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Good eats in La Paz (Baja California Sur, Mexico)

Since our Spring here in Toronto has dawned a little rainy and cold (er – do I see snow in the forecast later this week? Noooo!), I though I might brighten up the week with some more images from our Mexico trip this past December/ January.

After travelling in Michoacán and seeing the Monarch butterflies, we flew up to La Paz in Baja California Sur.  Prior to this trip, the only thing I knew about Baja was that it was where Dylan and Brenda travelled in the 1990s version of 90210 because the drinking age was lower than in California.  I seem to remember they drank a lot of tequila and Brenda’s dad had to drive down and get them. Yes, it’s fairly embarrassing to admit but I always thought “Baja” sounded so exotic. Am I the only one?

Neil deliberately chose La Paz over Cabo San Lucas as it is less touristy and definitely not resort after resort (not our thing).  We arrived fairly late in the day (our flight had to go through Mexico City with a fairly long layover) but were immediately charmed by our hotel – the Hotel Mediterrane.

A tiny hotel, with just 9 rooms (each with a unique design and decorations), it’s steps from the beach yet set back enough that it’s beautifully quiet at night.  All the rooms are set around a tranquil courtyard.

Bonus? Free wifi (we actually found this all over Mexico – we didn’t have to pay for internet ONCE, even at the Intercontinental – take note greedy North American hotels), so of course I tweeted our safe arrival and that we were heading out to eat.  Habanerogal just happened to tweet back that we needed to check out El Rancho Viejo on the main drag and I noted that name, figuring that we would look for it the following day. The boardwalk at night is pretty…

And lo and behold, what should we come across but El Rancho Viejo! Not a tourist in sight, but lots of locals (always a good sign) so we made a beeline for a sidewalk table and ordered some guacamole. We pretty much ate guacamole at every place we ate in Mexico – it’s interesting to see the different takes on this.

Mmm this was GOOD!  Freshly made, lots of texture with big chunks of avocado, red onion and red peppers with the ubiquitous cilantro and limes.  We got some tacos – chicken and steak…

We were like “great – checked that one off” and patted ourselves on the back about that. We always like to make sure we eat at at least one “must eat at” restaurant!

The next morning, we headed downstairs at the Mediterrane for breakfast.  The food comes from the upscale La Pazta restaurant, attached to the hotel. It’s a mix of Swiss and Mexican food (of course – one of the owners is Swiss). Neil ordered the Rösti:

And I took a break from eggs with the granola, yoghurt and tropical fruit. So, so good… (and ginormous!)

We were certainly set up for a day of exploring…

The boardwalk has some interesting sights in the day time…

Neptune…

And some retro (and odd) garbage and organic bins!

We loved how the beach was so empty, not that we are beach people but loved the lack of crowds.

The lack of crowds, on the other hand, is also extremely sad. During our 2 weeks in Mexico, I would estimate we saw less than 200 non-Mexican tourists. Yes, you read that right. No, we were not in the usual tourist haunts or in resort land but we weren’t that far off the beaten path.  Of course, when you go on Trip Advisor to check the location of your hotel in Chihuahua and there’s a US State Department Warning, it’s a bit off-putting.  And there’s tons of press about bad things that happen to folks travelling to Mexico. But at no point in our travels did we feel unsafe or threatened. We felt nothing but welcomed and nothing but appreciation from those people whose businesses we were frequenting.  Exercising common sense and caution, as one should when travelling in any foreign country, served us well. /rant over/

After a long jaunt all over town, we ended up…. at El Rancho Viejo.  Around 2 in the afternoon, we weren’t really that hungry but needed “something” so went back for more guac and tacos..

I love all the condiments they serve with your tacos…

Pickled cabbage, roasted hot peppers, limes, salsa two ways and cheese. With an avocado cream…

I ordered a single chicken taco..

And dressed it modestly…

Neil ordered the pork and went all out with the toppings…

And we looked out at this…

Not at all out of place… LOL!

If you’re in La Paz, you must eat here.  And check out El Rancho Viejo on Lonely Planet, Chowhound and Trip Advisor.

