The beautiful dining room still exists entirely outdoors and looks almost exactly as I remember, with large cozy booths surrounding the perimeter, shrouded amid lush tropical landscaping — a veritable oasis in the desert. Dozens of oscillating fans create a constant, pleasant breeze.
After arriving at the restaurant’s dusty parking lot, you still need to walk through an intentional forest of palm trees that obscures the restaurant from view. And when you get to the end of that tropical path, the architecture reveals itself rather dramatically. It is a stunning first impression and one of my favorite things about this place.
Here’s what’s changed:
The big wood-fired rotisserie? It’s gone, and that’s unfortunate. The rotisserie was the heartbeat of the restaurant on my last visit. It set a mood and filled the air with intoxicating, pulsating aromas. It created an ambiance that viscerally anchored Acre into its magically singular sense of place. On Sundays, a hog roasted slowly on that spit throughout the day, and by nightfall the chefs would carve lumps of fork-tender meat from the whole animal as it dripped above smoldering embers. But not any more.
In its place, the owners have built a fancy, modern outdoor kitchen in which they have installed state-of-the-art gas and electric appliances. I suppose this makes things easier for the staff, but it feels like a big piece of the restaurant’s soul has gone missing.
And there’s a new chef at the helm. When the restaurant opened in 2015, two young mavericks from Los Angeles, Kevin Luzande and Oscar Torres, ran the show. Their cooking was absolutely thrilling — the food, edgy yet familiar. They served beef heart tartare and cooked fried chicken from special little hens harvested from a nearby farm when the birds reached exactly 32 days of age. They cured local amberjack with hibiscus flowers and served it in the style of gravlax atop tiny blinis flavored with beets from the farm. They left the restaurant in 2018.
Taking their place was Larbi Dahrouch, who had previously served as executive chef at the lavish One & Only Palmilla overlooking the Sea of Cortes. Dahrouch brought decades of experience to the farm — far more than the original duo. But he surprisingly departed just weeks before my most recent visit. His departure created an opening for a young chef named Diego Moles to step into the top role at Acre. While he had already been serving as chef de cuisine under Darouch for three years, this is Moles’ first posting as executive chef.
The menu is entirely different from what I experienced before. It feels like everything has been pulled back from the cutting edge and realigned with a more classical Los Cabos hotel-restaurant sensibility. That’s not a complaint because, to be clear, everything I sampled on this visit was delicious. But anyone who read my original review should be aware that the current menu doesn’t have the pizazz, or element of surprise, that it did under Luzande and Torres. It feels less like a destination restaurant and more like the sort of place you could casually eat multiple times a week. You’ll want to adjust your expectations accordingly.
That said, there’s a wonderful salad of baby beets from the farm, some roasted, some pickled, all paired with Greek yogurt. I enjoyed pristinely fresh kampachi sashimi and a ceviche made with local totoaba and mangos, plus a fine piece of roasted fish although nothing out of the ordinary. There was even a nostalgic entree of roasted suckling pig, which, while the pig lacked that sultry, wood-fired character of yore was nonetheless very good. My favorite thing on the menu here, however, was the carne asada taco with caramelized onions and paper-thin blue-corn tortillas.
The mezcal cocktails with freshly squeezed juices were as impressive as ever (Acre bottles its own brand of mezcal now). And I found the frozen key lime pie to be utterly refreshing as the temperature in the desert inched toward 90 degrees.
It’s important to note that Acre’s footprint within the 25-acre farm has expanded exponentially since opening in 2016. No longer just a restaurant and bar, the development now includes a hotel made up of a dozen stilted “treehouse” rooms hidden amidst the palms. Plus full-sized residences; they’ve already built and sold a half dozen fractional-ownership homes and plan to construct dozens more. There’s an extremely sexy little swimming pool for hotel guests and residents to enjoy, and they’ve already begun work on a second pool. Another separate restaurant called Fausto’s Diner serves breakfast and lunch.
But it’s not just hospitality and real estate. The farm now includes an animal sanctuary and dog rescue, plus a community food kitchen and art studio. Acre has evolved into a small, self-contained village complete with a three-row golf cart for giving tours to prospective home owners.
This is clearly not the same Acre that I visited and fell in love with five years ago. It feels far more corporate, less maverick. But I suspect it now enjoys a level of mass appeal and financial success that may have eluded the owners in the beginning.
While the food at the signature restaurant is far less adventurous than it used to be, this is still a very good place to eat — in an incredible atmosphere. I continue to highly recommend Acre as a fun diversion from Los Cabos’ resort-centric dining scene.