Don Sanchez, created by owner and Executive Chef, Tadd Chapman, is a full immersion, culinary adventure where each item is thoughtfully created to produce an innovative, fun and sensual dining experience. They deliver high end cuisine and service while keeping the atmosphere relaxed and enjoyable. Dishes are artistically presented with a variety of sauces, sides and garnishes allowing each bite to be layered differently to extract an array of unique flavor profiles. Tadd Chapman is the only Chef I’ve ever met who encourages his guests to “play with their food”.
The restaurant features an extensive wine collection displayed throughout the dining area with over 300 labels from around the world. Dinner service includes a professional sommelier to assist in pairing the best “vino” to accentuate the flavors of every dish on the menu, and guests may also purchase their favorite bottles to take home and add to their own collection. Located in the heart of downtown San Jose Del Cabo, Don Sanchez is a perfect venue for hosting large groups, VIP events, or intimate gatherings— either upstairs amid the wine gallery or out back in a more traditional Spanish courtyard setting.
As mentioned on the cooking series “Chefs on the Water”, Chef Tadd’s specialty is “fresh” cuisine, and enjoys using ingredients which are indigenous to the country. Fresh fish is delivered daily from local fisherman; the produce comes fresh from local organic farms, and premium grass-fed beef is brought in from Sonora. He recommends that parties of four or more eat “family style”, and sharing a few items from each course to experience more of the restaurant’s exclusive menu.
One of my favorite dishes was the Ceviche Bites, served with fresh tortilla chips and a clamato oyster shot. Described as a deconstructed ceviche, bite size rolls are placed in a row across a wood slab like sushi, but containing fresh fish, pickled onion, cilantro pesto, wrapped in a cucumber ribbon, and then topped with a tomato foam. Chef Tadd then explains that by putting the cucumber wrapped fish in your mouth first, and instantly taking a bite of the tortilla chip before washing it all down with a bit of the clamato shot, you’re essentially reconstructing the entire ceviche experience in your mouth — making it not only a sensory filled experience, but just plain fun! I wonder if Chef was drinking tequila shots when he came up with this one.
The Baja Mediterranean Catch landed on the center of our table next. Fresh fish grilled lightly, served on a bed of quinoa and organic vegetable salad—topped with a sun dried tomato tapenade. This was my first time trying out a dish prepared using the “Sous Vide” method, a culinary technique in which vacuum-sealed food is immersed in a water bath and cooked at a very precise, consistent temperature; one of Chef Tadd’s favorite techniques when executing many of his fine fish, and beef dishes.
When Tadd described his take on steak and potatoes, I imagined how Rembrandt might describe his version of paint by numbers. Tenderloin cooked Sous Vide, served with a mulato rosemary demi sauce, maître d’ marrow butter, swiss chards, potato ana, and marrow bone. While butter melted slowly over two perfectly cooked slabs of meat book shelved between thinly sliced seasoned potatoes, Tadd explained two different ways to enjoy this culinary masterpiece; getting two meals in one! Taking his advice, I layered my fork with the steak, butter, and potato, and then topped it all off with the bone marrow for the first bite, and as requested, dipped my tined steak ensemble into the rosemary demi sauce for my second — creating a completely different flavor to enjoy. I continued to alternate between these two options until the only thing remaining on the sauce stained wood board, was the once marrow filled bone, and the one item truly appropriate for a doggie bag.
I rarely order dessert, but my curiosity would never be satisfied unless I tried the Coconut-Habanero ice cream, served with bits of grilled pineapple—my mind still puzzles over how the sweet homemade coconut ice cream paired so delicately with the infamous habanero pepper. Once you try some of Chef Tadd’s rare and innovative flavor combinations, you’ll be sure to come back for more just to see what new creation he’s cooking up next.
In fact, the Chef did mention there was something new in the works called “Wine Wars!” A four course meal paired with four old world wines, doing battle on your palette against four contemporary wines. Even for a wine novice like myself, the passion in which Chef Tadd graciously shares his concepts and visions for delivering the absolute best guest experience, had me instantly intrigued. This will no doubt become an instant Don Sanchez ritual!
This is Tadd Chapman’s third restaurant in San Jose Del Cabo. His other two being Habaneros, and Retro Burger Bar (right upstairs). Watch him in action, competing against other top chefs on the series “Chefs on the Water” where he demonstrates a few of his culinary skills, and gives viewers a look inside his, one of a kind restaurant, Don Sanchez.