An April 2004 trip
to San Carlos by btwood2
Quote: There are restaurants from fancy to roadside stands, corner markets and fresh produce stands, places to rest your weary head after days of water fun, beach adventures, exploration, or shopping. This journal includes but a small sampling of what’s available.
Food:San Carlos has a wide selection of restaurants, of which we barely nibbled the surface. For the meals we didn’t eat out, we sought out local grocery stores, although we heard there were bigger supermarkets in Guaymas, San Carlos’s larger "twin port" only 20 minutes south on the coast. At Super Carnes Santa Rosa, we bought, among other items, a package of high quality chorizo. It didn’t melt away as mostly fat and water when fried. Our best find, though, was a produce stand that’s open every day except Thursdays and Sundays, on one of the back streets behind Rosa’s Cantina. For a small stand, they had a wide selection of firm, fresh mostly local fruits and veggies, some dairy products, eggs, and meats, and surprisingly, fresh homemade nut breads by the loaf. Prices were very reasonable.
Highlights: One highlight of the places we stayed was the pool and beach area behind the Plaza San Carlos Hotel, bordering Playa Algodones, where we could have remained forever blissful under the palapas in the sun. Another highlight: the cheerful, homey atmosphere of Posada del Desierto, our inn near the marina that rents out seven studio apartments. Of the meals we ate out, both Bob’s and my favorite was the breakfast buffet at El Kiosko Cafeteria in the Plaza San Carlos Hotel.
Although we stayed at Posada del Desierto, a close second choice was Gringo Pete’s, on a hill overlooking the marina. Although the building may not win any architectural prizes, the condo Pete showed us looked spacious and comfortable, and had a view of the bay that would be hard to beat. Hotel rooms cost , condos .
If a person was going to be picky, they would have to mention that the Plaza isn’t immaculate. There’s a bit of peeling paint in the corners of the ceilings; there are a few small holes and tears in the curtains and bedspreads, and one bedspread had some spots on it. My biggest gripe: the locked mini-frig is one of those that’s packed full of expensive mini-drinks, and can’t be used for important items, like FOOD! But these minor flaws are more than made up for by the nice touches. The Kleenex and toilet paper are folded to resemble seashells. There is a water conservation policy posted. The lobby, hotel décor, and restaurants are stunning, making use of wide open spaces and lots of luxuriant tropical plant growth, most alive, some artificial.
But best of all is Plaza’s "backyard"! Walking through the back double doors, one is greeted by large, inviting swimming pools amidst a lot of greenery, an unimposing waterslide, a couple of palapa bars, and beyond, sand and sea! I didn’t even mention the spa, which is sometimes hot, sometimes warm, and sometimes lukewarm, depending on possibly too many variables to worry about. And I didn’t mention the fitness room, with a small collection of obligatory machines and a large stack of oversized pool/beach towels for the guests.
The steps that lead down to the beach put you in another world, a sandy refuge next to the sea, where there are white plastic beach chairs and loungers in the shade of a field of palapas. The staff of the Plaza are only too willing to take your order for whatever drink or tasty morsel you please, and will find you to deliver it. This is a wonderful place to enjoy a Corona while people-watching and waiting for the sunset. As you climb back up the steps, there are handy showers that will rinse you off, or if it’s only your feet that are sandy, a foot pool to dip and clean your feet and sandals.
The Plaza partners with Premier Vacation Club, the ILX resort next door. PVC has a sales office, an owners’ lounge, and a restaurant in the Plaza. PVC members are allowed to use the other facilities at the Plaza as well. Promotional tours introduce Plaza guests to PVC and its additional benefits. Plaza host fiestas, conferences, and provide venues for weddings and other events.
Member Rating 4 out of 5 on May 20, 2004
San Carlos Plaza Hotel and Resort
Paseo Mar Bermejo Nte. Lote No. 4
San Carlos, Mexico
Hotel | "Posada del Desierto"
After some deliberation we decided to stay for the 6 days remaining to us. Juan Carlos in the office let us pick the plates, cups, bowls, cutlery and cookware we thought we could use. We bought some basic items at nearby grocery stores, and soon our little kitchen was set up and ready to go, complete with shelves, drawer, small frig with freezer, and two-burner hotplate. We went to sit outside on our patio, and were greeted by. . . cats. I wasn’t sure if they belonged to the inn or were strays, but we found out from Juan Carlos later that the inn had adopted the entire family, mama and three sons. One had recently fallen ill, and Juan Carlos was nursing him back to health.
