Fat drips from a fifty-pound hog, splashing onto the fire. Sparks flicker into the hot Mexican air. The pig has been roasting over the mesquite embers since sunrise. The temperature outside is already sweltering, made even hotter by the blistering rotisserie, which is cranked by hand, inch-by-inch, throughout the day.
By 5 p.m., as the high-tide breeze begins to roll in gently from the ocean, the hog’s skin is dark and crispy and fragrant. The band, Aristo Cats, is several songs into their first set on a patio stage beneath the shade of the palm trees. Margaritas are flowing. Sangria, too.
It’s Sunday afternoon at Acre in San José del Cabo, where the end of the weekend — or start of the week; however you want to look at it — always culminates with a pig roast.
Acre is a fantastic new restaurant that opened in January just outside the city limits on a 25-acre farm.
This isn’t the first farm-to-table restaurant in Los Cabos to open on an actual farm surrounded by crops destined for the kitchen, but it is easily the sexiest. Guests arrive via dirt road through a winding valley gorge to the farm’s parking lot at the edge of a lush palm grove. From there, follow the modular cement path through trees. The restaurant will shortly come into view, the entrance of which is flanked by a giant cactus that must be at least 75 years old.
The dining room is outdoors on the shaded patio, which overlooks the gardens, which will soon include a swimming pool for its guests.
Acre aims to be as farm-to-table as possible, but a closer look at the surrounding fields suggests that agriculture isn’t the staff’s strong suit. “It was a short growing season for us this year,” one of the chefs tells me. We’re still getting the hang of it.”
Fortunately, there are other farmers nearby who are more experienced. A farmer down the road raises the hogs. The restaurant gets its chickens from another neighbor just over the hill. Those chickens are harvested at exactly 32 days, which makes for some very small birds, but I promise you this is also some of the most extraordinary fried chicken you will ever eat.
The chickens are part of the weekly family-style Sunday night menu, along with that fire-roasted pig. The rest of the week brings an à la carte menu of beef-heart tartare, charred local octopus, and locally-caught wahoo that is turned into truly extraordinary aguachile.
The young chefs in charge are Kevin Luzande and Oscar Torres, both of whom came of age in the kitchens of some of the finest chefs in Los Angeles, including Joachim Splichal, John Rivera Sedlar, Tony Esnault, Christophe Eme and Octavio Becerra.
Their work is cut out for them. Most people who vacation in Los Cabos never leave their hotels. The nicer the resort, the truer this is. That’s the whole point of a beach resort like this.
But this place aims to change that. This one of the few restaurants in Cabo that is genuinely good enough to lure people away from the gourmet comforts of the likes of Las Ventanas, Mar Adentro or Esperanza. Not just once, but again and again. They have captured an incredible sense of place that is uniquely Mexico and distinctly Cabo.
Hire a reputable private taxi. They’ll know how to get there and, for an extra few dollars, will most likely offer to sit and wait in the parking lot as long as it takes until you are ready to go back to your hotel.