Thursday, July 23, 2009

The Baja Dining Experience: Tijuana/Ensenada Guide

Bill from Street Gourmet LA, we owe you one.
After what (I'm sure) could not be any less than a political battle and head splitting migraine in organizing this media trip, Bill smoothly guided 25 or so food writers, bloggers, restaurant chefs and owners for an epic (no, there's no other word for it) food triathlon in Baja, Mexico: Tijuana, Ensenada, and Valle de Guadalupe.

This was my first trip to Baja and frankly I didn't have any desire to go there before. Boring, dangerous, people tell me. But when an opportunity to join a media trip sponsored by Tijuana Convention and Visitors Bureau, I certainly wasn't about to turn it down.

What is my verdict after 2 days, 3 nights, 17 restaurants, 2 wineries, and a beer festival? Amazing, I tell you. If you haven't been, go already.

I will be reviewing each restaurant fully very soon, but in the meantime, here's the list and a recap.


  • Barbacoa de La Ermita - Hidalgo style lamb barbacoa cooked overnight in a pit. Open on weekends only and there ain't no hangover cure like it.
  • Cien Anos - Like the name suggests, this restaurant features 'old' recipes that they have acquired from friends and families. Various seafood cebiches can be found here.
  • Cheripan -a great Argentinian restaurant with an amazing flank steak and a big martini list, including tamarind martini.
  • L'Abricot -a cute little French bistro (the only one in Tijuana?) with solid food and desserts.
  • La Diferencia - alta cocina
  • La Querencia - one of the most exciting places in Baja with the Baja Med food movement in the forefront.
  • La Vuelta -Fun place with some good beer offerings and a great mariachi band. Open late so get your party on here.
  • Lorca - a great little Spanish place with delicious paella and whole suckling pig.
  • Tacos El Poblano - Their carne asada tacos, made with 3 different meats, blow any carne asada taco in Los Angeles out of the water.
  • Tacos Los Salceados - Arguably the best taqueria in Mexico. Not your ordinary tacos as you can find exciting creation like the new york steak taco with strawberry sauce.
  • Mariscos el Mazateno - Perhaps the best seafood tacos in Tijuana. The smoked marlin taco and the mazatena (camarones enchilado) taco are both a must-try.
  • Villa Saverios Restaurant - Both Italian and Baja Med influence the cuisine of Chef Javier Plascencia at this gorgeous restaurant.

  • La Guerrerense - an amazing seafood tostada cart that has been there for 30+ years. Their amazing tostada offerings include uni, sea cucumber, bacalao (cod), fish pate, and more. A must stop.
  • La Manzanilla - Benito Molina is one of the most exciting chefs in Baja at the moment, and this is his flagship restaurant.
  • Muelle 3 - A small but amazing seafood restaurant by the pier. Raw oysters, ceviches, and more seafood by the great Benito Molina.
  • Silvestre - This was the ultimate experience. A getaway within a getaway. Outdoor dining with an expansive vineyard view with an outdoor kitchen and grill manned by Benito Molina.
  • Tacos El Fenix - This is THE Baja fish taco, with meat from a small shark.

Valle de Guadalupe Wineries
  • Vina Liceaga - This winery that specializes in Merlot is recently outfitted with a great and spacious tasting room and a picnic area where a seasonal restaurant will be open throughout the summer.
  • Villa del Valle (Bed & Breakfast) - I fell in love with this bed and breakfast. Beautiful view, stylish yet rustic decor, a vegetable garden you can walk through. They also make a lovely unfiltered Sauvignon Blanc and some great food including ostrich meat wrapped in kale.


Kung Food Panda

Come on GP! Let's get going on the Baja reviews :P Can't wait :D

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