Tadd Chapman’s star is rising. The chef-owner of Don Sanchez, Habanero’s Gastro Grill & Tequila Bar, and the Retro Burger Bar recently won Chef on the Water, and he’s made appearances on television competitions and news programs. In San José del Cabo, his trio of restaurants has transformed the dining scene. Don Sanchez is an impressive fine dining establishment that wows from the moment you are greeted with a wall lined floor to ceiling with more than 300 labels of wine. Of course, there is also an aquarium, a sleek tapas bar, and an alfresco dining area that is simply lovely. The menu features innovative twists on Mexican classics: The Chile Wellington, for example, is a poblano pepper stuffed with filet mignon tips, mushroom duxelle, and Gorgonzola served in a pomodoro sauce. The grilled octopus is served with pickled jalapeño tempura, and the red curry–seared tuna on the tapas menu comes with apple slaw. There’s also the “Chef’s Tasting/Pairing Lunch,” which is available by reservation only and features five-plus courses of market-driven meals based on the chef’s fancy. For information on Don Sanchez’s “Wine-maker’s Dinner and Pairing,” call (624)142-2444. For an insider’s look, follow Chapman on Twitter: @chef_tadd. Blvd. Mijares S/N Edificio Eclipse Int 3, San José del Cabo, (624)142-2444, www.donsanchezrestaurant.com. Sun.–Thurs. noon–3 p.m. (by reservation only), 5:30 p.m.–10:30 p.m.; Fri.–Sat. noon–3 p.m. (by reservation only), 5:30 p.m.–2 a.m. (kitchen closes at midnight). AmEx, MasterCard, and Visa accepted. $–$$$$ C.M.
Dos Mares Marina Grill & Bar
Servers nattily attired in hot pink shirts and black pants greet guests at this waterfront restaurant on the Cabo San Lucas Marina with an extensive menu built around Mediterranean seafood. The picture-perfect Baltic salad is made with spinach, strawberries, avocado, and pecans in guajillo vinaigrette. Another starter is the lightly fried soft shell crab on avocado with chipotle sauce. The broiled shrimp or sea scallops on a bed of couscous and topped with grilled leeks or baked lobster tail served with a velvety soubise sauce is an elegant way to celebrate a special occasion. Filet mignon in port wine sauce or a rib eye steak satisfy, as do the pizza and pasta options. Can’t decide? Ask for a tasting menu that includes an appetizer, salad, entrée, and dessert, plus beverages. Chef Juan Manuel Sanchez shines with his desserts such as chocolate fondant, a chocolate cinnamon roll with ice cream, or vanilla genoise (a rich sponge cake) with amaretto coffee sauce served with mango sorbet. Daily lunch specials may include tacos, hamburgers, or seared tuna salad. Diners can enjoy views of sleek yachts as well as live music six nights a week. Cabo San Lucas Marina, (624) 143-0582, www.dosmarescabo.com. Daily 11 a.m.–11 p.m. AmEx, MasterCard, Visa, and vouchers accepted. $–$$$ S.A.B
El Patio Choyero
Looking for a laid-back oasis amid the high-end boutiques and million-dollar yachts of the Cabo San Lucas Marina? El Patio Choyero is the tranquilo hangout, with seating that includes umbrella-shaded, La-Z-Boy-style recliners that are perfect for people watching. Choyero is a nickname for those born in Baja California Sur, and the restaurant welcomes visitors and locals for affordable, first-class food and beverages in a relaxed environment. Menu options range from reliable morning hangover cures like chilaquiles verdes to tasty fish tacos and dinner favorites like Mexican combination plates featuring chiles rellenos, flautas, guacamole, beans, and “pot roast” (grilled steak). The bartender is a master muddler who makes the best mojitos in town, as well as shaking up (or blending) excellent house margaritas with tequila, orange liqueur, pineapple, fresh cilantro, and lime juice. Happy hour cocktail specialties and iced buckets of five beers for $10 U.S. headline the daily drink deals. Evening highlights include the occasional karaoke fest, when diners and drinkers take turns belting out some of the 500,000 or so available songs. El Patio Choyero’s owners also operate Sindicate Sportfishing, and if you put a line in the water with them, your fresh catch is served free of charge with fixings (appetizers and drinks are extra). Went fishing with someone else? No problema. The restaurant will cook up your fresh catch for $7 U.S. per person. Cabo San Lucas Marina, Cabo San Lucas, (624) 143-3563. Daily 6 a.m.–11 p.m. MasterCard and Visa accepted. $–$$ C.S.
