I am always game for an epic gastro trip and one of my joys is traveling with close friends and family to eat and try new cuisines. One of my best friends, Carmina (aka @thecrazycook_ph) visited San Diego with her family in May. She read about the burgeoning Guadalupe Valley food and wine scene in the and wanted to visit.
We invited Candice, who recommended restaurants and the seven of us drove into Mexico on a beautiful Wednesday in May.
Our first stop was at Doña Sabina Bandera's La Guerrerense in Ensanada, the street mariscos cart made famous by Anthony Bourdain's No Reservations in 2012. I heard lots of great things about their tostadas and was intrigued. I bit into a sea urchin and clam tostada and my first thought was that is is not chilled (most raw food that I eat in the States is refrigerated) followed by the taste of pure fresh seafood deliciousness. The tostada was phenomenal and I can see why they were invited to be a vendor at Anthony Bourdain's Pier 57 food hall opening in New York on August 1, 2017.
After La Guerrerense in Ensenada, we drove about an hour to Vena Cava Vinicola. We were hoping to eat lechon tacos at Troika but the truck was closed. Fortunately wine tasting was available and because it was a weekday off season, we were the only people there.
Vena Cava looks like it was built by artists and could be an artist colony. The tasting room is made of recycled materials and the place sparks creativity. It is the place where you want to paint your masterpiece while sipping a glass of their tempranillo.
After Vena Cava, we drove for 20 minutes to Deckman's en El Mogor. It was my first time and the place literally took my breath away. It was so beautiful in a rustic, serene, elegant and unpretentious way.
Michelin starred Chef Drew Deckman creates dishes with ingredients grown and produced at the Mogor Ranch or sourced from local producers.
After, our scrumptious meal at Deckman's, we drove an hour and a half to Tijuana and headed to Taco Nazo. A trip to TJ would not be complete without cheap street tacos.
On to our last destination, Baja Med chef extraordinaire Javier Plascencia's Mision 19. Having enjoyed meals at his other restaurants - Caesar's in Tijuana, Bracero Cocina in Little Italy and the tapas bar at Romesco in Bonita I was excited to try Mision 19. I was not disappointed...
We drove into Mexico at 10:00 am and returned to San Diego at 11:00pm. We broke our rule of getting back into San Diego before dark and the ride back was difficult. The road with a sign that pointed to San Diego led us to a pitch black road with a cement wall block (with no sign warning of the block). We ended up going to the wrong lane and got stopped and questioned by US border patrol. Going back to the States is always a challenge due to the confusing roads and traffic but the culinary journey is worth it.
Tip: Before going to Valle de Guadalupe, call the individual restaurants and wineries and check their operating hours. All restaurants vary and some may be closed on certain days or for the season. Complete information is not always online.
Deckman's en el Mogor