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Baja Med in Rosarito

Gypsy Jan Jun 21, 2008 05:19 PM

(Full Disclosure—this is a rave review, but everything written is my opinion only. We have been customers at Miguel Angel Guerrero's restaurants for about six years and are great admirers of the consistent level of quality that he delivers.)

Last April, when circling the Rosarito City Hall, I saw the “Ya Abrimos” (Now Open) banner and we went there for a late lunch yesterday completely on a, “Oh, let’s go and try it.” basis.

Located in a brand new strip mall on the west side of the Palacio Municipal, the room is a sleek, contemporary, narrow shotgun space, with a high ceiling and a window wall entrance, decorated with local art, ceramics and hunting trophys. There are tables in front for casual outside dining.

The kitchen runs the length of the room on the left and there is comfortable bench and chair seating for about twenty-five- to-thirty people on the right.

The tables and the unisex bathroom had vases filled with sprigs of fresh rosemary and sage. The tables (not the bathroom) were dressed with cloth napkins in wooden keyhole holders.

The menu is a smart, abbreviated version of the parent restaurant’s concept, with fairly-priced sandwiches, salads, tacos, burritos, appetizers, entrees and desserts.

A complimentary salsa sampler - oyster/chipotle cream, red chile arbol and tomatillo, accompanied by warm,-toasted-on- the-grill, house made French bread was promptly delivered.

We opted for the “Chef’s Choice” and rib eye steak entrees.

The “Chef’s Choice” is like omakase at a Japanese restaurant, which means that you are served small tasting plates of what the chef decides is the best of the kitchen that day and they keep bringing stuff until you say “STOP!”

The meal:

“Clam shots”, fresh, raw clams in a bright, citrus marinade with a touch of vodka
Oysters and spinach in a cream sauce, roasted in the shell on rock salt
Roasted duck tacos, in house made, grill roasted flour tortilla shells stuffed with field greens.
Marlin fish tacos, cooked with cheese, onion and sweet red pepper in the same grilled flour tortillas.

Then, two perfectly grilled rib eye steaks that could be cut with the side of a fork were delivered, with crisp, fresh sautéed string beans and French fries

One dessert, a house made guava/apple pie with vanilla ice cream and a beautiful looking and tasting green drizzle, the name of which I don’t remember, because, by then, I was in a food coma

Two beers, two bottled ice teas

The bill came to about seventy dollars, including tax and tip.

www.laquerenciatj.com

  1. streetgourmetla Jun 22, 2008 01:24 PM

    Hey Gypsy Jan,I'm also a big fan of La Querencia and have been goping ever since they came to Restaurant Row in TJ.But, I'm a little confused. Are you saying that they just opened another one in Rosarito?I remember that La Querencia had come from Ensenada if memory serves correctly and then had relocated to TJ.If there are now 2 La Querencia's that's great.How about that habanero salsa?Ouch! I also love the vodka shot, which is like a mini coctel with vodka.The callos LA Querencia are incredible and the tacos de marlin rock.I believe they had chorizo de abulon from Isla de Cedros one evening I was there and it was amazing.Something not be missed when it's available

    I haven't done the tadting menu yet because I'm always stopping for so many tastes, but I'm going to have to be disciplined and do that sometime.

    5 Replies
    1. re: streetgourmetla
      Gypsy Jan Jun 22, 2008 03:06 PM

      Hi, SGM

      I will detail the history as I know it about La Querencia,

      About six years ago, I saw a sign on a nondescript cement block building announcing the grand opening of the restaurant on the Free Road connecting Rosarito and Ensenada (about 1 1/2 miles east of the TJ-Ensenada toll road, heading towards TJ)..

      I pointed it out to the Growling Gabacho and suggested that we try it. He doesn't like taking chances on unfamiliar restaurants and he especially didn't like the ramshackle look of the outside.

      Then, one evening when we were returning from the U.S. to home, he was tired and hungry and willing to try something new.

      We stopped, we were warmly welcomed and we were very well fed. Also, we were impressed by the stunning decor of the interior, which I described in a previous post on CH.

      Sometime shortly after our initial meal, Miguel received a rave review from the New York Times. I remember showing a copy of the article to the GG, and he just grumbled, but he tells the story of our discovery to friends and acquaintances to this day.

      This now-closed restaurant i on Miguel's family's property. and used as a central kitchen for the other restaurants.

      He relocated to the current TJ restaurant row location, with great success, and opened up his first Baja Med restaurant, also in TJ, about two-to-three years ago.

      Last January, when we were dining at La Querencia, Miguel caually mentioned that he would be opening a restaurant in Rosarito near the Palacio Municipal soon.

      So, I made a mental note on my mad gourmet new experience checklist.

      Last April, we were looking for a business office in the area and got lost. While backtracking, I saw a banner that said, essentially, "Now Open, Baja Med Presented by La Querencia". So, I added that new info to my checklist and finally got the GG to try it out the other day.

      If Miguel has anything going in Ensenada, I know nothing about it, but I can tell you that his roots are based in the Rosarito/TJ ranchland area, that he studied at the Cordon Bleu school in France and was an executive chef at the Hilton Mexico City before he came home to develop his vision of Baja Mediterranen fusion cuisine.

      Francisco, the manager of Baja Med in Rosarito, told us while we were there this last week that they just opened a restaurant in La Paz.

      1. re: Gypsy Jan
        streetgourmetla Jun 22, 2008 03:18 PM

        Yes, on the carretera, that's the one.I had never been to the original location, but was planning to go when I heard about the new location in TJ.Have you checked out the Baja Med Pizza Co?I oredered the pizza de machaca de marlin recently with some mini sopes with chorizo de abulon and mantarraya.I love Baja Med!! They have the same salsas at Baja Med Pizza Co. as they do at La Querencia from mild to wild exponentially increasing in scovilles.

        BMPC also features the local Valle de Guadalupe wines.

        1. re: streetgourmetla
          Gypsy Jan Jun 22, 2008 03:35 PM

          SGM

          I don't know where Baja Med Pizza Co. in TJ is located. The very helpful people told us, but the disconnect between them giving the directions and my understanding...ehh, well.

          I know that insane habanero salsa from experience. More than once, I have casually scooped it on bread while waiting for the appetizers to arrive. I was unable to breathe or eat for some time.

          Miguel should market it as the ultimate weight loss supplement.

          1. re: Gypsy Jan
            Gypsy Jan Jun 22, 2008 03:45 PM

            Kidding, but just.

            1. re: Gypsy Jan
              streetgourmetla Jun 22, 2008 03:58 PM

              Take Bl. Cuauhtemoc south passing Bl. Agua Caliente where it then becomes 16 de Septiembre go 3 blocks to Gobernador Lugo and it's in the plaza on the right.

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