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The Los Cabos appetizers we can’t pass up
By Beto Haro
Leave it to Los Cabos’ smallest bites to pack the biggest flavor.
Here at the southernmost tip of the Baja Peninsula you’ll find a huge variety of international and boundary-spanning food types, with everything from traditional Mexican to Indian, Italian, Japanese, American, Argentine, southern, and fusion. And while entrées earn top billing and most everybody has a soft spot for dessert, we thought it time to salute the small bites—those appetizer courses that refuse to be ignored.
Ladies and gentlemen, here is a look at Los Cabos’ best appetizers.
Sunset Mona Lisa’s Burrata and Carpaccio
The view at Sunset Mona Lisa rivals da Vinci’s namesake masterpiece, and the restaurant has been named among the world’s top must-visit destinations by such media outlets as The New York Times. You could make a meal out of the antipasti itself, and the selection is great enough to warrant repeat visits. The housemade burrata is served with pesto and tomatoes, while classic Italian-style beef carpaccio is prepared with arugula, Parmesan, and truffle oil powder. Bonus tip: Sunset Mona Lisa’s sister spot Sunset Point is located on the same property and specializes in tapas. Try the tuna tartar, which is served with crispy polenta and marinated in a puttanesca soy sauce. www.sunsetmonalisa.com
Nick-San’s Tuna Tostada
The first Nick-San opened its doors in downtown Cabo San Lucas back in 1994, launching what has become a decades-long trend of Japanese restaurants in Southern Baja. It makes sense, of course, what with the emphasis on fresh, quality seafood. From day one, Nick-San set the bar high, and it has continued to chart new ground and open additional venues—in San José del Cabo and beyond. The Nick-San menu features dozens of small bite items, including the perfect starter: The tuna tostada features yellowfin tuna belly, a rice cracker, avocado, and red onion. www.nicksan.com
Chin’s Crab Wontons
While Los Cabos has had a longstanding love affair with Japanese food, it was only the introduction of Chin’s at the Shoppes at Palmilla that really allowed Chinese food to take a turn in the spotlight. The delightful steamed crab wontons are a perfect marriage of Chinese and Mexican ingredients: Wontons are stuffed with crab, shrimp, chicken, cream cheese, house-made yellow curry, habanero, and cilantro. www.facebook.com/chinscabo
Cabo Wabo’s Scallops
Rocker Sammy Hagar’s downtown Cabo nightclub is rightfully known for its all-star lineup and all-night entertainment, but you’d be remiss if you didn’t check out its on-site cantina. The kitchen here offers a concise but expertly crafted menu. The standout appetizer? Pan-seared scallops served with a Cabo Wabo reposado tequila butter and crunchy red cabbage slaw. www.cabowabocantina.com
Pitahayas’ Roasted Octopus
Chef Volker Romeike has been dazzling Los Cabos patrons with his culinary wizardry since Pitahayas opened in 1995. He pioneered the fusion of foreign favorites with local flavors, always emphasizing creativity and quality ingredients. We’re fans of his whole award-winning menu, including innovative apps like char sui shrimp taquitos and a tuna poke featuring watermelon. But there’s something incredibly inviting about the deceptive simplicity of his roasted octopus served with potato cake that draws us in. www.pitahayas.com
What started as a favorite Mediterranean hole-in-the-wall among locals has grown into an exceptional if still intimate restaurant with a loyal and enthusiastic fan base. Just check out the many, many reviews on sites like TripAdvisor and Yelp. There are plenty of apps to choose from—and an ever-changing daily menu, too—but one fixture on the menu stands out: The Alcaravea Mushrooms are hugely popular. Mushrooms are sautéed in olive oil, marsala, and white wine sauce, then spiced with sage, basil, and fresh oregano, and ornamented with thick shavings of Parmesan. www.facebook.com/alcaraveagourmet
Blue Fish Seafood’s Octopus in Love
The seafood-forward menu at Blue Fish Seafood offers a mix of tacos, ceviches, salads, and more—and its approach blends traditional flavor profiles and more adventurous plays. The Octopus in Love tostada, for example, is a creamier version than what you’re likely used to seeing. Another must-try on the menu is the Mazatlan ceviche with carrot and cucumber. www.bluefish cabo.com
Los Deseos’ Queso Fundido
If you’re on a diet, you better stop reading right now. Los Deseos, which in English means “the desires,” is home to one of the most decadent appetizers in all of Los Cabos…but it’s so worth the calories. The tequila-style queso fundido (melted cheese) is flamed right at your table and served with fresh, handmade tortillas. www.goldenzone cabo.com
Café des Artistes’ Tuna Tartar
Every dish at chef Thierry Blouet’s Café des Artistes is a work of art. To quote acclaimed Mexican author Carlos Fuentes, “At Café des Artistes, every dish is a masterpiece, and every masterpiece feeds the spirit.” Among the beautiful creations is the fresh tuna tartar ‘Guacachile, a playful spin on the high-end restaurant standard. Here the tuna tartar is topped with pickled veggies, fried fennel, capers, and topped with a duo of vibrant sauces. www.cafedesartistescabos.com
Which restaurant and appetizer gets your vote? Did we leave a favorite spot or bite off our list? Let us know on our Facebook page: www.facebook.com/loscabosmagazine. Y