Words and photos by Laura Austin
Todos Santos is a quirky little town in Southern Baja, Mexico.
It’s a town of fishermen, surfers, with a thriving creative scene that’s…actually, how the hell would we know? While we were in the office, photographer Laura Austin flew down to Todos on our behalf, and we googled it. Good surf? Check. Sweet little emerging art scene? Check. Tacos? Check. Skate spots, places to get boozy, and a complete absence of obnoxious tourists that plague the streets, sucking the soul out of the place like loud, drunk dementors? Check, check, check. Jealousy is a horrible quality, and after seeing these photos the office is rife with it. Hope you had fun Laura, kinda.
Not to toot my own horn, but I’ve stayed in my fair share of luxury hotels. And few places have pulled together comfort, aesthetic, ambiance, and hospitality quite like Hotel San Cristóbal. This latest edition to Bunkhouse Group’s collection of hotels is the perfect place to escape reality for a bit. The 32-room sanctuary is situated on what’s basically a private beach between Todos Santos and El Pescadero. Once you’re there, it’s hard to find an excuse to leave. All of the food is amazing, there’s a large C-shaped pool fully equipped with two hot tubs, and the atmosphere in general is just so damn relaxing. For the aesthetically inclined, their attention to detail is spot-on; from the custom-made tiles to the perfectly considered landscaping, to the small details in the rooms. Even the music circulating the grounds is exactly what I would have wanted to listen to had I put headphones in my ears. If you ever have the pleasure of visiting this place, before you even go to your room, do yourself a favour and sit by the pool and get an order of their to-die-for ceviche with a cocktail, and take a second to soak in the magic of this place.
Breakfast burritos. Need I say more? Agricole is an unsuspecting market situated between El Pescadero and Todos Santos. For you organic junkies out there, not only is every single thing at this market organic, but it’s sourced exclusively from local farmers, bakers, and cheesemakers, etc. In other words, their shit is fresh. Regardless, if you couldn’t care less where your food comes from, and you’re in the mood for a breakfast burrito, this is the one. As opposed to the gringo versions, their delicious burritos consist of nothing more than potatoes, cheese, and red and green chilies, all wrapped in a fresh tortilla with a price tag of only 30 pesos. So if you’re on your way to surf in the morning and need something to quickly grab to eat in the car, this is your spot.
I’ll be honest; I’m a bit of an asshole when it comes to coffee. I’m one of those people that travels with my own mobile coffee kit and beans so that I’m not stuck drinking the sludge that many places serve. However, all of that became unnecessary once I discovered Baja Beans: a friendly coffee shop tucked off a back road in El Pescadero. Not just a coffee shop, they also roast their own beans sourced from the Mexican mountains. Surrounded by farmland and with an expansive patio full of outdoor seating, this is a nice spot to spend your morning. Everything you’d want from a place serving quality coffee, without the fuss or pretension.
Carnitas Puro Michoacan
Driving through Pescadero and Todos Santos, the roadsides are littered with taco stands. It’s a “choose your own adventure” deal. If you aren’t in the know you could end up praying to the porcelain god, or you could have the best taco of your life. Not wanting to play taco roulette, I decided to ask a local where the best spot for a street taco was and he instantly said, “Carnitas Puro Michoacan,” in Pescadero. I probably never would have stopped by this unsuspecting little place of my own accord, so damn am I glad I asked for a recommendation. They serve one thing and one thing only: mouth-watering, fork tender, pork tacos. A woman works a pile of pork onto a tortilla from a large slab of perfectly marinated meat, and you are given a range of salsas and vegetables to top your taco with. Just be careful, they’re addictive.
El Refugio Mezcaleria
When thinking about drinking in Mexico, people’s minds probably go straight to margaritas. Which is fine; who doesn’t love a good margarita? However, if you want to be a little more sophisticated with your drink choices, you need to find yourself some good mezcal to sip. And the best place to do that is at El Refugio Mezcaleria. Situated in what’s basically a small house in Todos Santos, this little place packs a punch. They have a wide selection of mezcals to choose from, all of which you’d never be able to find outside Mexico. And even though they serve it to you in a shot glass, don’t you dare shoot it. This firewater is meant to be sipped. And if you decide to put down a flight of mezcals and you’re worried about finding your way back to your hotel, don’t fret, they serve absolutely incredible authentic pre-Hispanic cuisine that will definitely help sober you up a bit.
I’m sure you’ve heard the term “farm-to-table” thrown around by the planet of restaurants trying to hop on the food trend bandwagon. Well Hierbabuena in El Pescadero puts anyone else claiming that practice to shame. This little pizza spot—surrounded by the gardens they pull all of their produce from—provides the most quintessential alfresco dining experience. They serve a variety of options beyond pizza, but do yourself a favour and just order a pie cooked in their stone pizza oven on some of the best dough I’ve tasted. This spot is literally a breath of fresh air.
El Pescadero Skatepark
I think I’ve had dreams about driving down a dirt road and happening upon a pristine bowl that no one was skating. Well in Pescadero, that dream came true. Drive down a random, bumpy dirt road and you end up at this skatepark complete with a massive bowl, a cradle, and rails; definitely not what you would expect in this tiny little beach town. When I rolled up there was only one person pushing around, Jose, a local who happened to also be a bartender at my hotel. If you want to find this hidden gem just ask any of the locals and I am sure they will point you in the right direction.
La Sonrisa De La Muerte
Most of the businesses lining the streets of Todos Santos are either taco stands or souvenir shops. La Sonrisa De La Muerte however, stands out in a good way. This little gallery/print/tee shop showcases the work of local designers, lithographers, and screen printers. If you’re looking to buy something to remember your trip by—instead of purchasing a cheesy shot glass—stop by this spot and get yourself a print. Not only will you end up with something rad to hang on your wall at home, but you’ll also be supporting local artists. Win-win.