Tortilla Soup at The Office
A lusciously flavored tortilla soup at The Office in Cabo San Lucas.
In August, the weather in New York alternates between too warm, too wet and too questionable. Also, I'm not in the Hampton's (I can't imagine what that's like), or Montauk (I wish), or even Fire Island (alas). This confluence of weather and lack of travel makes me think back to my trip to Mexico a few short months ago.
It was my first time traveling to Cabo San Lucas, a small city on the southern tip of Baja, Mexico. To be somewhere new, and far from Manhattan, was really all I cared about. We spent the early morning on our small semi-circular balcony, which overlooked a pool and the hook-shaped coast line, then we would walk down to a little outdoor cafe for our morning coffee, then we chose from three pools (real hard) to sit by in the afternoon. This pattern remained unchanged save for one ambitious morning when Mom and I went kayaking out to El Arco and back, but that's another story.
Our hotel was just a few short steps from the ocean, and also, as luck would have it, The Office. An institution along the ocean strip, The Office has been around since the seventies, which Mom said was the last time she had been to Cabo (with my Dad, yet another story). The open-air restaurant is easy to spot by the giant tree hovering above it and the thatched roof covering a few small areas. The rest of the restaurant is covered with umbrellas, tourists and sand. A sweet man at the front greeted us like we were family, I know, it's what they do (we were tourists), but he did it with such ease that it didn't feel like a trap. We smiled and, as I was distracted by the hundreds of bottles of tequila in the waiting area, Mom told him we wanted a table for two.
Tequila for days.
Karyn, my girlfriend who was getting married, and was the reason for our travels, had mentioned repeatedly the tortilla soup at The Office, so I already knew what I wanted. Nonetheless I looked over the menu, ogling my usual things: anything with avocado, jicama, lobster or shrimp.
The soup arrived and, as it was placed atop the bright pink tablecloth, I thought a cookbook shot in this location would be stunning. The bowl was stacked high with crispy shards of tortilla chips, thick chunks of avocado, strips of pasilla chiles, queso panela and a sprig of epazote. The base looked to be heavy on tomatoes mingling in with the chicken broth. I could feel the heat tingling on my tongue from the chili, and to amp it up I crushed in the sprigs that were garnished on top. I ate the soup slowly, pausing to have a sip of Mom's margarita (too strong), or to pile a chip high with guacamole. Everything about this restaurant is ideal. You're basically sitting on the beach and looking at the tip of Baja. Too, you are most definitely not at the office.
Here are a few recipes to try, all lean towards the traditional, which is my favorite: Rick Bayless, Food & Wine, and Bon Appétit.
Note: as a diabetic this is a perfect meal. It's low carb, as long as you don't eat a ton of chips, it has a mid-level amount of fat, and it has protein if you add chicken to it (or you can just have the protein from the cheese). It's also fairly low in calorie depending on the quantity of cheese and oil.