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food/research suggestions for baja/ensenada - por favor!!!!

since most of all the old chowhound information seems to be lost in the switch to the new site, i'm not sure where to go to find good recommendations for the ensenada area. so food suggestions would be great, but so would suggestions for websites i could do some other research at.

anyway - a big handful of friends are headed down to baja, staying just south of ensenada, right on the beach. i've never been, but i understand its quite touristy down there, something i seek to avoid most of the time. and at leat a few of us are real chowhounders, we'll go out of our way for some good, authentic grub. it doesnt have to be in ensenada, just nearby....

thanks for any help!

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  1. There was very little information lost on the switch to the new site- however, this "Mexico" board is a new board, so you won't find many old posts here (the moderators are moving them, little by little.)

    Your best bet is to use the search engine to search for previous posts on the International board, which is where discussion on Mexico previously took place.

    1. Yeah, there will be a lot of tourists in Ensenada, but it's only really bad when the cruise ships are in port. There are still a number of dining options for you.

      First and foremost, check out the fish market, which will be on your right as you come into town, kind of across from the Pemex station. It's right on the malecon You'll find any number of vendor stalls selling fish tacos and mariscos. Choose a stall that looks good to you (clean and well patronized is a good clue) and dig in. Also on the malecon is a restaurant on a boat called Barkissimo. I had some really good clams there that had been farm rasied in San Quintin. They had been lightly steamed in white wine, shallots and herbs. Served with some crusty bolillos and a green salad, it was a great meal.

      El Rey Sol has been around in Ensenada since dirt. My experience there has been that when it's good, it's really good, and when it's not, well, it can be awful. Casimar has also been around since dirt doing seafood, and it can be pretty good.

      Manzana on, I think, Avenida Ruiz is doing upscale Mexican. Laja up Mex 3 into the Valle de Guadalupe is doing really interesting things in a farm fresh, Chez Panisse sort of way. Plus you can do a lot of wine tasting near by.

      Ensenada is, of course, famous for Hussong's Cantina. It's expanded threefold with the advent of the cruise business. Stop in at the original location on Avenida Ruiz for a beer, but not the food.

      La Fonda in La Mision about 30 mintues north of Ensenada used to be a must stop on the way down, or way back. Pretty good food, spectacular views and funky ambiance. It's changed ownership in the last couple of years.

      The main tourist drag in Ensenada is Ave. Lopez Mateos and, to a lesser extent, Ave. Ruiz. Tourists don't really stray too much off those, especially the cruise line tourists. Restaurants on these streets are pretty gringoized, but off the beaten paths if you're willing to take a chance and experiment, you can probably find some interesting food.

      There used to be a pretty decent abalone restaurant called La Cueva de los Tigres just outside of Ensenada to the south. I don't know if it's still there, or if it's still open. If it is, you could give that a try. No guarantees with this one at all. Since you're going to be south of the city, do a road trip to La Bufadora. It's one of only 2 natural blow holes on the West Coast. It's really commerical these days, but at least you say you've been there.

      Finally, here's the link to the San Diego Reader http://sdreader.com
      follow the restaurant link. They do reviews for both Tijuana and Ensenada and their reviews are pretty accurate.

      1 Reply
      1. re: DiningDiva

        Hi DiningDiva - Your notes are very helpful! We have been to Punta Bunda a couple of times in the past and this fall we are heading to La Mision near Rosarito. We discovered the wine country last time and Laja - completely by accident - and that is one of the main reasons for our return trip. I am looking for some up-to-date information - any recommendations on restaurants, things to do, etc. We saw the owner of Manzanilla in Ensenada on Gourmet's Diary of a Foodie and that again piqued our interest. Any ideas? Thanks.

      2. La Fonda is still great, but a bit of a drive from where you're at. Unfortunately, I heard La Cueva de las Tigres closed several years ago, so no more awesome abalone :-(

        1. Dear Friends, they are a lot of great restaurants in Ensenada, years ago el Rey sol was a signature place to go when then Cheff, Giles Lefort was at front in culinary mastery using the products of the region, hes now in Puerto Vallarta as far as they told us, where to Eat, El Olivo just before arriving to ensenada on the right side of the south bound road, also hotel las rosas has a grat buffet on sunday, la Caprichos next to papas and beer downtown ensenada, our Sanos 3 times you out try number 3 was the same, the place was like a chinese fire drill, lites where not well oriented, dead ambiance no back ground music, only once in a while trios playing table to table, menu not real, you order a porter house and you get a t bone, no garnish unevenly cooked,no care for attention.

          enjoy ensenada

          1. I just got an magazine article assignment on a food/wine guys trip in the Ensenada area....I am open so suggestions, we will do 2 nights...1 dinner will be the fine dining and the other traditional mexican (if we can find it)..in between we are hitting wineries and taco/seafood stands..so any input? We will be going in the next 3-4 weeks..