Staying here began to feel like home to us after a while. One of the real perks to staying at a place like this is the interesting people you’d probably never meet in fancier places. Our first neighbors were two clean-cut, well-dressed young men who arrived just before dawn. As we were eating brunch on the patio the next day, they left, carrying weapons. Probably undercover federales, we figured. Our next neighbors were a young couple. The young woman, stylish in short shorts and very high heels, explained she was a make-up artist who prepared women’s faces for weddings. Her work done, she and her boyfriend were planning to relax on the beach before heading back to Hermosillo. Another neighbor was Emma from Australia, a fascinating young woman who had been traveling for more than a year. When short on funds she’d work for a while, until she made enough to continue on. She was heading south to meet some surfing friends. Our last neighbors were Bonnie and Larry, who had sailed to Mexico from San Francisco, were now trying to sell their boat, and planned a move to Australia in three weeks!
Posada del Desierto is centrally located in the marina district. Its walls are painted a warm terra cotta and decorated with tiles, a painted iguana, and a laughing clay sun. A profusion of desert and tropical plants grow on the grounds and vine up the walls. Flowering bougainvillea and hibiscus brighten the scene even more. The cobblestone parking lot is fenced in and convenient to the rooms. Each room has its individual covered patio with table and chairs. There is also a common area covered by a large palapa. There are several restaurants nearby, including famous "Tequila’s. On Friday and Saturday, the live music wafting up from that popular spot imparted a festive feeling until late into the night.
Member Rating 5 out of 5 on May 20, 2004
Posada del Desierto Apartments
San Carlos, Mexico
Rates are $22 daily, $140 weekly, and $495 monthly, plus 17% tax. However, there is a 20% discount for cash. Reservations can be made online.
El Mirador RV Park
P.O. Box 439
San Carlos, Mexico
Cooking lessons, anyone? The park, established in 1983, has many standard amenities and some unusual ones, such as a fish cleaning station, and depending on availability, fresh produce and fish sold right in the park. 2006 update: New and helpful services at Totonaka are free Spanish language lessons by staff, and workshops in Mexican history, culture, and cooking. Free high speed DSL internet is available in the office, as well as WI-FI around the park. There’s also a pool, hot tub, clubhouse, first aid room, laundromat, a couple of restroom/shower buildings (remodeled as of early 2006), and barbecue areas on both sides of the park. There are plans to install a Jacuzzi in the near future. 24 hour security provides heightened safety.
Besides RV spaces and tents, there are 24 apartments for rent around the perimeter of the park. Occupancies up to 8 persons, price ranges from $25-100, depending on size of unit and presence of kitchen. Apartment guests may use all RV park facilities. The park is pet-friendly, but very strict that pets not disturb other campers and that owners pick up after their pets at all times.
If we decide to bring our motor home to San Carlos, it’s highly likely that we’d choose Totonaka RV Park.
2005-2006 full hookup RV rates are $20 a day, $120 a week, $390 a month, and continue to go down the longer the stay. Dry camping costs $12 daily, tent camping $10 daily. The 17% tax is included within the rates.
First reviewed May 2004, Updated 2006. Check out Totonaka’s new and improved website! E-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Member Rating 4 out of 5 on February 9, 2006
Totonaka RV Park
Blvd. M. F. Beltrones km. 8
San Carlos, Mexico 85506
+52 (622) 226-0481
Restaurant | "Joey Bistro; Joey Pizza; El Kiosko"
Joey Pizza:We returned another evening for pizza when my mouth was sufficiently recovered to chew it. This time we ordered a large combo for the two of us, but couldn’t finish it. Although the crust was medium thickness, the toppings were so generous that it was extremely filling. I could barely finish two pieces. There was enough pizza left over for Bob to have another go at it the next day.