Later that night, we headed out again and it took all our strength to NOT go back to El Rancho Viejo. Their menu is extensive and we did toy with the idea but in the end, we went for a pizza. As you do…  Tucked a block away from the beach, we followed our noses to Il Rustico Trattoria.  Apart from the enticing smells of a wood-burning pizza oven, we were lured in by other diners. There is nothing more intimidating than eating at an empty restaurant and we faced this numerous times throughout our trip.  We sat in a window table and believe we singly attracted at least 10 other diners that night, because they looked in and saw people eating delicious food. It always helps!

We had a giant caprese salad…

(yes there is mozarella in there!)

And a Quattro Stagioni pizza…

And shared a bottle of wine. Very un-Mexican of us but sometimes, you can’t go past a decent pizza, you know?  Would highly recommend this place should you find yourself in La Paz and need something that doesn’t involve tortillas, avocados and limes ;-)

Our final breakfast in La Paz needed to set us up for a long long day of travel – a 7 hour ferry ride to Topolobampo.

Neil ordered the huevos revueltos with the ubiquitous refried beans…

MUCH tastier than it looks, LOL!

I ordered the Mediterrane’s version of an Egg Mc Muffin.

But so much better. On a brioche. With tropical fruit.

Now THAT’S a breakfast sandwich!

Our less  than 48 hours in La Paz were filled with great food – not something you might expect at a little beach town. But check out those street candies at the top of the post – when a town has that for sale on the street, you know you’re in for some good eats!

 

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72 Responses to Good eats in La Paz (Baja California Sur, Mexico)

  1. ChefBlogDigest March 23, 2011 at 08:20 #

    Your right with those candies sold on street. The Place will have alot to offer!

  2. Belinda @zomppa March 23, 2011 at 08:20 #

    I almost didn’t make it through your post for fear of exploding with hunger!!! What a trip!!!!!!

  3. penny aka jeroxie March 23, 2011 at 08:20 #

    love reading these mexican adventures. so envious. I want real mexican food!

  4. Chris @ The Peche March 23, 2011 at 09:05 #

    I want to go there. Now. With unexpected snow on the ground this morning, thanks for the great escape.

  5. Paula March 23, 2011 at 09:25 #

    What a lovely tour guide you are. Your write up is a wonderful as your pictures are beautiful.

  6. habanerogal March 23, 2011 at 09:34 #

    Wow that food sure did look amazing revisiting a lovely part of the trip can make those late winter blues fade

  7. Brian @ A Thought For Food March 23, 2011 at 09:48 #

    I LOVE the pictures of you squeezing the lime. Gosh it makes me want summer to be here NOW!

    • Mardi@eatlivetravelwrite March 28, 2011 at 17:47 #

      Actually that’s Neil squeezing – that would have been quite the feat had it been me taking the picture as well!

  8. Erin @epiCURIOUS ERIN March 23, 2011 at 10:58 #

    These pictures are making me hungry! Come to think of it, they’re also making me more than a little depressed about the salad I’m going to have for lunch today. :(
    Thanks for the pictures; with all the snow on the ground here in Jersey, I definitely needed that!

  9. Celia March 23, 2011 at 11:13 #

    Oh, sun and tacos. Amazing pics! They’re making me very happy (and a little jealous): we got some very un-spring-like “wintry mix” this morning in NYC. Blech.

  10. Angela@RecipesFromMyMom March 23, 2011 at 11:22 #

    That brioche egg & ham sandwich puts breakfast in a whole different solar system. Thanks for sharing more of your trip. It’s cooler her today in KC and we have snow in the forecast for later this week too!

  11. Maja March 23, 2011 at 11:30 #

    Wow ! I am getting itchy feet looking at all of your photos. Never been to Mexico and I would love to go one day ! So enjoyed reading this post !

  12. Barbara | VinoLuciStyle March 23, 2011 at 12:40 #

    Sounds like a great spot…I think I could go there and just vegetate for several days. I’m trying to remember when I was younger and liked the idea of big crowds and realize it’s just never been me…when I get away it’s to wind down, not up!

    Food all sounds amazing and though I did enjoy a bit of a LOL at the idea of pizza in Mexico…that pizza look fantastico!

    • Mardi@eatlivetravelwrite March 28, 2011 at 17:44 #

      Oh I am all about the no crowds these days. And yes, I could have happily vegetated there a few more days!

