Bart Mendoza 5 a.m., Dec. 8
Thankfully, after decades of political correctness, it has once again become socially acceptable for a person to admit that they relish the shear primal delight of sinking their teeth into a tender piece of steak, a juicy chop or a succulent slice of roast. This trend has also proven to be a positive turn of events for dedicated carnivores everywhere, because it has helped to restore the popularity of what had previously been a traditional dining institution; the steakhouse.
During the latter part of the previous century, it was certainly possible to enjoy a good steak at a restaurant in Baja California, but with a few notable exceptions, such as El Nido with its popular eateries in Playas Rosarito, San Felipe and Loreto, finding a satisfying chunk of prime grade beef south of the border could present a daunting challenge. Until recently, it was virtually impossible to match the exclusive quality found in such renowned steakhouses found in the San Diego region as Donovan’s, Morton’s, Greystone or Rainwater's.
While the Hussong family name has long been associated with their famous downtown cantina, they have also been involved in establishing a number of other successful local businesses enterprises over the past few years. And now, much to our good fortune, they have provided Ensenada with gourmet quality grilled and roasted meats that will delight and satisfy even the most jaded palates.
Without a doubt, Sano’s Steakhouse has become one of their most reviered operations. Situated at the end of the toll highway, just before Ensenada’s commercial maritime basin, its mission style design invites visions of old Mexico. Once beyond its rustically arched wooden doorway, guests find themselves in a beautiful Mediterranean-like garden that is burgeoning with bursts of color from a variety of foliage that abounds therein, and also festoons an antique horse cart that sits in the middle of the courtyard.
As in many other fine steakhouses, the interior décor of the dining room is darkly elegant and features a high staff to diner ratio, which helps to accommodate the impeccable service that Sano’s has gained the reputation for consistently delivering over the years. But for a vast majority of their regular clientele, it is the quality of the meat that brings them back here again and again.
For starters, the house tortilla soup is rich and toothsome, with just the right density of chili and seasoning to awaken the taste buds for the wonderful meal yet to come. Likewise, the spinach salad with its imported goat cheese and freshly picked greens is hard to beat if you are in the mood for something a bit lighter.
One of the most regularly ordered entrees at Sano’s is the rack of lamb. Tender and expertly cooked to order, these succulent clusters of cutlets are topped with a densely flavorful demi-glaze that might prompt Emeril Lagasse to weep with joy.
Also magnificent, are the generous cuts of New York and rib eye steak, which come with a fresh vegetable and your choice of potato. But perhaps the best value in the house is their mouthwatering filet mignon. Virtually fork tender, this thick, heavenly piece of tenderloin is wrapped in bacon, grilled to your specifications and covered with a luscious crème and mushroom sauce.
When paired with one of their fine Baja wines, like an L.A. Cetto Nebiolo, guests are set to enjoy an elegant, world class dining experience that would be difficult to match anywhere in the region. Hence, as one might expect, the pricing here also dwells within that realm and is on par with similar upscale restaurants north of the border.
One thing is a certainty, you would be wise to call Sano’s well in advance of your intended time of arrival and make a reservation. Otherwise, your dining party may end up being unnecessarily kept from enjoying one of Baja’s finest steakhouse experiences.
Sano's Steakhouse is located at Km. 108.5 on the scenic road to Ensenada. Open daily between 8 a.m. and 11 p.m. For reservations, call (local) 646-174-4061. MC & VISA accepted