            Chris

            1. Chris, the best dining in the Ensenada area is probably at Laja, which is located in the Valle de Guadalupe. After the 3rd toll booth you'll see a turn off for Mex.3, take it and go about 15 or so miles on up the road into the valley. Here's a link to their web site http://www.lajamexico.com

              The Punta Morro restaurant in the resort of the same name is another fine dining option. It's located next to the Ensenada branch of UNAM and is either right before or right after the 3rd toll booth. The restaurant sits on the rocks and cliff right above the ocean. Here's a link to their web page http://www.punta-morro.com/faciliti.html

              The prices on the menus on both these links are in pesos. The exchange rate is just under 11 pesos per $1 US dollar. Dollars are readily accepted between Tijuana and Ensenada.

              If Manzanilla on Riveroll just off Lopez Mateos in Ensenada is still open try it. It's owned and operated by a young couple from the interior (Mexico City and Cuernavaca), both classically trained. I had heard that they were thinking of packing up and either moving back to Mexico City or Tijuana. They were having a hard time finding an audience for their food because most of the tourists were not interested in alta cocina, only the usual suspects (i.e. nachos, tacos, burritos). Their food, however, is quite good.

              At the other end of the spectrum is the fish market in front of the malecon. The main road into town skirts the harbor and as you make the right turn to go down the main road towards the cruise liner docks (and across from the Pemex station) is the entrance to the fish market. There are gobs of stalls for mariscos, fish tacos, caldos, etc., along with a working fish market. Look for the ones that are the cleanest and busiest.

              There used to be a restaurant called Barkissimo in a converted old fishing trawler on the malecon in back of the fish market; it may or may not still be there. I had a really nice bowl of steamers there a couple of years ago. The clams are aqua farmed in San Quentin; they were sweet, meaty, flavorful and had no traces of grit. The setting was kind of fun and the food pretty good. It was a good, solid mid-range restaurant and patronized by more Mexicans than tourists.

              When people think of Ensenada they (okay, we Southern Californians) think of Hussong's. The cantina has expanded now to satellite locations on Lopez Mateos and is thoroughly enmeshed in the tourist culture. Stick your head in the original location if you must, but it's not what it used to be.

              As I think you know, Ensenada is now a major cruise port. If you have options try and time your trip so that you're there when the cruise liners aren't. I've had the misfortune to be there when both 1 and 2 ships were in port and it is a madhouse and crush of humanity. The city caters to the cruise line tourists big time an it's getting harder and harder to find places that aren't overrun by tourist, overtly pandering to them, menus that have been incredibly dumbed down and increasingly mediocre food.

              When you say you're thinking one night will be traditional Mexican, how are you defining traditional? What are you really looking for here? I'm racking my brain and I can't really come up with a good, let alone reliable recommendation.

              La Fonda in the little town of La Mision, half way more or less between Rosarito and Ensenada, is an icon. It's long time (very colorful) owner sold it a while back and there have been conflicting reports about whether it's gone down hill or not. It does have, however, one of the most spectacular settings on the coast, better than anything in Ensenada. It's on a cliff above the beach and there are few things better at this time of year than sitting on the terrace at La Fonda in the morning with a fresh squeezed orange juice and breakfast. It's not bad at sunset either. The menu here tends to lean towards traditional Mexican cooking more than alta cocina.

              And finally, if you can find it, in Popotla, about 5 minutes south of Rosarito is a beach restaurant. Actually, I think there are a couple of them. There's one that's on the dirt road next to the Foxploration studios run by a fisherman who cooks up what his buddies catch. Can't get much fresher than that. Popotla is actually a little gate community and there is supposed to be a great little taco stand on their beach. You could probably get confirmation on that from the gate guard.

              Also, do a search on this board for posts by Gypsy Jan. She lives in Baja and has posted a lot of interesting, off the beaten path suggestions.

