6 Great Dishes from Baja
Last weekend was a Baja blur, featuring a relentless food tour of the northern Baja Peninsula that included state-of-the-art Tijuana tacos, high-end “alta cocina” and Baja Med fusion. We visited more than 20 spots in just over 48 hours. These are just six of the staggering tastes along the way, with a full report to come in the next two weeks.
El Mazateno – Shrimp Taco
The second-largest migrant group in Tijuana hails from the coastal state of Sinaloa. El Mazateno is a leading example of the style, a high-volume open-air taqueria that produces scintillating seafood. The smoked marlin taco was memorable, but couldn’t compete with the taco camaron enchilado, featuring a flaky, paratha-like flour tortilla topped with plump grilled shrimp tossed with chile de arbol.
La Querencia – Beef Tongue Carpaccio
Miguel Angel Guerrero, a fourth generation Tijuanan, invented a style of cooking called Baja Med by combining Mediterranean, Asian and Mexican influences with the best local ingredients. At his nine-year-old restaurant in Tijuana’s Gastronomic Zone, Guerrero features several carpaccios that would shame most high-end L.A. restaurants. My favorite: silky beef tongue carpaccio topped with fried garlic, frizzled scallions/leeks and drizzles of sea urchin cream.
Barbacoa Ermita – Pancita
Every weekend, Hidalgo native Victor Torres opens up his home’s covered patio so people can eat his barbacoa, an entire mutton slow-roasted for 8 hours in maguey leaves that leave the meat moist and aromatic. My favorite part of the experience was digging into the bowl of pancita, a chile-tossed mess of organ meats, include tender strips of stomach and a mixture of kidney, liver and who knows what else. The roasted mutton was great, but didn’t feature pansita’s distinctive organ funk.