Tequila: Not Just to Drink

Tequila Restaurant, in the sleepy town of San Jose del Cabo, is more than just the drink of national pride and joy. It's also one of the most highly regarded additions to the local gourmet culture. The restaurant is well-versed in both, with an offering of over fifty varieties of its namesake drink by the glass or bottle, conveniently sorted by aging classification and rated and annotated, and a killer menu. Both are carried off with great service in a palm and giant mango tree garden scattered with rustic lanterns and filled with salacious smells from the kitchen. The house accompaniment to bread is a liquid emerald basil pesto with an unusually sweet and addictive quality. Save room though for the exceptional starters, which include a nouveau cuisine take on spring rolls with a lip-smacking tamarind-ginger sauce, tomato and feta salad, mixed greens, and pistachio-crusted goat cheese over arugula. All of the greens were fresh from the restaurant's own organic garden, which also supplies the local high-end resorts, including The One and Only Palmilla and Las Ventanas. Organic, it turns out, is not the foreign word or concept you might expect in this touristy part of rural Mexico. Entrees, though not quite as inspiring as the starters, were still among the best we had in foodie Los Cabos and stand up well to many comparably priced restaurants in the Bay Area. The signature tequila shrimp with black beans and plantains were larger than the ones they usually serve so may have taken up less of the flavor from cooking. Blackened seared tuna was excellent quality and paired nicely with papaya salsa and roasted potatoes. Seafood linguine was pedestrian but tasty. The food quality went back up to outstanding with the key lime pie. The odds on loving a restaurant's easily over-sweetened key lime pie are never good to start with, and were even lower after our waiter said people had called this the best key lime pie they've had, but those people weren't wrong. Had I not been the only one eating dessert in front of my inlaws and getting back into a bikini the next day I would have taken a second piece to go for breakfast. It had a thick, crumbly buttery crust, perfectly balanced sweet and tart flavors in the all natural filling, and beautiful fluffy meringue on top. Although Tequila has no special reprieve from the heavy tariffs on American and European wines, they do have a nice wine list that also includes a few reasonably priced Mexican bottles such as the Monte Xanic 2003 Chardonnay from Valle de Guadalupe, Baja. This wine is not too oakey and has mild malolactic fermentation and a strong fruity bouquet. Modreate acids lend structure and helped it pair well with richer seafoods. Tequila is also reported to make the best margarita you'll ever have, though I'd had plenty of that in our room by this point in the trip. If you're a Cigar aficionado, the best Cubans can also be found in Tequila's walk-in humidor. So, apparently, can celebrities, judging by the photos of Robin Williams, Quentin Tarantino, Cindy Crawford, and others on the restaurant's Testimonials page. Tequila definitely deserves its reputation as one of the best restaurants in Los Cabos. With only one night at each, it slightly edges out the more elegant Mi Cocina for my top dining pick in the region. Appropriate attire: from light pants with a nice t-shirt or button-down to a resort-chic casual dress. Tequila RestaurantManuel Doubled #1011, between Boulevard Mares and Dialog, San Jose del Cabo624.142.1155Open Monday through Saturday, 5:30-10:30pmOnly accepts American Express or cash.The photo at the top of this page is a still taken from the flash reel on the restaurant's web site. Unfortunately, we did not have a camera with us on our visit.