3 Perfect Days in Todos Santos: The Weekender’s Guide

by Todos Santos Eco Adventures

While most of the pleasures of Todos Santos are accessible throughout the entire week, the weekend does hold a few special treats that make it a great time to venture to town.

Weekender’s Friday: A Little Todos Santos Magic

Erick and Michael of Michael’s at the Gallery

Each weekend on the main street of Todos Santos a subtle transformation takes place. At the Galeria de Todos Santos long-time Todos Santos resident and artist Michael Cope calmly cleans his brushes, puts them away and pulls out his knives. His wife Pat coolly closes the gallery’s books, sets them aside, and lights a series of fires in the garden. His fellow artist Erick Ochoa collectedly covers up his latest canvas, dresses in black and prepares his mind for delivering to the people of Todos Santos exactly what they deserve. Which happily turns out to be mouthwateringly delicious Asian Fusion cuisine served in what that morning was the sculpture garden of Galeria de Todos Santos, but is now this evening one of the best restaurants in town, Michael’s at the Gallery. This transformation takes place only on Friday, Saturday and sometimes Sunday nights, and being a part of it is worth the trip to Todos Santos alone. Michael mans the open-air kitchen and what a great show it is. He cooks up Vietnamese crab cakes, tuna poke, seared tuna with wasabi butter, shrimp and scallops in Szechuan or red curry sauce, filet mignon, Mu Shu Pork, wok-tossed fish in Chinese black beans, and fish in teriyaki or wasabi sauce. Every dish is excellent, every time. Erick mans the bar and he and Pat work together to make sure guests always feel well attended and have what they want. Fire pits throughout the dining area add to the lovely ambiance of the garden and help ward off any chill night air. It’s a wonderful Todos Santos experience. Reservations strongly suggested. Tel: 612-145-0500

Weekender’s Saturday: Art & Theater
Last night you met Erick Ochoa in a supporting role but today you’ll meet him as the President of the The Palapa Society of Todos Santos, AC, a Mexican non-profit that benefits the children of Todos Santos. The Palapa Society has had a huge impact on the local community through Bridge-to-English, its after-school English language program that pairs local kids with native speakers of English. The Saturday morning art classes run by Erick and other artists such as Gloria V are not only an opportunity for the kids to gain some excellent instruction from established artists, but an extension of the opportunity for them to hear and speak English. Volunteering

Volunteering at the Palapa Society

with the art classes is a tremendous amount of fun, a great way to get involved with the local community and a nice path to being an active part of this artists colony for a while. Art classes are usually held at The Palapa Society, but the class often spearheads public art projects around town – you can see their handy work in many places, including their latest mural of the fisherman’s beach along the back wall of the Parque de Pinos. The Palapa Society is such an exciting thing to be a part of that Peter Buck of the rock band REM now organizes an annual Todos Santos Music Festival to raise money for it and help fund the numerous scholarships that it provides not only for the Bridge-to-English program, but for the high school and university education of Todos Santos students. For more information contact Donna Viglione:

After your volunteer session, mosey on over to one of the town’s many great food establishments for lunch, taking your pick of several charming cafes, killer local joints, and taco stands – Caffé Todos Santos, Cafélix, Ataxcon, Taco George’s and Miguel’s are all great options. But be sure to leave room for dinner this evening at El Teatro Luna Azul – Blue Moon Productions. Started by long-time Todos Santos residents Isabel Smyth and Raul Cavazos, El Teatro Luna Azul brings the idea of dinner and a movie to a whole new wonderful level. Once in a blue moon, i.e., whenever they feel like it (which tends to be most weekends during the season), Isabel and Raul invite the public to their huge, open air theater space where they show fascinating, hard-to find movies ranging from classic to controversial, musical to mystery, altered lives to the altered planet. Prior to some shows – but not all – they serve creative meals featuring seasonal fruits and vegetables fresh from their on-site garden, prepared in their open-air kitchen. The movies are great fun, but they are perhaps more famous for their live theatre productions in which they use local talent to bring comedies, musicals and the performing arts to the community. Isabel and Raul also host full moon drumming and music nights, and they’re known to get in hot bands for nights of salsa dancing. All-in-all it’s worth checking into their web site periodically to stay up-to-date: teatrolunaazul.com

Now if it happens that Isabel and Raul don’t have what you’re looking for on the Saturday night you’re in town, it’s always worthwhile to check in with the Hotel California and the Hotel Guaycura as they both regularly book fun bands in on the weekends. The Groovetrotters and Tim Lang are great additions to the music scene to be on the look-out for, and it’s worth noting that the Todos Santos Music Festival will be in January at the Hotel California.