              Good luck, have fun and drink a glass of Mexican wine for me. It's good stuff I just wish we could get it in San Diego ;-)

              1. Excellent post, Dining Diva! I totally agree with La Fonda, however, the one weak spot is their OJ - it's not fresh nor nearly as spectacular as the view! Stick with the special Silver Margaritas or those decadent banana daiquiris if you're in the mood for dessert! Really want to get down there soon & try some of your other suggestions - thanks!! Any places for great abalone? (Still sad La Cueva de los Tigres is gone...)

                2 Replies
                1. re: torta basilica

                  Greetings All! We actually LIVE in Ensenada so here's our two bits.

                  Abalone is available at Haliotis in Ensenada. During the abalone season you can get it fresh and as an entree. The rest of the year it's canned and available as an appetizer only. It's spendy! Nice restaurant with waiters in tuxes.

                  Fish Tacos -- just found a GREAT place, Marco Antonio on Rayon between 3rd and 4th. Here's the surprise: none of the fish is fried. They serve tuna and salmon, steamed in white wine and herbs. They also do a tuna machaca taco and/or empanada. DELICIOUS. This place is open 9 am - 1 pm and by 1 pm everything is sold out. Open daily except Sunday.

                  Laja might well be the finest restaurant in all of Mexico, let alone Baja. To visit this area and not dine at Laja is....well, a mortal sin.

                  La Fonda has changed ownership and the food has gone downhill. We had lunch there about 2 weeks ago. We ordered the fish and chips (which the menu said also came with malt vinegar). The plates arrived at our table with no malt vinegar. We asked for it and the waiter brought us cruets of white vinegar and oil...the fries looked like boiled shoestring potatoes rather than fried anything. Limper than wet noodles! The fish was okay and the tartar sauce was excellent. The waiter knocked over a glass of soda on the table, brought another one, AND CHARGED US FOR IT! And sin of all sins, for the chips and salsa they use flour tortillas - yuck. There salsa is mostly onion. I will give La Fonda this -- the portions are huge - too huge.

                  1. re: bajabound

                    What a bummer about La Fonda. I have many fond memories of the patio at sunset, margaritas, chips, boyfriends...<sigh>

                    I guess all things eventually change, but I thought La Fonda never would.

                2. Oh,don't tell me the OJ at La Fonda isn't real. The last time I had breakfast there it was, or maybe I had grapefruit juice. It was a couple years ago and the mind, as they say, is the first thing to go.

                  I am not aware of any place that's still serving abalone, though I'm sure if you look hard enough you can probably find some place that is. It's been overfished in Baja as well. I seem to recall reading soemthing about it being protected along the Baja coast too, and that they've got problems with poachers just like California.

                  4 Replies
                  1. re: DiningDiva

                    Great info, thanks a ton! I want to show the "beyond hussongs" stuff...I think Ensenada deserves it!I want to highlight the wines and high end food that most people dont know exists...

                    the theme of the article is "guys trip" 2 night adventure of food and wine...its for a pretty large west coast magazine so I am pretty excited to be able to expose places on a larger scale than my newspaper stuff...plus have total freedom on what I write about....

                    I will also be looking for photo shots...so visual is important.

                    Thanks Chris

                    1. re: ccognac

                      We're happy to allow journalists to use us to gather information. The
                      only thing we ask is that 1. discussion be done on the site (so all
                      can benefit) and 2. Chowhound be credited, per
                      standard journalistic courtesy, for information and quotes used in
                      your article. Good luck!

                      1. re: The Chowhound Team

                        I always credit my sources in both print and my TV show...in fact Chowhound gets credit in one of my upcoming food network shows..either boston or miami...

                      2. re: ccognac

                        Large West Coast mag? Sunset? Please let us know when and where your article will finally appear :-)

                        Another thought occured to me this morning that might be helpful to you. Sanborn's is a major retailer in Mexico and something of an institution. All their stores have restaurants in them, generally serving comida tipica (typical). Now, this is not to say that the food is spectacularly great, it isn't, but Sanborn's does lay claim to having invented Enchiladas Suisa at their famous Mexico City location (the location at which Rick Bayless did an entire episode in the first year of his PBS series). The enchiladas suisa might give you an angle and while Sanborn's food would never break new culinary ground, it also might fill your bill for "traditional" while keeping you out of the heavily touristed places. If you remember years ago when The Broadway still had a "tea" room, Sanborn's is sort of, kind of like a smaller version of that.

