You roll into Puerto Penasco and don’t speak Spanish, but you’re hungry. The landscape is fairly flat but look out towards the sea, then lift your gaze to the large hill towering over the town. That’s Whale Hill and at the top, you’ll find Casa del Capitan. There’s a lighthouse next door. Let that be your guide. No Habla Espanol? No problem. It’s easy when you’re eating out here. The staff caters to visitors from both sides of the border.
Casa del Capitan is the highest restaurant in the area and a perfect spot to get your bearings. A round bar welcomes you inside the bright yellow, red, and blue establishment. There’s a spacious, multi-leveled dining room and a wide patio with splendid views of the Sea of Cortez, the strand of highrise resorts to the north-west and the main town below.
Mindful menus when eating out
Eating out in Puerto Penasco focuses on seafood. Shrimping and fishing have been the one constant in the region. The sea is rich here and it’s brought a notorious dilemma to focus. You may have heard of the plight of Vaquita Dolphins who are being run into distinction by illegal fishing. That’s not happening in Puerto Penasco as the small dolphins rarely swim near and favor the western side of the sea. The problem is complicated and worthy of a Hollywood potboiler including shady Chinese vendors wanting a fish-bladder with dubious health benefits, smugglers, secretive fishing, and a small, endangered creature caught in the cross-hairs.
If you want to make sure you’re eating responsibly, ask your waiter what’s local and ‘what’s in season’ for the freshest fish, shrimp, clams, and scallops.
Rocky Point becomes Puerto Penasco
Locals still call the area Rocky Point. Set along a sandy expanse that stretches for miles to the north and south, the port city has lifted itself from a series of setbacks. Prohibition in the US set investors south to build hotels and watering holes. A falling out left that in ruins. In 1936 Mexican President Cardenas gave the village its current name and formalized plans for a rail line to other points in the country. He also inspired a highway to the US – Arizona border, 65 miles away. That road still leads visitors into the city. From Phoenix it’s a three hour drive to the heart of town.
A few hotels remained but most visitors camped, fished and partied. In the early 1990’s, laws changed to allow more foreign investment and the tourist boom has been taking off ever since. Looking for a colorful, boutique experience or the heights of all-inclusive luxury? It’s all here. (Read about where to stay in this earlier post.)
There are hotels and restaurants sprinkled throughout the village. Looking for a snack? Try a fresh cut pineapple or sip from a coconut at one of the many vendor trucks or roadside stalls. The Malecon overflows with them. There are small local and large party bars, waterfront dining and rooms with a view.
It’s still a working marina with boats moored near but there are several party boats offering visitor sunset cruises and day trips when the winds allow.
See more of Puerto Penasco and the Marina in this video:
Eating out in the resorts
Don’t shy away from the resort restaurants when eating out in Puerto Penasco. They are many, beautiful dining rooms and creative chefs honoring traditional ingredients while taking them to new heights.
Eating out in Puerto Penasco, Mexico
- El Oktopus – Malecon bar and restaurant
- El Tapeo – Wine bar and Paella
- Casa del Capitan – At the top of Whale Hill, adjacent to the lighthouse
- Senorita Rita – Sunset Cruise from the Marina
- Tequilla Factory – Shop and tastings
- Citron – Steak and Seafood inside the Las Palomas Resort
- Miguel’s – Inside the Penasco del Sol Resort
- For more information: Come to Rocky Point Website
My trip to Puerto Penasco was hosted by the Rocky Point CVB but all opinions, pictures, and videos are my own.
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In addition to the wonderful food, Puerto Penasco is such a beautiful destination!! Great food; great location!!
Hey Elaine, I appreciate your sustainable approach. I wish more people were thinking this way, especially when travelling. Glad you go to eat well in Puerto Penasco even without speaking Spanish, it must have been lots of fun getting around.
Language wasn’t a problem. Lots of ‘Zonies’ vacationing over the years!
Looks like a fabulous place to visit—food, water and a Malecon!
Absolutely a winning combination.
Look at all that amazing food – I’m starving now. Puerto Penasco looks like the perfect place to enjoy fabulous Mexican cuisine, especially all of that delicious seafood. That paella platter is one of the most loaded I’ve ever seen. It must have been so good!
It was a wonderful place to vacation for a few days and yes, that food just didn’t stop!
That seafood, especially the shrimp and lobster, has my mouth watering! (And I’m glad the dolphins are steering clear). I hadn’t heard of Puerto Penasco before – – it looks like a fantastic getaway spot.
It’s a great vacation spot from affordable to luxury.
Good information to know about the Vaquita Dolphins …its great to hear its possible to dine without worry in Puerto Penasco
Eating responsibly is a skill we all need to practice wherever we are.