Habanero’s Gastro Grill & Tequila Bar
There’s something incredibly satisfying about discovering a new favorite restaurant. Such is the experience that guests enjoy upon their first visit to chef Tadd Chapman’s Habanero’s Gastro Grill & Tequila Bar in San José del Cabo, which has developed a following thanks to its extensive selection of exceptional fare, huge portions, and great pries. Some 15 different breakfasts—complete with coffee and fresh fruit—are available for less than $10 U.S. Lunch and dinner menu highlights include Sushizza (a seafood trilogy that becomes a luncheon medley when you add barbecued pulled pork), gingered tuna ceviche served on wonton crisps, and Frazzled prawns in a red pepper aioli sauce. Lobster tail, filet mignon, coconut shrimp, mashed potato, and veggies come as part of the surf and turf for two. The equally magnificent Chicken Piazza is a tower of grilled chicken Parmesan, panko crusted eggplant, and mozzarella served on a white pesto mirror. Of the house-made desserts, opt for the Mexican Coffee Mocha Mud Pie, made with crema de tequila, añejo tequila, and Kahlúa. Chapman is a certified tequila expert, so seek his expertise when selecting from the 100-plus tequila options. Blvd. Mijares, Plaza Misiones, San José del Cabo, (624) 142-2626, www.habanerosgastrogrill.com. Daily 8 a.m.–11 p.m. MasterCard and Visa accepted. $–$$$ C.M.
Hacienda El Coyote Restaurant & Tequila Lounge
Nestled in the heart of Cabo San Lucas, Hacienda El Coyote is a special spot where you can enjoy the traditional flavors of México’s greatest dishes and tequilas. The restaurant is also home to two drinks—hibiscus and tamarind margaritas—that wonderfully represent the country and taste incredible. The amenities and attentive staff allow guests here to have an exceptional experience with every visit. Dine alfresco or within the comfort of an air-conditioned dining room as you explore chef Sergio Jiménez’s menu: In addition to traditional Mexican specialities like enchiladas, tamales, and cochinita pibil, Jiménez recently added several Tex-Mex items. The shrimp burrito is particularly good. To end an evening out on a sweet note, opt for the flan topped with cajeta (caramelized goat’s milk) or the traditional churros served with rompompe and caramel. An extra treat for parents? Hacienda El Coyote is kid friendly, and there is even a special children’s menu. Valet parking. Cabo San Lucas Street and Marina Boulevard, Cabo San Lucas, (624) 146-7731, www.haciendaelcoyote.com. Mon.–Sat. 4 p.m.–12 p.m.; Sun. 8 a.m.–8 p.m. All major credit cards and vouchers accepted. $$–$$$ D.M.R.
Chef Antonello Lauri has brought the flavors and charm of his native Rome to downtown Cabo San Lucas, more specifically to the beautiful Invita Bistro, which he opened in 2012. The menu of family-recipe dishes, freshly made breads and pastas, and generously filled glasses of Chianti transport guests to Italy, while an expansive window and enormous wine-themed painting from local artist Yandi Monardo simply dazzle. The eggplant Parmesan recipe was passed down from Lauri’s grandmother, and his mother was a frequent presence when the restaurant debuted. This familial touch extends to the service. Antipasti and appetizers like the Tocho Morocho de la casa—the chef’s choice of five signature tapas—are served family style in the center of the table, as if guests were dining at home. And entrée highlights like piquant Piccatine de Pollo (sautéed chicken breast with lime and parsley) and brochetas de camarón (grilled shrimp with zucchini and cherry tomatoes) are preceded by complimentary helpings of fresh focaccia. An old-fashioned blackboard touts the restaurant’s wine selections, among which are temperature-controlled bottles from top producers in Argentina, Italy, México, and the United States. There are also several excellent choices by the glass, and the dessert menu showcases decadent meal cappers like tiramisu and crème brûlée. Calle Miguel Hidalgo, Cabo San Lucas, (624) 143-1386, www.invitabistro.com. Mon.–Sat. 5 p.m.–11 p.m. MasterCard and Visa accepted. $$ C.S.
