Building our cadre of friends on the local’s beach improved our food experience as well. Sergio taught us to say: "Que lo que tiene es?" which means “What do you have?” And this one phrase has opened up our culinary opportunities. I think this is my favorite restaurant in Cabo San Lucas, so far:
One might think that the locals would be irritated with a couple of Gringo tourists invading their section of the beach and their food establishments, but they never are. As we approach, they start out uncertain. The first day we went to Calmatos’ (pictured above), a family of five or six sat at a little folding table eating fish and shrimp. They watched us approach and stand in the shade of the tarp that has been stretched over a hand built wooden frame. Andrew and I consult briefly, trying to remember exactly what Sergio told us to say. The locals watched us with concern in their eyes that seemed to say: “Are you lost?” We seem lost, I know. I say, “comida?” and pantomime the motion for eating with my hands.
One of the gals in the group spoke a little English, so she says: “You want something to eat?” And we say, “Si! Si!” She smiles, still seeming a little uncertain and says, “ok, we have fish and shrimp today.” At this establishment, the menu changes daily. The matriarch of the family peers out from the window in the little trailer. She looks confused; the gal who speaks the little bit of English explains that we want food, and the woman behind the window looks back at us. Her face tells me she is still uncertain. I order shrimp, Andrew orders the fish. She asks me, “you want the shrimp with the spicy red sauce?” In Spanish, but somehow I understand anyway. “Si, Gracias!” She looks at the younger gal who speaks English, and the gal shrugs and nods.
“Please, sit down,” the younger woman says while clearing space for us on a second folding table. We sit, we eat, we enjoy. The locals at the next table now become curious about us, and start asking questions about where we are from, what we are doing here, etc. We explain, and they are concerned that sailing is dangerous. The food is amazing. My shrimp, cooked in their shells with legs and heads and antenna still on are the most flavorful shrimp I have had in my life. They are covered in a spicy, sweet, tomato sauce for which I wish I knew the recipe. They are served with hot, fresh flour tortillas, refried beans, Spanish rice and a little salad on the side. I drink Jimica (pronounced "hiMIKEahh" sweetened hibiscus flower iced tea) along side.
By the time we finish, the locals are convinced we were not just lost. We say how much we enjoyed the food and give our thanks. When we return the next day, they remember us, they are pleasantly surprised to see us return, and we receive a warm welcome. This process played itself out at a couple of places we love.
At Lolas we were greeted with enthusiasm, and informed that the owner is also “the best bar tender in the world!” Naturally, we ordered margaritas. When he offered us a fresh mango margarita, we weren’t going to turn him down. Minutes later, we notice our server disappeared out the back door. We could see his feet up on the roof. I ducked my head lower, and sure enough, he was picking mangos off the tree in the back yard! We enjoyed Pozole, and Chicken with Mole on the first day, and on the second day: a Molcajete which is grilled chicken/beef served in a tomato based sauce with cheese, cactus, and onion.
The last two nights we have stayed late into the evening at Cocos. We were first drawn to Cocos by the large number of locals loitering about the premises. Several groups were eating. A group of men dressed in white T-shirts and pants set down their stacks of hats, bandanas, and trinkets they were selling on the beach. They ordered an aqua fresca made of cucumber, mint, lime, coconut water, sugar, and took up a deck of cards. They circled up around a table sitting on a bench made of old surf boards, a hammock, and a few chairs. We ventured in, and sat down next to them.
If you ever go to Cabo San Lucas, please, hunt down Cocos. There you will find the cutest couple in the entire world serving the most amazing food. Jamie and Abby are two former lawyers and long lost lovers. They met in law school, dated, but for whatever reason things did not work out. Twenty years later, Facebook brought them back together again. They quit their jobs as attorneys in Mexico City, moved to Cabo San Lucas and put together a taco shack on the locals beach. Originally from Mazatlan, Jamie learned to crack open coconuts with a machete, and so, he does this here. He will open the top for you and add a rummy concoction. You drink the coconut water cocktail straight from the coconut. Once you are done, he will slice it open, chop the young coconut meat, and add a squirt of lime juice and chili. Perfecto. He also makes a mean Pina Loco, which is ceviche shrimp, coconut, pineapple, mango, onions, cilantro, mint, tomatoes, cucumbers, lime juice and a secret sauce that will knock your socks off. Scoop this concoction out with a tortilla chip, and you are in paradise. He will serve you marlin tostadas, beef burritos, or whatever else he has come up with today, but only in between dancing with his amour to the live mariachi music playing next door.
In addition to these places, we often walked just a few blocks away from the resorts to find any little open air restaurant populated with locals. If enough locals are eating there, it must be good. You can poison a tourist, and you'll never see them again. But, locals are repeat customers. See, there is a method to our madness. Tacos, beef consumme with cabbage, cilantro, and onions, mixed fruit in a plastic bag with chili sauce, candied apples with chili spice. Mexico has mastered the balance between salty, sweet and spicy.
In between all this amazing food, we explored the craggy rocks heading toward the world famous Cabo San Lucas Arch, enjoyed an Easter Sunday sunrise, spied on the Spring Break madness from the comfort of Sonrisa's deck hammock, flew our kite, explored the less crowded side of the beach, and received a visit from some of our good friends (one of Andrew's best buddies from college) and their family. We enjoyed our time in Cabo San Lucas; it has everything you could want in an adventurous vacation. Now it is time to get going. We don't want to miss the tortoises and blue footed boobies of the Galapagos Islands!