11 a.m. After a breakfast of pit roasted goat in Tijuana, the Baja culinary blitz crew was whisked seventy miles south to the coastal town of Ensenada. Following a quick visit with the tourism board, we were taken to the corner of First and Alvarado, the site of Sabina Bandera Gonzalez’s tostada stand.
La Guerrerense has been serving up the freshest seafood tostadas imaginable to local Mexicans and visiting beach bums for the past thirty-three years. Of the eighteen dining destinations I visited during my forty-eight hours in Baja, this bare bones seafood stall topped them all.
Growing up on public school lunches, I had the most dreadful introduction to tostadas. Thankfully, Ms. Sabina’s creations had nothing in common with the mushy pinto beans and wilted iceberg lettuce of yesteryear. My first tostada consisted of sea urchin on one side and sea cucumber on the other. The fruits of the sea were freshly caught and incredibly vibrant in color.
One bite of the tostada and I was completely enraptured in its deliciousness. The intensely briny flavors of the sea had me swooning and sighing. I’ll forever remember La Guerrerense as the place where I finally understood the complexity and goodness of sea urchin.
Even though the tostadas were flawless on their own, a selection of unique homemade salsas was available to dress them up. My favorite contained whole peanuts and dried chilies in a spicy oil.
I was tempted to order another sea urchin for my second tostada, but braved up and branched out to cod (bacalao) and sea snail. Both were fantastic, but with thoughts of sea urchin still dancing in my head, I couldn’t quite give this tostada my full attention.
Instead of a third tostada, I opted for a Pismo clam prepared two different ways. On one side was a clam cocktail, and on the other was a ceviche with ketchup and avocado slices. Freshly caught seafood served without fuss is one of the finest pleasures ever. A drink of cebada (barley, milk, cinnamon, and sugar) was on hand to keep us hydrated and to offer a sweet counterpoint.
La Guerrerense is open every day except Tuesday from 10 AM to 4 PM.
Corner of 1st and Alvarado
Zona Centro, Ensenada