Dining Out In Cabarete

Sea Horse Ranch, Beach Club Restaurant

Beach Club Restaurant in Sea Horse Ranch

Great variety of restaurants between Sosua and Cabarete!

For the combination of qualities that we like in tropical dining, I put The Beach Club restaurant at Sea Horse Ranch first on my list. Despite the inference of the name, it is open to the public.

You will be hard-pressed to find its equal for location and setting—surrounded by woods, smack-dab next to the ocean with a view sweeping out to the horizon, on a limestone bluff overlooking the beach, a wide expanse of forest-lined shore, with the sound of surf breaking on the rocks below.

There is no view of civilization, no sound of civilization; just the ocean and the wind. This is not a huge, bustling restaurant. It is personal. Seats maybe 35, so you do not feel rushed. More importantly, you are not rushed.

And then there is the food: varied, creative, tasty and healthy. The menu has a wide variety of grilled fresh seafood, pasta, and pizzas. It has the classic Argentinean Churrasco steak with chimichurri (no, I don’t know, either) or ginger sauce, $28.50. Filet mignon comes in various styles: with porcini mushrooms, pepper or Gorgonzola sauces, $19.50. There is an array of lighter and lunch food ranging from grilled cheese and tomato to burgers and salads.

Foods of North Africa include Tabbouleh, Falafel platter, $10.50, Hummus, Shish-kabob, $19.50 and Fatoush salad. Top it off with the only Baklava on the North Coast, and you got a hell of meal in a 5-star setting. 12:00 pm – 10:30 pm, 7 days. 809 571-4995.

On the Main Beach

The most popular seafood restaurant on Cabarete’s main beach is Casita de Papi. The great thing about Cabarete is its informal lifestyle. So, when you eat out, you can dress down, or not change out of what you were dressed in all day, a wet bathing suit and bare feet. So it is with Casita de Papi—no dress code, which is true of all the restaurants, bars, and discotheque on the beach.

Casita de Papi’s signature dish is langoustines at 850 pesos ($20.60) or super-huge shrimp at 800 pesos ($19.50), or both, cooked in a light garlic cream sauce with a hint of saffron, served in the paella pan it was cooked in; enough for two, but they serve it for one. These dishes are 10-star delicious out of a possible 5. You do not have to think about ordering anything else. So don’t. You will go home with a happy belly and a smile on your face. “You did the right thing.”
Mondays through Saturdays 11 am to 11 pm. 809 986 3750

Top Ten

Of the ten top-rated restaurants in TripAdvisor’s (currently) 8,204 Caribbean restaurants, 2 are in Cabarete: Gordito’s Fresh Mex and Mojito Moment.

Taco Fish at El Gordito, Cabarete, DR

Taco Fish at El Gordito

Chichigua is on Kite Beach, named for the kiteboarding that goes on there, and which also dominates the surf scene of Cabarete. The people who kiteboard live an outdoor lifestyle and are usually committed to healthful eating. That is what Chichigua is all about—both.

It is one the beachside of the Extreme hotel, with a panoramic view of the beach, the ocean and, most importantly, the kiteboards riding on the Caribbean breezes.

It is breeze-swept and rustic—unpainted wood and a thatched roof. The food is varied and healthy from breakfast to lunch, to snacks, to dinner. It is more like home cooking than like restaurant food. That, in part, is what places it in the top ten of those 8,204 Caribbean restaurants.

Their feature foods are items that have bread made with organic whole wheat, yuca, and quinoa flour, with locally-grown, organic moringa herb (very healthy for ya) mixed in. Among these are pastelitos, which are empanada-like turnovers filled with ricotta and spinach (the house favorite}, pizza ingredients, Chinese vegetables, beef, pork or chicken, 65 pesos ($1.60). Also, a falafel sandwich made with pita bread of the same ingredients, 235 pesos ($5.70). Usually, whole wheat pita can overwhelm the falafel, but not so with the moringa bread. It compliments and uplifts, rather than buries the flavor. People say it is the best falafel since New York.

Daily specials as well 350- 550 pesos ($8.50-$13.35), served with steamed, locally-grown, fresh vegetables, rice or salsa. Moist cupcakes, 50 pesos ($1.20); fresh juices, 75 pesos ($1.80).

Despite its popularity, Gordito’s Fresh Mex is not on the beach where most of the popular ones are. This is along the main road in the shopping plaza of Ocean Dream condominium complex.

