the burger: cheddar and oaxacan cheeseburger with fries
the bucks: $135 pesos($9.21 at current exchange rate)
the coordinates: san jose del cabo, mexico
Food is a pretty big damn deal down in Old Mexico. It’s a huge reason why I have traveled there 7 times in the last 8 years. Take in the fact that this is a country of 31 states(32 if you count Mexico City) and you’ve only just begun to crack the textbook on understanding the foodscape of our great neighbor to the south. And then you have to consider that Mexico City is as global a metropolis as they get; meaning they can rep major cuisines from all over the world and all over Mexico. Despite how much we might misunderstand and misinterpret America’s #1 ethnic cuisine, they sure do get us; which is why in tourists havens like Cabo San Lucas, burgers abound. But there are still cardinal eating rules that I follow and as I’m sure you know if you frequent Bang for your Burger Buck, not all burger are created equal. Typically when I’m traveling in foreign lands I try my best to eat as the locals do. Down in Baja that means eating as much seafood as I can get my hands on, from taco stands that cab drivers frequent like Taqueria Rossy, hitting up a random seafood shack for the highly acclaimed live chocolate clam, or venturing down a dirt road that dead ends into a beach to buy a fresh catch of baby yellowfin tuna. But Baja can pull off more than just seafood, case in point: Teo Bar and Grill, where the organic beef being cooked over smoldering mesquite will have you drooling about burgers as much as one of those bowls of stunningly fresh seabass ceviche.
Teo’s has a reputation for burgers that is justifiably divine and ranks pretty well on Google too. My initial internet recon indicated that this Bar and Grill also leads a double life as a legit Cabo dining destination. A fact confirmed when assets on the ground(me) eyed Chef Alfredo Aguilar procuring quality ingredients like the aforementioned insanely fresh local seafood and his organic produce, as in from Chef’s own organic garden, organic. And that’s what makes Teo’s a burger stand out. In this part of the world some expats and tourists are just a little too desperate for their ground chuck fix. The fact is there are more than a few disappointing burgers down in these parts and they ain’t exactly cheap. Taco stands dominate the cheap street food scene and so the path to Bang for your Burger Buck in Cabo is wrought with dreaded tourists traps. Shameful establishments who have the habit of slinging preformed frozen patties, buns with no heart and toppings that came in squeezable travel packets. Oh and the prices get boosted because these bovine robber barons have a waitstaff and serve booze. Ouch.
These given circumstances put the $9 house cheeseburger at Teo’s Bar and Grill into good perspective. It comes with fries, as do all of the 13 burgers on the menu. A bit to my chagrin I might add, as I find the mandatory carbohydrate policy puts tempting options like the Patty Melt with Oaxacan cheese and Guajillo chile sauce, regrettably outside the range of Bang for your Burger Buck. But hey, nothing is perfect, not even in Baja. What is perfect is that Teo’s will honor a request of double cheese for no extra tariff. Between this hefty burger and a plate load of taters, you are walking away full no matter how many Coronas you knocked off last night.
Fries aside, the house cheeseburger at Teo’s is a serious mouthful of beef and cheese, each deserving top billing as stars of this burger blockbuster. Cheddar is a familiar coagulated milk protein affair, but the Oaxacan? Not so much. Mild like Monterrey Jack, this cheese is cherished for it’s chewy texture as much as it’s easy going flavor. The cheese softens quickly with heat, so when this burger was pressed, the salty cheddar binds with the buttery Oaxacan, making for one complex and rich layer of queso. A couple bites in and you may find yourself wondering what Teo could do in the cheesesteak genre. And of course there is that organic beef, whose premium nuances truthfully get lost in the heavy char of the Mesquite. The lettuce and tomato come from Teo’s garden, the bun was as top tier as any you would find in a hipster flocked gastropub and this burger was just hefty enough to play stunt double in a Carl’s Jr commercial. One element that was literally lost in translation was receiving a burger cooked to the Bang standard temp of Medium Rare. I would love to see this burger served about 15 degrees cooler and I’ll definitely have to brush up on my Spanish to nail the “Medium Rare/Poco Hecho” on my next visit.
But even a Medium Well Burger will not deter your Bang for your Burger Buck experience and enjoy the best burger in San Jose Del Cabo or anywhere else in South Baja. I rarely bring up atmosphere in Bang, but good lord is the atmosphere the 6th man at Teo’s. This is exactly the type of bar you imagine spending hours, if not days in, on your beach vacation and it’s not even on the beach, but smack in the middle of town. And as always there is the man behind the burger, Alfredo Aguilar, a chef who quietly pushes top tier ingredients onto his menu without all the pomp of the brand marketing fanfare his gringo counterparts do. Niman Ranch may not be on the menu, but the very same soul of good farming is alive and well here, make no mistake about that. Like the vacation itself that brought me to this gorgeous corner of the world, Teo Bar and Grill is an experience that may seem at first glance to be a bit of a splurge, but quickly becomes a place you cannot wait to return to. And lucky for you that I remembered to bring a back a map: