The sleepy town of Ensenada
The quaint town of Ensenada has a Fisherman's market (famous for their Baja fish tacos) and is a stop for many cruise line tourists making their way down the Baja coast, (though my husband and I try to visit during the week when it's sleepy). We visit frequently because the experience is both grounding, and relaxing. Not to mention, we love to show our support to the countless, passionate small-town restaurants working hard to serve their best food of the day.
In the US, we are all bombarded by "bigger is better,"
"more is more," and "shop till you drop."
One and a half hours south of the California border
in Baja Mexico, lay a town that is a refreshing reminder
that life with less can be priceless.
Its name is Ensenada.
As we drive from the border to Ensenada,
the idea of people endangering their lives to
flee Mexico and live in the US is very real.
I always find it sadly peculiar that the location
I just happened to be born, and the location they
just happened to be born, only miles apart...
are worlds apart.
I've had a lot of good tamales over the years but hands down, these are our favorite.
Our favorite roadside tamale hut is located right outside Ensenada on the way to La Bufadora, the famous blow hole. Sometimes you have to wait, but it means you get to watch as "the tamale lady" mashes huge bowls of maize for the extra-large batches of tamales. Her hot sauces nearly sizzle a hole in your tongue, but the tasty olives will make you salivate to cool the burn. The olives come from local groves that surround the area.
If you ever find yourself in Puerto Nuevo and only have time for one stop, make it here.
The neighboring town of Puerto Nuevo is famous for their flavorful, cooked to perfection, grilled lobster! Our favorite restaurant, Ortega's is located down a dirt road, past many other lobster houses, at the very end of a cliff.
One of the interesting things I like about the tamale lady is that she uses any kind of bottle/jar she can find to store her vegetables and sauces, instead of buying what's considered more "appropriate." It doesn't matter where they come from or what they look like. I always collect bottles to bring to her each trip. Being a busy woman who takes her tamale-making seriously, she accepts my bags of U.S. bottles without response, and then gets right back to her tamales. I've had a lot of good tamales over the years but hands down, these are our favorite.
It's usually packed with people who've driven from afar just for the lobster feast. Every time we've been, the same three gentlemen always comprise the mariachi band, singing their hearts out as patrons stare at beautiful views of the vast deep blue Pacific Ocean. If you ever find yourself in Puerto Nuevo and only have time for one stop, make it here. We frequent many of the same places over the years and time and again, we find the same waiters & waitresses taking pride in their work and in the smiles of satisfied patrons.