Each winter season brings a new wave of eateries to these sleepy bayside towns. Expect to find several small minisupers (no supermarkets), a few traditional Mexican restaurants, several newer gringo establishments, a number of taquerias, and a tortillería (on the paved part of the road in El Sargento). Prices are generally low, and the atmosphere is casual. If you plan to cook most of your own meals, stock up on supplies in La Paz.
New in winter 2010, Playa Central (www.laventanakiteboarding.net) aims to create a much-needed gathering place for the kiteboarding community. Run by the twentysomething children of a Mexican family from Cozumel, the business occupies a former shrimp factory near the arroyo in La Ventana. A small patch of grass in front of the yellow building makes it easier to pump up and wrap kites. In its first season, Playa Central opened a bakery and pizzeria. Accommodations consist of a writers’ bunk with four beds, hostel style, for US$14 a night, and two basic apartments, each with a king-size bed and loft area, for US$65 a night. The not-yet-renovated interior of the warehouse is large enough to host music events during the high season.
On the way to El Sargento, before the pavement ends, El Amigo Pancho (no tel., 8 A.M.–10 P.M. daily, breakfast mains US$2–5, dinner mains US$4–7) is one of the few eateries that stays open late. Follow the smell of meat sizzling on the grill to a simple palapa structure next to Minisuper Belle, where you can order Mexican specialties, including chicken mole, burgers, enchiladas, and fish prepared various ways such as al mojo de ajo, a la veracruzana, or al diablo. During breakfast hours, the restaurant offers licuados, chilaquiles, and various egg dishes.
About 200 meters south of the pubic campground, Rincón del Bahía (no tel., hours vary, mains US$7–13) serves tasty seafood and Mexican fare on the beach. Owner Joaquin will serenade you while you dine. The stuffed fish with shrimp has been popular since the restaurant opened in the 1990s.
Just south of Palapas Ventana, Tacos Rafa (no tel., hours vary) grills fish tacos for US$6–13.
The restaurant at Palapas Ventana (tel. 612/114-0198, www.palapasventana.com, breakfast and lunch daily, plus dinner Fri.–Sat. and live music in winter, mains US$8–13) prepares lasagna, steaks, BBQ ribs, fresh grilled fish (all of it caught by the staff themselves). Try the coconut wahoo. Enjoy local wines, an icy margarita, or a Negra Modelo on tap (the only draught beer available in La Ventana) with your meal. Reservations are recommended.
Look for Tacos en la Torre “Tower Tacos” (no tel., hours vary, mains US$4–7) at the base of the radio tower in El Sargento, with a menu of chilaquiles, tortas cubanas, and flautas.
On the west side of the road in El Sargento, behind Mini Super Corona, Tacos Leon (no tel., hours vary) has hot dogs, papas rellenas, and enchiladas for US$4–10.
Long a favorite among campers, Viento del Norte (mains US$4–9) serves hearty breakfasts, enchiladas, and jumbo margaritas.
In a yellow two-story building on the beach, Las Palmas (no tel., 8 A.M.–10 P.M. daily; dinner mains US$5–8) prepares omelets, flautas, machaca, and espresso drinks for breakfast and a menu of enchiladas, tacos, mariscos, and pastas for lunch and dinner. The fish tacos, made of fresh-caught cabrilla, come with an exceptionally fresh medley of avocado, lettuce, cucumber and tomato. There are tables on both levels. Head upstairs for the bar and the best views. The restaurant is located at the end of the pavement, about a mile past La Ventana and across from the police station.
Pizza Vela (500 meters north of Palapas Ventana on the beach side of the road, no tel., hours vary, mains US$5–15), offers an alternative to Mexican fare; you can order a fresh salad and a glass of wine to go with your pie. Wine bottles are stored in a wine refrigerator, ensuring the right temperature on the hottest of days.
At Mariscos El Cone (beach side of the road in El Sargento, diagonally across from MiniSuper Los Delfines, no tel., breakfast, lunch, and dinner), start with the raw scallop or shrimp aguachile plate, and then move on to the pescado al mojo de ajo.
© Nikki Goth Itoi from Moon Baja, 9th Edition