Friday, February 3, 2012

Vegan in Cabo

Living vegan in New Mexico is not quite the same as staying vegan in Old Mexico. I thought it might be challenging to spend a week in Cabo San Lucas with a group of mostly meat-eaters, and although I was right to a certain extent, I actually did really well. We stayed at Solmar, a nice, small-ish all inclusive resort on the quiet side of Cabo, away from the "spring break" beach. This was my first time doing the all inclusive thing, and I really liked it because it made life so simple for us. The service, food, and drinks were great, but it took me a couple of days to figure out how to get what I actually wanted. The menu options for me were kind limited, so I just stuck with what worked, and was okay with it being a little repetitious at the hotel. Trips into town to restaurants were more adventurous.

Most mornings I had fresh fruit, guacamole and chips, and refried beans, no queso. I'll admit, it was kind of weird, but it worked for me. 

One morning I ventured deeper into the menu and tried the chilaquiles, careful to order them without the chicken and cheese. Chefs being decorative creatures by nature, my food came with a lovely squiggle of sour cream over the whole thing. I didn't want to make a big deal out of it. I figured if I sent it back it would probably go in the trash, and that just seemed wrong and wasteful. So I scraped the sour cream off as much as I could, and enjoyed my spicy chilaquiles with salsa verde

Part of our all inclusive deal was fresh sushi made right by the pool each day. They were happy to make veggie rolls for us, which we enjoyed for lunch, usually accompanied by more guacamole. To be honest, I ate buckets of guac on this trip. The best we had was made table-side, at a little place on the Marina called Solomon's Landing. The waiter scooped perfectly ripe avocados into a stone molcajete, and mashed it up with just the right amounts of finely chopped garlic, onion, jalapeño, and cilantro, finishing it off with some freshly ground black pepper, which I'd never thought to add before. It. Was. Amazing...

I had a short list of veg-friendly restaurants to try, but didn't make it to any of them. Rick and I just went wherever the rest of the group wanted to go, and took our chances. We had a really great meal at Mi Casa, which was a bit of a walk from the hotel, but well worth the trip. The place itself is beautiful and quite large, with several dining areas indoors, and a big outdoor patio where we were seated under the stars. Oh, and they made balloon hats for us, which is always a nice touch.

There was a small vegetarian section on the menu, which usually means a lot of cheese. It was easy for me to order the chile relleno without the queso though. What a feast! And see that little inconspicuous enchilada hiding behind the beans? That might have been even better than the relleno. It was a fresh corn tortilla filled with vegetables and nuts. I was feeling very lucky to be me that night, and it wasn't (just) the margaritas talking.

Even though we had the all inclusive meal deal back at the hotel, we still wanted to eat out most nights. Another walk on another evening took us over to the "spring break" side of town, which was actually pretty quiet when we were there. We'd heard good things about a restaurant called The Office, and wanted to check it out. I'm so glad we did. The tables were all out on the beach, and the whole place was lit up in a romantic twinkly way. There was a live band too, which was really nice. I have to warn you though to watch out for the guy called Rambo, who wanders around looking like Pancho Villa, and who's job it is to pour tequila down anyone's throat who is willing to tilt their head back and open wide. It is a spring breaky sort of place...

It was a little too dark for me to read the menu easily, so I got brave this time, and just asked the waiter what he could do for a vegetarian. He rattled off several options, and I picked the vegetable fajitas (no queso, of course), knowing there would be more hot, fresh corn tortillas involved... and guacamole, which I don't think I'll ever get tired of. Not only was this one of the best meals I had on the trip, it confirmed for me that it's a good idea to ask a few key questions in most restaurants, knowing that they have a kitchen full of food, and generally want to please their customers. This is a trick I'll be using more here at home too. Once I'm sure the beans are cooked without lard, and the veggies aren't swimming in butter, there really are a lot of things a vegan can eat in Mexico, or in stateside Mexican restaurants for that matter. 

I'm encouraged. I'm inspired. I'm ready to travel again as soon as I possibly can. Now I have to buy a tortilla press and see if I can get some organic corn flour, so I can learn to make those life changing tortillas. The other thing I want to learn to make is a good molé, which is Rick's favorite. Every time I return from a trip to Mexico, I really wonder why we don't live there. You never know... maybe someday. Maybe mañana.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

My name is Amy and I'm with Dwellable.
I was looking for insightful posts about Cabo to share on our travel site and I came across your blog...If you're open to it, shoot me an email at amy(at)dwellable(dot)com.
Hope to hear from you soon!