During my most recent trip to Los Cabos, taking a food tour was one of my top priorities.
Previous travels to Baja’s southern tip had left me hungry for authentic regional flavors. While I had found a number of fantastic gringo dives, like Vagabundo’s Trailer Park Restaurant, I still had no idea where and what the locals eat.
I turned to Juan More Taco Tours to help me out.
A well-established and popular food tour operator in Puerta Vallarta, Playa del Carmen, and Bucerias, Juan More Taco Tours is relatively new to Los Cabos having offered food tours in the area since November 2015. As ambassadors of the people, culture, and cuisine of Mexico, their knowledgeable guides are on a mission to introduce visitors to the native flavors of the region.
While I won’t describe each and every bite I devoured (or give away their entire itinerary), I will tell you that the mix of piquant flavors and sweet delights added up to a very satisfying progressive lunch.
Our guide, Issi
We met our guide, Issi, at the main entrance of Puerto Paraiso Shopping Center on a very hot Thursday morning, before setting out on a walking tour of downtown Cabo San Lucas. For the next three hours, Issi led our group of seven through back streets and local neighborhoods to find the city’s most delectable hidden gems.
Insider’s Tip: The meeting point for the tour is in front of the Häagen-Dazs store at the Puerto Paraiso Shopping Center. This can be confusing as there are three Häagen-Dazs stores at the mall – one overlooking the marina, one inside the mall, and another facing Lazaro Cardenas Avenue. Your tour guide will be waiting for you in front of the one facing Lazaro Cardenas Avenue.
Authentic Mexican food has little in common with the Mexican-style dinner kits made popular in the U.S. and Canada by brands like Old El Paso. Instead, it’s based on a handful of simple ingredients like beans, corn, tomatoes, peppers, and onions. Situated where the Sea of Cortez and the Pacific Ocean collide, it’s no surprise that, in Cabo, fresh seafood also plays a prominent role in the local cuisine.
Basically, tacos are anything folded in a tortilla and in Cabo you’ll find both corn and flour varieties. Los Cabos and the rest of the Baja peninsula have a desert climate where not much grows, including corn or wheat, so both types of tortillas are imported into the area. The locals often use a double tortilla and rice to make their tacos more filling and their pesos stretch further.
Tacos al pastor
Issi led us to eateries most tourists don’t even know exist. Once there, I tasted an assortment of tacos: crunchy shrimp (my favorite), chicken in a deep dark mole, and succulent pork carnitas. I also sampled tacos al pastor, a shawarma-style taco made with pork marinated in dried chilies, spices, and pineapple, then cooked on a vertical spit. At each stop on the food tour, we were given a number of taco choices. Some of the more adventurous in our group ordered smoked marlin and octopus in a diablo sauce.
Insider’s Tip: All of the cruise lines making their way along the Sea of Cortez and the Mexican Riviera stop at Cabo San Lucas. From the cruise port, it’s an easy 10-minute stroll along the marina to the Juan More Taco Tours meeting point, making this a great choice for a shore excursion. Five of the guests in my group were cruise ship passengers who had chosen to spend their time on shore immersed in the culinary heritage of Mexico.
In between tacos, we took a mini tequila tour with an artisan tequila tasting, including some that were infused with strawberry and tamarind, as well as tequila creams flavored with coffee and chocolate. We also peeked inside a working tortilla factory. At first, both facilities seemed to offer a welcome respite from the mid-day sun but without air-conditioning, it wasn’t long before they felt stifling. Almost as oppressive as the heat outside.
Insider’s Tip: This tour takes place during the hottest part of the day. While Juan More Taco Tours does suggest that you bring a hat, sunglasses, and sunscreen if you aren’t used to being in the blazing desert sun for hours you might be more comfortable signing up for the evening tour.
My mood lifted considerably when Issi escorted us to a nearby paletería where he tempted us with a huge assortment of aguas frescas and frozen treats. Although I took my sweet time about it (I was happy just sticking my face into the open freezer) I eventually chose a refreshing strawberry paleta – a Mexican popsicle made with fresh fruit juice and chunks of strawberries.
We sampled more sweets, this time from a sidewalk candy cart before our well-orchestrated tour ended exactly where I hoped it would end. In front of a churro stand. Chocolate filling? Yes, please!
Insider’s Tip: If you can, time your food tour for the start of your trip. That way you’ll be able to put what you’ve learned to good use during your stay, and you’ll have time to return to some of your favorite eateries.
Juan More Taco Tours
What: Small group walking tour
Where: Downtown Cabo San Lucas, Baja California Sur, Mexico
Duration: 3 hours
Runs: Daily (excluding Sundays), 11:00 am or 5:30 pm
Update: April 28, 2018
Cabo San Lucas has just been named one of the top 10 foodie destinations to watch by Trip Advisor, and Juan More Taco Tour has been singled out as the area’s most popular food tour. Book in advance to avoid disappointment.
Disclosure: I’d like to thank Juan More Taco Tours for hosting me. Although I was their guest, the honest opinions expressed here are my own.