|Just do it!!|
November 8, 2012
Not only do we glorify all the beautiful culture and good times offered in and around our city and county of San Diego, we also enjoy exploring all of the surrounding areas, including our neighbor to the south, Baja California, Mexico. On our first of what will be many journalistic journeys south of the border, we explored the towns of Rosarito, Puerto Nuevo and Ensenada to check out some of the more renowned spots. Getting there was easy, and the cruise down coastal route 1 is eerily akin to a drive north – a bizarro Big Sur, if you will, but trade the greens for desert and Anchor Steams for Sols. All in all it was a relaxing and delicious escapade into Mexico, and though the return to U.S. took more than 2 hours in line (because we didn't adequately inform ourselves), we highly recommend foregoing the stigmas, slanders and stereotypes and seeing Mexico for yourself.
|Back in the day - Journey 2008!|
|Rosarito Beach Hotel|
Puerto Nuevo, the self-declared “Lobster Capital of Baja.” The cruise down the coast was breathtaking, a wide open desert-y country side, riddled with modern mini mansions (and not so mini mansions) and huge ocean front condo complexes, and marked by the hugest statue of Jesus, facing the sea, open armed. Ahhhh, Mexico! Puerto Nuevo snuck up on us quickly and down into the tiny town we went.
El Nido, a beautiful ‘meat-house’ within walking distance of our hotel.
|More than enough at El Nido!|
We continued our adventure in search of some nightlife, but alas, we came on a Wednesday, and even though it was Halloween and Papas and Beer had a decked out haunted hallway, we were the only ones out to enjoy it. Literally. We chilled with the bartender (find Lou if you’re there!) and talked about the prospect of relocating south of the border until eventually we ventured back out to the streets for a couple late night burritos and tacos, and then retired on our moonlit balcony.
Los Arcos, literally right next to the RBH, on recommendation from a friend who had recently visited. We thoroughly enjoyed the machacas con huevos (stewed beef with eggs, beans, and the best fried potatoes ever) as well as the beautifully presented fruit-covered, homemade waffle, along with some delicious coffee. At $6 a pop, ($13 in total) this place is a must-stop for breakfast.
After digesting in one of RBH's hot tubs, we checked out and drove down to Ensenada, the third largest city in Baja. What we experienced of Ensenada was kind of strange. The city is by definition a port city as well as a cruise ship destination (there were no ships in port, and therefore very, very few tourists). It’s fairly industrial, and there are no true beaches, which really turned me off, but it is MUCH more of a ‘city’ than sleepy Rosarito, and seems to offer ample shopping and dining options.
Mariscos la Guerrerense. Anthony Bourdain has said that the food offered is worth a drive from LA and Newsweek proclaimed it to be one of the best in the world. There is no sign. We only knew we were looking for a street cart with a green and red awning on a corner….and a line. We found it! Locals and tourists alike lined up for tostadas with various types of ceviche and toppings. The founder, Ms. Sabina, sat reading the paper while her many workers swarmed around her, making up fresh tostadas faster than you could order. We sampled the La Guerrerense: sea urchin, topped with pismo clam and topped with sliced avocado, as well as the bacalao, which is a dried and salted cod. Each was a refreshingly fresh and light indulgence, and at $1.25 each, a steal.
While in Ensenada we stopped into the oldest and best-known bar in all of Mexico, Hussong’s Cantina, established in 1892. Had I known that Hussong’s invented the margarita in 1941, I’d have had one of those, but we enjoyed a couple of icy Bohemians for $1.25 each while attempting to hear each other over the piercing bellows of the Mariachi.
Tapanco, a younger sister restaurant to El Nido, and another meat house boasting deer, rabbit, lamb and quail on the menu (meat is pretty inescapable in Mexico, FYI). Its interior beauty surpassed that of its older sister, and once again we were able to snuggle up against a fireplace under a canopy of candlelit branches, while listening to the flowing fountain. We decided we should be a bit adventurous and ordered a delicious little garlic quail, and the Mexican Plate which consisted of a venison burrito, carne asada taco, chile relleno, and of course, rice and beans. The chile relleno was the stand out for me: spicy and cheesey deliciousness. Everything was good, but I was totally meat-ed out at this point, and was actually looking forward to a huge homemade arugula salad to return to balance…that or more lobster.
For more information on Baja California, visit the website at discoverbajacalifornia.com and stay tuned to SanDiegoVille for our next journey to Mexico and beyond! Next stop - San Felipe!!