Friday, 26 October 2012

A Dining Guide to Loreto

One of the reasons we love Loreto, and keep coming back here, is that it's small enough not to be a huge tourist destination (it has one traffic light in the whole town!) yet big enough to have some great places to eat.

Our morning coffee hangout (when we're not diving) is Latte Cafe. (See Andrew's humorous blog post.) There are a couple other coffee places nearby (Fandango Coffee and Sea Coffee) but neither are open right now. Likely due to it not being high tourist season yet and, for Sea Coffee, because they're along part of the malecon that is under major construction. Sadly, I think the construction is hurting a lot of the businesses at that end of the street.

Popsicles in a variety of flavours and colours!
Post diving afternoons alternate -- one day ice cream, the next day beer or wine. La Michoacana Paleteria y Neveria is the place to get fresh fruit juice, fresh fruit popsicles in a wide variety of flavours, chocolate covered frozen bananas, and very yummy, good-quality ice cream. Andrew tried a jamaica popsicle and it was very flavourful! (From the hibiscus flower and pronouced ha-MY-kah.)
Chocolate covered frozen bananas and more of the popsicles. 

For beer/wine days we had two favourite spots depending on the weather.  The really smokin' hot days (or the rainy days) would find us in the air conditioned comfort of Agave Cantina on the second floor of the fancy La Mision Hotel, looking out over the water and marina. This had the added benefit of being able to move onto the outside deck as the afternoon sun went down, get pizza from the Mezquite Grill, or have supper at Los Olivos Restaurant. 
La Mision Hotel
On the not so smokin' hot (and non-rainy) days we'd wander to the town square and sit outside the lovely Posada de las Flores Hotel at El Bohemia bar.
Looking towards the gazebo in the town square.
Posada de las Flores Hotel -- El Bohemia bar on the left. 
Inside the lobby of the Posada.
Three other good restaurants line one side of the town square.

We've always glanced at Mita Gourmet's menu and, as vegetarians, have never been that thrilled. But one very rainy evening at the beginning of the trip, while we were staying at the Posada with Andrew's sisters, it was the only one close that was open and we ran across the square trying not to get too wet. We were the only customers at the time and the very friendly chef himself helped us choose a yummy curry vegetable pasta. (When we went back a second time, he assured us it would taste even better with bacon!) The chocolate crepe is also well worth mentioning!
At Mita Gourmet
1697 is the year that Loreto was founded. The restaurant named 1697 has some family affiliation to Joel, our kayak guide, and is where we first met Hilary (another kayak guide) and learned about their Baja and Canadian companies. The owners of 1697 are in the process of opening a second restaurant in Nopolo (about 7 km south of Loreto) called El Cardon Cantina Mexican Restaurant.

El Papagayo Cantando (the colorful parrot) is just around the corner from Mita Gourmet and is definitely a colourful place with lush vegetation! There were several very good vegetarian choices on both the appetizer and main course menus and the staff were very friendly.
El Papagayo Cantando
Colourful plates on the wall at the Colourful Parrot!
Another restaurant with a great view of the Sea of Cortez is Loreto Islas. Apart from a thick, just-the-right-amount-of-spice black bean soup and a selection of salads, it doesn't have a lot of vegetarian choices. But if you're looking for seafood, this seems to be the place!
Loreto Islas
El Pizacon is a 10 km very bumpy drive north of Loreto. It also has a reputation for great seafood and, despite the distance and road condition, does a good business. This was the start location of the swim race so we headed out there a couple of days ahead of time just to make sure we could find it. The cool breeze off the water and the views over to Coronado Island made it a great place to relax for a couple hours. You can also swim or snorkel from the beach right in front of the restaurant.
La Picazon Restaurant with view of Coronado Island.
The white stuff on the plate is not potato salad! It's jicama salad with a cream and pepper dressing. It's crunchy like an apple and very good!
Grilled veggie wrap & jicama salad.
Because we had a place with kitchen facilities and had to get going early on dive days, we most often had breakfast and lunch there. Pan Que Pan is a bakery where we found good bread & buns. They also serve breakfast and lunch.

Cafe Ole is a popular breakfast place. The Giggling Dolphin and Orlando's are a couple other options for lunch.

A good place to find imported and better quality groceries is Dali.

Nopolo has a couple good coffee places. El Corozon, which is run and partly owned by a Canadian lady, makes great coffee and their unique food specialty is wide variety of waffles with both main course (meat/veg) and dessert toppings. We also had the most awesome cookies there!

Macchiato, in addition to coffee shop offerings, has good quality ice cream and shares their location with a pizza kitchen.

The Inn at Loreto Bay was our one big disappointment of the trip. It was ok for lunch one day but our visit for supper was tasteless and the service was less than stellar. Especially when compared to the amazingly friendly and attentive staff at almost every other place.

There are a few other eating establishments that were closed for the season and I'm sure even more to choose from in other areas of town. But, with the exception of La Picazon and the ones at Nopolo, these are all very nice places within easy walking distance if you're staying in the central area of Loreto.

Sadly, we had to start heading home and leave Loreto the day before the 2do Evento Gastronomico!

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