Great Dining with a View - Review of Hacienda Cocina y Cantina in Cabo San Lucas

View of the Bay of San Lucas from Hacienda Cocina in Cabo San Lucas
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HACIENDA COCINA Y CANTINA - A CABO'S BEST PICK FOR GREAT FOOD AND VIEWS

Word of a new restaurant opening in Cabo always gets my attention, as much as it gets the attention of my wife Dolores. We both love trying new restaurants, and fortunately for us, we have plenty of opportunities to do so during the multiple visits we make to Los Cabos each year. That kind of time affords us the luxury of trying a different restaurant just about everyday. Sadly, most we try don’t make it onto our web site. Those that do, earn it.

One of those trips down to the tip of the Baja took place from late December of 2010 well into January of the New Year. Once again, we visited several new restaurants and found a new one we consider to be one of the best values in one of the best locations – Hacienda Cocina y Cantina in Cabo San Lucas. This place proves that you don't need to pay exorbitant prices to get top-tier food with top-tier views.

Patio dining at Hacienda Cocina y Cantina, Cabo San Lucas
Hacienda Cocina y Cantina has plenty of indoor dining but it's hard to pass up a chance to dine al fresco with bay views that reach to Land's End.

A TRADITION OF FINE RESTAURANTS COMES TO CABO
Hacienda Cocina y Cantina is the signature restaurant at the recently opened Hacienda Beach Club and Residences. Hacienda Beach Club sits upon prime real estate – the former site of the Hotel Hacienda– one of the very first hotels constructed in Cabo San Lucas back in the 1970's. The property rests on the northeast corner of the Cabo San Lucas marina and spills out onto famous Medano Beach. The location alone is reason enough to visit.

Getting there is easy. Its proximity to most Cabo hotels will translate into a $10 cab ride for most… some more, some less depending on where you’re staying. Valet parking is available for those who prefer to drive themselves. Hotels along Medano Beach or the north end of the marina are well within walking distance.

Before I get to the food, here’s a little background on the group behind Hacienda Cocina. The impetus for this Cabo restaurant came from the Moana Hotel & Restaurant Group – a Mill Valley California based hospitality company whose mission is “crafting experiences that are sophisticated yet approachable; vibrant yet casually elegant” – something they call Modern Luxury. You may not know Moana by its corporate name, but chances are you’re familiar with some of the luxury resorts they own or manage including Auberge du Soleil in Napa, California and Esperanza in Los Cabos… very successful, upscale hotels. But, Moana’s primary focus is on creating exemplary restaurants. The group owns or manages over twenty restaurants including award-winning eateries in California, Oregon, Washington, Colorado, Texas and Hawaii.

Hacienda Beach Club & Residences in Cabo San LucasThe restaurant is located adjacent to the pool at the exclusive Hacienda Beach Club and Residences, one of the premier developments in Cabo.

Our visit took place on a weekday night for dinner. We arrived just as the sun was going down and were treated to another beautiful Cabo sunset with the shimmering lights from a cruise ship glistening on the bay. Seating options are many with several elegantly appointed dining rooms under roof and an expansive, terraced outdoor dining area. Tomas, our waiter, introduced himself, took our drink orders and handed us menus to peruse. Both of us opted for Mojitos… well made and very refreshing.

We selected three starters… we were very hungry!! First up was Ceviche Tropical – fresh Mexican sea bass marinated in citrus juice with tomato, jicama, cucumber and pineapple. The jicama provided a distinctive crunch while the pineapple brought island flavors into play. Next was Ensalada de Elote Rotizado – an organic salad featuring roasted sweet corn, fresh tortilla strips and a wonderfully unusual vinaigrette made with guajillo chiles and vanilla! Last, Flautas de Congrejo – lightly spicy crab meat wrapped in a crisp flour tortilla served with hibiscus sauce and a mango slaw. All three were very good, although I would have preferred more heat in the flautas to offset the sweetness of the hibiscus sauce. Not one appetizer topped the $10 mark.

Ceviche Tropicale at Hacienda Cocina

ABOVE: Ceviche Tropical with seabass, jicama, cucumber and pineapple.

BELOW: Flautas de Congrejo, crisp tortillas filled with lightly spiced crab meat with a sauce made from Hibiscus flowers.

Crab flautas at Hacienda Cocina y Cantina in Cabo San Lucas

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Dining areas at Hacienda Cocina y Cantina, Cabo San Lucas
Seating options are plentiful and the decor is subdued yet intricate.

GENEROUS PORTIONS FULL OF FLAVOR
For our main course, my better half chose Medalliones de Fillet con Mole de Chile Ancho Y Cachuate; me, I chose the Carnitas Para Compartir (to share). Dee’s dish was tender medallions of filet mignon served with a mole sauce whose primary ingredients were ancho chile and Japanese peanuts. Coupled with an aromatic blend of Mexican spices, the mole had a deep, intense flavor that paired very well with the succulent cuts of beef. Roasted potatoes and fresh organic spinach filled out the plate.

Carnitas at Hacienda Cocina
My carnitas was cooked "en papillote" meaning it was slow cooked in parchment paper to keep the pork moist, tender and flavorful.


My order of carnitas arrived at the table wrapped in parchment paper and once Tomas the waiter freed it from its confines, the aroma was mouth-watering! Good carnitas should never need the intrusion of a knife… it should willfully come apart with just the slightest help from one’s fork. Well, Hacienda’s carnitas didn’t need the forks help… it literally fell into bite-sized chunks of pork heaven all by itself. The flavor? It tasted even better than it looked. The only problem was how was I going to finish it all as the portions here are very, very generous. I know I ordered a “for the table” item, but my guess is that three people could share the dish and still have need of a doggie bag! Along side the carnitas; organic cabbage and Jalapeno Escabeche – a classic Mexican side consisting of pickled jalapenos, white onions, carrots and garlic.

Churros at Hacienda Cocina
If you've ever been to a county fair, chances are you've had these sweet little treats called Churros. At Hacienda Cocina they're crisp and sweet and served with caramel and chocalate sauce... mmmmm, good!


Dee and I both shared a bottle of wine with dinner. It wasn’t an easy choice as Hacienda Cocina Y Cantina has a tempting wine list that features vintages from Italy, Argentina and California as well as a nice sampling of Baja wines. We were looking for something that could compliment both dishes selecting a Nebbiolo from the La Cetto Winery in northern Baja’s Guadalupe Valley. The 2005 vintage is a private reserve and in my opinion, one of the best reds produced in Mexico. Perfect with just about any grilled meat it paired nicely with the slow-roasted carnitas as well.

Hacienda Cocina y Cantina is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner with a varied and inviting menu. What astonished me most was that for the quality of food, level of service and its premium location one would expect prices to be much higher than they are. The most expensive dish on the dinner menu was $24, for lunch nothing over $17. Dinner for two with a nice glass of wine and a couple of appetizers can be had for less than $100 US. That’s pretty much unheard of in Cabo and certainly not something you’re likely to find right on the beach!

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