The Best Cafes and Restaurants in San Pancho, Mexico

Last updated on January 12, 2024

Baja Takeria veggie taco

One of the joys of San Pancho, Mexico is its food. After six months there, I never got bored of it and still miss it to this day. Here’s our round-up of the best San Pancho restaurants.

I’ve updated it for 2021 with some help from friends who still live in San Pancho who have to identify the best places to eat in San Pancho now.

Also see this post with all the best things to do in San Pancho, Mexico.

The best restaurants in San Pancho, Mexico

Bistro Cielo Rojo

Vegan Chorizo Cielo Rojo San Pancho, Mexico

We ate more breakfasts here than our budget cares to admit, but it was worth every penny. The breakfast/brunch menu is entirely vegetarian minus one fish dish, and it’s consistently delicious, featuring Mexican favourites as well as other more unusual dishes.

The spinach omelette, vegan chorizo and huevos rancheros were our favourites, always accompanied by a capomo.

We also loved the tequilla tasting on Fridays, which included one free shot of the house special as well as a a flight of three for 120 pesos. It was a great way to start the evening.

The garden setting is suited to everything from a working breakfast to a romantic meal, and the best thing about Cielo Rojo is that everything is organic – an even better excuse to visit there.

Maria’s

It’s crazy we don’t have a photo of of Maria’s as we went there all the time. Steve was a massive fan of the pesto omelette and I loved the green smoothie, filled with delicious veg.

The service in Maria’s is always super friendly and the restaurant has a tropical, laid-back vibe.

It’s also has one of the best internet connections in town. And they often host live music.

La Patrona Polo Club

Veg and sunflower at Sayulita organic market

Yes, that’s right, tiny San Pancho has a polo club – and a very fancy one at that. In fact, a world-class polo training field is also being built just on the edge of town.

Not being our usual scene, we weren’t regulars at La Patrona, only going for the occasional night of live music – that is until we discovered the brunch. For 200 pesos, you get an all-you-can-eat-and-drink buffet, as well as watch a practice game. 

We went one Sunday for a celebration, tried a mimosa in every colour, and from then on looked for any excuse to return.

Taqueria Los Arbolitos

I’m told that now Delfin has gone, Taqueria Los Arbolitos is the place to go for an authentic taco experience, complete with homemade tortillas, all the taco trimmings, and plastic chairs on the streets to enjoy them from. The salsa bar is apparently on par with the one I loved at Delfin.

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Burrito Pinata – Entre Amigos

Vegan meal at Entre Amigos in San Pancho, Mexico

Entre Amigos was one of our favourite things about San Pancho and we were big fans of Entre Amigos, its on-site vegan cafe. That has now closed, but Burrito Pinata has opened in its place.

It follows the same vibe with vegetarian and vegan food at budget prices. For 10 pesos, you can get a three-course meal and drink.

Mar Plata

Mar Plata San pancho

Mar Plata is the sister of Cafe del Mar and even more so for treats only. It’s the number-one spot for upmarket dining in town, with gorgeous views of the beach and a gourmet menu with enough vegetarian options to please. We went there twice and loved taking in the sunset, and gorging on fine food and drinks.

Dolce Amore and Jardin Amore

Dolce Amore restaurant in San pancho

San Pancho’s local Italian restuarant, Dolce Amore, is the perfect place to go for a group dinner. The pasta dishes and salads are so huge that they need to be shared. It’s also bring-your-own alcohol, which is great for avoiding any kerfuffle over the bill.

They now have a second restaurant across the street, Jardin Amore where you can order their popular pizza, as well as international dishes such as steak and fondue.

Barracuda

Barracuda is a favourite with seafood lovers, serving fresh seafood in simple but inventive ways. We’re vegetarian so didn’t eat there, but all the reviews are exemplary.

They also often host live music events.

La Ola Rica

I’m on the fence about whether to include this in the list as we only went there once, and while it was good, it didn’t really have the magic of the more casual San Pancho restaurants. It’s a favourite with lots of the older ex-pats in town and popular with tourists too. The food is upscale international cuisine and the prices mean its one best deserved for treat nights.

El Gallo

We’re sad that Casa Emilia has gone, but we hear El Gallo is a great replacement for excellent Mexican breakfasts, all served outdoors and with a lovely community vibe. They also host salsa nights on Fridays.

Mr.Ribs

As a vegetarian, this isn’t one that appeals to me, but meat lovers are big fans of its American-style BBQ menu.

Itzalanyasayan

Another new one for me, Itzalanyasayan serves fresh Mexican food with a twist, such as salad bowls,

Cafes in San Pancho

Cafe Mañana

For our first few months in San Pancho, we wished for one of our digital nomad musts – a great café with wi-fi where one can comfortably while away a few hours working. There are a few options in town but nothing hit the spot quite like the arrival of Café Manana.

