Don’t miss Baja Norte’s Gastro Party of the Year!

When does a food fest feel more like a big party? When it’s Sabor de Baja, silly! The 5th annual edition of Sabor is coming up Wednesday, August 30, in the oceanfront gardens of the venerable Rosarito Beach Hotel. We felt fortunate to attend last year; read our take-aways here. We were very impressed with the thoughtful event planning and the careful pairings of delicious dishes with Baja wines and craft beers; we can hardly wait to see what’s in store for this year! Expect fun live music, distinguished judges, and the opportunity for YOU to cast your vote for the People’s Choice Award. From what we’ve heard, participating restaurants will include Valle de Guadalupe’s Latitud 32, Mixtura, Tahal and the new La X, plus Rosarito’s Pasta y Basta and from Ensenada, Planta Baja and Mantou, winner of last year’s top prize. Wineries will include AliXima, Relieve and El Cielo, to name but a few. Gold level tix have already sold out, and we hear silver level tix are in short supply! Find out how to get tickets and check out the ticket/overnight packages. And, hey – don’t forget to wear white!

See? You’ve gotta wear white to Sabor de Baja! Just be very careful if you’re drinking (or near someone drinking) red wine.

Last year’s top prize went to Mantou, for this duck carpaccio, smoked with wood vines & mesquite, with goat cheese, pearl apricots and microgreens, paired with Corona del Valle Sauvignon Blanc. As delicious as it was beautiful!

We also loved this tuna with chile, grapefruit, watermelon, jicama & salsa de chapulines paired with 2014 Tintillo from Legado Sais.

Upcoming Events in SD + BC

Spring has almost sprung. What does that mean? Festival season is upon us! Here are a few events on the eatdrinkbaja radar screen. Check back again, as more events will be posted soon!

Saturday, March 19 Sabor Latino, Fashion Valley


This event, benefiting Media Arts Center San Diego’s youth media scholarships and part of the San Diego Latino Film Festival, boasts some great Baja chefs, including Miguel Angel Guerrero of La Querencia + La Esperanza, Diego Hernandez of Corazon de Tierra, Oso Campos of Tacos Kokopelli + Martin San Roman of La Terrasse San Roman PLUS Border X Brewery, Adobe Guadalupe, Villa Montefiori, Lomita + Vena Cava. $35/advance seems quite reasonable!

Saturday, March 19 + Sunday, March 20, Latin American Art Festival, Liberty Station

LAAF 2016

We were unable to attend last year, but this FREE festival claims to feature Baja chefs + wines in addition to more than 100 artists. We think it’s worth a check-out!

Sunday, April 3, Festival de Las Conchas y El Vino Nuevo, Ensenada

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This grand tasting was our runner-up for fave event of 2015, second only to the Vendimia Paella Fest, the granddaddy of all Baja food fests. At Conchas you’ll find more than 40 chefs serving up clams, mussels, oysters + abalone, raw & cooked to perfection, with about as many wineries pouring. Food station, winery lines were not long; chefs were happy to meet/chat; a great mix of locals + gringos in attendance; entertaining + educational cooking  demos. A fantastic way to spend the first Sunday in April for about $30 US! Highly recommended. Read about our visit last year. 

Blues + Paella = A Very Filling Weekend

We survived – even thrived – during our Baja mega-weekend. Our first visit to the annual Baja Blues Fest @ Rosarito Beach Hotel was thoroughly enjoyable. We grooved to Missy Andersen, the Bayou Brothers w/our friend Sista Judy Seid (rubboard player extraordinaire) + Michelle Lundeen, Backwater Blues Band, Tijuana-based Hola Soy Lola and headliner Tommy Castro + The Painkillers. Great set up/sound, not crowded, colorful folks, great friends and reasonably-priced beverages.




Then to Tapanco south of Rosarito for a lovely dinner with a great bottle of Emeve wine (which we won as part of a fantastic raffle prize at the Blues Fest) followed by a sampling of Tapanco’s secret delicious housemade ice cream: pumpkin, coconut, beet, tres quesos & tequila.


But hey, the fun didn’t stop there! Sunday: Valle de Guadalupe for the Granddaddy of all Baja food fests: the Vendimia Paella Contest. What a wonderful scene! With 80 paella-making teams, 50 wineries, 2 live music stages + (my estimate) 2,000 attendees, it was well-organized with plenty of food, drink + fun to go around. Paella is, however, very filling and after two to three bowls, it can be a bit difficult to differentiate.





DSC_4016CR & JP crop

My favorite team names? Las Ovejitas Disobedientes (the Disobedient Lambs) and La Flaca + El Gordo (the Skinny Gal & Fat Guy). And altho we didn’t sample his paella, always great to see favorite Baja Chef Javier Plasciencia participating. Don’t miss this fantastic festival next year! Thanks to technology, tix were available online in May, but sell out as fast as a Rolling Stones concert. If you’re interested in going next year, let me know soon; wouldn’t it be fun to put an eatdrinkbaja group together?

Muchas gracias for photos by Bob Gove.

Bracero – SD’s hardest working new restaurant

Count us among those who’ve been eagerly anticipating Chef Javier Plasciencia’s Bracero Cocina! Made it this week; not disappointed. From what we saw, if you don’t have reservations but arrive by 5:30 or so on a weeknight, you should be able to get in quickly. Don’t be intimidated!

IMG_0628We had reservations and were directed upstairs to a rather tiny table for two. We felt lucky to be there, but it was noisy and a bit hectic, with VERY close tables. A far cry from other Plasciencia venues we’ve frequented, Finca Altozano in the Valle (FAVE!) & Mision 19 in Tijuana. Fortunately, we had fabulous table neighbors, Sarah and Ethan Epperson.

IMG_0636We took a few mins to drink in the atmosphere – and then got down to the real drinks.

IMG_0616As long-time Sentri Pass holders, we HAD to try the Sentri Pass and the Ready Lane cocktails (with jalapeno-infused tequila; I’m SO inspired to try this at home!) With dinner I enjoyed a glass of Sacro from Lomita, one of our fave Baja wineries. We started the eating experience with a grouper birria taco (fish, not goat, the traditional birria centerpiece).

IMG_0617Tasty, but sorry, not memorable. What WAS memorable was the Sabina Bandera tostada, named for the wonderful and darling chef at the long-standing and pretty-darn-famous La Guerrerrense in Ensenada.

IMG_0618Corvina ceviche, prepared clam, sea urchin topping & avocado – WOW. I’ll order this again. Bracero’s chocolata clam was lovely but a bit chewy.

IMG_0621The one hot small plate we ordered was the wood-grilled octopus: highly recommended, but disappointing. The black bean & squid ink sauce are tasty but = a dark, blah presentation.

IMG_0620While we grooved on the smoky flavor, green garbanzos and anise flowers, the octopus was (in our opinion) mushy. As Baja veterans, we prefer our octopus lightly grilled, served al dente.

IMG_0626On to dessert: one coconut flan, one grapefruit panna cotta, both delicious. Pleased with our meal, we headed out & were lucky to chat with Chef himself on the patio.

IMG_0638Felicitaciones – please join us in wishing great success for Bracero Cocina! We love having Baja cuisine & chefs on this side of the border, and front and center in our region’s culinary tapestry.