My first trip to La Guerrerense with Street Gourmet LA founder Bill Esparza resulted in mind-blowing tostadas, and yet, upon my return to Ensenada, it was initially debatable whether it made sense to re-tostada. Esparza indulged my compulsive urge to try new restaurants by introducing me to Los Originales Tacos de Pescado and Tacos Marco Antonio, and before we returned to our scheduled programming at Congreso Ensenada Gastronómica, he deposited us in downtown Ensenada at the somewhat inconspicuous stand, which local legend and Guerrero native Sabina Bandera opened in 1962. After tasting her magical tostadas yet again, it’s no wonder La Guerrerense has had so much staying power.
A sandwich board situated just south of the cart features articles and photos of just a small cross section of the luminaries who have become converts to Sabina’s mission, including famed Tabasco chef Aquiles Chavez and local legend Benito Molina – the man who introduced Esparza to La Guerrerense – who all agree with her motto: “I ♥ Cebiche.”
Once Sabina Bandera gets to know you, she may just make you her specialty, a tostada slathered with hot sea urchin blended with pico de gallo and rosy slices of tender Pismo clam, fresh shucked avocado and chile sauce.
La Guerrerense features one of the most dazzling salsa bars anywhere. My combination “plate” received a blessed spoonful of salsa from a jar labeled La Guerrerense, a gritty black burnt chile de arbol tossed with olive oil and something spicy that left a stinging effect on my lips.
On a previous trip to Baja, the crunchy texture of the pata de mula left me unimpressed. In Sabina’s hands, no such problem. The “hairy” black pata de mula clam cradled nothing but blood red likker and lime juice and chopped magenta meat. The pata de mula was much more tender than I remembered.
Bill Esparza poses with Sabina in front of her cart. As he said on Twitter during our trip, “Looking 4 a seafood alternative 2 La Guerrerense in Ensenada is like tryin 2 extract water from a cactus when sittin nxt 2 a well.” He may be right.