Weekender’s Sunday: Bird Watching and Dharma Talk

Costa’s Hummingbird

After the excitement of Saturday night, a calming Sunday morning of reconnecting with nature and your inner serenity is just the ticket. The early morning quiet of Sunday morning is the perfect time to get out in the lovely surroundings and observe some of the 135 bird species that have been spotted around Todos Santos, including several endemic species such as Belding’s Yellowthroat, the Cape Pygmy Owl, Xantus’ Hummingbird, and the Mexican Thrasher. Todos Santos’ unique confluence of three different eco systems – desert, ocean and marsh – attracts a large diversity of birds and most visitors add to their lifetime birding lists during their stay.

Then head over to La A.R.C.A. in the historic district where ordained Buddhist priest, passionate poet, avid artist, renowned physician and somatic therapist Robert Hall gives a Dharma talk on a particular topic each Sunday morning, followed by a period of guided meditation. A founder of the Lomi School and member of the Spirit Rock Mediation Center’s Teacher’s Council, Robert has focused his long career on the integration of mind, body and spirit. He has taught thousands of students all over the world and served as a mentor to hundreds more. Now, in his so-called retirement in Todos Santos, residents and visitors alike can be inspired by his Dharma talks, and find calm in his guided meditations. http://www.eldharma.com/

Enjoy a nice lunch at one of the town’s enjoyable lunch spots such as as Bistro Magico, Compa Chava’s, El Pastorcito or Pura Vida before heading back to Cabo or La Paz in the afternoon.

The Nature Lover’s Guide

The Food Lover’s Guide

For more information please contact us at www.tosea.net or

© Copyright Sergio and Bryan Jauregui, Casa Payaso S de RL de CV, 2013

Great Food, Great Chefs, Great Atmosphere and Beautiful Garden Settings: An Insider’s Guide to the Restaurants of Todos Santos

By Todos Santos Eco Adventures

For a town of just a few thousand people Todos Santos boasts a remarkable assembly of chefs and cooks from throughout Mexico and the world who have been inspired by the town to stay and make their contributions to Baja cuisine. The result is an incredible selection of restaurants that range from funky roadside taco carts to elegant garden dining rooms, serving everything from traditional Mexican fare to exotic Asian cuisine. No matter your tastes or budget, the Todos Santos restaurant community has something to tempt your taste buds and please your palate.

This guide is divided into 7 categories, with restaurants presented in alphabetical order within each category. The sample menus shown with each restaurant are literally just a snapshot from our last visit; menu options and prices may naturally evolve over time.

Presented here:

Category One – Great Food, Great Chefs, Great Atmosphere 

Category Two – Wonderful Food in a Beautiful Garden Setting

© Copyright Sergio and Bryan Jauregui, Casa Payaso S de RL de CV, 2014

Check our blog for our other categories including: Killer Local Joints and Taco Stands; Charming Cafes with Great Breakfasts and More; Fun Spots with Live Music/Live Theater/Live TV; Healthy Fare, Pizza and Burgers.


Category One: Great Food, Great Chefs, Great Atmosphere

Café Santa Fe 

  • Overview: The Café Santa Fe is consistently hailed as one of the best restaurants in Baja and truly, every meal there is wonderful. The secret seems to be the dynamic teaming of fabulously fresh Baja ingredients, Chef Ezio Colombo’s Italian sensibilities, and co-owner Paula Colombo’s New York savvy. Lovely atmosphere with both inside and garden dining. The Café Santa Fe was created by Ezio and Paula in 1990.
  • To Die For: Tuna carpaccio, lobster ravioli, caprese salad with buffalo mozarella
  • Service. Wonderful. Most of the staff has been working there since they were teenagers and take great pride in the restaurant and in their work. English spoken.
  • Rating: Fabulous! It’s one of our favorite spots for celebrations, and we always recommend it to our guests.
  • Hours: Open 12:00 to 9:00 PM, every day but Tuesday. Closed September 1-October 31, 2014.
  • Contact: Tel: 612-145-0340  Location: No. 47 on Journal del Pacifico Map
  • Cafe Santa Fe Menu

