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Baja California is known for a wide variety of culinary staples. Aside from the region’s delicious Mexican food and margaritas, two of the most renowned Baja-Med dishes south of the border include the pan-fried lobster and the Caesar salad.
To taste the most authentic variation of this globally-recognized Caesar salad recipe, a trip to Caesar’s Restaurant in Tijuana is in order. At Caesar’s, guests can dine in the restaurant where Caesar Cardini, the Italian-American restaurateur credited for inventing the famed salad, whipped up this flavorful creation back in 1924.
Another dish rooted in history would be Baja’s pan-fired lobster, which can be found on a number of menus down the peninsula. Since 1956, Puerto Nuevo, the “Lobster Capital of Baja,” has been serving up these pan-fried lobsters, or langostas. According to tradition, the practice of pan-frying the lobsters keeps the meat soft and tender. The dish would not be complete without the beans, rice, and homemade flour tortillas on the side. While dozens of local restaurants offer this staple, for an authentic experience be sure to head to Puerto Nuevo II.
While these traditional favorites still delight today, over the past several years the Baja dining scene has been transformed by sophisticated restaurateurs and celebrated local chefs. Mission 19 is one example of this burgeoning culinary awakening. Here, celebrity chef Javier Placencia highlights Mexico's culinary heritage with farm fresh ingredients and original recipes that pay homage to his Mexican heritage. As a result, Javier has enjoyed the praise of food writers on both sides of the border.
In par with Mission 19’s acclaim, Plascencia's Finca Altozano restaurant is a rustic alfresco beauty for mesquite grilled delectables like beef cheek tacos, octopus, and fresh fish to be paired with local wines from their extensive list. Giant wine barrels fill the landscape and boast lounge seats up top for sipping vino and drinking in the mountain and valley views.
Another gem in Valle de Guadalupe is Deckman’s where Michelin-starred chef Drew Deckman helms a wood-fired grill at his open-air countryside eatery set on the El Mogor vineyard and farm. Chef Deckman serves up fresh seafood, fine grilled meats and garden fresh vegetables to happy folk dining under the market lights and stars. He’s truly brought the table to the farm.
For another unique wine country experience, Chef Diego Hernandez’s Corazon de Tierra at La Villa de la Valle offers a daily changing six-course tasting menu featuring fresh organic ingredients grown in their garden, exemplifying the fresh, local, farm-to-table opportunities south of the border. He is a culinary wizard known for his creativity and one-of-a-kind dishes.
Baja’s food scene wouldn’t be complete without its cocktails and cervezas. Papas and Beer is famous for its on-going party atmosphere, many flavored margaritas and ice cold Tecate beer. Hussong’s Cantina, open since 1892, and has had a colorful history as Ensenada’s oldest watering hole and even had the pleasure of serving up its famed margaritas to none other than actress Marilyn Monroe. On Avenida Revolucion in Tijuana, it’s easy to see the magnitude of Baja’s sizzling nightlife. From La Sexta (6th Street) down to the Rio Tijuana area (Tijuana's financial and retail center) many night spots line the streets; featuring inexpensive beer, crafted cocktails, margaritas and Mescal.
Did you know Baja California’s beautiful Valle de Guadalupe wine region is home to 100 wineries, top winemakers and talented chefs? Discover more about some of these chefs and wineries here and add a trip to Baja Mexico to your next San Diego itinerary.
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