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As we strolled through the gardens of Los Tamarindos in San Jose del Cabo, Mexico, the chef continuously pointed out ingredients I’d never seen — and, in some cases, never heard of — from sticky tamarind seeds to an abundance of white eggplant. In the kitchen, we crushed fresh herbs in our hands and inhaled the aroma, took sips of our Instagram-worthy purple basil margaritas and fastened our aprons. Chop, chop — it was time to get to work.
Los Tamarindos is a 17-acre organic farm and restaurant that’s part of a growing trend in Los Cabos and the neighboring town of Todos Santos. Not only will visitors enjoy an incredible meal crafted from locally grown and sourced ingredients, but they will also have a hand in creating it. Los Tamarindos’ four-hour cooking class made me appreciate the amount of time and care that goes into food production. And for some reason, after learning how my dinner went from the farm to my fork, it just tasted better, too.
Organic farms throughout Baja California Sur are creating holistic dining experiences that appeal to travelers who are ethically minded, interested in wellness and seeking authenticity. These days, guests want to feel a connection to the region they visit and the food they eat. They not only want to taste the bold flavors of the area, but they want to learn about the origin of the ingredients and the cultural significance of the dish and feel like, even if for a fleeting moment, they can be a part of the story.
This has long been the case at Flora Farms, a family-friendly establishment tucked into the foothills of the Sierra de la Laguna Mountains. Flora Farms incorporates several enterprises including a working farm, a restaurant, a grocery, a spa and a 150-acre ranch with chickens, goats, pigs and cows (for house-made cheeses and ice cream). In addition to cooking classes during which guests learn to make tamales, regional salsas and corn tortillas the old-fashioned way, Flora Farms offers a half-day Plein Air Painting Lesson that includes all materials needed for the class, plus a continental breakfast, lunch and wine for $100 per person. Musicians serenade guests at mealtimes, and there are weekly movie nights in the summer that include complimentary popcorn and lemonade.
A short drive away is Acre, which began as a 25-acre organic farm with a sleek restaurant and has expanded to include a dozen design-centric treehouse accommodations, private event spaces and immersive experiences such as yoga, hiking and cooking classes. The owners have put great effort into keeping Acre true to its natural environment. To that end, the walls are made from compressing the surrounding earth; shade structures are made from local pau d’arco trees; and all of Acre’s furniture, dishware, lighting and accessories come from suppliers in Baja or mainland Mexico.
“Dining here, you’ll notice that there are no walls,” explained executive chef Kevin Luzande. “You’re surrounded by flowers, palms, banana trees and coconut trees. And, at nightfall, you can look up and see the moon and stars. At Acre, it’s easy to forget where you are because the scenery is so transportive.”
Jazamango — which opened on the Pacific side of Todos Santos in February 2017 — is the brainchild of James Beard-nominated chef Javier Plascencia. Its locally sourced menu quickly put this organic farm and restaurant on the map.
In its short time of operation, Jazamango received a Gourmet Award nomination for Best New Restaurant in 2017 and was included in restaurant guide “La Guia Mexico Gastronomico’s Top 120 Restaurants in Mexico” for 2018.
In the works this year, Jazamango wants to bring visitors beneath the surface with an immersive, new excursion. Guests begin by joining chef Gail DiBerardinis on a spearfishing adventure to catch their main course. Back on land, participants forage for vegetables in Jazamango’s organic garden and learn how to create a healthful meal from the chef and her team.
Sure, you can have an incredible meal at just about any restaurant in Los Cabos. But once you’ve spent the better part of the day hunting, gathering or preparing a multicourse meal with a local chef, you know you’ve earned your seat at the table.