 La Casita Tapas and Bar

  • Overview. Mazatlan native Chef Sergio Rivera gave up a career as executive chef on the yachts of the rich and famous to establish La Casita in Todos Santos in 2011 – and now we all get to dine like wealthy yacht owners!  Chef Sergio started out serving tapas (little Spanish-style dishes) but quickly moved into entrees that feature the wonderful ingredients of Baja and his native Sinaloa. Sergio’s seafood dishes are spectacular and he now has a sushi chef who prepares a beautiful line of sushi entrees. He’s branching out into a wider variety of meats and always features fresh organic produce from local farms. Very relaxed, very charming atmosphere.

    Chef Sergio of La Casita

  • To Die For: Ahi Tuna Tartar Tower, Coconut Shrimp, Pork Ribs. Just ask him to feed you if you can’t make a decision!
  • Service: Sergio and his darling Aury are almost always on hand to greet guests and their wait staff is very helpful and attentive.
  • Rating: Incredible! We include a meal at La Casita in almost every Todos Santos Eco Adventures week that we offer and we often have our own family and corporate celebrations here.
  • Hours: 12:00 to 10:00 PM every day but Monday. Sunday hours 4-10 PM.
  • Contact: Tel: 612-145-0192  Location: No. 115 on Journal del Pacifico Map
  • La Casita Tapas & Wine Bar Menu

Michael’s at the Gallery

  • Overview: Todos Santos artist and sculptor Michael Cope puts on his chef hat each weekend and what a fantastic treat for the town it is! He specializes in Asian-fusion cuisine, with some recipes coming from the family of his Japanese-American wife Pat. Everything that Michael prepares is indescribably delicious, and he cooks it up with love and flair in the open air kitchen where guests can observe. Dinner is served in the lovely sculpture garden, with numerous firepits around to keep off any chill night air. Michael’s is only open on Fridays and Saturdays and reservations are strongly suggested as the restaurant is very popular with the local community. Michael’s has  been open since 2006.

    Erick and Michael of           Michael’s at the Gallery

  • To Die For: Vietnamese Crab Cakes, Seared Tuna with Wasabi/Butter, and Filet Mignon with Shiitake Cream Sauce. And everything else on the menu. Seriously.
  • Service: Michael’s wife Pat and his fellow artist Erick Ochoa take excellent care of all the guests, and Michael comes out to greet people and chat as much as his cooking demands allow. It’s a lovely experience.
  • Rating: Fantabulous! We include a farewell dinner at Michael’s at the Gallery with many of our Todos Santos Eco Adventures gtrips, and often go there ourselves for meals with friends and family celebrations.
  • Hours: Fridays and Saturdays, 6-9 PM. Closed during some months in the summer.
  • Contact: Tel: 612-145-0500  
  • Michael’s at the Gallery Menu

Santo Vino Eclectic Bistro and Wine Bar

  • Overview: Santo Vino is Hotel California Executive Chef Dany Lamote’s love letter to Baja. Chef Dany, a Congo-raised Belgian chef who came to Baja via Canada, is a long-time proponent of the slow food movement and prepares truly inspired and delicious Mexican dishes featuring the wonderful produce of Baja. Meals are best enjoyed when you ask him to pair each course with his terrific selection of Baja wines, tequilas and beers. Santo Vino dining is not just a gift to the palate but a feast for the eyes as well, with each dish beautifully presented. Housed in the same building as the Hotel California but in a completely separate space, the atmosphere of Santo Vino is warm and charming. Chef Dany is the author of The Hotel California Tequila Cookbook and also has his own line of flavoured sea salts.

