Tag Archives: Puerto Penasco

Mindful Menus – Eating out in Puerto Penasco, Mexico

Eat and drink responsibly when eating out in Puerto Penasco Mexico
Patio dining at El Tapeo Puerto Penasco

Patio dining at El Tapeo Puerto Penasco

You roll into Puerto Penasco and don’t speak Spanish, but you’re hungry. The landscape is fairly flat but look out towards the sea, then lift your gaze to the large hill towering over the town. That’s Whale Hill and at the top, you’ll find Casa del Capitan. There’s a lighthouse next door. Let that be your guide. No Habla Espanol? No problem. It’s easy when you’re eating out here. The staff caters to visitors from both sides of the border.

Lighthouse at the top of Whale Hll in Puerto Penasco Mexico

Eating out with traditional Guacamole served at El Capitan with locally grown avacodos.

Eating out with traditional Guacamole served at El Capitan with Mexico-grown avocados.

Casa del Capitan is the highest restaurant in the area and a perfect spot to get your bearings. A round bar welcomes you inside the bright yellow, red, and blue establishment. There’s a spacious, multi-leveled dining room and a wide patio with splendid views of the Sea of Cortez, the strand of highrise resorts to the north-west and the main town below.

Vaquita mural in Puerto Penasco

Vaquita mural in Puerto Penasco

Mindful menus when eating out

Eating out in Puerto Penasco focuses on seafood. Shrimping and fishing have been the one constant in the region. The sea is rich here and it’s brought a notorious dilemma to focus. You may have heard of the plight of Vaquita Dolphins who are being run into distinction by illegal fishing. That’s not happening in Puerto Penasco as the small dolphins rarely swim near and favor the western side of the sea. The problem is complicated and worthy of a Hollywood potboiler including shady Chinese vendors wanting a fish-bladder with dubious health benefits, smugglers, secretive fishing, and a small, endangered creature caught in the cross-hairs.

Shrimp for sale in Malecon shops.

Shrimp for sale in Malecon shops. Are they in-season? Stored properly? Ask!

If you want to make sure you’re eating responsibly, ask your waiter what’s local and ‘what’s in season’ for the freshest fish, shrimp, clams, and scallops.

beach resorts on the Puerto Penasco Bay

Looking northwest from the Penasco del Sol Resort

Rocky Point becomes Puerto Penasco

Locals still call the area Rocky Point. Set along a sandy expanse that stretches for miles to the north and south, the port city has lifted itself from a series of setbacks. Prohibition in the US set investors south to build hotels and watering holes. A falling out left that in ruins. In 1936 Mexican President Cardenas gave the village its current name and formalized plans for a rail line to other points in the country. He also inspired a highway to the US – Arizona border, 65 miles away. That road still leads visitors into the city. From Phoenix it’s a three hour drive to the heart of town.

A few hotels remained but most visitors camped, fished and partied. In the early 1990’s,  laws changed to allow more foreign investment and the tourist boom has been taking off ever since. Looking for a colorful, boutique experience or the heights of all-inclusive luxury? It’s all here. (Read about where to stay in this earlier post.)

el oktupus bar in puerto penasco

Inside El Oktopus, the elegant upstairs bar on the Malecon.

Blue corn and tender beef at El Ocktupus

Blue corn and tender beef at El Oktopus

Malecon gateway Puerto Penasco Mexico

The Malecon

There are hotels and restaurants sprinkled throughout the village. Looking for a snack? Try a fresh cut pineapple or sip from a coconut at one of the many vendor trucks or roadside stalls. The Malecon overflows with them. There are small local and large party bars, waterfront dining and rooms with a view.

Tequila tastings and history lessons inside the Tequila Factory

Tequila tastings inside the Tequila Factory (Factory in name only that houses a dizzying collection.

Bottle of Penasco tequila made in Jalisco.

A bottle of Penasco tequila that’s actually made in Jalisco.

The Marina

Senorita Rita sunset cruise in the Marina

Senorita Rita sunset cruise in the Marina

It’s still a working marina with boats moored near but there are several party boats offering visitor sunset cruises and day trips when the winds allow.

See more of Puerto Penasco and the Marina in this video:


Chicken entree in Miguels at the Paloma del Sol Resort, Puerto Penasco

Chicken entree in Miguel’s at the Paloma del Sol Resort, Puerto Penasco

Eating out in the resorts

Don’t shy away from the resort restaurants when eating out in Puerto Penasco. They are many, beautiful dining rooms and creative chefs honoring traditional ingredients while taking them to new heights.

Paella platter served in the El Tapeo wine bar and cafe.

Paella platter served in the El Tapeo wine bar and cafe next to Las Palomas Resort.

Traditional recipes on the table inside the Grand Mayan Resort.

Traditional recipes at a poolside cafe inside the Grand Mayan Resort.

Eating out in Puerto Penasco, Mexico

My trip to Puerto Penasco was hosted by the Rocky Point CVB but all opinions, pictures, and videos are my own.