First off, it’s five stars *****. No, it is not formal, table service with haute cuisine.

Good restaurants that are not that get short-changed. “Good” of any classification should get recognition. And what Gorditio’s serves is tacos.

By five star, I mean it is what it is supposed to be and more. It tastes good, is filling > > > but not heavy in the stomach. That’s the trick. You are not gonna find a better, fast-serve taco place in the Dominican Republic.

Gordito's Fresh Mex in Cabarete

Wraps at Gordito’s in Cabarete

They use only fresh and homemade ingredients. Nothing is out of a can or a bottle. Zip. They cook their own beans and make three different “heats” of hot sauce. One is screaming-hot, hot sauce. Made with habaneros and sometimes scotch bonnet. Made without vinegar so your food does not taste like vinegar.

They got soft and crispy tacos (I like the crispy for the corn taste), burritos and bowls.

Crispy and soft tacos are 35 to 60 pesos ($.85-$1.45); burritos and bowls are 110 to 150 pesos ($2.65-$3.64).

The bean taco is the least expensive at 35 pesos ($.93). They got long-roasted, shredded pork at 60 pesos ($1.60). And when they got fish tacos, they sell out.

Why go to a Mex joint in the DR, you ask? Because it is good, fast and inexpensive. And people like it. People liking it is the same reason people eat at a pizza joint when visiting the DR. Besides, most of us are not travelers, we are vacationers. And then there are those who live here. We eat what we like.

If you want to know why so many Americans, Canadians, and Europeans live in Cabarete, this is the place to find out. Lots of expats eat here. It is expat central. It is the place to talk. This, and Mojitos.

Mojito’s Bar is on the beach, owned by an Italian couple from Capri. Capri has been a seaside resort since the Roman Republic, 2500 years ago, so they know something about the hospitality business—customer service, quality food, and drink. So do these people.

It is very popular with the ex-pat locals and Dominicans. When other restaurants are almost empty, this place is full. That speaks volumes. Their specialty, as the name implies, is Mojitos. Made when you order it; no pre-made, match-making, so it is not watered down. 120 pesos ($1.90). At happy hour, 2 for 1 at 170 pesos ($4.10). Try the passion fruit mojitos.

They have bruschettas, various paninis (fresh daily bread). Six days, 2:00 pm-3:00 am. Closed Tuesdays. mojitobar-cabarete.com, 809 864 0712. No reservations.

VacaBar, on the beach at Aqualina Kite Resort. Cami, the owner, is a French descent, Barcelona-trained chef. The restaurant sits high on a bluff with cooling breezes all the time. Her specialty is Eggs Benedict—a variety of them (yes, she has other food). With ham, 260 pesos ($6.31); with spinach or bacon, 280 pesos ($6.80); with sea bass, 300 pesos ($7.30); with avocado (you gotta ask for it) 280 pesos. How can you go wrong with all of this with hollandaise? You can’t. Served with two portions (because they are so da*ned good) of home fries with garlic (yummy) and tropical fruit salad. Breakfast all day, lunch, cocktails. Closed Mondays. 809 889 1198

Going Native

Comedor Ambar—it is where the locals eat. The real locals. The Dominicans. By no means fancy, by-all-means, good, if not great, home-made Dominican cooking. All of it is cooked over open wood fires in an unattached shed, typical of real tropical restaurants.

Eating as a local in Cabarete

Typically Dominican kitchen in the countryside

Most all the meats are “guisada” (braised), bones-in and long-cooked to get out all the flavor. Chicken is also either broiled over a wood fire or fried. They even have braised duck occasionally and braised liver. I suspect the duck comes from their own back yard and is sometimes goose. The liver and all beef are from 100%, grass-fed cows. No messing with corn at any time, 40 pesos ($1.00) for about 8 ounces. Any idea what this grass-feed beef would cost in the US, Canada or Europe? Yeah, a lot.

Most meats are 35 and 40 pesos ($.85-$1.00). They have killer-delicious rice (the caldron in the far left in the photo), smokey-flavor beans from the smoke of the wood fire, outstanding smokey-flavor, braised eggplant and other vegetables, 20 pesos ($.50) each.

Located across the street from the Roman Catholic church on a street called the Callejon, which is the first left-hand turn to the west of town. Six days, 11:30 am till the food runs out at night. Sundays, 11:30 am till the food runs out in the afternoon. No reservations. No phone. No website. Just show up.