Jack’s Bar & Grill
If you love all things scurvy and scalawag-ish, there are two mandatory activities for you while in Los Cabos: Cruise aboard the Buccaneer Queen, a dead ringer for the black flag–flying ships that sailed the Spanish Main, and dine at Jack’s Bar & Grill, a comfort food mecca and freebooting stronghold located in the Marina Golden Zone on the Cabo San Lucas Marina. Jack’s is awash in nautical memorabilia and piratical accents: from swords, skulls, and ship models to a ceiling that doubles as a giant treasure map and a mermaid sculpture that look as if it were pulled from the prow of a marauding Viking vessel. Pirates aren’t pretentious, of course, so the breakfast, lunch, and dinner menus stick to popular Mexican and American specialty dishes. For lunch, try the Caesar salad with chicken or the Jack’s Burger topped with bacon, cheese, and caramelized onions. After the sun clears the yardarm, go with the three-cheese spaghetti, the arrachera Angus (grilled flank steak), or the Pollo Caribe (chicken breast topped with grated mozzarella, and chimichurri-and-sweet-chile-guajillo sauce). The kids will love the decor and the special children’s menu, and parents will appreciate the affordable prices. Weekly happy hour specials are offered from noon to 5 p.m. daily. Marina Golden Zone, Cabo San Lucas Marina, Cabo San Lucas, (624) 145-6011, www.goldenzonecabo.com. Daily 11 a.m.–11 p.m. All major credit cards and vouchers accepted. $–$$$ C.S.
Whether you’re 10 minutes or 1,000 miles from home, there’s nothing more comforting than feeling like you’re dining with friends and family. That’s the vibe at the newly opened John’s Place in downtown Cabo San Lucas, where guests can relax under a spacious palapa with the same peace and comfort they’d expect at a good friend’s. Too few of us, though, are blessed with friends who can turn out dishes at the level of quality you’ll find at John’s Place. The international menu darts about the North American and European continents, with dishes that range from baby back ribs with pasta and marinara sauce to traditional Mexican favorites and surf and turf, which includes a fillet of beef, lobster, shrimp, baked potato, and veggies. There are several Italian-style chicken dishes that include a half bird stuffed with rice and Italian sausage and Chicken Napolean in a creamy mushroom sauce. There are also pasta entrées such as house-made lasagna and seafood pasta with sea bass, prawns, clams, and mussels. The owners know exactly where they are, and the John’s Place menu includes several seafood options—both de rigueur and innovative surprises. Check out the coconut shrimp with mango ginger sauce or shrimp stuffed with crab and cream cheese. Ask for the fish of the day, and it may come prepared with cilantro or a lemony caper sauce. There’s a nice selection of appetizers, soups, and salads, as well as many traditional Mexican dishes (ask a server for suggestions). John’s Place is open for breakfast with a line-up of eggs Benny that runs from traditional to smoked salmon to El Toro (with beef). And just as you would watch sports with friends back home, you can relax under the beautiful palapa in shaded comfort at John’s Place while watching your favorite sporting event from Canada or the United States on large-screen televisions while enjoying your favorite beverage from the full bar. Best of all, John’s Place participates in our prepaid voucher program. Go to www.loscabosguide.com/discounts for additional information about how you can save. Across the street from the Wyndham Resort on Boulevard Marina, corner of Vicente Guerrero, Cabo San Lucas, (624) 105-0381, www.johnsplacecabo.com. Daily 7 a.m.–11 p.m. MasterCard, Visa, and vouchers accepted. $–$$ S.A.B.
La Panga Antigua Restaurant & Bar
Exquisite entrées are beautifully presented within the cozy, romantic confines of La Panga Antigua in colonial-style San José del Cabo. Of course, that’s no surprise. The affordability of the dishes, though, very well may be. Priced at $12 U.S. to $30 U.S., the scrumptious plates are not only tasty but also accessible. La Panga Antigua offers fresh, local seafood, a catch of the day (yellowtail, dorado, red snapper, mahimahi), as well as New York sirloin and grilled chicken choices. Start with an appetizer or healthy salads, then save room for an enticing dessert like the chocolate tamale. La Panga’s attentive, friendly, and bilingual staff members are pleasant and service oriented, the perfect complement to the restaurant’s easy-to-find colorful colonial structure adjacent to San Jose del Cabo’s historic Catholic church. Chef Alberto Martínez’s contemporary Mexican menu has kept La Panga a popular choice among locals and visitors, earning numerous awards that have distinguished La Panga Antigua. An opulent, air-conditioned wine cellar accommodates 24 guests. The wonderful, fine dining, picturesque restaurant and bar has long been considered one of San José del Cabo’s best finds. Zaragoza No. 20, San José del Cabo, (624) 142-4041. Hours through October 15: Nightly 5 p.m.–10 p.m. All major credit cards accepted. $–$$ F.R.