Alexandria and I spent the first few days of our time in Cabo at the Hyatt Ziva Los Cabo, which is an absolutely stunning beachside resort in San Jose del Cabo. But for our final couple of days down there, we moved up the road to the regular ol’ Hyatt Place. Still a great spot, but not all-inclusive.
All-inclusive resorts are wonderful, but they can also be a trap. Sometimes, not having to worry about carrying a wallet, the currency exchange, finding a restaurant, or settling the drink tab, can be great! It’s incredibly relaxing, and for the purpose of our stay—to just get away and work somewhere beautiful—we kicked back with laptops and margaritas in tip top fashion!
But in contrast, while staying at all all-inclusive resort, you are much less likely to venture off property and explore the local fare. You probably won’t be chatting with too many locals, finding the best hole in the wall taco joint, or experiencing the real flare of the local culture.
Fortunately, committing ourselves to volunteering with Los Cabos Humane Society during our week in Mexico had us walking the inner city streets and hopping buses to places most tourists don’t end up. But we also decided to ditch resort life and spend a couple of nights exploring. If we hadn’t done this, we never would have found, Lugareño Cocina.
Located actually less than three minutes walking around the corner from the Hyatt Place, tucked away within the beautiful Villa Valentina shopping mall (less a mall and more a courtyard with an art gallery and boutique suites), we stumbled upon a hidden gem.
Organic, locally-sourced, artfully crafted, perfect for sharing plates, plus an extensive and creative cocktail list. The atmosphere, service, and quality of 5-star resort dining, but without the price tag.
What did we order?
Alexandria and I opted to start with the organic greens, topped with fresh sheep milk cheese, toasted peanuts, charred brussel sprouts, and baby tomatillos. And after that, we would enjoy the seasonal vegetable tacos. The flavors they combined in those tacos were amazing. Toasted pumpkin seeds, caramelized onion emulsion, charred corn, castile pepper, annato seed, and dried black chiles. I mean, c’mon! To accompany our meal we ordered, and did pretty well crushing, a nice bottle of Malbec.
Salad and veggie tacos sounds pretty light does it not? It was, but that was nice. And our plan was to order BOTH of their desserts. Let’s call that the main course!
The desserts were some of the most inspired, creative, intriguing, we’ve ever tasted. One featured a slab of sweet potato, cooked perfectly with a honey glaze, surrounded by toasted amaranth and espresso crumble, finished with a scoop of jasmin infused yogurt ice cream. The second was a fruit bowl, but not just any fruit bowl. This mix of diced watermelon, pineapple, and papaya was topped with macerated oranges, fresh cotija cheese, dried chile powder, and smothered in charanda (sugarcane) liquor.
Like seriously, who thinks to combine all these ingredients and flavors? Alex and I felt like we were judges on an episode of Chopped. And Lugareño Cocina most certainly did not get chopped!
Also, a note of compliment to their wait staff. I’m not generally picky or snobby about this sort of thing, but I spent a period of my life waiting tables and slinging drinks at a fancy bar in Aspen, CO so I know great service etiquette and training when I see it. Lugareño did a phenomenal job with their training here. Water glasses never less than half full, proper wine service, always serving and clearing over the right shoulder, never having their back to the table, and incredibly well-mannered.
I took some awesome shots of the place below, but unfortunately I was too excited by all the food when it came out to think about snapping a photo before diving in. So you’ll just have to go check it out yourself the next time you make your way to San Jose del Cabo!
Lugareño Cocina Gallery