  13. JulieD March 23, 2011 at 14:53 #

    Mardi, the photos are beautiful! I just had fajitas the other night & now I’m craving some more Mexican food. :)

  14. StephIrey March 23, 2011 at 15:22 #

    Wow, I just feel like I had a mini vaca in Mexico. St. James and I honeymooned in Puerto Vallarta oh so many years ago (23…OMG)…and it’s said to say we’ve never been back to Mexico (except for a shore excursion on a cruise on the east coast). Not that we don’t love all things Mexican…we definitely do. We ate flan at every restaurant that we went to (including breakfasts)…just like your guacamole! Very nice post…perfect for the beginning of Spring!

  15. Joan Nova March 23, 2011 at 15:49 #

    I’m so glad “we” are still enjoying your vacation in Mexico.

  16. bridget {bake at 350} March 23, 2011 at 15:51 #

    Looks like a DELICIOUS trip! :)

  17. Geoff March 23, 2011 at 17:07 #

    I’m always amazed at how you and Mr Neil – while never feeling really hungry and always looking for a just a snack or something to tide you over – manage to tuck away so much food. I’m not a fan of Mexican food, but I have to admit some of this looked extremely more(ish).
    The comment in your post about the absence of tourists (and the obvious impact on Mexican businesses) is more serious. The perception of Mexico as an “unsafe” place has much to do with the western media’s preoccupation with bad news. The incident, accident or crime will always top the non-event… (and, fair enough) but when the bad news is not seen within a context, then there’s a communication lapse (or perhaps even communication fatigue) from the Mexican tourism agencies. These agencies, particularly in countries which do suffer a bad press, need to understand that you can never stop putting your side of the story… the moment you vacate territory you want to own, somebody else occupies it and shifting them is more difficult, more expensive and less guaranteed of success. Great post, Mardi.

  18. Tami March 23, 2011 at 19:29 #

    Hmmmm………might have just found a honeymoon desination!! With a bit of luck Air New Zealand will have their $700 return tickets to the States sale again this year.

  19. cat March 23, 2011 at 23:04 #

    wow, that all looks amazing! and i want a taco. now. and some guacamole.
    oh, and charlotte and sophia would faint at that candy stand. seriously.

  20. The Mistress of Spices March 24, 2011 at 05:16 #

    I love your Mexico posts, Mardi – please keep them coming! I never realized that there is so much good food to be had in Baja, I sort of had the typical American perception of drunk college students and tequila fests. Good to know that that’s a mistaken stereotype! That photo of the condiments for the tacos is just gorgeous!

    • Mardi@eatlivetravelwrite March 28, 2011 at 17:40 #

      Ah you need to get out of the drinking fest towns and head for the smaller, off the tourist trail ones! Guaranteed great food and authentic experience there!

  21. Mr. Neil March 24, 2011 at 05:59 #

    Mr. Neil has to – sadly – report that he mucked up tequila in his Spirits exam last night.

    *sigh*

  22. Ethan March 24, 2011 at 10:43 #

    As I l ook outside at the snow on March 24th, I do appreciate this post! I do remember plenty of tweets and 365 pictures when you were in Mexico and I thought you had one incredible data plan for your phone, but now I know it’s just good free wifi, good to know:)
    Thank you for trying guacamole everywhere you went, along with taco al pastor, I’d have done the same thing:)

  23. Jen @ My Kitchen Addiction March 24, 2011 at 13:41 #

    This is making me so hungry! And, I just love that first picture… Such bright colors!

  24. Cookin' Canuck March 24, 2011 at 14:17 #

    What colorful photos, Mardi! Even as though the snow is falling here, I was able to escape into the tropical paradise in your photos. It looks as though you feasted well along the way.

  25. Jason Phelps March 24, 2011 at 21:06 #

    Definitely more spring-ish than Northeastern North America right now!

    I need some of that food cause the pizza I just had really didn’t do it for me!

    Jason

    • Mardi@eatlivetravelwrite March 28, 2011 at 17:38 #

      I LOVE good Mexican food – and luckily we are able to get some good stuff here. Hope you can too!

