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INTERVIEW WITH A LOCAL: SAN FELIPE, BAJA CALIFORNIA
What’s unique about San Felipe?
There’s such a diversity of people living in and around San Felipe. We have our pristine beaches and beautiful sunrises. We have peeps from all walks of life living here not everyone is an ex-pat, they come to visit and fall in love the place, and usually end up buying or leasing a place, then eventually moving here full time. We have the desert to explore, waterfalls to climb, and hot springs which sit directly on the Sea of Cortez. There’s just something magical about our little village by the sea. We have a yearly Shrimp Festival, Tequila Festival, Arts and Blues Festival just to name a few. San Felipe is famous for its fish tacos, but we have much more to offer than simply tacos. Wonderful seafood dishes; barbecued ribs, Italian and American food for those less adventurous. The most unique thing about San Felipe is its beauty and serenity.
If money were no object, what would you do in San Felipe?
Hire the Ultralight guy and see San Felipe from the air. Take a 6-day sports fishing trip from Tony Reyes Sports Fishing and last but not least, try every restaurant from El Dorado to Gonzaga Bay. Whale watching in the winter months. Hire a helicopter to take you to some of the desert races with Score. CBS is airing it in July.
Name five tourist spots in San Felipe that are worth the effort.
1) A trip to see the giant cacti – one of which was sent to Spain for their worlds’ fair. It’s something out of a movie like Planet of the apes. A huge grove of giant Cardons in the middle of the desert.
2) A trip to Puertacitos to sit in the naturally formed hot springs, which sit directly on the Sea of Cortez.
3) Any Baja Score-Internatonal Off-Road Racing event.
4) Rent an ATV and ride the sand dunes.
5) If you’re into hiking, a trip to the Waterfalls in the mountains.
6) Margaritas on the Malecon (boardwalk) in the evening where you can watch the moon come up over the Sea of Cortez.
7) Golfing, swimming, tennis, pickle ball at La Ventana del Mar (El Dorado Ranch)
8) Walking the beautiful beaches, shell hunting, clam digging or just lobbing out.
What’s your favorite restaurant?
1) La Vaquita Marina Restaurante: They serve some of the best and unique dishes, all beautifully presented and delicious.
2) La Morena on the Malecon: Great breakfast, lunch and dinner. She serves the best coconut shrimp.
3) KikiRiki’s on the Malecon – great food – cheap.
4) El Nido on Mar de Cortez – This has been one of my favorites and it’s been here for over 30 years. Great steaks, pork chops; Mexican food but the ambiance of the place is what I like. Juan Torres will great you at the door with a kiss on the cheek and Juanciito (little Juan) has worked as a waiter since he was a kid.
5) The Sweet Spot on the Malecon: BBQ ribs; soul food flair and a great people watching spot.
6) El Padrino’s Pizzaria & Italian Restaurant: Great food and he pours 2 oz drinks.
7) Baja Mar/Taco Factory on the Malecon: Sea-food at Baja Mar and they’re known for their Margaritas;
8) Al’s Backstreet Bar: All you can eat fish n chips (and the bar everyone ends up at after all the other places close).
9) Roadrunner Deli/Restaurant in Playa de Oro: Great American breakfasts.
10) Rosita’s Restaurant on the Malecon: Good Mexican food.
Who has the best happy hour?
Depending on which part of town you live in:
Out north:Parrot’s Cracker and Augie’s Jollymon
In town: El Padrino’s, Las Palmas Hotel, BajaMar, The Lighthouse (formerly a full service restaurant) now serves it’s own Tequila (and other bar drinks).
Where is the best shopping?
Personally, I buy most all my clothes at the segundas around town. These are little 2nd hand stores in peoples’ front yards. We also have 2nd Chance, a high end shop (great deals) ran by Americans to support VIVA our dog rescue peeps; in La Plazita, the little clothing shop as you walk in has some really cute things and Curios Street has everything from small shot glasses to furniture. You never want to pay the asking price – and pay in pesos, not dollars. You can use your ATM here to draw down pesos and get a better exchange rate.
Where do the locals hangout?
In town, locals go to Bar Miramar, sit on the Malecon, especially in the evenings because of the heat. La Ventana del Mar is pretty high end and many north beach peeps hang at the pool – Pete’s Camp has many expats living there and they have a restaurant/bar. Al’s BackStreet Bar (Actually, El Marinero, but nicknamed Backstreet as it’s in an Alley). Parrot’s Cracker out north for peeps who live out there.
Wait! There’s more!!
San Felipe has a place for all walks of life – whether you want to live in a gated community; on the beach out south or in town; campos tend to have their own little cliques, but there’s a price range for everyone. I won’t say we don’t have crime, because we do, but the only people shot or stabbed lately were between gringos. We also get some real nut cases to professionals to artists who all tend to meld one way or another.
La Morena’s Shrimp Platter: Coconut Shrimp, Pistachio Shrimp, Mango Shrimp, and Shrimp Deep Fried with Cheese.
Local expats playing along.
Kat first came to San Felipe when her 37 year old daughter was four and returned 20 years later where she has lived and worked for nearly 20 years. Kat writes a daily column in San Felipe call “Kat’s Korner – the San Felipe Scoop”. (Katskorner.com.mx).
Hometown Tourist is where travelers go for verified recommendations from longtime locals and residents who know where to get the best food, to listen to the hottest local bands, to spend a quiet evening, or which tourist spots that are really worth visiting.
Every traveler wants travel tips from people who live in the city they’re visiting. Where do the locals hang out? Where is the best local eatery? What is the one must-see item in your town? Where is the best shopping? Who has the best happy hour? We all want to know.
This is not about reviews; it’s about recommendations. This is about people sharing their favorite restaurant, or that great spot to take an early morning stroll to catch that great view of the city, and the tourist attractions actually worth visiting. Who better to share that information than the locals, the people who live there?