    Chef Dany of SantoVino

  • To Die For: Avocado Tequila Milkshake, whatever Dany recommends. Menu changes regularly so just chat with Chef Dany about what he suggests during your stay. You won’t be disappointed.
  • Service: Very attentive, knowledgeable and helpful.
  • Rating: Magnifico! We include a meal at Santo Vino in many of our Todos Santos Eco Adventures trips and go there regularly for meals.
  • Hours: 7 days a week, 5-10 PM. Closed June 15-October 31, 2014.
  • Contact: Tel: 612-145-0792  Location: No. 63 on Journal del Pacifico Map
  • Santo Vino Menu

Tre Galline at Caffe Todos Santos

  • Overview: Italian Chef Angelo Dalbon and his wife Magda opened Tre Galline in 2003 and have been serving favorites from the old country to travelers seeking an alternative to Mexican fare ever since. They bought Caffe Todos Santos in 2012 and have now consolidated the two restaurants into the Caffe Todos Santos space, serving the Tre Galline menu at dinner. The place has a wonderful atmosphere with both indoor and garden dining. A nice wine list makes it all the more enjoyable.
  • To Die For: Spinach Ravioli with Cheese and Butter Sauce, Mediterranean-Style Fish
  • Service: Angelo and Magda make a special point of making every visitor feel welcome and well looked after.
  • Rating: Favoloso! We don’t get to Tre Galline as often as we’d like, but thoroughly enjoy it when we do.
  • Hours: 12:00 – 10:00 PM daily except Sunday
  • Contact: Tel: 612-145-0274  Location: No. 30 on Journal del Pacifico Map
  • Tres Galline Menu

Category Two: Wonderful Food in a Beautiful Garden Setting

El Gusto! at Posada La Poza

  • Overview: El Gusto! is definitely one of the most elegant dining venues in Todos Santos. The restaurant features floor-to-ceiling windows on three sides, essentially placing diners in the spectacular gardens that the owners created from scratch a decade ago. Beyond the garden you see the beautiful freshwater lagoon and its attendant bird life, as well as the ocean. Truly lovely. There is also a wonderful roof-top bar overlooking the lagoon that is perfect for a sunset margarita (great margaritas!). Swiss owner Juerg Wiesendanger mans the kitchen with Mexican and German sous chefs, producing a delightful “Swissmex” cuisine that combines the Italian, French and German sensibilities of Swiss cooking, with the ingredients and culinary concepts of Mexico.  A very pleasing result for all!
  • What Will Make You Happy: Shrimp Al Gusto, Arrachera Steak, Zuri Geschnetzeltes (a pork favorite from the old country)
  • Rating: Lovely!
  • Hours: 11:30 AM – 9 PM daily. Closed Thursdays. Reservations only.
  • Contact: Tel: 612-145-0400  Location: No. 156 on Journal del Pacifico Map
  • El Gusto Menu

El Mirador

  • Overview: Absolutely spectacular views so always best to plan your visit with time to enjoy the sunset. There is a very limited dinner menu each evening, but the food is generally quite good. There is frequently live music.
  • Overview: Absolutely spectacular views so always best to plan your visit with time to enjoy the sunset. There is a very limited dinner menu each evening, but the food is generally quite good. There is frequently live music.
  • Hours: Daily 3:00 – 10:00 PM
  • Contact: Tel: 612-175-0800

Landi’s  Restaurant 

  • Overview: Owner/cook Landi Ortega serves up truly delectable home-style Mexican cuisine in the laidback but beautifully elegant restaurant just off the town square. There are lovely views out over the palm oasis and if you time it right you can catch a sunset on the horizon. Landi’s father, Benito Ortega, is a famous local sculptor and some of his wonderful work is on display at the restaurant. Landi’s is a quick walk from the Sky Deck at the Guaycura Hotel, a lovely place to have a drink before or after dinner.
  • What Will Make You Happy: Ensalada de Nopales, Cochinita Pibil, Ataxcon, Chicken with Mole
  • Service: Friendly and efficient.
  • Rating: Delicious! We include a meal at Landi’s in most of our Todos Santos Eco Adventures weeks and often recommend it to our guests.
  • Hours: 9 AM – 9 PM daily. Closed Sundays. 
  • Contact: Tel: 612-176-1275  
  • Landi’s Menu

Los Adobes

  • Overview: Los Adobes serves high Mexican cuisine in a lovely desert garden setting.

