The title of this post alone is impressive, because Loreto is a tiny town on the Sea of Cortez, in the middle of the Baja California peninsula. Despite its small size and population, it is bursting with big, authentic flavors. I lived in Loreto for two months and decided to compile a list of my favorite restaurants, which I recommend you try next time you come through Baja (Loreto is an ideal stopover on a road trip down the Baja peninsula).
In the list below, you’ll notice I mention nothing about cost at any of these restaurants, and that’s because they are all similarly affordable. Don’t worry about the price, just enjoy the goods. Such is life in Loreto.
Here are some of the best eats in town:
1. El Zopilote Brewery & Cocina
Fist of all, El Zopilote is the only craft brewery for miles, but their beers aren’t just good because they’re the only ones; they’re actually delicious, quality craft beers. The location on the center plaza is cozy and good for people watching. It is owned and operated by Norma (Mexican) and Kieran (Irish), and there is a 4-room boutique hotel (1697) attached to the restaurant as well. I’ve enjoyed every meal I’ve had here and especially recommend the guacamole and pizzas. The Tombstone Pale Ale (nice and hoppy) ended up being my favorite brew!
2. La Super Torta
I could probably write an entire post on just the street food of Loreto, as there are plenty of churro, taco, and hot dog stands, and then there’s the tamale bike… but I digress, this torta stand has the most delicious torta in town. A “torta” in Mexico is essentially a grilled sandwich, and it usually comes with either carne asada (grilled beef) or deshebrada (shredded beef).
La Super Torta is run by a local woman who watches her telenovelas on her tiny kitchen tv when she doesn’t have customers. This “kitchen” is a tiny structure just big enough for her to be inside, and there is a walk up window-style bench seat, where you sit next to other customers to enjoy your tortas together. Also, if she has champurrado available, try it. It’s thick, Mexican hot chocolate, and it’s SO delicious. Look for La Super Torta on the corner of calles Madero and Jordan, she’s only open in the evenings and doesn’t seem to have a consistent schedule.
3. Mi Loreto
If I were to describe Mi Loreto in one word, it would be “rich.” The recipes here, all of them, seem perfect to me, and everything I’ve tried has been the best kind of delicious. It has a cozy atmosphere, my favorite of all the restaurants, just across from the mission in the center of town, and it is a must visit for quality Mexican food in Loreto.
4. Super Burro
If you like grilled meat, do not miss Super Burro. Every bite is grilled perfection, party in your mouth type flavor. And it is no secret why it’s so good. You can watch the women manage the grills, right there in the main room of the restaurant. I recommend trying the “super burro” itself or a papa relleno (stuffed potato) if you’re really hungry, or a “volcan” if you want something lighter. They also have delicious flan and horchata. My only complaint with this place is the smoke; they don’t have good ventilation, so if you are sensitive to smoke, you may want to pass, or get something to go. Find it hidden around the corner, just south of the stoplight.
5. El Rey del Taco
“The best fish tacos ever” is the word on the street about El Rey del Taco (The King of Tacos). Personally, I think they make one of the best carne asada (beef) tacos I’ve ever had as well. Finding it open can be difficult, but when they are open, it’s only until they run out of food. This usually happens between 9am and 2pm, says the owner himself, although they can be very inconsistent. When you’re the best in town, apparently you do what you want. If you see it open, definitely go. It’s located on Calle Juarez, one block north and a couple blocks west from the plaza. You just might meet Santa there too (he vacations in Loreto after his busy Christmas season).
6. Pan Que Pan
If you don’t know where this one is, you’ll never find it, even though it’s right on the main street. Tucked into an alley and decorated Pinterest-perfectly, it is a hidden gem and super cozy once you get inside the gate. The entrance to Pan Que Pan is looker’s left of the big yellow candy shop (“dulcería”), about a block from the stoplight towards the water. Go for breakfast, go for lunch, just go and enjoy the home-baked breads and other sweets. I particularly enjoy their breakfast sandwich.
7. La Palapa
There is a reason La Palapa is still going strong since 1994 (that’s a long time for a small town). Its well-established, extensive menu has all the traditional favorites plus a few house specialties, and they currently also serve Zopilote’s delicious craft brews. This is the place to take your fresh-catch and have it prepared for you after a good day of fishing. They’ll cook it up however you’d like it, and serve it with any sides you want, family style, for a ridiculously low cost.
Just one block north of the main square, Orlando’s is a colorful restaurant with a big, traditional Mexican menu. I don’t think it has quite as much unique character as some of the other places, but it’s a good choice for a broad menu and nice atmosphere. It is also right next door to a popular ice cream shop.
9. Los Mandiles
Los Mandiles is right across the street from the sea, on Loreto’s “malecón” (the boardwalk area). I especially enjoy going there for breakfast and highly recommend their fresh squeezed orange juice.
10. Los Olivos Restaurant at La Misión
I was skeptical about this restaurant, because it happens to be inside the nicest hotel in town. Usually I would run the other way; however, the Los Olivos Restaurant at La Misión is affordable, delicious, and has wonderful staff, AND you can sit outside on the balcony, overlooking the malecón and the water. It’s beautiful and peaceful. Try their margaritas, and I recommend the Chile Poblano with Arrachera. “Arrachera” is grilled steak.
You need a car for this one, but it’s worth the drive. There is a dirt road heading north out of Loreto as close to the water as you can get, that eventually leads to Picazón. It takes 15-20 minutes to drive the bumpy six miles to Picazón’s beautiful, isolated spot right on the beach across from Coronado Island.
Have a margarita, they are the best in town. I also highly recommend the fish tacos here. Give yourself time to enjoy a walk on the beach while you’re out there. And go for lunch, last I checked they closed at 6pm.
I was also skeptical about this one because the name is Italian. I live in Italy from time to time; I am picky about my Italian food. However, Mezzaluna is actually a Uruguayan restaurant, AND they make their own pasta, in house. It’s uniquely delicious.
I recommend the Purple Fetuccini with fresh veggies. The noodles are made from beets (hence the purple), and the freshness of the veggies will make you believe you are taking a fork straight to the garden. FRESH is an understatement. The combination of flavors was perfection, and the owner is a sweet woman. I take back my skepticism and beg forgiveness. Oh, take a few of her yummy empanadas to go, too.
These are only a sampling of the many, many restaurants in Loreto. I’ve also enjoyed Agave, Mita Gourmet, Las Islas, and others. I can say with confidence that you can go almost anywhere and have a great meal with great service. And even if you were to eat at a different spot for every meal during your stay, you still wouldn’t even be close to sampling all the options in Loreto. It certainly is a fun destination for food lovers.