A new female-led dining destination in Los Cabos featuring Mediterranean cuisine with Californian and Latin American influences has opened at Chileno Bay Resort & Residences. Named for a Spanish and Greek term of endearment for grandmother, YAYA is helmed by Chef Eliana Godinez, who has perfected a vision of relaxed and refined dining with deep respect for the made-from-scratch and live-fire cooking traditions passed down by female elders from around the world. Organic ingredients sourced from local farms are the essence of a menu that evolves with the earth’s seasons and fertility and is equally designed for indulgence and nourishment. The beverage program, guided by Lead Mixologist Yared Alba, honors the spirit of feminine flavors and supports female purveyors making waves in the industry. Set at the heart of the resort overlooking its iconic three-tiered infinity pool, the indoor lunch and dinner restaurant with an open fire kitchen delivers a cool respite from sunshine-filled days by the Sea of Cortés.
The Story Starts With Family
Chef Eliana Godinez was born and raised in Mexico City, where she studied gastronomy before traveling to Italy’s Mediterranean to discover the cuisine of her mother’s family. It was in Italy that she fell in love with the art of making bread. While working under Chef Massimo Bottura of the three Michelin star Osteria Francescana, she found flow in the Italian way—using the freshest ingredients and flours, practicing thoughtful and attentive fermentation, and finding community in bread baking.
Upon returning to Mexico City, she spent five years working under Chef Jorge Vallejo at his celebrated Quintonil before she and her husband, Orli Del Angel, turned her passion into business with an artisanal bread baking company. The two eventually departed city life for one by the sea and now work side-by-side at Chileno Bay Resort & Residences, Auberge Resorts Collection, where he is the executive sous chef and she is the chef de cuisine under the direction of Executive Chef Yvan Mucharraz.
The Menu Carries On Tradition
YAYA’s menu is influenced by the heirloom ingredients sourced from Baja’s mountains, desert and sea, a mirror of the topography and elements that can also be found in the Mediterranean. When combined, these influences evoke the sensibility and sunny nostalgia of cooking in grandma’s kitchen.
Essential to the restaurant’s ethos, diners will discover the often under-represented tastes of Mediterranean countries like Morocco, Lebanon and Palestine. Each YAYA experience begins with tradition, either Mana’eesh, a fluffy Palestinian flatbread covered in turmeric and other spices, or Khubs, an Arabic flatbread or air bread that is a utensil itself to scoop spreads, rice or salad, is delivered to the table. The latter, which is one of Chef Godinez’s signatures, also serves as the base for light, Napoli-style pizzas.
Color, an indicator of flavor and nutrition, is the creative lens for YAYA’s clean cuisine. Raw vegetables in the Crudité appear like a rainbow unfurled on the plate in front of you, complete with spreads like fermented lentils with sumac and basil oil. Various salad compositions also show off the desert’s abundant and colorful produce. Leafy lettuces, vine-ripened tomatoes, aromatic figs and immune-boosting peppers are seasoned by local purveyors. Spices like saffron, turmeric and za’atar are sourced from further afield in the Mediterranean countries of their origin.
The rest of the menu, which is primarily prepared over the open fire, is brought to life in family style. Grilled vegetables and smoky grains take reign in dishes like a Vegetable Cassoulet featuring heirloom beans, zucchini and corn, Roasted Sunchokes with a date sauce and poblano peppers and Purple Roasted Cabbage and Plums. Designed to be shared, signature entrées from the embers include Catch of the Dayserved with root vegetables and preserved citrus, Za’atar Rock Cornish and brussel sprouts, Mussakhan Roasted Chicken Leg with sumac and red onion, Prawns Aglio Olio with Peperoncino and Lemon and Pastas of the Day, using single types of premium organic grains.
Desserts, like Hazelnut and Chocolate Babka & Milk or Homemade Skillet S’mores, conclude the YAYA experience and feature Chef Godinez’ art of baking.
The Cocktails Celebrate Community
The convivial bar at YAYA is at once a place for savoring simplicity and discovering new flavors. The mixology program, represented with both classic cocktails and zero-proof mocktails, draws from Mexico’s rising female stars disrupting the country’s wine, beer and spirit industries.
Signature beverages are crafted with Condesa, a gin distilled in Mexico City produced by women, and YOLA Mezcal. For example, the Yayarita, features tequila or mezcal with aquavit, carrot and ginger shrub and desert dust, and the Gimme Some Yaya, comprises gin with thyme, rosemary, saffron and olives. An experience unique to YAYA is the concept of sharing beer much like wine. Cervecería Cielito Lindo, a female-run brand in Jalisco led by Brewmaster Laura Peña, is served in large caguamas (32-ounce beer bottles that are unique to Mexico) with multiple glasses.
The Design Sets The Tone
YAYA is located at the heart of the resort with views of the property’s iconic pool unfolding toward the Sea of Cortés. It is an air-conditioned respite, ideal for grabbing a bite between ocean adventures or a destination for celebrating life moments over a special dinner. Channeling the open-air, laid-back aesthetic of life by the sea, Los Angeles-based Studio MAI has created a vibrant space that complements the spirit of the cuisine. The open concept dining room and open-hearth kitchen invite families and groups of friends to feel part of the community while observing the chefs and mixologists prepare their craft. For special events and outdoor activities, YAYA will overflow to the resort’s El Limonero lawn in addition to alfresco seating adjacent to the restaurant.
YAYA is the latest addition to the resort’s vast culinary offerings, which include signature restaurant COMAL, beachside taco eatery TnT, courtyard coffee shop El Molino, which serves organic beans grown in the southern state of Chiapas, and a program of unique epicurean experiences.
For more information, please visit aubergeresorts.com/chilenobay/dine/yaya.
All photos courtesy of Chileno Bay Resort & Residences, Auberge Resorts Collection.
Saludos from Co-Founders…
Chris Sands and Michael Mattos