We located the Avenida Primera, lined with boutiques and European-style eateries, but we were here for something else: tostadas from the famous 50-year-old Mariscos la Guerrerense.
Anthony Bourdain has said that the food offered here is worth a drive from L.A., and Newsweek proclaimed it one of the best in the world. There is no sign. We only knew we were looking for a street cart with a green-and-red awning on a corner….and a line. Found it!
Locals and tourists alike lined up for tostadas with various types of ceviche and toppings. The founder, Ms. Sabina, sat reading the paper while her many workers swarmed around her, making up fresh tostadas faster than you could order. We sampled the La Guerrerense, sea urchin topped with pismo clam and sliced avocado, as well as the bacalao, which is a dried and salted cod. Each was a refreshingly fresh and light indulgence, and at $1.25 each, a steal.
While in Ensenada we stopped at the oldest and best-known bar in all of Mexico, Hussong’s Cantina, established in 1892. Had I known that Hussong’s invented the margarita in 1941, I’d have had one of those, but we enjoyed a couple of icy Bohemians for $1.25 each while attempting to hear each other over the piercing bellows of the mariachi.
Leaving: More Difficult
We started making our way back north for dinner, knowing we’d be facing the ungodly border crossing lines later that evening, and opted to stop in at Tapanco, a younger sister restaurant to El Nido. Another meat house boasting deer, rabbit, lamb and quail on the menu (meat's pretty inescapable in Mexico, FYI), its atmosphere surpassed that of its older sister. Listening to the flowing fountain, we snuggled up against a fireplace, once again, under the canopy of candlelit branches.
We decided we should be a bit adventurous and ordered a delicious little garlic quail and the Mexican Plate, consisting of a venison burrito, carne asada taco, chile relleno and, of course, rice and beans. The chile relleno was the stand-out for me: spicy and cheesey deliciousness.
I was totally meat-ed out at this point, and was actually looking forward to a huge homemade arugula salad to return to balance…that, or more lobster.
We regretfully drove back up through Tijuana to the border crossing – an experience in and of itself. Throughout the two-hour wait, we cruised miles of makeshift shops selling everything from churros to pharmaceuticals to hammocks and decorative figurines. Overzealous salespeople wove in and out of the lines of cars.
GET THE CHURROS (from Churros El Pulga!). Not only are they the best I’ve ever had, hot and crispy, made car-door-side, but they really do alleviate the anxiety and frustration of sitting in that line. Next time we will most definitely seek a Fast Pass (as we found out after the fact, they're offered complimentary with a stay at RBH), but, in review, the wait was worth it.
Thank you, Mexico, for reminding me of the good life – but mostly for the lobsters. Stay tuned for our next journey to Mexico and beyond! Next stop: San Felipe!!