  26. Conor @ Hold the Beef March 24, 2011 at 23:29 #

    I much prefer those little boutique hotels that you can tell a lot of thought and care has gone into designing.. a stark contrast to the cookie cutter generic blahness of most hotels.

    Loving all this food! There is a lot to be said about dishes that come with piles of things you can scoop. I like to scoop. Interactive eating is much more fun, and burns calories as you eat, right?

    Also, this reminds me of the Petron tequila espresso liqueur I discovered fairly recently… have you guys had it? If not, you totally should. If I weren’t laid up in bed right now, and sweltering through 36 degrees (seriously, where is autumn?) I would be going out for some right now after this reminder. It IS Friday, after all.

    • Mardi@eatlivetravelwrite March 28, 2011 at 17:37 #

      Yes, Mexican food is most definitely interactive LOL! And not too sure about an espresso liqueur but since you recommend it, we might have to seek it out!

  27. BingePittsburgh March 25, 2011 at 08:52 #

    Welp, reading this before having breakfast was an awful idea. Those photos are so colorful and delicious; it looks like you had a great time!

  28. The Cilantropist March 25, 2011 at 11:29 #

    Oh my gosh Mardi each dish just keeps looking better than the next one! But I am a sucker for good guac, so I was particularly jealous of that. Loved all your photos, and this makes me want to take a jaunt down to La Paz even more (have been dying to go for years!). Thanks for sharing! :)

    • Mardi@eatlivetravelwrite March 28, 2011 at 17:36 #

      You should definitely go there – there’s so much to do that we didn’t even go near – and, of course, the food is amazing!

  29. sprinkling of sugar March 25, 2011 at 11:32 #

    Glorious….thank you for transporting me to sunshine and the loveliness of a vacation filled with good food!

    • Mardi@eatlivetravelwrite March 28, 2011 at 17:35 #

      Thanks, sometimes it is nice to look at these pictures when it’s gloomy out – cheers me right up!

  30. Sherry @ JustAPinch March 25, 2011 at 11:43 #

    I wish I was there… and you just gave me an appetite for guacamole. Thank you for sharing!

  31. Magic of Spice March 25, 2011 at 11:51 #

    What a great trip…everything is so bright and colorful! That pizza looks amazing and I am sure everything was delicious :)

  32. katie March 25, 2011 at 12:11 #

    We honeymooned in La Paz and found it very hard to resist the siren song of Rancho Viejo. I still dream about that place. Glad you enjoyed your trip!

  33. Nancy/SpicieFoodie March 25, 2011 at 13:06 #

    I want to go there, it looks like such a great place. The snowman is really funny :) All the food looks so delicious. Congrats for being featured on the Food News Journal Best of Blogs today !!

  34. Martha March 26, 2011 at 14:45 #

    My goodness, that food looks amazing! And I love the snowman looking at the beach.

  35. Winnie March 27, 2011 at 09:37 #

    BEAUTIFUL! Did I tell you I spent a semester studying dolphins near La Paz long ago?

  36. Corinne @ Gourmantic March 27, 2011 at 19:27 #

    If you were an inflatable snowman, wouldn’t you want that beach view? I would! ;) Now you’ve got me craving good Mexican food!

  37. Sabor es La Paz November 29, 2013 at 21:22 #

    Very good and fun to read review. Rancho Viejo is one of the most popular restaurants here in our city , is a favorite for tourists , but we have more than 190 restaurants that are offering any kind of food : Italian , Spanish , Greek , Thai , Japanese, Chinese , German , French , international and of course Mexican, with versions corresponding to different regions of Mexico . If you are visiting La Paz, you should not fail to try the food at street stands (specially fish taco and carnitas) in fact, some of the restaurants that are now major tourist business began as taco stands on the sidewalk. We invite you to come and enjoy the great gastronomic wealth and landscape of our beautiful bay. Come and explore the unique nature reserve of Isla Espiritu Santo , swimming side by side next to the whale shark, whale watching and more. By the way , La Paz is a great option compared to Cabo San Lucas because besides having a much more relaxed atmosphere, almost everything costs half of what it costs there. We offer you our website http://www.saboreslapaz.com.mx where we glady help you if you contact us. We are bringing to everyone the best restaurants, coffe shops and bars in La Paz. ¡Welcome !

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