We Left a Part of Us in La Paz, Mexico

I’m writing this on my iPhone while sitting here at Claro Fish Jr on the corner of Nicolas Bravo and Mutualismo streets. It’s a perfect 75 degrees Fahrenheit with a light breeze. It’s our last day in La Paz before we get on the boat and cross the gulf to Mazatlan. This was the first place we ate at when we arrived to La Paz on Sunday Jan 22nd. We had been on the road for 3 days and anxious to get to the little beach town and have a fish taco (or 5). Across from us was a senior couple from Canada with their small wiener dog. There were some local families and some tourists. On the other side of the street was a small skate park and we could watch the local kids do tricks with their bikes. This is La Paz. Slow, breezy, locals and tourists having a meal together, children playing, friendly stray dogs, all with the backdrop of the beautiful bay and the Malecón (Boardwalk).

On our first day here, we stopped at Claro Fish Jr because it looked decent and not too flashy, but at the same time it wasn’t questionable. After being on a long road trip, we weren’t ready for hole-in-the-walls. Luckily, it turned out to be a great spot. The fish tacos were delicious and they have a salsa station where you can put as much avocado as you want. Yes, AS MUCH AVOCADO AS YOU WANT. This isn’t a “guac is extra” place!

One thing we had a love/hate relationship with in this restaurant was their waiter. For some reason we think his name is Ruben but we aren’t so sure. We would have asked him, but he never gave us a chance to say anything other than what we wanted to order. Ruben was an interesting guy. He would smile at us, but we just got that feeling that he didn’t like us. Not sure why. We always greeted him, tipped him well, and spoke to him in Spanish, but he wasn’t having it. He would even sweep the street out front and push the dirt under our car then throw water and get the Natmobile all splashed and dirty. WHY DON’T YOU LIKE US, RUBEN? Nat & Sam are nice, fun people! We decided he was our favorite waiter in La Paz. We will miss you and your RBF Ruben!

Claro Fish Jr is definitely one of our favorite lunch spots in La Paz. 2 crunchy fish tacos and a Pacifico with salt and lime. And all the avocado you want.

La Paz is a beautiful small beach town with so many things to see and so many restaurants to try. It was the perfect place to kick off our year long adventure through Mexico. Population is approx 215,000 , with 1/4 retired Americans/Canadians/Europeans, and 3/4 locals. The people here are so nice, and they are very patient with those who don’t speak Spanish. Life here is slow paced. Everything closes between 12-2pm for lunch. People take siestas by the beach. Almost every store and restaurant is mom and pop owned. People put out chairs and tables and transform their front patios into cute little cafés. That’s one of our favorite things about La Paz. Locals build extensions on their homes and open up little shops and restaurants. It’s so different than what we are used to in Irvine. However, a few minutes away from the Malecón, you will find a Walmart, a Home Depot, and a Sam’s Club. They also have a McDonald’s and a Burger King, and an always empty Applebee’s ruining the view. We wish they would take it away. Who needs a lame Applebee’s when there are so many other amazing, fresh restaurants?? Corporate America just trying to squeeze it’s butt into everything *EYEROLL*

One thing you MUST do if you are ever in La Paz is rent bikes from the little shop by the Malecón (it’s right across from Bank Santander) and cruise north until you get to Cocos y Piñas

Order a “coco tierno” (make sure you say “tierno”, it means soft). Quench your thirst with the most delicious coconut water right out of the coconut.

Then have the waiter split the coco so you can eat the fruit. Throw some lime and chamoy on it and dig in.

Chamoy is a spicy-sweet sauce made from picked fruits and and spiced with chile


La Paz is tiny, far from fancy, and still underdeveloped. Some streets are paved whereas others are still dirt roads. But you learn to appreciate the old broken structures, dirt sidewalks, and every pothole that comes out of nowhere. We even appreciate that while we were having a meal on a Friday at 3pm, the sewage company decides it’s the perfect time to empty the septic tank right across the street. Oh La Paz. It’s the little things that make us love you so much. We will miss each and every stray dog that came up to say hello.

