Dining Guide to La Paz
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In at least the first version of this guide, I'm not going to concentrate much on what's available to eat on the tourist strip (Malecon). This is an insiders guide. Hop a taxi, get in your car, or put on those walking shoes and go have some really delightful food while you get to know the city from the inside . . .
Baja California Information Pages

A Food Lover's Guide
to La Paz Dining
Stephanie Jackter, Correspondent

1. My Favorite Restaurants

Camberos Restaurant

Located next to a big wash at the intersection of Forjadores (the road that leads out to Los Cabos), and Colima. This restaurant has the best stuffed crab you'll ever try. The filling is a mixture of delightfully seasoned crab, tomato, onion, with a breaded covering that's deep fried golden and crispy. Most of their seafood is breaded and fried, but let me tell you . . . this place puts Long John Silvers to shame even on a bad day.

Very kid friendly. Has a trampoline. Reasonable prices, too. The owners do the cooking and that's always a good thing. And, if you like to watch soccer on TV, you will have found heaven.

El Rey

Allende just past Josefa Ortiz de Dominguez (10 blocks behind Los Arcos Hotel). I recommend this little open air hamburger joint for everything but its hamburgers. There's nothing wrong with them. They're just Mexican style and I have an American style place I like much better. What El Rey does well, and I mean really well, are milk shakes! If you want a quality milk shake in a frosted glass that, on a hot sweaty day, will just make you go AAAAAAAHHHHHH, go to El Rey. I don't know of a shake in the U.S. that can even compare. And it's truly a miracle to me because Mexican milk shakes are usually something like a glorified glass of chocolate milk.

The fries here are also freshly made and nice and crispy. Mexican fare like Sopes (fried corn cakes topped like tostadas), is also quite good. They open around 4:30 in the afternoon and stay open as late as 1 on weekends.
La Fonda
A lot of Americans have already found out about this one. Located 3 blocks off the Malecon, at the intersection of Bravo and Madero (right across from the ISSTE market), this little gem is family owned and gives you a selection of about seven or eight home cooked meals to choose from on the "comida corrida" or "fast food" menu every day. The meals are served up with soup, entree with rice and beans, a glass of jamaica tea, and Jell-O for dessert, for only 30 pesos.

You can eat inside or on the patio, but both places have cloth table clothes and excellent, really fast service. The owners work there and the quality control is obviously quite good because of it. Be sure and give the cooks your compliments on the way out. They are very proud of what they cook - and with good reason.
Le Bistro
One block behind the Malecon, about a half a block away from 16 de Septiembre, this nice little French restaurant is located in an old house with a pleasant courtyard framing the eating area. I highly recommend the pork steak in mustard sauce. To be honest, I'm so stuck on that and the shrimp and artichoke salad that I haven't tried much else. But maybe you will.
La Baguette Francais
An excellent french bakery. Tiny place located at the moorings in the Marina Palmira. The food packs as good a punch as the location. They have fresh baked breads, including really yummy croissants, good sandwiches and breakfasts, very tasty lunch specials, a fantastic home made salad dressing, and the best cup of fresh brewed decaf in La Paz.

As usual, this place is a testament to the quality of places where the owners are totally involved in the daily business of a restaurant. Lupita, the co-owner, is the perfect tri-lingual waitress, taking great care to casually monitor customers to ensure a quality product.
El Mesquite
Also at a walkable distance from the Malecon (two blocks), located right off Bravo after you get to the top of the hill. I don't know the name of the street, but there's a sushi bar on the corner. Just a little palapa, but pretty good American style burgers that you dress yourself with American style vegetables. Also has a good fresh salad with grilled chicken on top, although it's packed so tight that it tends to spill over the sides on you. Ask for an extra bowl to properly attack it.

Hot dogs are also good and they have lots of variety of toppings that you can order on both dogs and burgers. The fries are a little disappointing there. Although they make them fresh, they're never crispy. Otherwise you can't go wrong at El Mesquite. They don't open till 8 at night and are closed on Mondays.
Club Campestre
Abasolo and (Mar Mediteranae?), in the Colonia Fidepaz. I haven't eaten at this restaurant yet, but have to list it in my recommendations because I haven't met an American yet that didn't like the place. I've been told they have really good ribs and a salad bar, I believe.
Santos Degollado and Altamirano. Handicapped only by being a seafood restaurant without a view of the beach, this is still widely considered to be the best seafood restaurant in town. Locals love it, and with good reason. Definitely worth trying if you like a really tasty shellfish soup, perfectly done fried fish, and lots of stuffed seafood creations.
La Costa
Navarro and the beach a couple blocks past Marina La Paz. A little off the beaten path, but still on the beach, this restaurant has excellent seafood and very good service. Family run and a nice beach side location. Try the "pescado sarandeado", a grilled fish with a lovely pepper and onion sauce on top. Yum Yum
Mar y Pena
Take 16 de Septiembre till just past Isabel La Catolica. Excellent seafood restaurant and the prices are very reasonable. They have the whole menu of everything that you'd find at the restaurants on the beach and are pretty comparable to the Bismark, but at half the price!