El Kiosko The day we checked out, we enjoyed the breakfast buffet we’d been eyeing every morning in El Kiosko, appropriately enough, under a giant frame kiosk. The walls were painted with vibrant murals of tropical jungle scenes exhibiting large-billed parrots amidst lush green plants. We thoroughly enjoyed the food that was laid out on two long tables. There was a good selection of fresh fruit; I couldn’t get enough of the papayas! In addition to standard fare such as pastries, muffins, hot and cold cereals, milk, and real orange juice, both Mexican and American-style breakfast dishes were offered. I piled my plate with chilequiles, beef tenderloin tips rancheras, scrambled eggs, refried beans and a tortilla. The only disappointment was the puffed potatoes, which were just kind of blah. The tab came to 168 pesos, about $16.80. One night we got the munchies and ordered a piece of chocolate cake; it was to die for, rich and luscious.
Joey Pizza; El Kiosko
Paseo Mar Bermejo Nte. Lote No. 4
San Carlos, Mexico
Once inside, there are more arches and two-toned pink walls. The walls hold a large assortment of decorative objects; among them, sombreros, serapes, colorful masks, and old photographs. There are also painted murals of San Carlos, murals of children playing, murals of delectable tropical fruits. We arrived at 11 AM on a weekday, but there was still a steady stream of mostly Anglo customers. Of course, this is San Carlos, where many enjoy lives of leisure or are vacationing and aren’t governed by the clock. Rosa’s is a self-serve restaurant, and we ordered our meals at the counter. I ordered the special for that morning, huevos rancheros, and a large orange juice. Bob ordered ham and eggs. As we sat down to wait, I began sipping my orange juice and discovered it was a Tang-like drink - disappointment! But I immediately recalled I’d read or heard about that possibility, and mentally kicked myself for not making sure the orange juice was not simply orange-colored liquid. Next, when I picked up the sugar container to add some sugar to my coffee, I noticed a fly was buzzing around in it on top of the sugar. After releasing the fly from its sweet prison, I decided I’d trade that container for a flyless one on an adjoining empty table. After a short wait, our number was called, and we went to pick up our breakfasts on a huge tray. The huevos rancheros were swimming in a pool of tasty, just-right degree of spicy ranchero sauce, with refried beans and fresh corn tortillas on the side. Bob enjoyed his more Americanized breakfast of ham, eggs over medium, hash browns, and wheat toast. The total tab came to 122 pesos, or $12.20.
Rosa’s is open every single day from 6 AM to 9 PM, for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, serving a selection of both Mexican and American foods. The menu also includes desserts, beer, wine, and famous margaritas. They have a marked no-smoking section. We would return to Rosa’s, but I won’t order orange juice, and I will carefully check the sugar before shaking some out in my coffee.
Blvd M. F. Beltrones,
San Carlos, Mexico
Half an hour later found us seated in a cozy booth, sipping on pretty potent margarita on the rocks, even hungrier and planning what to order. We decided on sharing the classic chef salad, a huge bowl of lettuce, deli meats, cubes of cheese, and hard-boiled egg, for 50 pesos. The salad came ready to toss. Dressings came on the side. In addition to the salad, we shared one of the dozen signature sandwiches, the "Godfather", loaded with ham, genoa salami, prosciutto, provolone, lettuce, tomato slices, onion, pepperoncini, and black olives, drizzled with vinaigrette, all on a 10-inch roll – for 58 pesos. The sandwich came with potato salad and dill pickle spears. We were hungry enough to finish it all.
We liked the food well enough to return a second time, ordering a "Gringo" sandwich to go for our kayaking adventure. The Gringo features smoked turkey breast, bacon, jack cheese, lettuce, tomato slices, and onion, spread with honey-mustard dressing. According to the waitresses, Marina Cantina is owned by a young guy from Detroit, who is the son-in-law of the owner of the Edificio Marina San Carlos. This place is popular and has internet access, so you see people at the tables using their laptops while drinking or snacking. Seating choices are both indoors and outside on the covered patio. Appetizers and homemade soups are also on the menu, as are vegetarian choices and the option to create your own sandwich.
Marina Cantina and Deli
Marina San Carlos Building 5
San Carlos, Mexico
Rodeo, New Mexico