Just Back From: Cabo San Lucas with Pauline Martinez

Written by May Phan Category: Adventures Issue: November 2017
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Cabo San Lucas. Photo courtesy Pauline Martinez.

“There is such unadulterated beauty in Cabo,” says Pauline Martinez, owner of Perk Eatery and CHAR Kitchen+Bar in Scottsdale. Martinez visited the Baja California city with her husband this summer to draw inspiration from their culinary traditions to bring back to her restaurants – as well as to kick back a little and enjoy the view. “There’s this big juxtaposition between this party scene and beauty that is so natural,” she says. And Cabo's seafood, she adds, is delicious. Her recommendations for making the most out of this lively tourist magnet:

Street Food
“Some of the [restaurants] that were total holes-in-the-wall were some of my favorites,” Martinez says. One of her favorite dining spots, however, can’t really be considered a hole-in-the-wall. “It doesn't even have walls,” she says with a laugh. After asking locals about the best outdoor places to eat, Martinez found herself in a little place called El Taiga, walking distance from central Cabo: “Their grilling is beautiful. Not anything spectacular to look at, but really fantastic tacos.” cabotacos

Zao Shen
This Asian eatery in the Pueblo Bonito Sunset Beach Resort took Martinez by surprise. After all, she says, who would think to eat Asian food in Mexico? She met with Zao Shen’s chef, who was formerly at the helm of P.F. Chang’s Guadalajara location for almost a decade, and enjoyed “picking his brain.” As for the food? A pleasant surprise indeed: “I was mind-blown at how great this food was. There were these dumplings [the chef] made... You could not stop eating them. It was kind of embarrassing!”

Maria Jimenez
Martinez admits the eateries in Cabo are very tourist-oriented, including Maria Jimenez Restaurante Mexicano. “It wasn’t typical authentic Mexican food,” she says. However, “their sauces were really great and authentic… it’s fun to get inspired by things like that and bring them back...and incorporate them into our business.”

Cabo Beaches
“It seems like you’re in another place if you stay on the Pacific side,” Martinez says of the beaches on the coastline. They’re pristine, without any vendors in sight, she gushes. People can’t swim in the Pacific waters because of the strong currents, but it was hardly a problem for the chef: “You have miles and miles of just beautiful sand to walk on.” Martinez and her husband visited the coastline during a “breathtaking” full moon.