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!

 

74 thoughts on “Good eats in La Paz (Baja California Sur, Mexico)”

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

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  2. 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!

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  3. 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.

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  4. 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!

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  5. 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 !

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  6. 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!

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  7. 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!

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  8. 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.

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  9. 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.

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  10. 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.

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  11. 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!

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  12. 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:)

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  13. 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.

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  14. 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.

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  15. 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!

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  16. 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! 🙂

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

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  18. 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!

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  19. 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 !!

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  20. 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 !

    Reply

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