Archive for the 'Ensenada' Category

Tacos El Fenix – Ensenada

12 p.m. It took a village to pull me away from La Guerrerense, but I grudgingly boarded the bus knowing that our next stop was for fish tacos.  Along with carne asada burritos, these more or less fueled my high school years in San Diego, so I was curious to compare and contrast the version I grew up with to the ones made in Ensenada.

I love how the boy in this photo is clearly indifferent to fish tacos, while his parents are eagerly awaiting their orders. Living in this delicious city, I’m certain that the little one will be a card-carrying foodie in no time.

The fish tacos at El Fenix are made of shark, which is a really big fish if you think about it. Each tender fillet is dredged in a tempura-like batter with mustard and spices and then fried in lard. The fillets are fried twice using a stainless steel comal. The first fry is to cook the fish, while the second one is to crisp up the batter seconds before serving.

The freshly fried fish was gently laid atop a warm corn tortilla. A plethora of garnishes including cabbage, crema, pico de gallo, and various salsas were available tableside to personalize our tacos to taste. What sets El Fenix’s fish taco apart from the Rubio’s of the world is the vibrantly crunchy batter. I was very impressed by the level of crispness achieved and the absence of extreme greasiness. Score one for lard.

Tacos El Fenix
Corner of Espinosa and Juarez (Calle 5)
Zona Centro, Ensenada

BAJA BITES: 2 Days, 3 Cities, 18 Meals
Introduction > 1 > 2 > 3 > 4 > 5 > 6 > 7 > 8 > 9 > 10 > 11 > 12 > 13 > 14 > 15 > 16 > 17 > 18

La Guerrerense – Ensenada

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.

La Guerrerense
Corner of 1st and Alvarado
Zona Centro, Ensenada
Phone: 646-174-2114

BAJA BITES: 2 Days, 3 Cities, 18 Meals
Introduction > 1 > 2 > 3 > 4 > 5 > 6 > 7 > 8 > 9 > 10 > 11 > 12 > 13 > 14 > 15 > 16 > 17 > 18

A Culinary Blitz Through Tijuana & Ensenada

When I excitedly told my mother that I was heading down to Baja for the weekend on a food and media trip courtesy of the Tijuana Convention and Visitors Bureau, she told me to avoid SUVs. The horror stories surrounding drug cartels and murders coming out of Tijuana had my mother convinced that anyone riding around in a Lincoln Navigator would soon be staring into the barrel of a gun. I promised her I’d be very careful.

Grossly skewed media reports, like the ones my mother was reading, inspired Bill of Street Gourmet LA to work in concert with the Crossborder Agency, Cotuco (Tijuana Tourism Board), and Tijuana Canirac (Tijuana Restaurant Association) to spearhead a gastronomical dash through the region. While the mainstream media was fixated on the dark side of Baja, Bill wanted to share the more hospitable and delicious side.

I was joined on this journey by fellow bloggers, acclaimed food writers, chefs, and restaurateurs, including Eddie of Deep End Dining, Anna of Across the Border, Josh of FoodGPS, Fiona of Gourmet Pigs, H.C. of LA-OC Foodventures, Matt of Mattatouille, Pat of Eating L.A., Nancy of NancyZaslavsky.com, Abby of Pleasure Palate, Javier of Teenage Glutster, Noah of Man Bites World and Squid Ink, Barbara of TableConversation, and culinary professionals from Las Cabronas, La Casita Mexicana, Ciudad and Border Grill

I’ve experienced my share of gorge fests these past couple of years (See: Saigon, Bangkok, and Hong Kong), but nothing, and I mean nothing, can compare to the forty-eight hours I spent in Baja. Donkeys painted to look like zebras are cool and all, but you ain’t seen anothing yet!

BAJA BITES: 2 Days, 3 Cities, 18 Meals
Introduction > 1 > 2 > 3 > 4 > 5 > 6 > 7 > 8 > 9 > 10 > 11 > 12 > 13 > 14 > 15 > 16 > 17 > 18

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