In Baja California Sur, deliciousness is important, but so is the environment and community
When you know you have a special destination, you work hard to preserve it. Visitors to the La Paz region of Baja California Sur come to experience the biodiversity of the Sea of Cortez, the white sands and crystal waters, and the desert-like landscape dotted with cardón cacti. The people of La Paz recognize how lucky they are, working to preserve the environment and limit their carbon footprint. The state of Baja California Sur has recently passed a bill coming into effect in August 2019 to ban three types of single-use plastics used in retail stores and restaurants—plastic straws, plastic bags and Styrofoam food containers. They are the first state in Mexico to ban these items, primarily a result of the local Desplastifícate movement to protect the environment through reducing plastic waste.
Unsurprisingly, the community’s focus on the environment includes local chefs and restaurateurs, some of whom are leading the way in showing their love for nature through a range of sustainable initiatives. Sit down at a table in La Paz, and you’ll find yourself feasting on a menu that brings together Mexican classics with incredible Baja seafood, while a new wave of health-conscious restaurants make it easy to incorporate wellness and mindfulness into their vacation time, with fresh flavours, local ingredients and plenty of vegetarian options. The following restaurants and cafes are among those that effortlessly combine delicious dishes with sustainable practices.
NIM Restaurante and Azul Marino
Downtown La Paz’s NIM Restaurante, along with sister restaurant Azul Marino at the nearby Costa Baja Marina, are two of the area’s best restaurants but also two of the most environmentally-minded. Both under the direction of Chef Cristina Kiewek, they focus on sustainably-sourced seafood with fresh, modern Mexican and international flavours. When you order the “catch of the day,” it was quite often literally line-caught that morning by Kiewek’s partner, Scott Ohara. Both restaurants were among the first supporters of the “Espíritu Santo es parte de ti” campaign, pledging to never serve parrotfish, a species that is integral to the health of coral reefs in the area.
Tucked down a side street, just off La Paz’s waterfront malecón, the adorable Capuchino Café is adorned with colourful paintings of capuchin monkeys on the outside, and full of tasty vegetarian and vegan options on the inside. Along with keeping their carbon footprint small through a plant-focused menu, when you order certain dishes—such as the Empanadas Popeye or Tacos de Falafel al Pastor— a percentage of the price goes to one of Capuchino’s designated environmental or community charities.
La Casita Tapas + Wine Bar
Sourcing ingredients locally where possible not only cuts down La Casita’s environmental impact, it also keeps money within the Baja California Sur economy, helping the local community and shining a light on the beautiful fresh products from the region. When chef-owner Sergio Rivera opened the original Todos Santos location in 2010, it was one of the very first “farm-to-table” restaurants in the area. While there is now a second location in downtown La Paz, the focus is still on Baja seafood, organic local produce, and prime cuts of meat from Sonora state, across the Sea of Cortez.
La Moringa at Casa Tara
In the town of La Ventana on the Sea of Cortez, Casa Tara offers a holistic approach to wellness, taking into account your own health but also that of the environment. The retreat’s restaurant, La Moringa, offers a healthy menu that supports the town’s main economic activities: low-impact fishing and sustainable farming. But at Casa Tara, sustainability reaches well beyond the restaurant: buildings are made from low impact materials with straw bale wall insulation, single-use plastics are avoided in all operations, and the hotel is partially powered by its own solar energy.