Ok, let’s get this Baja series finished already! I don’t know about you, but I’m ready to move on to the next subject! I’ve been hanging out in Arizona, in the desert, making some tweaks to my rig and generally relaxing. Alrighty now, on to the food!
The food of Baja is absolutely delicious, with a wide variety of everything from seafood, to beef, to goat, to pork, to chicken, to pastries, to coffee. Since Baja is bordered on two sides by large bodies of water: the Pacific Ocean on the west, and the Sea of Cortez (also known as the Gulf of California) on the east, fresh seafood is very popular. And since it’s also one of my favorite food items, I don’t think I really ever got very far away from it. Near the coast, you’ll find tacos made with shrimp, octopus, and crab, as well as locally grown beef prepared as carne asada or spicy goat meat. Even though I ate my weight in shrimp tacos while I was there, the variety of offerings will have you ordering something different every time you go out to eat (unless you’re like me and get stuck on the one thing you really, really, like!).
Lest I get too far ahead of myself, let’s talk about some options for breakfast: maybe you’ll want a breakfast burrito filled with beef machaca (shredded beef with scrambled eggs and onions) and potatoes, or eggs and chorizo (a type of Mexican sausage that can be either mildly spicy or very spicy), or beans and rice with queso fresca (a fresh white cheese similar in texture to feta but with a very mild flavor). Or you might decide to have a cup of coffee or espresso, made with beans grown right there in Mexico, along with a tasty sweet bun or two. (The grocery stores have amazing bakery sections where you take a big aluminum pizza pan and a pair of tongs up and down the aisles, and pick out the pastries you want. Then the bakery clerk will bag them up for you to take to the register.) Or maybe it’s a bowl of Mexican yogurt made with peaches, topped off with granola filled with whole almonds, peanuts, and raisins.
Now back to lunch and dinner: When you’re all taco’d out, it’s easy to find food with a gringo’s taste buds in mind. Think wood-fired pizzas that would win some kind of award if they were located in Los Angeles, and American-style burgers that rival In ‘n Out and Tommy’s.
Wash your lunch down with a Mexican Coca-cola – no high-fructose corn syrup! Try one; even if you’re a diet soda fan, think about trying just one. Maybe it’s all in our heads, but everyone I know who’s tried one, including me, says it tastes different.
And to wash your dinner down, how about a margarita? If you’re drinking this at Charlie’s south of Rosarito Beach, you’ll probably only be drinking one, because two just might throw you straight onto your hiney end and you’ll have to figure out how to get up off the floor. (I’m not sure why this one has two straws, unless it’s because I was drinking it out of both side of my mouth 🙂 )
Then to top everything off, whether it’s breakfast, lunch or dinner, have some flan. It’s Mexico’s version of custard and comes topped with a yummy caramel-ly sauce and maybe some whipped cream and a cherry. Or try the elote (sweet corn) ice cream – it’s served in a corn-husk dish! Or maybe a mango-filled crepe with swirls of caramel and a shot of espresso. Of course, there’s always a trip to the bakery to grab a pastry or two – check out the cupcakes! Any of these would satisfy the sweetest sweet-tooth you have.
If you’re wanting to buy your own tequila, either to bring back home with you or to drink while you’re in Baja, there is no shortage of places to purchase it. The Del Mar Market just south of Rosarito Beach boasts over 500 different tequilas as well as other alcoholic beverages such as the real-deal Absinthe (not the watered-down stuff they made legal in the states some time back), Jim Beam, and Grey Goose. But you’re in Mexico – go for the tequila! Maybe get one of these funny little guys to take home with you! (And don’t forget to check out the requirements for what you’re allowed to bring back across the border with you.)
Always be on the look-out for moochers wherever you go to eat. This seagull was at this table just seconds after the couple vacated it to go to another table out of the hot sun. He snagged himself a few tortilla chips before being chased off by our waitress. And check out that view! Can it get any better than this?
If you go to my favorite place just south of Rosarito for shrimp or crab tacos, make sure you say hello to the owner, Tacho. He’s had this place here for years… and makes amazing tacos and ceviche. (Did I say that already?!) The food on other people’s tables looked good, too, but I could never get beyond the shrimp tacos and ceviche. In any case, you won’t be disappointed, whatever you order!
Finally, one last tip: stop on the side of the road somewhere and pick up a bunch of tamales. The ones I got were 4 for 50 pesos, which is about $3.70, and I wished I’d gotten a lot more than four. I got the pollo (chicken) tamales and they were the best tamales I had during my two+ weeks there. I think the little abuela (grandmother) who made them probably added some love or something – you know how grandmothers are.
I really enjoyed my time house-sitting in Baja. It was a complete package deal: location on the beach, wonderful little house, pleasant kitty who loved to be brushed, and food to die for. Can’t get any better than that!
Enjoy your visit to Baja – and if you’re not going any time soon, I hope you can just imagine what the food tastes like from the photos above. You’ll be planning a visit before you know it.
Let me know when you’re going – maybe I’ll meet you there!