This stylish, homely café doubles as an artisan store and book shop. Run by the wonderful Jill and Lincoln, it’s one of our favourite cafes in the world.

Upstairs is especially wonderful, with spacious wooden tables and garden views of gorgeous Bougainvillea.

The cakes are incredible and the perfect size for a morning treat. I tried to try them all, and loved each and every one. Sadly we failed to get a photo (I was too distracted by the cakes).

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Café Paraiso

Coffee and cakes at Cafe Paraiso San Pancho, Mexico

Although I do love to sometimes be off the beaten track where tourists are an anomaly rather than expected, there are certain benefits to being in a traveller-friendly town. One such joy is a frappuccino and a bloody good cupcake. Paraiso delivers on both counts.

The brownies are unmissable. (Thank you Never Ending Voyage for the lovely photo above)

Kokonati

Kokonati is another place that has opened since we left San Pancho and get great reviews. It’s primarily a cafe with coffe, pastries and empanadas, but they also serve up brunch dishes too.

Mexicolate

Oh my, if only this had been in San Pancho when I lived there! Mexicolate is a chocolate bar serving smoothies, hot drinks, truffles, chocolate bars and more. It looks amazing!!

Bars in San Pancho

La Baba del Diablo

Mmmmm, mezcal – one of the best things to come out of Mexico and La Baba del Diablo is dedicated to it. They host regular events, such as karaoke, DJs and general all-round fun. Wish it had been there when we lived in San Pancho!

Cervecería Artesanal de San Pancho

Wow, a brewery in San Pancho?! Cervecería Artesanal is another new one and a big favourite with visitors and ex-pats. Started by an ex-pat from Portland, it’s based on the scene there and serves craft beer as well as food such as cheese plates and fries.

Food markets in San Pancho

Mercado del Pueblo and Mercado Artesanal

Sayulita market goodies

It isn’t in San Pancho, but I want to mention the Sayulita organic market (Mercado del Pueblo). Filled with yummy organic produce and artisan products, it was the perfect place to spend a Friday morning listening to the live music and eating from the plethora of awesome stalls. A man specialising in Thai vegatables, and another serving cacao shots were favourties.

Since leaving San Pancho ourselves, we’ve now learned there’s a version of the Sayulita market in San Pancho, which happens on Tuesdays. The Mercado Artesanal San Pancho is similar to its Sayulita sister with crafts and food stalls, plus live music too.

Old favourites that have now closed

Baja Takeria

Baja Takeria veggie taco

Ahhh, Baja Takeria has closed! So sad about this as the modern, livley taco restaurant was a favourite lunch stop for us with tasty grilled vegetable tacos, burritos and quesadillas. The chipotle mayo was off-the-scale excellent. Maybe one day it’ll return?!

Delfin

Salsas at Delfin

There’s something wonderfully satisfying about a table of pick-your-own salads and salsas, and Delfin has the best in San Pancho. The traditional taco shop sells a super-cheap variety of Mexican treats like tacos and quesadillas, which you can then fill with your choice from the salad bar. We went there at the very least twice a week, and always wished it were open in the daytime. P.S. Thank you Shannon for the photo.

Darjeeling

Pizza at Darjeeling

Darjeeling was our number one favourite night spot in San Pancho. It’s laid-back vibe embodied the San Pancho spirit and we spent many an evening there enjoying the town’s best pizza, drinking from the extensive tea menu and enjoying live music. As anyone new to Darjeeling was always told, the pizzas are all about the condiments. Oh my, I miss them!

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Also don’t forget the tea – Carlos was the resident aficionado and his passion was catching. Darjeeling was also our favourite place to watch the local bands. Thank you Never Ending Voyage for this photo (San Pancho attracted all the bloggers!)

Casa Emilia

Huevos divorciados Casa Emilia San Pancho

Casa Emilia restaurant, a contender for best breakfast in town, was on the corner opposite our house so it was a forever temptation to go there. The menu has a wide selection of vegetarian options including Mexican specials, as well as bagels and omelettes. We recommend trying the huitlacoche (also known as corn smut!) omelette.

Cafe del Mar

CAFE DEL MAR San pancho

This was one of the first places I went to in San Pancho, thirsty for a break from my yoga teacher training course. On our days off, the teachers and I would prop up the bar, treating ourselves to mojitos and wine. Later it became the after-yoga breakfast spot for my class and served the best pastries in town.

As an evening bar, Cafe del Mar is a stylish place with good food, and Steve and I would likely have spent a lot more time there if we had the budget to match. Instead, it was strictly for treats only – which would always be the incredible ice-cream sundae, stacked with caramelised nuts and homemade chocolate sauce.

