Last updated: 09:19 AM ET, Wed September 30 2015

Opinion Home | The Main Course

  • Gabe Zaldivar | September 30, 2015 9:19 AM ET

    Enjoying a Divine Night of Fine Food at Los Cabos' El Matador

    Enjoying a Divine Night of Fine Food at Los Cabos' El Matador

    Photos by Gabe Zaldivar

    Just off Paseo Los Marinos in Mexico’s San Jose del Cabo is El Matador, a restaurant named in honor of owner and operator Pablo Velez, who is himself a matador.

    And the name is an appropriate one, because the restaurant is more than just a place that doles out amazing food.

    This is a place that exudes all that Velez presents when you first meet him. It’s warm, inviting, fun, energetic and simply captivating.

    I had the pleasure of joining a few other writers who were covering the recent re-opening of the absolutely fabulous Hilton Los Cabos.

    Thankfully, a portion of the itinerary was to illustrate that the area was far more than a tropical retreat centered on sipping margaritas by the pool.

    When you walk into this small restaurant you get the feeling that you are entering a good friend’s home, which isn’t far removed from the truth if you come back a second time.

    There is a back patio that features a serene pool setting with an upstairs area where you can enjoy your drinks.

    But for the most part I sat comfortably in the main dining area, which had the familiarity of a family room.

    You may be wondering at this point what offerings will give you maximum culinary nirvana. When pressed on his favorite dish, Velez offered, “It is hard to say what is my favorite dish, but the memory brings me to my early days enjoying chicken in mole sauce from my mother.”

    Now the owner and operator stated that the menu might get a little tweaking in the coming months, but we had a nice sample of the chef’s work, which was incidentally a perfect complement to the setting.

    The Scallops Bourguignon came in a small cup that mandated utilization of an equally small spoon. It was the kind of whimsy you rarely get from a restaurant and the kind of taste for which you constantly search. You will agree when you sip on the remaining sauce lingering in your respective cups.

    Next up was Coconut Shrimp, which was met with my own personal hesitation. There are so many places that offer this dish, over-breaded, over-fried or over-wrought. Not at El Matador.

    The sweetness made way for a perfectly crunchy bite that featured shrimp and managed to sashay its way into headliner territory. You came away craving more shrimp, which is why I ordered the Gambas de Tequila.

    The shrimp in the main dish were bigger than their coconut pals, which was absurd considering the size of the latter. And those four massive shellfish were so obscenely well prepared that I wished I had packed more of an appetite.

    The night’s festivities included Velez taking out his cape and chaquetillas (or cape and matador’s coat) for the writers to try on. It was the kind of post-dinner bliss that eases the digestion and works wonders on the soul.

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Gabe Zaldivar The Main Course

Gabe Zaldivar Born on the rough streets of suburban West Covina, I learned a great many things, some of which has proved useful: knowing the tell-tale sounds of an ice cream truck and crafting a world-class burrito come to mind. You have seen my work on Bleacher Report and possibly my mug on CNN. Perhaps, if you are into archaic modes of entertainment, you have also heard me on the radio. Pop culture is my beat. If it has to do with the intersection of travel, entertainment and pop culture, I'm your guy.
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