                        Sanborns is ubiquitous, they're everywhere including a recently opened branch in Ensenada close to the fish market and the malecon. One of the reasons Sanborn's has been successful for over 100 years is that they're a little like Alice's Restaurant. You can find just about anything there including (usually) a good candy counter, a decent baked goods counter, cigars, perfume, tacky and not so tacky jewelry, some clothing, shoes and a great rack of periodicals and books. On periodical racks you'll find all the usual magazine - in Spanish, of course, - but you can usually also find the Guia Roji which are the best road maps for driving in Mexico. Now, I know you guys don't always like to stop and ask directions, so the map should keep you from getting lost in the first place ;-). The other fun thing in the periodical section - though probably not a "guy" thing -are all the cooking magazines. These are great little glossies, usually about 50 pages or less with lots of photos, often devoted to a single food, like carnitas, or pollo, or mole, or gelatina. These are a great little resource, a lot of fun and you don't need a lot of advanced Spanish to figure out the recipes.

                        For better or worse, Sanborn's is a part of life in many Mexican towns. A little like Woolworth's, a little like I. Magnins, a little kitsch, a little class, uniquely Mexican.

                    2. Quick response, light on details due to family obligations:

                      The classical La Fonda: We have had dinner and two Sunday brunches in the last few weeks - Dinner was very good and the eat-all-you-want brunch was bountiful and filling with many choices, but they do not refresh the offerings.

                      A great and worthwhile gourmet destination: Adobe de Guadalupe Winery and B&B near Laja Restaurant in the wine country in the Guadalupe Valle. The owners have built a dream retirement home with vineyards (producing award winning wines) and stables for award winning horses. We had a fantastic, delicious lunch in incredible surroundings after a welcoming, informative tour and wine tasting.

                      1. I think I am going to do Laja if I can...I am looking into staying 1 night at a winery and 1 in Ensenada itself....Laja looks amazing....

                        1. We had a great meal at Laja last week. I think it would be worth the drive if you lived in San Diego. Contrary to one post I read here it's very easy to get to, you just take highway 3, watch for the km. 83 marker, and it's right off the road.

                          We had the 690-peso eight-course tasting menu (there's also a 520-peso four-course):

                          - butternut squash soup with quince
                          - lettuce and herb salad (from their garden) with local olive oil

                          - "vieja" fish marinated with preserved lemons, roasted beets, chervil, and tender arugula
                          - white bean ravioli with sauteed rapini and house-cured pancetta

                          - roasted cabrilla (sea bass) with black radish, braised spring onions, broccoli, and cauliflower
                          - oven roasted local lamb (rib, shoulder, and leg) with pumpkin gnocchi and swiss chard

                          - white chocolate ice cream, grapefruit sorbet, oranges, and black caramel
                          - Meyer lemon tartalette

                          Every single thing was great except the white chocolate ice cream. I live in Berkeley and it really is quite comparable to Chez Panisse.

                          Also had the only really good Baja wines I've ever encountered. My favorite was a 2005 Piedra del Sol bianco from Casa de Piedra, delicious unoaked Chardonnay, I went to a shop in Ensenada to try to buy some but they were out. Also had good, interesting red blends, 2003 Couttolenc Bueno "Sangre de Cortes," 2005 Agrifolia "Otello," and 1994 Adobe Guadalupe "Miguel." Tasted a couple of bottles of 1997 Mogor-Badan but they were both off and the chef took them away.

                          Casa de Piedra's Web site has a list of restaurants that carry their wines including several in Ensanada:

                          http://www.vinoscasadepiedra.com/ciud...

                          21 Replies
                          1. re: Robert Lauriston

                            Thanks for the report... execution & quality ingredients aside... I hope this new chef is not billing this as New Baja Cuisine. There doesn't seem much identyfingly Baja about it (based on your desriptions)... just plain old New International Cuisine just like the stuff we get in California that has really grown old on me.

                            1. re: Eat_Nopal

                              It's Baja in the sense that the chef and ingredients are all local. What he does with the ingredients reflects his stints at Daniel in New York and at the Four Seasons in Mexico City. He doesn't label his food in any particular way. It speaks for itself by drawing customers.

                              As he told the New York Times, "We have autonomy in the valley right now, no need to comply with any expectation." There are lots of other places that will endeavor to satisfy your expectations for traditional Baja cooking.

                              1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                Yeah... I understand that. In Mexico there is a current buzz about what they call New Baja Cuisine or Baja Meditteranean Cuisine.

