La Guerrerense: Eating Ensenada’s Oceanic Riches

Seafood Ensenada

Sabina Bandera has been producing mind-blowing tostadas from an Ensenada street cart for 33 years, topping her corn crisps with jewels of the sea. Street Gourmet LA founder Bill Esparza considers La Guerrerense “the best tostada place in all of Mexico.” That’s high praise from a man who’s eaten in Pac Man-like fashion through every corner of Mexico, and based upon our initial experience, entirely believable.

La Guerrerense (the name for a Guerrero native) is located just off Ensenada’s main drag and basically amounts to a covered cart with scattered chairs. Each morning, Miss Bandera prepares all the seafood and salsas at home and dispenses them throughout the day with her hard-working crew.

We all started with a round of sea urchin and sea cucumber, then were able to order anything we wanted from the 20+ varieties of Baja seafood. The urchin served hot, blended with an acidic chop of tomato, onions and herbs that cut through the briny richness. The cucumber was pleasantly chewy.

Seafood Ensenada
Round two: sea snail and fish pate. The clam-like snail meat was diced and blended with refreshing pico de gallo. Fish pate was the meal’s only letdown, a creamy mix of what was basically tuna salad.

Seafood Ensenada
Spanish-influenced bacalao was a crowd pleaser, served hot and mixed with onion, green olives and red peppers. The tostada was counterbalanced by a cool, creamy seafood salad folded with crisp peppers.

Salsa Ensenada
The stainless steel bar hosted jars of incredible salsa, including fire orange Chillito Exotico and mind-blowing Chillito de Jardin, featuring whole peanuts and ground ancho chilies.

Seafood Ensenada
After we had three rounds of tostadas, Miss Bandera passed around a plate of sea snail, featuring warm two-inch steaks that were reminiscent of clam, but not as chewy. The chile marinade helped to make the cooked “meat” supple and flavorful.

Agua Fresca Ensenada
We also tried a great drink that’s unavailable in Los Angeles: cebada, a mix of toasted barley, milk and sugar that loosely resembled horchata, but had more depth of flavor.

Thank you to the Tijuana Convention and Visitors Bureau, Crossborder Agency, Cotuco (Tijuana Tourism Board), and Tijuana Canirac (Tijuana Restaurant Association) for sponsoring our eye-opening culinary tour of northern Baja. Thank you to Bill Esparza from Street Gourmet LA for leading the tour and for supplying so much invaluable information.


Joshua Lurie

Joshua Lurie founded FoodGPS in 2005. Read about him here.