    Los Adobes Restaurant

  • What Will Make You Happy: Chiles en Nogada
  • Service: Friendly and efficient.
  • Rating: Very nice dining experience.
  • Hours: 11 AM – 9 PM daily. Closed Sundays.
  • Contact: Tel: 612-145-0203  Location: No. 43 on Journal del Pacifico Map
  • Los Adobes Menu

© Copyright Sergio and Bryan Jauregui, Casa Payaso S de RL de CV, 2014

The Saints of Todos Santos: Artist Erick Ochoa

Erick in front of Yandi Monardo’s “Angeles Protectores”

by Todos Santos Eco Adventures

This is the story about the son of a carpenter who goes on to become a teacher and inspire those around him. The one born in Mexico City.

At age 21 Erick Ochoa found himself working in his father’s carpentry shop in Todos Santos, wondering what the heck he was doing there. By his own standards he wasn’t a very good carpenter. Trouble was, he didn’t know if he was good at anything else either. He’d studied engineering and architecture in college, but had dropped out when the courses failed to excite him.  Erick was a young man seeking inspiration and, as Mick Jagger would say, sometimes you find you get what you need.

Which, with respect to Mick, is sometimes exactly what you want. One day a man named Jack Hall walked into the carpentry shop, and couldn’t help but notice that Erick seemed underwhelmed by his current circumstances. He asked Erick if he had any interest in art. As it happened, college had not inspired Erick but the local art museums certainly had. Jack therefore made the introductions and soon enough Erick found himself working for renowned artist and sculptor, Michael Cope, helping Michael and his wife Pat run Galería de Todos Santos. At that point Erick understood a fair bit of English, but spoke relatively little. This was the first of Erick’s skill sets that was to undergo a drastic transformation with the Copes.

The second skill set emerged shortly thereafter, when Michael (sometime in 2000) asked Erick to help him prepare some clay for sculpting. In lieu of payment, Erick asked Michael to teach him how to draw. He had no idea what he was in for. Michael demanded dedication and hard work, and Erick found himself spending hour upon hour sketching and drawing, drawing and sketching. It was a year before he was allowed to move on to colors and oils. Michael wanted Erick to prove – to both himself and Michael – that he truly wanted to learn, and that he had the talent to succeed. Neither of them was disappointed. In the process of finding his path in life, Erick also discovered the incredible power of a mentor and a teacher to change your life. He learned what it meant to have someone invest significant time, energy and talent in you. More than just another skill set, the Copes had helped him discover passion and purpose. This was something he wanted to pass on to others.

Erick and his painting, “Icono del tiempo”

Like many families, the Ochoas like to get together around the dinner table and solve the problems of the world. Just as Erick was contemplating how he might turn some of that talk into action, Donna Viglione came knocking on his door. Donna was the president of the Palapa Society, a non-profit whose mandate is to improve the lives of local Todos Santos children. She had built up the Bridge-to-English program (an after-school English-language class for local kids) and wanted to offer art classes in English to kids who excelled in the program. Erick – now fluent in English and an established artist in this artist’s colony town – was a natural choice for the job. His third skill set inspired by the Copes soon emerged: teaching, mentoring, passing it on. It’s been a great success for everyone involved. “We now have up to 20 kids between the ages of 4 and 12 in any given art class, and 8 of those are quite serious. Some of them have real potential, and one has already told me that he wants to be an artist. This is so exciting to me and I’m so happy to have this wonderful opportunity to pass on what Michael taught me.” Erick is perpetuating a great cycle. The Palapa Society now has 8 scholarship students who will graduate from university next year, and – inspired by Erick, Donna and other Palapa Society volunteers – they all want to return to Todos Santos as teachers themselves.

Erick is now the president of the Palapa Society – a job which pays him very well in satisfaction – and spends a great deal of time on the program during the school year, not only teaching but going to the local schools to work with the Palapa Society scholarship kids and their teachers. He only has time to paint two to three hours a day when school is in session. “But in the summertime I paint all day. Everything in Todos Santos inspires me. The days are beautiful, with light so unbelievably crisp and clear. Todos Santos is always a study in contrasts with the desert and ocean. But in the summertime it gets even wilder – we’ll often have a huge thundercloud formation over the mountains, at the same time that we have an incredible sunset over the ocean.” Same carpenter’s son, same home town, a different world entirely. The magic of our pueblo magico revealed.

© Copyright Sergio and Bryan Jauregui, Casa Payaso S de RL de CV, 2011