As some of you know, I recently returned from La Paz, Baja California Sur in Mexico, where I was on a sponsored TweetUp for the Mexico Tourism Board organised by the amazing folks at Ogilvy. Sadly, this will be the final post in this series of dishes inspired by this trip and today I will be focussing on the dining options offered by the CostaBaja Resort where we stayed.
The Resort and Spa is just 10 minutes south from downtown La Paz, the capital of Baja California Sur. The resort is set on the magnificent Sea of Cortez overlooking a 250-slip double-basin marina and a white sand beach. Just north of the hotel, lies Isla Espiritu Santo where you’ll discover one of the greatest marine reserves in the world, along with the best sport fishing in Baja Sur, and where we spent an idyllic morning snorkelling with sea lions. Within the resort, activities are endless - Costa Baja offers exclusive access and preferred rates at Mexico’s only Gary Player-designed golf course, the tranquil Espiritu Spa – featuring locally-inspired treatments and full spa services, three pools, as well as multiple dining options.
I was particularly keen to try the dining options as, if you read this blog regularly, you’ll know that Neil and I don’t stay at resorts when we travel, preferring more local, intimate (and cheaper!) accommodations, such as the delightful Hotel Mediteranée where we stayed when we were visiting at Christmas. Staying at smaller hotels means that we’re on our own for food (though the Mediterannée offers a fabulous breakfast included in the price of the rooms) and we tend to gravitate towards more local places to eat, and less towards the international dining options offered by the larger resorts, so I was interested to see what CostaBaja had to offer.
The Resort does, indeed, offer a variety of dining options, including Steinbeck’s ™, the Beach Bar (at their main Pool), the Beach Club, the Golf Club House, Azul Marino, La Barcaccía with additional restaurants coming soon. Steinbeck’s is inspired by the Pulitzer Prize-winning author who penned one of his books on a visit to the area, Steinbeck’s is a unique open-air restaurant that features a selection of fresh fish, smoked chicken, steak and salads. The extensive wine list offers an excellent selection of both local and international wines many of which are available by the glass. They also offer a wonderful happy hour every day from 5-7 pm with 2 for1 pricing on all of cocktails, wines and beer. We were fortunate to partake in a tasting menu on our first night there, where we were able to taste a large number of the dishes on the menu, in bite-sized form.
I appreciated that the menu is comprised of locally sourced meat, fish and produce and the food was, indeed tasty, fresh and very flavourful. Apart from the churros at dessert though (to die for with dipping sauces of dulce de leche, English cream and strawberry sauce), the menu is most definitely international fare that you might find at fine dining options in resorts around the world. You can check out Steinbeck’s™ Menu here.
If you can believe it, I did not visit the Pool Bar once during our short visit. Located at the edge of the main hotel pool the newly-opened Pool Bar features a swim-up bar, grilled bar food and snacks, and a variety of drinks including domestic and international beers, cocktails and soda drinks. I watched many people swimming up to the bar from my room’s balcony and regretted that our trip was so short!
Just a short walk from the hotel you’ll find the Beach Club Bar & Grill - THE place to watch the sunset in La Paz. Open open every day until 9 pm and featuring seating under the large Palapa, at the pool and on the beach; the Beach Club has something for everyone. The menu boasts a variety of options including fresh fish and seafood, grilled items and bar food.
A group of us tried breakfast there on one of the mornings and I was delighted with the Mexican twists on breakfast classics. We also enjoyed a wonderful happy hour there, where margaritas appeared as if by magic and fabulous bar snacks abounded. We were particularly taken with the nachos and the guacamole.. Oh and the margaritas weren’t bad either!
I tried afternoon tea at the Beach Club on another day with Katja and whilst the desserts were definitely pretty, they were again, nothing you wouldn’t find at any upscale restaurant. I was looking, again for some authentic Mexican helado or sweets…. We were, after all, in the right place for that as Neil and I found out at Christmas!
Other options include The Club House – with spectacular views of the hotel and the Sea offering a variety of grilled and fresh items to enjoy as you sip a drink and take in the view. The Club House is open for breakfast and lunch only. Azul Marino, located on the CostaBaja Marina, boasts indoor and outdoor seating, a serene water-front setting and a robust menu with fresh world-class seafood, thin crust pizza, and daily specials. La Barcaccia, where we also enjoyed a wonderful tasting menu, is located adjacent to Azul Marino. Featuring outdoor seating, La Barcaccia is CostaBaja’s choice for fine Italian food and spirits; its menu features a variety of authentic Italian dishes, pizzas and fresh seafood. Again, not what you’d expect in Mexico but a fine meal indeed.
Overall, I was definitely impressed with the variety (and amount!) of dining options CostaBaja offers, though as someone who tends to like frequenting restaurants packed with locals, it was definitely not my usual style of vacation eating. I confess to eating pizza in La Paz at Christmas, simply because Neil and I were a bit “Mexican food-ed” out so do I appreciate that CostaBaja offers options beyond Mexican.
What I found a little disappointing was the distinct lack of Mexican food. I am guessing that many guests who stay at resorts like this wouldn’t venture far (i.e. maybe not outside the resort itself) so I would have liked to have seen some authentic Mexican fare on offer. Whilst Steinbeck’s and La Barcaccia offered very fine food indeed, it’s not unlike what you could find in any large city hotel. A little bit of authentic street food – or even a fine dining Mexican option – would be a great way to introduce CostaBaja guests to the wonders of Mexican cuisine
One of my favourite things I ate at CostaBaja was a simple plate of nachos at The Beach Club. Perhaps it was the company (Katja, Dian and Lisa), perhaps it was because we were starving after a day on the ocean, but these were quite simply, delightful. Freshly made and not overly cheesy, these were something I tried to remember every bite of so I could recreate it at home. Mine were close, but not quite as good as the plate enjoyed sitting watching the sun set on the Sea of Cortez. Still, I could close my eyes and imagine….
- about 6 handsful of tortilla chips
- 200g sharp cheddar, grated
- 1 cup black beans, drained
- 1 red onion, finely diced
- ½ cup tomato salsa
- ½ cup finely chopped cilantro
- 1 avocado, finely diced
- 1 tomato (I used yellow from our garden), finely diced
- Heat oven broiler (grill) to high.
- In a baking dish, layer about ⅓ of the tortilla chips and ⅓ of the cheese. Broil for 3-5 minutes until the cheese is melting and bubbling.
- Meanwhile, take the beans, onion and cilantro and blend with either a fork or an immersion blender until you achieve the texture you want. I like mine a little smooth and a little chunky.
- Remove the baking dish from the oven and layer on ½ the beans and about ½ of the salsa, top with some more cheese.
- Briefly place back under the broiler until the cheese is melted.
- Layer more nachos, beans and salsa, top with more cheese.
- Broil again until cheese has melted.
- Top with more salsa, the tomato and avocado.
- Sprinkle a little chopped cilantro on top and serve hot with lime quarters.
Disclaimer: Flights to and from La Paz, accommodation at the Costa Baja Resort and all meals were provided by the We Visit Mexico team. I was not compensated for this trip or writing this post and all opinions are, and will always be, 100% my own.
Congratulations to Amy Kim who won my Kitchen Counter Cooking School book and magnet giveaway! I will be in touch to get your address