Cafe Arte

Cat at Cafe Arte San Pancho

On quiet nights at Cafe Arte, the resident cat would take up a seat at her favourite table. She had the air of an elegant woman, patiently waiting for her lover to return (or perhaps to just get served). She’s quite the celebrity in town. Cafe Arte is also worth a visit for its food, which includes pizzas and wonderful homemade pasta.

33 thoughts on “The Best Cafes and Restaurants in San Pancho, Mexico”

    • We’re in a bit of a flux right now in the UK rushing around. We miss San Pancho lots but are also looking forward to Bali!

      Reply
  1. I love your posts about San Pancho, and can’t wait to visit there one day. It’s so wonderful when you can really connect with a place in the way you guys have been able to do here. I’m looking forward to reading your stories from Bali as well – and of course, to meeting you there!

    Reply
  2. Definitely moving here next January to escape the cold, brutal Michigan winter.

    Thanks for the inspiration and all the valuable information!

    Reply
    • That’s wonderful to hear. I’m delighted to send anyone to San Pancho. It’s such a great place and the perfect place to escape the cold!

      Reply
  3. Damn San Pancho looks like a lot of fun. I have long wanted to take part in an Ibogaine or Ayahuasca Ceremony and will be interested to hear what you have to say about it.

    Reply
      • Ibogaine or Ayahuasca
        I’m old and sick with heart failure
        I do drink too much.
        Will this treatment help me?
        What does it do?

        Reply
        • Sorry to hear you’ve been unwell, but I’m afraid that’s a question for a professional. I’m afraid I have no expertise in the subject. Good luck with it all!

          Reply
  4. Wine and brownies?! Ohhhhhhhhhh man…might have to put Mexico on the list for this year…

    San Pancho seems like such a beautiful, cool place. Is it similar to Pai?

    Reply
    • I haven’t been to Pai, but from what I’ve heard I’d say Sayulita is more similar to Pai. San Pancho is even quieter.

      Reply
    • Oooooh, that could definitely have been an added reason. There are some incredible birds in San Pancho, and I know that you Luis are a trusted guide at Birding San Pancho.

      Reply
  5. hola soy sergio from dolce amore restaurante we saw the picture the comments and your web site is really nice thank u very much for visit us and the picture ,,,, is a very nice idea youre website for the tourism
    ciao e grazie

    Reply
    • No problem Sergio. We loved it at your place. It was always a pleasure walking by and smelling the amazing food. We look forward to seeing you next year!

      Reply
  6. You had me at the waiting cat! Great log of things to do and see. The pictures are breathtaking.

    I’d love to hear more about your yoga travels!

    Reply
  7. Lovely posting about my favourite home. Of course there is no end of new things to see, here; but mention must be made of the “flocks” of butterflies that abound. I hope I get to meet you the next time you are here.

    Hasta luego.

    Reply
  8. hi victoria –

    I’ll be arriving in san pancho this week and have found your travel musings and experience quite inspiring – thank you!

    do most of the restaurants in san pancho take credit cards or should I stock up on pesos? or is there an ATM in town?

    Reply
    • Great you’re off to San Pancho? Have a great time. If I remember correctly, most places don’t take cards. There are a few ATMs in town but they can be a little sporadic. It’s rare that none of them are working at the same time for more than one day. Bring some extra pesos just in case, but you should be fine. Have fun!
      Oh and it’s best to take a large amount out at one time as you have to pay for the ATM.

      Reply
  9. Hi Victoria, enjoyed your blog and inspired us to road trip down to Mexico for a month. We have stayed in Sayulita in the past during the low season and really enjoyed it. We were thinking about spending a few weeks in both places in June, but was wondering if you have any info on San Pancho in June. I know its the low season and lots of shops shut down like Sayulita but was wondering if enough places stay open to do a few things. We are simple folks, be nice if a restaurant or two was still open and could get a coffee or cold beverage. Best of luck to you, Rich

    Reply
  10. Hi Victoria, the heading ” Tea and Pizza at Darjeeling ” … kind of almost made me take a trip down my ” Old memory lane “. You see I came from a place close to a hill station also known as Darjeeling on the eastern side of India. While … yes you may still get a small cozy roof terrace to make a temporary office, having a meal of Tea with Pizza might sound deliciously unusual. BTW, I just love the article and the colorful pictures

    Reply
  11. Hi Victoria!

    I thank you for such a wonderful and detailed piece. I am considering relocating. To San Poncho, and was wondering how realistic it is for an american to find work? I have traveled for years in various occupations in hospitality. Is this a possibility here or surrounding?
    Your input would be much appreciated !
    All the best,

    Noel D

    Reply
    • Hi Noel, I’m really sorry but I’m not sure. It’s been a while since I was in San Pancho, plus I had no expereicne of looking for work while I was there. Sorry not to be more useful.
      My best, Victoria

      Reply

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