La Paz dates to the days of Spanish conquistador Hernan Cortés, so the seaside city has certainly had enough time to build a somewhat varied dining scene. That includes high end restaurants like Las Tres Virgenes, which resides in a burnt orange building with vine covered trellis and hole punched lanterns. We sat in the courtyard, near a stone grill and dome oven, both of which burn aromatic mesquite.
Tijuana born Chef Jesus Chavez and Rosarito born partner Geoffrey Luhan Pruitt opened Las Tres Virgenes (“the three virgins”) three years ago, focusing on fresh, local ingredients. Chavez previously managed Casa Plascencia for Javier Plascencia and the self-taught chef took over L.T.V.’s kitchen two years back. He said, “I try to pay close attention to details, but I try not to mess too much with flavors.”
Las Tres Virgenes presented a parade of wood grilled tostadas, beginning with sweet, tender Pismo clam from Espiritu Santo. Spicy, tart accompaniments included chile, ginger, onion, lime and olive oil, plus a fiery salsa of chiltepin and serrano chilies blended with olive oil.
Dessert took a nosedive into the ’80s, complete with martini glass, drizzled chocolate sauce and flowers, like an outdated Valentine’s dish. Our scoops of cinnamon and hazelnut ice cream were unspectacular, even dressed with yerbabuena, a tiny Mexican mint.
Las Tres Virgenes has a lot of the same traits that make nearby Buffalo Bar-B-Q so compelling, but Buffalo chef-owner Carlos Valdez has cultivated a better vibe, with better food. Still, it took years for Buffalo to become more fully formed, and young Las Tres Virgenes seems to be trending upward, so if you’re staying in La Paz for a few days, eat at both restaurants.
Our visit to Las Tres Virgenes was part of a Baja California Sur tour sponsored by Baja.com.