This is the first time, i read a blog on Puerto Penasco. Wow, what a vibrant city with full of eating joint. It look like a mecca for sea food. Being a vegetarian, I would like to know about veg food scene out there. Would like to taste tequila inside tequila factory.
There are many vegetarian options as well as gluten free. The Tequila wouldn’t be a problem either 😉
I love seafood! This would be a new Mexican destination for me. Good to know! Thank you!
YOu are welcome, Ursula
Ay. Another blog post I was foolish to read right about the time late night munchies strike. We spent some time in Baja California Sur last winter, and also across the Sea of Cortez in Sinoloa state. Yes, that Sinoloa. It was both inspiring and tragic to see the locals trying to boost their economy while confronting the very bad press about drug cartels. Maybe if enough “good guys” visit, the “good people” will win.
I hope you’re right about the good guys winning. It’s a problem throughout the country and the US!
One of the things that stuck out to me during my 3 month stay in Mexico was just the amount of diversity in their food, I loved the fresh sea food along beach towns and the whole hearty foods inland. Just the other day I was saying to a work colleague how I miss the taco stands of Mexico haha. And, I was the same the first few days I knew no Spanish and trying to order in restaurants was a fun challenge. I think Pechuga was one of the first words I learnt haha.
Good for you for going! Each region in Mexico has it’s own special foods and spices. I have much more to explore.
Wow, we need to visit Puerto Penasco! Rob went regularly when he was in high school. We won’t say how many years ago that was, but when he checked on Google Maps, he didn’t recognize it. Nor any of the places in your post. Time to get that kid back to Rocky Point! Thank you for opening our eyes and sharing on #TheWeeklyPostcard.
I’m sure the city is constantly morphing but especially with the renewed investments in tourism.
There are so many great options in Puerto Penasco! The Paella platter looks mouthwatering! So much delicious seafood and such big portion!
That platter was shared with the group! But yes, there’s a lot to savor in Puerto Penasco.
That guacamole looks incredible!
I wish I liked avocado more and could agree!
Great photos, great to experience a little bit of Mexico through your photos.
Thanks, Sarah, I hope you visit one day.
Looks like you can truly eat like a king there! The locally-grown avocado guac sounds absolutely delicious. The waterfront dining options at The Malecon also sound like a lovely way to enjoy a meal. Thanks for sharing!
Thank you, Alyse. I love Mexico and especially beach cities.
Looks like an amazing place to eat and drink. The food looks so fresh especially the seafood that’s caught locally and prepared fresh off the boat. Looks like a great place to relax on the beach eat and drink
You are so right about eating local seafood. Definitely a great place to kick back.
I’ve been hearing about Rocky Point from my Arizona family for years – I had no idea its history! Now I’ll know where to go when I finally join them one year!
Now you know you have to go!
Nice post – I love Mexican food and you’ve certainly picked the best pieces for us. Buon provecho!
Thank you, Renata. Mucho gusto!
I would for sure hit up the road side food stalls and the tequila factory!
Great and fun choices, Sherianne.
I love Mexican food – and some of those dishes look incredible. Good tips though to ask about what is fresh and local. What was your own personal favourite?
I loved the Paella. Usually served near the beach and I’m a happy clam!
The location of Casa del Capitan seems fantastic: up on the hill and next to a lighthouse. I am not a great fan of sea food, since there are very few things that I am not allergic to, but the place definitely seems to be a good choice if you like sea food. I’m sure however they have lots of other great dishes I could enjoy. If only I could ever make it to Penasco. It’s been ages since we’ve been to Mexico. #TheWeeklyPostcard
Dear Anda, there’s much more than seafood to indulge in in Puerto Penasco and you’d love the glamorous resorts.
Fantastic guide to places in Penasco to eat. They look so yummy and worth checking out. Now where’s my Atlas…where is Penasco? 😀 But I sure want to visit it now.
You’ll find the city in the northeastern reach of the Sea of Cortez, just south of Arizona!
These are great tips, not only for eating well, but for eating sustainable and responsible seafood. I personally don’t eat seafood, but I’m glad to see this town is not contributing to the very sad killings of the vaquita. Also, as a Spanish teacher, I can’t believe I’ve never been to Mexico! This is just adding more and more fuel to my fire of wanting to go!!
I hope you do and don’t believe the hype about dangers. Use your experience as a traveler and gut instincts wherever you go on either side of the border.
OMG you are making me drool with all these photos! The food looks amazing there, and I love that your focus is on mindful menus. That paella platter is totally calling my name!
YOu’d love the town. Great music, beautiful places and that beach too.