                                I am not expecting Laja to do anything traditional. However, I do think its pretty weak when restaurants create dishes that heavily mimic techniques found in all of the world's contemporary "in" restaurants - For example... having Endive Spears, Foams, Gels etc. - and then try to bill themselves as regional just because they use locally grown ingredients. So if I go to Chiapas and figure out how to raise Sturgeon to produce good caviar. Then I serve it like they do in France... does this now make it Contemporary Yucatecan Cuisine? I would say no... for it to be Yucatecan... I would have to give the caviar some kind of treatment that is somehow grounded in the regions history & culture. Maybe the Mayans ate Roe Panuchos... okay so if made some kind of special Panucho using Amaranth & Chickpea flour and topped it with local Caviar & smoked habanero pepper foam... then okay I can called it Nuevo Yucateco etc.,

                                In Mexico they do have the concept of "Cocina de Author" basically Chef's vision... which claims no regionality, and where the Chef is basically a free artist to do whatever he/she wants.

                                I know the old Chef at Laja was adamant about belonging into the Cocina de Autor school... but I am wondering how the new Chef defines the place.

                                1. re: Eat_Nopal

                                  What old chef? From what I've read, Laja was started in 2001 by the current owners, chef Jair Téllez and his wife Laura Reinert, and they put the first syllables of their names together to make the name.

                                  1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                    Yeah... I heard they left to start something in Mexico City... and they were selling Laja to another up & coming chef.

                                    1. re: Eat_Nopal

                                      Could you be thinking of the chef/owner & wife of Manazanita in Ensenada? They are both from the D.F.area and were talking about either going back to D.F.or up to Tijuana. I don't know if they ever followed through.

                                      1. re: DiningDiva

                                        Yeah you are probably right.

                                      2. re: Eat_Nopal

                                        Benito and Solange form Manzanilla, did go to Mexico City, but the restaurant was not sucessful. They have since returned to Ensenada and are still running Manzanilla. They also own Silvestre in Valle de Guadalupe and a Ceviche place, dont know the name

                                      3. re: Robert Lauriston

                                        Jair and Laura split, Jair remarried, currently still owns LAJA, very succesfully.

                                      4. re: Eat_Nopal

                                        "So if I go to Chiapas and figure out how to raise Sturgeon to produce good caviar. Then I serve it like they do in France... does this now make it Contemporary Yucatecan Cuisine? I would say no..."

                                        Yeah, I would say no too...it's quite a leap from Chiapas to the Yucatán.

                                        1. re: cristina

                                          I meant raising Sturgeon in the Yucatan!

                                          1. re: Eat_Nopal

                                            AHA! OK then, terrific.

                                            1. re: Eat_Nopal

                                              Sturgeon need colder water.

                                          2. re: Eat_Nopal

                                            Hello my name is Benito Molina and I am the chef owner at Manzanilla In Ensenada And I would like to clear up a couple of things I have read in these great site pushed by some customers that asked if we are here or not .I was hired to be the chef at the Santo Tomas Winery restaurant Embotelladora Vieja by Hugo D'Acosta thirteen years ago . My wife Solange who is also a chef and I opened Manzanilla eight years ago we opened in mexico city three years ago but unfortunatly things did not go as planed we have been back in Ensenada for two years now. We opened a season retaurant in the Guadalupe valley called Silvestre open from friday to sunday during end of may to end of october, also we opened a new place
                                            next to the mercado negro called Muelle tres in the plant where the farm raised mussels are prepared to be shiped to the U.S. and central Mexico
                                            that is open from wednesday to sunday just lunch. Manzanilla is open wednesday to saturday lunch and dinner we will be moving to a new location during the summer 2008 when I have the addres I will post it. Congratulations ChowHound !!

                                            1. re: bigotes

                                              Bienvenidos, Sr. bigotes,

                                              I am so glad to hear the news about your location(s), schedule and future plans.

                                              Please keep us Chowhounds updated.

                                              1. re: bigotes

                                                We are traveling to Ensenada in two weeks and would like to find Muelle tres for lunch but are under some time constraints. Does anyone know the hours of this restaurant? Much appreciated.

                                                1. re: foodiechick

                                                  Hello !!
                                                  Muelle Tres is open Wednesday to Sunday from 1 pm. to 6 pm
                                                  It's located on the board walk north of the Mercado Negro. The easiest way to find it is on the entrance of Ensenada park in the parking lot on the right after the first stop light there is a building that resembles a light house go to the end of the lot and you will see a blue and grey building that’s where Muelle Tres is.
                                                  Have a good time .
                                                  Salud

                                                  1. re: bigotes

                                                    Mil gracias Sr. Bigotes. Usted es muy amable. We are looking forward to visiting your restaurant next week. By the way, we were surprised to see you on television when we viewed "Gourmet: Diary of a foodie" last weekend. What a fun coincedence!

