We bounced down a dirt road, passing small farms, to reach Rancho Pescadero, a stunning boutique hotel from that overlooks the Pacific Ocean.
Gymboree founder Lisa Harper started Rancho Pescadero with 12 rooms, and now has 27 rooms that span several adobe structures. The restaurant resides on a raised patio that features views of the pool and palm-lined property.
We met by the bar, with a view of Saturn and Venus, two planets that would require a telescope to see back home in L.A. We ate at a communal wood table in the orange room, with paintings of vaqueros and toros on the walls and “candlelit” chandeliers overhead. The restaurant’s open to outsiders, but general manager Don Morris caps it when capacity reaches 70%, so not to interfere with guest enjoyment.
Chef Rodrigo Bueno hails from Mexico City and chose to take us “around the world with a Mexican chef.” In winter, he sources 100% of produce from the property’s on-site garden.
We each received two appetizer plates. The cold sampler consisted of a Japanese trio of miniature shrimp sushi; Spanish gazpacho with a seasoned rim, and Greek salad with feta, pickled onions and teardrop tomatoes from the garden, on the whole, fairly refreshing.
The hot sampler included Italian focaccia with rancho cheese, garden tomatoes and avocado; an Argentinean empanada with savory ground beef and chimichurri; and our sole Mexican starter, tortilla soup with avocado, chicken, tomato and Menonita cheese.
Roasted Fish of the Day, Veracruzana Style (normally 240 pesos ~ $19) played off the sweet-tart acidity of a regional Veracruz classic, featuring juicy halibut filet and a base of olives, capers, and roasted tomato. The plate also featured plump cilantro pearl pasta, and thin pickled chiles gueros (seeds and all), which added some punch.
Our meaty main course was another winner. The bone-in Tomahawk-chop of Nagano pork had a winning sear that locked in the savory juices, and the chop joined Dijon mustard sauce and roasted vegetables from the garden, including spinach, carrots and cauliflower.
Since the sun is central to the surrounding desert, it was cool to see a sunburst shaped buñuelo for dessert, sweetened with piloncillo, accented with orange and anise and topped with a scoop of rich vanilla ice cream.
The following morning started on the patio with strong coffee, a basket of pan dulce and a plate of fruit, including kiwi, grapes, and watermelon.
After a run along the beach to a campsite and back, seaspray at my cheek and a sand ledge at my feet, I returned to the patio for a satisfying chicken tamale served out of the husk with tangy tomatillo salsa that had good kick at the end. The plate also touted fresh cut avocado and chunky pinto beans sprinkled with queso fresco.
Don Morris led us on a tour of the 15-acre property, which provides fishing poles to snag sierra, snook and the occasional yellowtail, which Chef Bueno can prepare.
The Garden Restaurant has an open-air kitchen, palapa-topped roof, picnic tables and a brick oven for pizza and wood roasted chicken. Chef Bueno also teaches cooking classes outdoors.
Rancho Pescadero has so much natural beauty on site that the hotel probably wouldn’t need good food to draw guests, so it was welcome to see they were committed to growing their own seasonal vegetables and producing some solid food. The culinary experience would have been even more compelling if they focused more on Mexico, since fusion was all too common in Baja California Sur.
Our visit to Rancho Pescadero was part of a Baja California Sur tour sponsored by Baja.com., Pescadero, Baja California Sur, Mexico