More things to do:

Enjoy a luxury movie at Cinemex. Make sure you get your “Platino” tickets so you can enjoy the reclining leather couches. But instead of paying $21 USD per ticket like you do in California, you pay MXN $75! Approx $4 USD.

At Costa Baja Resort, go to restaurant Casa Club La Pintada and enjoy the view while chowing down on the most amazing chilaquiles.  

If you don’t have a car, take a taxi to Playa Balandra. This place is a hidden gem. When the tide is low, you can walk out into the water for a mile. Just take some water shoes and be careful not to step on the little crab houses!

Walk along the beach to Mushroom Rock
We spent Valentine’s Day on our own mini island

Go shell picking at Playa Tecolote early in the morning. You will find some amazing intact shells! But go early, because most shells will be picked up by other people.

Tecolote Beach
Pretending to be a mermaid
Favorite thing about Playa Tecolote: Off-leash dogs running around splashing in the beach
Our collection of shells from Tecolote Beach
You may spot Pookie but can you spot Chewie?

Go to The Dock for breakfast, then near the marina, ask a person with a sailboat to take you to see the Whale Sharks (January through April). Don’t accept the first price! Always bargain! Should’t be more than MXN $400 per person, including snorkel gear. We didn’t go; we got scared of the big fishies…

The Marina
Chilaquiles at The Dock

Take a book, your dogs, and head to the Malecón before sunset and enjoy the breeze, the view, and a Nutella Latte from Cinnarolls.

Other restaurants we recommend:

  • McFisher for fish tacos
  • Toro Guero: Seafood; ask for the fried Huachinango (wa-chi-NAN-go) If they bring you this red snapper any smaller than the size of a football, send it back and tell them not to cheat and to give you a large one (same price)
  • Bismarck-cito: Have some ceviche or a Coctél de Mariscos
  • Rancho Viejo for tacos (There’s 2, and both are 24 hours)
  • El Mesquite for steaks/burgers/wings
  • Il Rústico for amazing Italian food
  • El Buffalito for juicy burgers
  • Dulce Romero for a pastry or smoothie or both. Or even 4 pastries and a smoothie (“but it’s organic therefore guilt-free!” is what I tell myself to make me feel better)
  • Jiro Sushi. There’s a few of these around town, but go to the one on the Malecón for a big side of pretty view.
  • Rosticeria California MXN $145 (less than $10 USD!) for a whole roasted chicken, fries, tortillas, salsa, macaroni salad, and tortilla chips; enough for 4 meals.
  • Cervecería la México on the Malecón; this is the busier bar in town. Enjoy a beer in front of the beach
  • La Fuente Ice Cream shop: You can’t miss this little shop on the Malecon. It’s so colorful! You MUST have a Paleta (Chocolate, Fresas con Crema, and Mango are our favorites!)

And the road continues…

The road from Balandra and Tecolote to Centro

And here we are being cheesy because it was Valentine’s Day

Thanks for reading and we hope you book a ticket or drive to La Paz soon; you won’t regret it!!


Where to stay and eat on the road to La Paz

 El Rosario

El Rosario is a small quaint town approximately 225 miles from the San Diego international border, and around 35 miles south of San Quintin. When we say small town, we mean literally SMALL TOWN. There isn’t much to do in this town but it’s a perfect place to stop and recharge while on the road to BCS.

We stayed at the Baja Cactus Motel. The front desk spoke some English, and they accepted dogs for no additional fee. We called in on our drive down and gave our name and number for a reservation. Do this, because this motel books up quite fast. A room with two full size beds runs for $350 MXP ($17 USD), a room with a king size bed for $550 MXP ($25 USD), and the suite with a king bed for $850 MXP ($40 USD). We chose the cheapest option because it allowed for our car to be parked right in front of our door (Room #8). This made it easy to bring in the valuables, and also allowed us to keep an eye on the car.

The room was standard, with two full size beds, a small table with an old school TV, a small closet with a space heater tucked away, a plastic lawn chair, a small bathroom with a standing shower, and the basic bathroom amenities (soap, shampoo, towels…) Perfect for a 1 night stay.

