Ensenada, near Cruise Port: What's Not to be Missed?
We have one day in January to visit Ensenada from a Princess cruise: Is there any food spot near the port which you recommend? Thanks!
You'll be well within walking distance of 2 of the main drags through town, the rest of it is just a short cab ride away.
- Manzanilla - seafood, very good, well-respected chef
- Muelle Tres - much more casual seafood place. Used to be owned by the chef of Manzanilla, who sold it a couple years ago.
- La Guerrenese - VERY famous street cart doing nothing but very fresh seafood. It's on 4th and I want to say Ruiz, but I don't think that's right.
- El Rey Sol - one of the older restaurants in town. My experience has been that it tends to be a little uneven depending upon who is in the kitchen. When it's good, it's very good, when it's not, well, it can be pretty bad.
- La Contra - 6th & Moctezuma
- Barra Azul - 11th & Espinosa
- Icarus for burgers and wings
- Hussongs if you just have to go check it out. (The family that owns Hussongs also owns, IIRC, Sanos, which is one of the better upscale places in Ensenada and a short cab ride from the pier)
- Mercado Negro - which is the fish market in Ensenada. There are a ton of fish taco and marisco stands all around it. They all pretty much serve the same thing, so just take you pick and dig in.
Enjoy your trip, January can be a great time to visit in Ensenada, especially if the weather is nice.
La Guerrerense is on 1st (López Mateos) and Alvarado, next to the large jewelry store. It is absolutely worth it. I stuffed myself there—four tostadas and a pata de mula—for about $20. Bear in mind that like most eateries in Mexico, it is strictly cash only.
I would add Tacos El Fenix (either the sit down or the cart, the cart is better). The cart is at 5th and Espinoza. Get fish tacos.
re: Philly Ray
On Friday at 2 p.m. there were maybe 20 people there. There are four people preparing food, including Sabina, so she will call your order to whomever is taking care of that sort of thing. One person is shucking shellfish, another is in charge of ceviche, a third does cocktails, and Sabina does whatever needs to be done. There was very little wait.
re: Das Ubergeek
Questions from the uninitiated (we'll be stopping in Ensenada on a cruise next month as well), seeing that it is very popular with tourist both foreign and domestic (and locals for that matter), how good will the staff be at understanding my horrible Spanish that will likely quickly devolve into Spanglish and then just English? Also, will they accept American dollars or will I need to exchange currency prior to visiting?
Most people in northern Baja are at least nominally bilingual, and many people are completely fluent in both languages. Not everyone speaks English at the places you've been recommended, but every place has at least one person who speaks some English. What Mexicans are is polite (far politer than we are when faced with the same language barrier in our own country); you can get by with gestures and broken Spanglish and they'll be very nice.
Every place takes dollars in Baja, but you are implicitly accepting whatever exchange rate they've picked. The official rate is around 13:1, so you may get a lot of 12.5 or even 12. (One place in Tecate tried 10:1 and I protested politely; they pulled out an iPhone and looked it up, apologised, and recalculated). If you're only there for the day it's not really worth pulling pesos from an ATM, but a) try to avoid giving $20 for a $4 tostada, and b) you'll be given change in pesos more likely than not.
For sure tacos El Fenix, they've been there for 42 years. Amazing. Their tacos de camaron are just as amazing as their tacos de pescado. I've had fish tacos throughout the peninsula and must say that these are some of my favorites. However, if you only have time for one stop La Guerrerense is the absolute must go.
I love the fish market and it is very close to where the cruise ships dock. It is a very active spot and interesting to see what they have that you do not see at home. Let alone so much whole fish or items piled so high. Last time we were there a boat was unloading what had to be thousands and thousands of dollars worth of live sea urchins. The alley next to the fish market is lined with taquerias for the freshest seafood cocktail you will ever have.
In a Newsweek I was reading at the doctor's office last week A. Bourdain voted La Guerrerense one of the best places to eat in the whole world. I think it was the only place on the list in Mexico.
I have driven by El Fenix but others in the car were not impressed with the looks of it and we passed. I will have to be more agressive about it next time. I just responded to another post about where we go for tacos. Los Traileros. But it is not walking distance from the ship.
We never officialy exchange money when we are there for the weekend. If you pay with a $20 they will usually give you change in pesos and then you use that. I am researching for a trip to Mexico City and read that credit cards have an international transaction fee. For most cards it is 3% on every transaction. So figure that into your shopping while considering the exchange rate and true cost of items if you charge it.
Have a great time!
re: Got Cake
Most restaurants are cash only, and all street stands are.
La Guerrerense is absolutely amazing. Get "erizo con pismo" (sea urchin tostada with pismo clam and avocado, US$5.50) and put the peanut-chile salsa on it. Fantastic. It's on First (Lopez Mateos) and Alvarado, near the big jewelry store.
Fenix is great tacos. They hand you fried fish on a tortilla and you dress it as you like. There's a good stand across one block down from Tacos Nemo (which is bad) on 5th and Riveroll.
If you want sit-down seafood near the Mercado Negro (fish market), go to Muelle Tres.
You definitely do not need a taxi. The cruise ships dock (open a map of Ensenada please) either on the west or north side of the C-shaped wharf that sticks out into the protected harbor at the foot of Av. del Mar. Once you get to the main road walking along the wharf, you are four short blocks (three along the main road and one inland) from La Guerrerense.
Aim for the absolutely enormous Mexican flag. It's two short blocks inland from the flag (which itself is one short block toward the sea from the main multi-lane road).
I'm just back from my own Princess cruise (onboard food was generally pretty mediocre; the only thing I remember with fondness are the desserts, and the franks and sauerkraut they had one german buffet day).
1) La Guerrenese. We thought was OK but a little over-rated: we had four tostadas, each topped with avocado and seafood: one with sea urchin (not much urchin!), one with some VERY chewy clam, one with octopus (not bad), and one with sea snail (not bad). Disappointed there was no sea cucumber available. But the total was only US$5, the service was quick despite a crowd, and they even had a few chairs to sit on.
2) Birrieria Guadalajara (just off López Mateos on Calle Macheros) where we split a regular order of "borrego" (lamb) birria. It was OK, but nothing special. Together with two bottled waters and including the tip, it cost us US$12.
3) The Mercado Negro fish market may be worth a visit--if you've never been to Super H Mart or any big Chinese supermarket; at many the latter they will actually fry fish for you, which is not the case at Mercado Negro.
We didn't try any fish tacos because we've had enough to last us awhile from Señor Baja.
Anyway, yes, it's all a short walk from the cruise ship dock, US money is accepted (in both cases prices were quoted to us in English), and the only Spanish I used was "borrego", even though the menu has English.