Mike Madriaga 8:30 a.m., July 16
Baby steps in Baja: Day One - Puerto Nuevo
Navigating Baja's lobster capital is easier than you think
We planned our road trip with a lunch stop in Puerto Nuevo for langosta, their famous spiny lobsters, in mind. Thanks to a remarkably fast border crossing, we made it to the city entrance just after noon.
Puerto Nuevo is a small fishing village you’ll enter on the main drag, Av Rentaria. Nearly all the town’s thirty or so langosta restaurants are on it’s two main and four side streets. It would be difficult to get lost there, although with enough tequila I’m sure it could be done.
The instant you get past the gate, you’ll find yourself guided to parking lots, street parking, and promises of the best lobster deal in town. Every restaurant, it seems, has a hawker ready to help you navigate the tiny town. Not to worry, they are respectful and most are only slightly persistent; a simple, “No, gracias” and a nod or smile is all that’s necessary.
We didn’t have any particular place in mind, and, as Ian Pike pointed out, they are all pretty much the same. Typical lobster feasts include fried lobster, beans, rice, flour tortillas, chips and salsa and range from around $15 to $30 depending on size.
We parked in front of a souvenir shop to chat a bit with the owner and his friend, who suggested a place nearby where we’d enjoy a beautiful ocean view.
He led us a short distance away to Toña, where we were handed off to our pretty hostess, welcomed warmly and ushered upstairs to a table on the rooftop. It indeed had a view, and we had a watchful friend to boot. Thankfully, the cat was sleeping in his carrier, so we avoided a gato vs. gaviota throwdown.
Moments later, we were enjoying cold margaritas, warm chips, and some really nice smoked calamari, while eyeing a tray of lobsters our hostess presented. We went with the medium size, less risk of overcooking the small ones or getting a chewy, tough large one.
I hadn’t even gotten halfway through my margarita when our lunch arrived, and I started the wonderfully messy process of pulling out the sweet, tender tail meat and constructing delicious tacos with the endless supply of hot flour tortillas, sharply acidic Mexican limes, and loads of pico. Yum. The sides, beans and rice, were served family style. Hard to mess those up. They were pretty good stuffed into my makeshift tacos too.
Most restaurants in Puerto Nuevo are cash only. Going to the bank to exchange money is a pain for anyone, so paying in pesos is a nice gesture, but certainly not required.