Right next door was an adorable little restaurant called Mama Espinoza’s. There is a pool table in the back with a little souvenir shop. The menu had many options and we could tell that this was going to be a delicious home-cooked meal! Mama Espinoza’s has been around since the 1930s and is a very popular stop for those driving down to the peninsula. It was raining and cold when we got there, so we ordered tortilla soup to warm us up. They came out steaming hot and so tasty! We also ordered two plates to share, Enchiladas Rojas and Arrachera Steak. The enchiladas were not the best; the sauce was flavorless, however, the arrachera steak was delicious!

We were lucky to have arrived at the Baja Cactus Motel when we did, because by the time we left Mama Espinoza’s, the rooms were fully booked! In the parking lot, we saw license plates from Oregon, Washington, Baja, and California so you could tell that this was the place for many travelers to stay. We had wifi in the room but due to the rainy weather, the hotel lost power about 10 times. The walls are paper thin so make sure to have some earplugs handy!

Don’t forget to fill up at the Pemex gas station next to the hotel; this is the last gas station for about 150 miles!

Santa Rosalia

We got to Santa Rosalia at around 2pm, and drove up and down the town before we pulled over and parked to get a bite to eat. Now, when you’re traveling through unfamiliar small towns in Mexico, it’s always best to eat foods that have been cooked versus fresh fruits and veggies. For this reason, we ate at a small burger and pizza spot, Pizzas Pelones . Lunch here cost us about $220 MXP ($11 USD). We only stayed in this town for lunch and kept going. We know there was more to see, but we were eager to get to Loreto.


At about 700+/- miles south from the international border, it took us about 2 days to get to Loreto and being one of the more popular places to visit, there was a ton of information online to see before our arrival. We looked for hotels that were pet friendly and we couldn’t find something within our budget. We were going to have to try to figure something out when we got there.

We arrived to town in the later part of the day so it was already dark. We parked right out front of Hotel Plaza Loreto, and just walked in and asked them if they allow dogs. They didn’t, but for a small deposit of $100 MXP ($5 USD), the manager said ok. They offered us a room for $750 MXP ($36 USD) with a small closed off patio for the dogs. They had a private parking lot in the back with security, so we felt safe and stayed for the night. We took in our valuables, of course, just in case!

The room was standard, with two full size beds, stand up shower, and bathroom amenities (soap, shampoo, towels…) The room was very basic, nothing fancy at all. It gave us a safe place to lay our heads for the night so we were happy either way.

Loreto is also a little town, but more touristic than El Rosario and Santa Rosalia. Near the hotel was a nice looking church and some people who might have just come out of mass. We took a walk over and headed inside to have a look around. This church was full of character and a spiritual presence that gave us a feeling of peace and protection. We noticed one of the rooms was in a service so we quickly said a little prayer to Virgencita de Guadalupe and made our way back outside and continued exploring this town.

We found a food cart and ordered a giant burrito to share. We had noticed another cart nearby that was selling some Elote (Mexican corn with lime, chili, and queso cotija) which was an excellent complement to our burrito. They also had these deep-fried plantains and the nice man told us we cannot leave without trying it. He took the plantain, stuffed it with butter, jam, condensed milk, and a churro. WHAT? But oh my, it was GOOD. We grubbed down on our food while walking back to our hotel. (Total food cost approx $80 MXP ($4 USD)).

The weather was perfect the next day! On the malecon, a fellow traveler had a cup of coffee and Melodica (small keyboard you blow through to play) and he was just playing a tune to himself and enjoying the morning sunshine.

A few coffee shops and cafés were open, and we decided to have breakfast at Café Ole. This place has a nice patio to sit on and we noticed that many of the tables also had their dogs with them so we leashed up our 2 pooches and made our way over. The food was very affordable and even more delicious than expected. We payed $120 MXP ($6 USD) for an eggs and pancakes combo, coffee and a freshly squeezed orange juice.

Café Ole

Chewbacca and Pookie begging for food

We took some time to take a few photos in this enchanting little town, which is known to be one of the 111 “magic” towns of Mexico.

We highly recommend stopping by if you take a trip down here! On the way out, make sure to stop and enjoy the view at Frida Kahlo look point.

Frida Kahlo view point