It is a sleepy, sunny, Saturday afternoon. The sky is blue without a single cloud. The heat is pulsing, glaring, and bouncing off the cobblestone streets in blurry waves. I arrive at Don Pedro’s around 1:00 p.m. It is busy, but not overwhelmingly so. I am immediately struck by a feeling of tranquility and refreshment. The restaurant has a beautiful thatched palapa-style design, which offers seating indoors but with an open-air concept, meaning you are still able to see the main beach no matter where you sit, and a wonderful breeze flows through the restaurant. I walk through the restaurant to see chairs and umbrellas on a sandy terrace overlooking the main beach. I decide to sit here because of the view and the sand; it’s the next best thing to being directly on the beach, but with reprieve from the heat, of course. From my seat I have panoramic views of the main beach and jungle; this makes for the perfect place to post up and watch the surfers that are all gathered waiting for the perfect wave. A World Cup game is playing on a television screen near the bar, but is not overpoweringly loud; I can still hear the smooth sounds of the ocean waves hitting the shore from where I sit.
The staff at Don Pedro’s are incredibly friendly and tremendously attentive—they bring me menus as soon as I sit down and proceed to ask for my drink order. The menu is a mix of Mediterranean-style cuisine with a Mexican influence. For example, there is a “raw menu”, which includes items like a sushi roll and ceviche. On the main menu are choices like a niçoise salad, the blackened chicken salad (which I was drooling over while reading the description), fish tacos, chicken kebabs, the fish of the day, and different types of pizzas. The menu and ambiance give the impression that this is classic fine-dining, but in a relaxed, vacation-style atmosphere. The combination of the beach view, the open-air style structure of the restaurant, and the fact that I can still put my toes in the sand while I dine, alleviates me from feeling like I am in a pretentious or overly stuffy/fancy restaurant; however the impressive menu and quality food gives the impression of luxury.
I really decide to treat myself, so I order the fish of the day and a fresh lemonade. My food arrives promptly and the presentation looks beautiful. The fish is absolutely delicious. I am very particular about how fish is cooked, and I eat a lot of it in Mexico. Most know that cooking fish can be fickle; it is very easy to overcook. This fish, however, just melts into my mouth. I barely have to cut it because it is so moist and tender. The fish is coated in a lavish butter, lemon, and pesto sauce, served with creamy mashed potatoes and fresh grilled veggies. My meal also comes with a basket of warm focaccia-style bread and a tasty tapenade/olive oil dipping sauce. Everything is superbly cooked; even the vegetables are perfect—they aren’t too soft and mushy, and are not too hard. As they say, the proof is in the pudding—it is obvious the head chef, Nicholas Parrillo, is very talented. On paper, Chef Parrillo’s skills are just as impressive; he received formal training at Le Cordon Bleu in Paris and the Culinary Institute of America. Furthermore, he expanded on his skill set by working at various prestigious establishments such as Rex IL Ristorante of Los Angeles, Prego's of Beverly Hills, Rebecca's of Venice Beach, and I Cugini of Santa Monica. Chef Parrillo lives on a ranch just outside of Sayulita where he grows many of his special organic ingredients that he uses in Don Pedro’s dishes. Don Pedro's uses fresh, local ingredients, and the concept for the menu is Mexican flavors meeting classical Mediterranean, combined with the use of cutting-edge Californian techniques.
I can see why Don Pedro’s has been a classic town favorite of Sayulita since 2004. It is one of Sayulita’s oldest and most renown restaurants for a reason—it is clear that Don Pedro’s has something for everyone to enjoy; the service is prompt, friendly, and consistent, the menu is filled with delicious choices, the head chef is undoubtedly well-qualified and cooks superb, high-end food, and the restaurant offers extraordinary fine-dining in a relaxed, beachy, and tranquil setting. It is no wonder that Don Pedro's has been voted "Best Restaurant" in Sayulita for three years running in the Voter's Choice Best of Sayulita Awards. Don Pedro’s is open every day for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. The fact that Don Pedro’s has successfully been in business in Sayulita since 2004 is truly a testament to its worth—Don Pedro’s is simply a Sayulita must.
Written by: Aanya Sheikh-Taheri
Photos by : Annva Sheikh-Taheri & Dorsett Photography