Jan 2020

80 Hours in Baja: Puerto Nuevo, Valle de Guadelupe and Ensenada


I have been meaning to return to the Valle de Guadelupe and Ensenada ever since an epic trip back in 2009. It took an entire decade to make it happen, but I finally made my way this past November along with The Astronomer, my mom, and June. We had a fantastic time.

Puerto Nuevo #1 – Puerto Nuevo

Restaurant Puerto Nuevo #1

While we could have driven from San Diego straight to our lodging in the Valle de Guadelupe, it was far more delightful to swing through Puerto Nuevo for lunch. Rounding out the feast of lobsters were rice, beans, salsa, made-to-order flour tortillas, and plenty of drawn butter.

Lumi – Valle de Guadelupe

LUMI - Valle de Gauadelupe

From Puerto Nuevo, we drove to the Valle de Guadelupe. A fortuitous internet rabbit hole led me to Lumi, a Scandinavian-Mexican escape in the heart of Mexico’s wine country. While my mom stayed in a well-appointed converted shipping container, The Astronomer, June and I glamped our hearts out.

LUMI - Valle de Gauadelupe

We spent our days hanging on the container’s rooftop, taking dips in the jacuzzi, and chilling at the on-site playground. The Valle is truly magnificent, especially at sunset.

Our only regret about the timing of our trip was the lack of sunlight during dinnertime hours, which meant that we couldn’t fully appreciate the gorgeous properties and vineyards where we dined.

Deckman’s en el Mogor – Valle de Guadelupe

Deckman's en el Mogor - Valle de Guadelupe

For our first meal in the Valle, we headed to Deckman’s en el Mogor for super-fresh seafood and fire-licked proteins. June enjoyed the dogs laying at our feet throughout the meal, a standby of Valle life.

Deckman's en el Mogor - Valle de Guadelupe

The evening’s feast included Kumiai oysters with a chapulin mignonette, a yellowtail crudo, mussels, quail, and rabbit with mole.

La Cocina de Dona Esthela – Valle de Guadelupe

La Cocina de Dona Esthela - Valle de Guadalupe1472

I couldn’t wait to wake up the following morning for breakfast at La Cocina de Dona Esthela. Mom and I sipped warm mugs of cafe while we waited for el desayuno to arrive.

La Cocina de Dona Esthela - Valle de Guadalupe

The house-special borrego tatemado, shredded wood-roasted lamb, was simply unforgettable. Served on the side of the crisp and flavorful meat were freshly made corn and flour tortillas, chopped onions and cilantro, limes, and warm consomme.

La Cocina de Dona Esthela - Valle de Guadalupe

Though we ordered the corn pancakes for June, The Astronomer and I couldn’t help eating more than our fair share. The pancakes’ coarse texture, sweet flavor, and fluffy nature really made an impression.

We loved our breakfast here so much that we returned a few days later for the final meal of the trip.

Fauna – Valle de Guadelupe

Fauna - Valle de Guadelupe

Our fanciest dinner was at Fauna in honor of my mom’s 67th birthday. We ordered Fauna’s Feast, a multi-course tasting that included a most incredible taco course complete with browned butter scallops, squid ink, and griddled blue corn tortillas.

Fauna - Valle de Guadelupe

Also memorable was the very first course, vegetables from the restaurant’s garden served on ice with delicate basil and avocado sauces plated a la Pujol

Fauna - Valle de Guadelupe

We sipped glasses of Bruma Tinto de la Casa Barbera 2018 and had a grand old time in the dynamic dining room.

Clos de Tres Cantos – Valle de Guadalupe

Clos de Tres Cantos - Valle de Guadalupe

The following morning, we enjoyed a lovely breakfast at our hotel and explored the lone vineyard of the trip.

Clos de Tres Cantos - Valle de Guadalupe

While the 21 and over set sampled a trio of wines, June had a great time exploring the property.

La Guerrerense – Ensenada

La Guerrerense - Ensenada

Lunchtime took us to the legendary La Guerrerense cart in Ensenada for seafood tostadas.

La Guerrerense - Ensenada

The sea urchin tostada seduced me once more with its unbeatable oceanic flare.

La Guerrerense - Ensenada

My mom is the coolest.

Finca Altozano – Valle de Gauadelupe

Finca Altozano - Valle de Gauadelupe

Our final dinner brought us to Chef Javier Plascencia’s rustic and casual Finca Altozano where we shared a parade of dishes that included beef tartar, fideos, roasted peppers, and grilled sausages.

Finca Altozano - Valle de Gauadelupe

We walked around the magnificent grounds in the dark after dinner, but need to return to truly take in the views.

La Cocina de Dona Esthela, Valle de Guadelupe

La Cocina de Dona Esthela - Valle de Guadalupe

We returned for breakfast at Dona Esthela before making the drive back to San Diego.

La Cocina de Dona Esthela - Valle de Guadalupe

On the table were our favorites including the lamb tatemado…

La Cocina de Dona Esthela - Valle de Guadalupe_1480

…and the corn pancakes.

La Cocina de Dona Esthela - Valle de Guadalupe

New to the scene was a standout machaca and an order of pork-skin chalupas.

We traveled to Baja seeking a bit of adventure and a lot of good eating, and returned home fully satisfied on both fronts. We’ll be back before the next decade, promise.

One year ago: The Year in Delicious: Top 10 Bites of 2018
Two years ago: Baroo – Los Angeles
Three years ago: 9021Pho – Los Angeles
Four years ago: 
New York City Sweets: Cake, Paletas and more!
Five years ago: Copenhagen Pastry – Pasadena
Six years ago: Spicy BBQ Restaurant – Los Angeles (Hollywood)
Seven years ago: Meyer Lemon Curd Tart
Eight years ago: Kobawoo House – Los Angeles (Koreatown)
Nine years ago: Saw’s BBQ – Birmingham
Ten years ago: Pitfire Pizza – Los Angeles (Culver City)
Eleven years ago: Steven’s Steakhouse‎ – Los Angeles (Commerce)
Twelve years ago: 
Cơm Niêu Sài Gòn – Ho Chi Minh City
Thirteen years ago: 
Alma de Cuba – Philadelphia

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