2. Kid-Friendly Restaurants

These are places that I recommend for being unabashedly kid friendly. Many of the restaurants in La Paz have playground type installations to attract families with kids. Here are some of the best:

Kiwi Restaurant

Right on the beach. A very popular see and be seen restaurant. Good breakfasts. Ocean breezes and views and sometimes musicians at night. The chow is not the best in town, but this restaurant never suffers for business. The great thing about the Kiwi is that there's the beach and a public playground right next to the outdoor seating area so that you can keep half an eye on the kids and enjoy a meal with the adults at the same time.
Also a good seafood restaurant with prices a little more reasonable than the Kiwi. Also has seating right beside public playground installations a half block away from the Kiwi. Kid perfect.
Tex Burgers
Located on Colima 1/2 block from Abasolo (right across from the CCC supermarket). Food is OK, but nothing to crow about. But the playground area, with a huge jumping castle and a terrific double decker play installation, is something to crow about if you ask any kids. Best enjoyed after sunset when it's cool.
Cool Cocos
When you come back into town from the beach, don't forget to stop and get a nice cool coco from the coco stands just after you pass the Marina Hotel. They cut the coco open, let you drink the juice, then cut it in half and scoop out the coco meat for you to put your own chili, lemon and salt on. It's an acquired taste, but one that will soon turn into an addiction. They also have ample playground equipment for the kids as well as rock sea-walls and a little beach area for them to run around and explore on.

3. Take Out and Delivery

Las Arracheras

This meat shop has only take-out. You can buy the pre-packaged meats to take home and cook yourself or have them cooked at the grill right outside the shop.

Arracheras, for anyone who needs a definition, are the tenderest slabs of beef you can imagine putting in your mouth. I believe they come from the diaphragm of the cow (skirt steak?). Anyway, at Las Arracheras you can get three different kinds of arracheras - all marinated to perfection. Natural, Mesquite, and Monterrey. I'm partial to the Monterrey. They come with frozen refried beans, which you can also have heated there or take home and fresh salsa and tortillas. To die for.

As far as how to get there, go to the end of the Malecon and hang a left. Go about three or four blocks. It's on the corner. They also have an assortment of interesting frozen meats, from turkey breast to sausages. And if you don't want to have to cook that turkey at Christmas time, they have a take-out service for that too. I would not call this place cheap, by any means, but the meats are very high quality and worth every penny.

4. Holes in the wall, guys on bicycles, ...

Fruit Cup Carts

For an absolute taste treat, try the fruit cups that the guys with the rolling carts with the fruit in the glass cases make. They are absolutely delicious, piled high with strips of all kinds of fruit and jicama, then salted and doused with a good splash of lime juice and bottled chili sauce. You can get them to go easy on the chile if you're a lightweight or getting one for little kids, but they are quite delicious and nutritious. Best time to get them is in the morning when the fruit is freshest and coldest. They usually only charge 12 or 15 pesos. Gonga deal.
The City Markets
The two city markets (one on Madero and one on Bravo), are lovely places to go in the mornings for blended drinks. Everything from fresh squeezed OJ and carrot juices to drinks like "La Verde", an exotic, but delicious combination of pineapple juice, nopal cactus, parsley, and I forget what else, and "El Vampiro", made with beets and OJ. I know they sound weird, but try them - soooo yummy.

The Bravo market also has a "Combate" coffee stand with a good cup of fresh brewed Joe as well as being the best fish market in town.
Antojitos Eneyda
Right next to the big Telmex building (with all the antennas) on Bravo, and directly across from the Pemex gas station, is a little tin stand where they have excellent gorditas. I believe it's called Antojitos Eneyda. They cook fresh corn cakes and split them in half and fill them with shredded pork or chicken or a cheese called "requeson" that's kind of similar to cottage cheese in consistency, but with a different taste. Very good place for a quick lunch.
Cups of Corn - Guys on Bicycles
My kids love the cups of corn that are sold by men driving around on bicycles. Really high fat - not for the cholesterol faint of heart - these cups of corn are layered with mayonnaise and crumbled soft, white cheese.
I highly recommend the "paleterias" (popsicle stores), scattered throughout the city, not only for the delicious real fruit popsicles, but also for their "aguas" (drinks made of real fruits and vegetables). They make the aguas out of everything from rice (orchata), to lemonade and cucumber-ade when cukes are in season. I like to get them to mix the orange and lemon drinks together, and sometimes, the lemon and jamaica. Really tasty. Some of the palaterias even have a special agua that has lots of chopped fruit chunks in it. The children really love that one. They're very refreshing alternatives to sodas.

Another thing you can get at the paleterias are "eskimochas", big cups of fruit topped with yogurt, granola and honey. They're a delicious breakfast treat. They also usually sell strawberries and cream.

There are two paleterias right on the Malecon, El Fuente - right across from the main pier, and LaMichoacana, right across from the plaza with the kiosk.
El Bismark II
An open air taco stand about a block from the Kiwi restaurant, on the other side of the street, under some nice big trees and right on the Malecon. Wonderful fish tacos and the cheapest shellfish soup in town. At first glance, what's obvious are the usual deep fried fish and shrimp tacos, but get the cook to lift the tops on the other metal trays and a world of possibilities opens up - from smoked marlin to fish stew to crab to manta ray, tacos of all kinds abound at this little stand. They even have lobster tacos sometimes. A little pricey, but soooo yummy . . .

Copyright 2001-2011 Stephanie Jackter

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