One might think that eating vegan in Mexico is difficult and…that’s not completely inaccurate. Over the past week I managed to not only survive, but thrive on some of the most delicious vegan food I’ve had ANYWHERE and, despite some close calls, I didn’t have to OD on guac to make it possible.
Like most destinations, you can find options in Mexico if you know what to look for and thanks to a growing trend towards vegan, vegetarian and pescatarian lifestyles, big tourist destinations like Cabo San Lucas are always adding new and exciting eateries.
First off, some helpful phrases:
- Soy vegano/vegan – I am Vegan
- This can be helpful for starting the conversation, however, many people – just like in the US or elsewhere – may be confused by what that means, so it’s in your best interest to elaborate.
- No como carne, pescado, huevos o lácteos – I do not eat meat, fish, eggs or dairy.
- Many cultures don’t consider fish to be meat so, again, it’s in your best interest to spell it out.
- ¿Tiene opciones veganas? – Do you have vegan options?
- Aceite – Oil
- Mantequilla/ No/ Sin mantequilla, por favor – Butter/ No/ Without butter, please
- Leche/ No/ Sin leche, por favor – Milk/ No/ Without milk, please
- Queso/ No/ Sin queso, por favor – Cheese/ No/ Without cheese, please
- ¿Es posible utilizar aceite en lugar de mantequilla? – Is it possible to use oil instead of butter?
- ¿Esto contiene carne, pescado, huevos o lácteos? – Does this contain meat, fish, eggs or dairy?
That being said, most vendors in Cabo will understand and or speak English and/or Spanglish. Adding a verbal question mark to the end of most words or phrases and a few hand gestures will get most things done. I often use the Google Translate and Spanish Dict apps to quickly understand or translate verbal and written communication as well.
Now, on to the food i.e. the important stuff.
Villa del Arco
On this trip, we stayed at Villa del Arco. It offers gorgeous views of the ocean, a swimmable beach and is relatively close to town ($9 cab ride each way). We were using an all-inclusive plan so I was determined to put together some meal options on site. Most days we had breakfast at the resort before heading out for the day.
While you can visit onsite restaurant El Patron to enjoy the spectacular view and pile your plate high with fruit, hacked avocado toast (guac on sourdough), the occasional coconut milk chia seed pudding (an unexpected protein boon but a little bland for my taste) and ‘papas naturales’ i.e. hash browns sans butter, ordered directly from your server, battling the lines and putting on actual pants can be a little daunting before 9am (don’t judge me, it’s vacation). So, after the first day or so, we opted to hack the room service menu to enjoy a quiet breakfast together in our room instead.
Dinner is generally a bit trickier than breakfast, mostly because my willingness and ability to subsist on fruit alone diminishes as the sun goes down. Also, a gal can only eat so many plates of lettuce, fresh fries, and guac. Luckily, I knew from previous experience that the resident fine dining seafood restaurant, Neptune, would probably be able to accommodate us, and boy was I right.
Not only was our server incredibly attentive and very open to fully explaining all the ingredients, but the chef’s willingness (and skill) in putting together a multi-course vegan dinner absolutely blew us away. Once again, the views here are gorgeous and romantic, if a little chilly in January. I wasn’t able to get great photos due to the lighting, but we were treated to an amuse bouche featuring olive tapenade, watermelon, and mint, a green pesto/tomato salad, linguine with local vegetables, dressed with olive oil and a superfood fruit sorbet topped with blueberry, strawberry, mint and a drizzle of dark chocolate sauce. We even managed to find a vegan-friendly wine on the menu in the form of Vigneti Zanatta Pinot Grigio (thanks Barnivore!).
On New Years’ Eve, we were invited onto a boat with a small group of friends to take in the fireworks display from the water. Before heading to the marina, our group met up at Wicked Pizza to grab pies for dinner. The rest of the group had ordered traditional pies previously so I explained to the owners that we were vegan and was preparing to ask questions about their crust when they told me they could whip up a vegan pie no problem.
I literally jumped for joy.
And I jumped for joy again, later that evening when I actually tasted it. Full disclosure: B and I ate an entire pie not once, not twice, but THREE times in the same week. It was THAT good. And that to the fact that they also donate to local dog shelters and they’ve basically secured my business for life.
Namaste India – Cabo San Lucas
Since becoming vegan, I’ve learned that many different ethnic cuisines offer a plethora of vegan options, with Indian food being one of them. We found Namaste-India thanks to a search on Happy Cow (read my review of the app here) and it was a welcome explosion or non-avocado or pico de gallo based flavors. The owners were super friendly and the staff was very knowledgeable in regards to vegan options and more than happy to explain them to us. It’s a charming little place with Bollywood movies on the tv, a remarkably long list of drinks, and incredibly delicious, generously portioned, authentic cuisine prepared to your preferred level of spiciness – ranging from 1 to 10. I preemptively tip my hat to anyone that makes it above a 6.
Mako Raspados/Vegan & Veggie
Earlier in the week, one of my friends had snapped a pic of Mako’s exterior wall and showed it to us, claiming to have located a vegan place for us to try. A few days later we were leaving The Office a few tequilas in and in search of a solid dinner, Mako popped up on Happy Cow and when I realized it was the same place, I couldn’t help but feel it was destiny.
Stepping into Mako is kind of like entering another world. You’re temporarily shielded from the chaos of the street below by a beautiful assortment of greenery that gives it the feel of a secret garden or exclusive courtyard. Everything is charming, from the strung lights and canopies to the puggle that runs the place (as pugs and puggles tend to do), occasionally greeting new visitors, but by and large leaving diners to enjoy their meals.
And enjoy we did.
If you’d told me before this trip that I’d have one of the best vegan meals of my life in Cabo I would have been skeptical, to say the least, but that is exactly what happened. The dishes were not only delicious but inventive as well, with a balance of tastes and textures that was unlike anything either of us had ever had before.
Aleta at Cachet Beach Hotel
Cachet Beach Hotel takes a heaping serving of boutique style, throws in a sprinkle of Miami-vibe and parks all of it in the center of downtown Cabo, steps away from some of the best restaurants (like the aforementioned Mako) in the city. They were in the midst of renovation and rebranding of their newest tower during our visit, but restaurant Aleta is far enough removed to be free of construction noise. We weren’t sure of what to expect when we sat down to lunch, but true to the style of the rest of the resort it was fresh, stylish and designed to delight the senses. Be sure to read all the dish ingredients, we noticed several dishes that were actually vegetarian or pescatarian labeled ‘vegan’ on the menu.
While we did not eat at their rooftop Baja Brewing Co this trip, we did pause to take in the truly amazing view of all the ships coming in and out of the marina. I ate at their location in San Jose del Cabo on a previous trip and can attest to the tastiness of their woodfired veggie pizza without cheese.
As you can see, I certainly didn’t starve in Cabo and I actually managed to find some really amazing places that I can’t wait to revisit. Every time I come to this city I find more and more delicious options. My advice is to practice your helpful phrases, score a dictionary or translation app, don’t forget to check Happy Cow and Vanilla Bean and be adventurous! You never know what may happen if you just ask. Adios!