                                                  2. re: foodiechick

                                                    The owner says it is open only for lunch from Wednesday to Sunday. Surely that's enough information. (If it's any help, most lunch-only places in Ensenada don't stay open much past 2 pm.) Or you could go to the Manzanilla website and send an email to Benito and ask him. Or you could call him.

                                                    1. re: dlglidden

                                                      Bigotes *is* Benito ;-)

                                          3. re: Robert Lauriston

                                            Photos from Laja:

                                            http://picasaweb.google.com/robert.la...

                                          4. Laja's chef recommended a good Oaxacan restaurant in Ensenada: Rinconcito Oaxaqueño. They also sell Oaxacan products such as mole pastes, chapulines, etc. by the pound.

                                            It's a block west of Diamante and a block south of Reforma. I think the street is Blvd. Agbelard L Rodriguez, at least that was painted on the wall of a shop next door. Open 9 to 5 seven days.

                                            Here are some photos from both Laja and Rinconcito Oaxaqueño:

                                            http://picasaweb.google.com/robert.la...

                                            3 Replies
                                            1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                              Rinconcito Oaxaqueño menu:

                                               
                                              1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                                I tried to go to Rincon Oasxaqueno but could not make it....But I did manage to get to Tacos Fenix for amazing light and crunchy shrimp tacos....also, Mazatlecas 24 hr cafe for the absolute best chilaquiles i have ever had....The fine dining scene was impressive as well with not only the spectacular cuisine at Laja, but Punta Morro for a killer view, good wine and very good food....El Rey Sol....was like stepping back in time!

                                                 
                                                1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                                  Huh, photo got deleted. Here's a link:

                                                  http://picasaweb.google.com/robert.la...

                                              2. Just returned form Ensenada, eat at some great places in town and Valle de Guadalupe:
                                                Ophelia, Rosendo and Rosa opened 1 year ago
                                                "623" Seis veintitres, by monumento a la madre, Marcela Ruiz and enologist Hugo D'Acosta have a winner, also 1 year old, will post full review
                                                Manzanilla, Benito Molin and wife Solange still run a very tasty fun place thursdays, winemakers get together
                                                In the Valle de Guadalupe,
                                                Laja , Jair still in charge and growing own veggies herbs and they actually made their own house wines to go along with the Baja Mediterranean menu, plus extensive Mexican wine list
                                                El Naranjo , grilled meats simple delicious affordable

                                                Over all , prices are good, never as expensive as Cabo or Todos Santos y Southern Baja

                                                3 Replies
                                                1. re: mambooster7

                                                  Sorry to report, seisveintetres (623) closed last month. The story what that it would be for one month to "remodel". What there would have been to remodel still remains a mystery but there is nothing happening there. Fortunately, we came to know the chef and he recently catered a dinner in our home and will be doing another one for us next week.

                                                  1. re: bajabound

                                                    Oh, no! That was a great restaurant/wine shop. We're spending five days in Ensenada in early April and were planning to eat at 623 at least twice.

                                                    Our list of very good Ensenada restaurants includes

                                                    Laja
                                                    La Hacienda
                                                    El Taco de Huitzilopochtli
                                                    El Olivo
                                                    Restaurante 623
                                                    La Manzanilla
                                                    Capricho's
                                                    La Embotelladora Vieja
                                                    La Esquina de Bodegas
                                                    El Sol Rey (in the "old days")

                                                    Also, the Jazz Cafe for late night drinks and snacks, and a couple of years ago Las Bugambilias (next to Hotel Cortéz) was showing promise.

                                                    But . . . don't know the absolutely current Ensenada dining scene. If someone could give a concise report, I'd greatly appreciate it.

                                                    I'll check out Rinconcito Oaxaqueño; sounds interesting.

                                                    Regarding abalone in Ensenada. We've been going there since the early '70s and for the past 25-30 years the restaurants featuring abalone were actually selling calamari steaks. Nothing wrong with calamari steaks of course, but they ain't abalone.

                                                    Regarding "remodeling" 623: When we were last there in Nov. 2006 the stairs up to the second floor restaurant had no guard rail. Walking up those stairs scared the crap out of me, I hugged the wall going up and down. Fixing that is a remodel I would strongly endorse. But I don't see why the ground floor wine shop/wine bar couldn't have stayed open during the "remodeling." Is Casa de Piedra in trouble?