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Eating out responsibly in Puerto Penasco Mexico

Mindful menu items in Puerto Penasco, Mexico

Eating out responsibly at El Oktopus in Puerto Penasco, Mexico











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Travel Notes & Beyond

Time for a beach getaway? Where to stay in Puerto Penasco, Mexico

Palomas beach resort at sunset

Palomas beach resort at sunset

Less than four hours south of Phoenix there’s a dreamy beach getaway that’s mysteriously off most tourists radar. Puerto Penasco, perched on the northern shore of the Sea of Cortez, is an hour south of the US border but a world away from everyday concerns.

Looking into El Elegante crater inside the PInacate Biosphere.

Looking into El Elegante crater inside the PInacate Biosphere.

The drive south takes you through the wild reaches of the Sonoran desert. Twisting Saguaro cactus salute alongside the road. Beyond them, haggle-tooth red peaks dot the horizon. As you approach the city, signs for the UNESCO protected Pinacate Biosphere dot the highway. Striated black, red, and at times green, miles of Biosphere land lean towards craters. Volcanic cones slope up in the distance.

beach resorts on the Puerto Penasco Bay

Then roadside attractions emerge and you spy tall, scattered rectangles – the area’s high-rise luxury, beach resorts. Suddenly you’re in town. There are so many ways to enjoy the region – hikes in the reserve, renting ATV’s, golf, kayaking, tequila tours, nightlife, and a rainbow of dining options but the best beach getaway revolves around the bright blue and lapping sea.

Penasco del Sol Beach Resort Hotel

Penasco del Sol beach resort sign

I stayed at the Penasco Del Sol, a family-friendly, modestly priced, beach getaway. It’s set on the central beach of Rocky Point, a short drive from the fishing harbor and village. During the fall weekdays, the art-filled lobby and central pool area are relaxed and hushed. On the weekends, couples and families meet and stroll through on their way to soak in the tubs, enjoy the waterfall bar and walk the beach.

Tub time inside the Penasco del Sol beach resort

Tub time inside the Penasco del Sol beach resort

On weekday mornings I could walk the beach with only my shadow for company, but on the weekend crowds fan out from a stepped plaza. A half-dozen tents selling swim-suits to water-wings, food carts set up, and strolling musicians saunter through the beach crowds.

Penasco del sol lobby

Inside the beach resort lobby, there’s a curved bar open most of the day and the dining room serves breakfast buffets and menu items, with traditional specials on Sundays. Dinners full of seafood and local specialties are featured on the evening menu. In the mornings the coffee is strong and I always filled my plate with papaya, melons, and chilaquiles. There were eggs, sausages, local and Norte Americano options too.Penasco del sol room

My room was large enough for me to do some yoga before heading downstairs for breakfast and the day’s activities. In the next building over, condos and timeshare owners had their own pool and beach activities.


La Palomas Beach Getaway

On my last night, we enjoyed a steak dinner in the La Palomas Beach Resort and the band, Agua de Coco serenaded us with Jazz classics.


Palomas Beach getaway view from room deck

A room with a view at the La Palomas Beach Resort


Palomas panorama with sea

La Palomas Beach Resort

The Grand Mayan – Luxury beach getaway

About 45 minutes from town is the exclusive Grand Mayan, a Vidanta Resort. The members-only space is laid out with precision along a broad length of the coastline. A Jack Nicklaus Golf Course lies inland from the resort towers. A tempting, lengthy lazy river snakes through the property. Here members own condos and timeshare apartments which allow them to visit the pools and spas, restaurants and services. The spaces inside and out are palatial with expansion slated over the coming years.

One lobby inside the Grand Mayan property

One lobby inside the Grand Mayan property

The most exclusive rooms come with their own soaking pool as well as a jacuzzi steps from the bed in this beach get away.

The top tier rooms come with their own soaking pool as well as a jacuzzi steps from the bed.

The Dream Weaver Hotel

On the afternoon we went into town for lunch we strolled the Malecon and wandered the village. The town is packed with color and tourist shops. Just up a block from the busiest areas are coffee roasters, small galleries and I spotted the Dream Weaver Hotel.

This quirky place was created by host Diane and each room is unique. The courtyard and upstairs patios are full of local art, murals, reed furniture and there’s a view down to the beach below. These are budget accommodations for those interested in basic comfort, cooking options, and the authentic jostling of village life a few blocks away.

Dream Weaver Inn street view

Dreamweaver lower courtyard

Dreamweaver lower courtyard

I can’t believe it took me so long to visit this part of Mexico! It’s a little over five hours from my home in San Diego and about 3.5 from Phoenix. There is an airport but for the time being only charter flights are allowed.

I’ll be writing more soon about the food and adventures we enjoyed. Mexico is forever in my heart and I look forward to sharing this beach getaway with my family and friends.

This journey was made possible by the Rocky Point/Puerto Penasco Tourism Board. Thank you for hosting me. As always, all opinions are my own. Salut!

Penasco sign on beach

Here’s a Pinnable image to share:Beach Resort bliss inside the Penasco del Sol Hotel

Travel Notes & Beyond