophisticated atmosphere, modern, minimalist and relaxed décor. Above all, it is a tribute to a friendship of more than 25 years that was united by the love of Masayuki Niikura and Chef Carbajal for Los Cabos. It became a mentor-disciple relationship from which a very successful partnership emerged.

The Experience. If you’re coming with friends and don’t want to be interrupted, sit back and let yourself be swept away by the flavours that come to the table. But if you want to see the delicacies offered by Nicksan up close, then take a privileged place at the bar and witness, as if it were a show, the execution of the cooks and the beauty of the products they offer. All of this can be seen thanks to the restaurant’s open kitchen.

What to order. Nicksan’s menu changes frequently to offer the freshest ingredients of the season. For my part, I chose the tasting menu and put myself in the hands of the chef. I absolutely fell in love with every bite, so I recommend it. But if you’re a fan of requiring the menu, welcome. Among the most requested dishes are the tuna toast with avocado, ponzu sauce and togarash; beef steak with truffled mashed potatoes and mushroom sauce; and lobster risotto with saffron and parmesan. There’s no losing: everything is delicious.

To pair, order a wine from the excellent selection they offer. In my case, I toasted it with a rosé Habla de ti from Extremadura, but I craved everything from its list of wines, beers, and cocktails. The restaurant also has a dessert menu with various sweet and savoury options.

Nicksan has received rave reviews from local and foreign diners and “patrons” and, of course, from social media and food and lifestyle media.

The restaurant has been included in the list of “The Best Restaurants in Cabo San Lucas” by different specialized publications.

Website: https://nicksan.com/menu/

Phone: +52 624 143 5333

Address: Plaza del Sol, Local 10, Cabo San Lucas, Baja California Sur, Mexico

2. Lumbre, San José del Cabo

In the heart of the charming little town of San José del Cabo, where the sea breeze mixes with the aroma of firewood, is Lumbre, a restaurant that lives up to its name. Created by chef César Pita, this space is a tribute to Baja California Sur through a cuisine that transforms local ingredients into memorable experiences.

Chef Pita and his team of cooks achieve a very well-executed ode to Baja California Sur. They use fresh, seasonal ingredients from local ranches, seas, and orchards to create delicious and visually appealing dishes. His technique, based on the use of fire and embers, brings a unique, frank and delicious flavour to each creation. There’s no getting lost on the menu; the experience is complete.

The Experience. Lumbre welcomes you with a warm and vibrant atmosphere. The décor combines rustic elements with modern touches and street art murals, creating a cozy, warm and sophisticated atmosphere at the same time. The music, a selection carefully curated by chef Pita, penetrates the kitchen into every detail of the environment. The playlist mixes local and international artists, creating a soundtrack that perfectly complements the culinary experience. The restaurant team is always ready to help you choose the perfect dishes and wines for your palate. And you can tell that they like working at Lumbre. And it’s no wonder he has been recognised as a winner of the Culinary Awards for his excellent cuisine and service in lists that name the best restaurants in Mexico.

What to order? The menu is constantly changing to reflect the availability of ingredients. Among the dishes that you can’t miss are the ceviches as an appetizer, the ceviche with chayote fettucini, tangerine, apple pepper and basil puree; house salads, charcoal octopus with herb sauce and braised New York with black garlic jus and lobster sabayon. To complement the culinary experience, Lumbre offers a wide selection of national and international wines carefully selected by the restaurant’s sommelier. Plus, you’ll be able to enjoy a variety of craft cocktails created with local ingredients.

Website: https://www.lumbre-rest.com/

Address: Calle José María Morelos # 162, Centro, San José del Cabo, Baja California Sur, Mexico

3. Ardea en Nobu Hotel, Cabo San Lucas

Led by Chef Paolo Della Corte and a warm, professional service team, Ardea Steakhouse offers Italian cuisine, house-aged cuts and a multi-award-winning wine list.

Ardea elevates the culinary experience to new heights. Located inside the acclaimed Nobu Hotel, this gastronomic oasis offers a sensory journey unparalleled since its opening in 2020.

The experience: An elegant and sophisticated atmosphere is perceived from the entrance. The elegant atmosphere, impeccable service, and exceptional cuisine make it a recommendable place. Under the atmosphere of the spectacular Nobu hotel, the décor, inspired by nature and Mexican culture, creates a warm and welcoming atmosphere. The open kitchen, in full view of the diners, allows you to observe the creative dance of Chef Paolo Della Corte and his team as they prepare each dish with passion and precision.

What to order? Ardea’s menu is an ode to freshness and the quality of local ingredients. Chef Della Corte has created an innovative proposal that fuses international cuisine with touches of local cuisine, resulting in unique dishes full of flavour. I ventured into the tasting menu, a selection of dishes that changes seasonally and takes you on a journey through international culinary heights. The highly trained staff is always ready to explain each dish, talk about the product and recommend the perfect pairing.

Web page:

https://sites.google.com/nobuhotelloscabos.com/ardea/inicio

Follow Ardea on social media:

4. M, Todos Santos

An hour from Cabo San Lucas is Todos Santos, a colourful and charming town famous for its artistic atmosphere, beautiful beaches, Hotel California, and mission. And for its culinary and authentic hospitality spaces. The dining experience that absolutely stole my heart this time was M, located in a true green oasis full of life in one of the streets of Todos Santos, a little corner of Southern California, which is very famous for being the one that inspired the song Hotel California.

Chef Aurelien Legeay and his wife, Paulina Noble Manjarrez, have made DūM the best excuse to escape to Todos Santos for a couple of more days. With a seasonally changing tasting menu that celebrates the richness of local orchards, conscientiously fished seafood and the creativity of the chefs, enjoyment is experienced from start to finish.

The experience: Unmissable and delicious in every way. Under the shade of trees in an idyllic garden, DūM specializes in signature cuisine with a strong focus on local produce and sustainability. More and more restaurants are committed to sustainability, using responsible practices and eco-friendly products. DūM is accomplishing in delightful ways, with mastery and warm, intimate service. If you can meet Chef Aurelien and Pau, don’t miss the opportunity to ask them for their culinary recommendations and for them to share their story with you; it’s touching.

What to order? Everything! In addition, you will be returning repeatedly. Ask for suggestions on the specials of the day with the chef, Pau and the team of waiters. The house salads are a delight, and diners love the salad of figs lightly caramelized and combined with goat cheese, arugula, and walnuts. Pair it with a Grenache rosé wine. The charcoal-grilled fish and sauces are a delight: I tried one bathed in a guajillo chilli sauce and spices, delicious, and the pairing was with national wines. Short rib with mole poblano is a hearty and tasty dish. The meat is slowly cooked until tender and accompanied with a traditional mole poblano. I paired it with a national Nebbiolo. Desserts are also unmissable. Give yourself that little gift.

Website:https://www.xn--dm-gua.com/

Address: Benito Juárez Street, corner with 16 de Septiembre Street, Todos Santos, Baja

Southern California, Mexico.

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