                                                    mambooster7: Could you please provide information about "Ophelia, Rosendo and Rosa"?

                                                    1. re: dlglidden

                                                      I might add a suggestion to your list - there is a restaurant within a hotel located in Estero Beach a few miles south of Ensenada. The hotel is the Ensenada Beach House Hotel and the restaurant is Mario's - they have THE BEST chilaquiles on the planet - the hotel is pretty nice too:) Have a good trip

                                                2. Hi is there any new reports on food this is 2008 not good Thanks Ed

                                                  1 Reply
                                                  1. re: EDedgar

                                                    I was just in Ensenada and posted in this more recently active topic:

                                                    http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/767830

                                                  2. Some of my favorite Ensenada restaurants – you can Google almost any of these and find great reviews. You can find all of these restaurants on Facebook.
                                                    north to south
                                                    Belio at KM 104 on the bayside. Look for a tall white condo building (EntreMar and it looks completely out of place so it’s a good landmark.) A “block” or so past EntreMar is the entrance to Belio. The place is BEAUTIFUL and the most upscale of all mentioned here. Mediterranean style food. I'm not sure of their hours but they open for breakfast at 7:30 on Saturdays. They are also open for lunch and dinner and I would guess they open at 1:00 (except Saturday and Sunday, they open earlier) English speaking. Food has been inconsistent so far. If nothing else, stop in for a drink and check out the place. 646 175 8810 info@beliorestaurant.com Excellent location for a large g roup, but again, I’d give them advance notice.
                                                    At KM 104 just a very short distance (maybe ½ a block) past Belio is Viento (the location was to be a condo complex but it never got off the ground), Terra Noble is open Tuesday- Sunday, 9:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m. They serve breakfast and lunch with an innovative menu. The concept is fresh and local. They only thing they don’t make themselves is the ice cream and they have plans to start making their own. They make their own wonderful breads. The Sangria Natural is refreshing as are their fresh juices. Local wines. For food, the trio de hamburguesas is a must try. Sliders – 1 each of beef, tuna and portabella. Chef Edgard Romero is a young creative chef. He recently revamped and expanded the menu and he speaks excellent English. UPDATE: they now have bagels on the menu!!
                                                    On Hwy 1 just before you enter Ensenada proper, across from LA Cetto’s La Cava is Sano’s. This is a Hussong establishment and is first rate. Their outdoor patio is charming and the dining room is steak house classic. The staff is excellent as is the food. Steak is cooked to perfection. Newly remodeled bar is hip and modern. Open daily. They are also open for breakfast daily.

