San José Del Cabo
Los Cabos, Baja California Sur, México.
With a rich and colorful history dating back to the 1700’s, the laid-back community of San Jose del Cabo offers an abundance of Mexican charm and hospitality with its Spanish colonial character, much different than its livelier sister city of Cabo San Lucas located 25 miles south.
For hundreds of years, San Jose del Cabo was the only community at the tip of the Baja California peninsula. With its natural fresh water oasis flowing into palm-lined lagoons at the edge of the Sea of Cortés, the area was home to Indian communities and hundreds of species of wildlife before the colonization by the Spanish. During pre-colonial times, it was a water and provision stop for Spanish sailing vessels that were heavily laden with treasure, silks and spices from the east.
These were bait for pirates that waited to ambush the unsuspecting galleons. The Jesuits colonized the area with a mission and a fort in 1730 to help stabilize the region and protect against marauders.
During the passing years, as explorers and cannoned warships, whaling ships and clipper traders running the West Coast stopped, some crew were left behind. Some of the old families in San Jose del Cabo and other communities in Baja Sur have English and French derived surnames from ancestors who were buccaneers before jumping ship and becoming ranchers and fishermen.
San Jose del Cabo is best enjoyed on foot. The town is proud of its historic district, an area of back streets devoted to the bustling Art Walk event that takes place seasonally, November – June, on Thursday nights, with wine tastings, artists in attendance and gallery openings. The many art galleries showcase both traditional and modern works from renowned masters as well as young artists with sculptures, paintings, crafts, and jewelry.
Fronting the Mission San José Church is the renovated town plaza complete with gazebo that has retained the atmosphere of days gone by, where people meet and greet, hear strolling musicians and attend many fiestas. A visit to the Spanish colonial-styled city hall has murals of old Baja inside its corridors and a two-story courtyard shaded by a huge Mexican laurel.
An exciting blend of culinary delights can be experienced in the many restaurants that line the streets, from seafood to Mexican to continental to international flavors such as La Dolce, an Italian Bistro adjacent to the plaza where you are likely to feel transported to Little Italy by the food and décor. The motif and charm are undeniably characteristic of Italy. Chef Tadd Chapman is responsible for introducing three eateries to the area. Those that are high on the restaurant scene under his corporate command are Habanero’s Gastro Grill & Tequila Bar, a sidewalk cafe specializing in a European-style bistro fare with a Mexican twist, a fine dining restaurant named Don Sanchez to enjoy upscale Baja cuisine, live music, and creative cocktails, not to mention a selection from the 300-label wine cellar—at affordable prices—and The Retro Burger Bar upstairs above Don Sanchez where comfort food has been reinvented in this nostalgic sports bar. You won’t have to miss any of your favorite games, munchies, or beer while kids from 3 to 93 slurp on root beer floats, indulge in a banana split, or get their lips around a great burger. La Panga Antigua near the main plaza is situated in the oldest colonial-style mansion with more than150 years of history and one of the area’s most beautiful courtyards. This is a must for contemporary Mexican cuisine and locally sourced seafood. Dine beneath the stars surrounded by tropical foliage on fresh seafood served with authentic Mexican sauces that compliment with just the right touch of “hot.”
Beyond huge wooden doors and surrounded by 19th-century rustic stone walls you’ll find La Ostería where European-style tapas are served in an open courtyard. Mi Casa, a truly Mexican feast for the eyes as well as the palate—formerly a hacienda-style residence—charms with life-size murals, gardens, and regional Mexican dishes. How does fresh mango ice cream infused with a touch of tequila sound on a warm summer day?
More information about San Jose del Cabo: www.sanjosedelcaboguide.com
The Tropicana Inn is not only a favorite spot for relaxing and people watching on the sidewalk café, but a must-go-to spot for fine dining and live music. The interior depicts the culture of Mexico with its colonial themed murals, high ceilings and elegant furnishings. Try the pre-Columbian soup for serious local flavor. Traditional Mexican accommodations are offered in the heart of San Jose del Cabo with a large outdoor Romanesque swimming pool…Continue to part two of the San José del Cabo article