On our second afternoon in Mexico, we headed into Cabo San Lucas for a food tour and general lookie-loo.
Our resort was far enough away from the city that we didn’t have to deal with crowds but we did need to either get a taxi/bus or rent a car. And like I already mentioned, we rented a car. I only have a threshold for so much learning-new-things anxiety and figuring out how to find a ride in a country that speaks a language I don’t know was not on my list of things to try this time around.
Also, if I’m being honest, I don’t have much patience for that. So it was just easier to be able to go wherever we wanted, whenever we wanted. (And the car rental was easy and a great price! I think we’ll be using ACE Rent a Car again for our next visit.)
The food tour — cleverly titled Juan More Taco — was scheduled to start around 5:30, departing from Puerto Paraiso which is a giant mall right near the marina and probably most tourist-dense area of Cabo — at least it seemed like it! We found parking in the mall’s garage and accidentally took a walking tour around the building before finding the meeting spot.
(Spotted this restaurant while we were walking to the meeting spot. We didn’t eat at WTF! Burger Bar but I was amused by their name.)
One of the first things I learned on the tour? All of the spiky shrubby-looking plants are types of agave, which is what tequila and mezcal are distilled from.
The first stop on the tour was actually an upper patio in the mall, overlooking the Marina. Our guide, Jesus, and his brother Hugo (who was both participating in the tour and helping with some of the narrative during the tour) told us a lot about the history and culture of Cabo before our feast began. It was nice to have this kind of expertise around to be able to form more of a conversation around what we would be seeing and eating. Getting a local’s perspective is always a good way to enhance a visit somewhere new!
Jesus started us off with some beef tortas from Tortas Hipocampo, which was in the food court of the mall but still a place he says he returns to pretty often. And it was delicious! It certainly got us off on the right foot. I think Jason may have eaten a second sample because we had a little more than we needed.
Note: remember to pace yourself! There was so much food.
After that we set off on an exploration. Our second bit of food was actually samples from a street vendor’s cart: candy and nuts. There were some custom seasons on the nuts, so most of us tried whatever Jesus recommended and the vendor offered. Some of us also selected a little sample bag to enjoy later; I chose the spicy dried mango. Yum!
Los Claros was an excellent off-the-beaten-path spot and I’m hoping to visit again on our next trip. It has a small open-air patio and an awesome salsa bar. I tried to get a little sample of most of the salsas, though I may have chickened out on the super-crazy-spicy salsas. I got the shrimp tacos while Jason got the smoked marlin tacos — which I took a little bite of and I don’t know how I resisted stealing his tacos while he wasn’t looking.
Next stop: a little bit of a palate cleanser. Jesus explained the huge variety in flavors behind these hand-crafted popsicles and offered some best practices to enjoying them properly. I opted for a hibiscus popsicle (a mellow but refreshing flavor) while Jason went for pistachio.
If you happen to find one of these popsicle shops in Mexico, it would help to know a little bit of the language if you don’t have someone to help interpret the flavors, though. We found another place a couple days later in San Jose del Cabo and I thought I picked out something fruity, it looked like oranges, but it had the worst flavor! I gave it a fighting shot to grow on me, but my taste buds couldn’t handle it. Oh, well!
I was introduced to elote through a restaurant in my town, Travail, when they served it at one of their summer parties. When we ordered it from this street vendor, Jesus recommended we get it served in a cup instead of on the cob (which is how Travail served it) so we could spice it up with whatever salsas and hot sauces we wanted to use and it’d be a little easier to walk with. I think both ways to serve this dish are good, but I was glad to be able to split a cup at this point in the tour: man, was I getting fullllll.
I’m not sure I would’ve recognized this guy as a street food vendor, but those giant pots are filled with all flavors of tamales!
Most of the group opted for the meaty flavors, but I went for strawberry because (a) I like dessert and (b) I wanted to try something different. I liked it!
Speaking of dessert…
These churros were served with a choice of fillings: I went for plain ol’ vanilla.
We had such a great time on this tour! Unfortunately our last stop, the tequila tour, was closed a little early (probably because it was Monday night) so we didn’t get to try that but… I think that’s okay. I was happy to get back to our resort and instead order a hibiscus margarita to keep that kinda party going… or to make it easier to fall onto a soft surface and let everything digest.
Oh my gosh, yum. WOULD FOOD TOUR AGAIN. (Should we?)