                                                    Just as you enter Ensenada at the intersection where there is the Pemex on your left and the "lighthouse" on your right – take the hard right (sign says Migracion) that is almost a u-turn to “Puerto Recinto” – don’t take the exit off the transpeninsular that says Puerto Recinto! About 4 blocks down on your right, you’ll come across Manzanilla. Owned by award winning and notorious chef, Benito Molina and his lovely wife, Solange. Very “funky” inside (pink chandeliers), full bar. Closed Sun-Mon. They open at 1:00. www.rmanzanilla.com
                                                    From Manzanilla, make a u-turn and go back to Blvd Costero. JUST BEFORE Blvd Costero, make another hard right/almost u-turn into the parking lot where the lighthouse marks the entrance. It's a pay lot but both restaurants here will validate. From the middle of the parking lot, (the fish market will be on your left) walk straight out to the malecon. There you will find Muelle 3. This one ranks in our top 3. Muelle 3 is owned by David Martinez. It’s very casual but the food is excellent and the staff charming. Beer, wine and some hard liquors. If you don’t see what you want, ASK! David is the younger brother of, Javi, who owns Boules) and he also speaks English (and is also an accomplished pianist!) The place is small, but we got 22 people in there once! All fish and seafood as fresh as can be. muelletres@gmail.com Open 1:00 -7:00, closed Sunday and Monday.
                                                    Go back to the parking lot and walk to the opposite side of it. There is a walkway to goes out to the street and you’ll find La Cocedora de Langosta. The Platillo del Dia is always a good bet. Try their ceviche, it’s also different. Want something special or fixed differently? Ask Chef Roberto de Anda and he will accommodate you. In addition to the restaurant they have a small pescaderia and wine boutique. Open 8:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. lacocedoradelangosta@gmail.com 646 178 3742
                                                    On Blvd Costero across from the big flag is Ennio’s. This is Peruvian and Italian food. Completely different from anywhere else already mentioned. Great boutique wine store right next door! Hours TBA…. http://www.enniosrestaurante.com/ws/i...
                                                    On the malecon, you’ll find Embarcadero. Great variety of food and all good, mostly local ingredients. Owner and Chef is Carlos Nava. Great people watching right on the Malecon. Closed Mondays.
                                                    Let’s head toward downtown. I don’t want to try to give directions from Blvd Costero so you’re on your own here!
                                                    At the corner of 6th and Moctezuma you’ll find La Contra, a wine and artisan beer “boutique”. In the backyard is Boules. It’s a very modern looking building (white). Easy parking. Great outside dining (indoor also available). Excellent food and service, your host is Javier Martinez. Open Tuesday-Saturday, 2:00 – midnight.
                                                    Barra Azul It’s located on 11th between Espinoza and the Puente going over the arroyo. They open at 1:30 and are closed on Tuesdays. Owner is Alain Genchi and the chef is Luis Garcia (though I think that now Luis has moved to Alain’s other venue, Ultra Marina). The must-haves here are the tempura oysters and the oyster shooters (preferably the ones with green apple!) We don’t order off the menu; we just ask Luis to prepare how many courses we want (4-5). For dessert, the crepe cake. Local wines and full bar. alaingenchi@hotmail.com http://www.barrazul.com
                                                    Not in Ensenada but in the Valle de Guadalupe is our all time favorite, Laja. Casual but upscale food with a fixed price menu. They grow their own herbs and vegetables and almost everything else is acquired locally. Full bar and great list of local wines. Andres Blanco is the manager and “maitre d”. He is also an extraordinary winemaker. Owner and chef is Jair Tellez. You can do the 4 course meal, but splurge and do the 8 courses. They are small so you leave satisfied but not overly stuffed. Don’t fill up on the bread!!! Their bread is excellent along with the olive oil to dip it in, but same room. The 8 course is $798 pesos and the 4 course $610. And if you would like more of anything, they are happy to bring it to you (no extra charge). Visa/MC accepted. Closed Sun-Tues. Open at 1:30 Wed-Saturday. They close at 3:30 on Wed but are open until 8:30 the other days. (closing time means last people in the door by that time). Located at KM 83 on the Carr Tecate-Ensenada (Ruta de Vinicola). 646 155 2556
                                                    Also in the Guaudalupe Valley is Corazon de Tierra at Villa de Valle. Diego is a renowned chef. The menu changes pretty much daily based on what’s fresh from the garden. On the same property is Troike, casual , outdoor dining.
                                                    There are several new restaurants in the Valle de Guadalupe, among them: Tre Calline at Montefiore, Almazara, Finca Altazona, Fuego, and Malva. And more coming. Barrica will open in July 2014 at Madera 5.

                                                    3 Replies
                                                    1. re: bajabound

                                                      Good summary.

                                                      I want to add that everyone should go have breakfast at La Cocina de Doña Esthela, which is on the "back" road of the Valle de Guadalupe, that runs from the free transpeninsular to Hwy 3 at Francisco Zarco. There are wood-burnt signs all along the road. It's an amazing place.

                                                      1. re: Das Ubergeek

                                                        Oh dear god was Doña Esthela an absolute highlight of our trip last week!! Highly recommend trying the wines at the next door biodynamic winery, La Lomita.

                                                        1. re: jdwdeville

                                                          La Lomita is just about my favorite winery in the Valle. It's always a must stop for me. Love their Pagano

                                                    2. If you are into craft beer, Wendlandt Brewery in Ensenada is worth a visit. Local beers on draft and a variety of small tasty bites.

                                                      Hussong's is a local institution, a spot not to be missed. It's reputedly the place where the Margarita was invented.

                                                      Another local treat are the fish taco stands around the city, try as many as you want until you find your favorite. The stands seem to be on every corner and the tacos are only $1 each.

                                                      As many have mentioned, Laja is divine and definitely worth a trip to the Valle de Guadalupe. It's very accessible from Ensenada and a beautiful wine region in itself.

                                                      2 Replies
                                                      1. re: kimpers

                                                        And if you're into vomit, loud music, and sexual harassment, make sure you visit the aforementioned Hussong's Cantina. College kids and drunks have made it quite famous. Just make sure you don't slip on the daily barf on the sidewalk in front of the Cantina.

                                                        1. re: kimpers

                                                          Also worth noting, Wendlandt has an outdoor bar with three revolving taps set up next to the killer Troika truck in the Valle de Guadalupe.