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Top 5 Baja California restaurants you need to visit in 2017

Japanese oysters in El Clavo, Valle de Guadalupe (AGringoInMexico.com)

Just a hop, skip, and a jump on the AMERICAN-mexican border through San Diego, is a foodie’s fantasyland – a thriving culinary landscape of Baja, with award-winning restaurants and innovative chefs.

Baja, California may not be on the top of most must-see lists when it comes to travel in Mexico. Tourists will probably head to beach resorts like Cancun or Cabo– but if you’re on or near the west coast, you owe it to yourself (and your stomach) to visit Baja to check out some of the best food south of the border.

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W. Scott Koenig is a San Diego-based journalist who specializes in reporting on the Mexican food, culture and travel. He has traveled extensively throughout Mexico and Baja California for more than two decades. In 2012 he founded his blog, AGringoInMexico.com a comprehensize guide on his own experiences and recommendations.

Koenig is a “FoodieHub Food Expert” for Tijuana, Valle de Guadalupe, and Rosarito Beach. FoodieHub is both a website and an app compiled by more than 250 fexperts, worldwide.

FoxNews.com caught up with Koenig, in anticipation of the New Year for his top five, not-to-miss restaurants in the region– and some drool-worthy dishes you should order.

  • 1.

    Seafood cocktail, La Guerrerense, Ensenada

    AGringoInMexico.com

    Anthony Bourdain’s “favorite street car on the planet,” La Guerrerense, according to the New York Times provides a brick-and-mortar location in Ensenada, officially called Sabina after an owner Sabina Bandera. Bandera’s seafood cocktail features pieces of chocolate clams, squid, shrimp, and sea snail served in a light cocktail sauce. Slightly sweet and nicely spicy, the delicate sauce allows the flavors and textures of the seafood to take center stage.

  • 2.

    Chicharron in salsa verde on The Rib Shop, Tijuana

    AGringoInMexico.com

    Chef Fernando Acosta is dedicated to serving pork “snout to tail” at his casual eatery The Rib Shop, in Tijuana. The restaurant is perfectly cooked and meaty chicharron (fried pork skin) is presented on top of a layer of creamy, spicy salsa verde, topped with marinated red onions, served with corn tortilla chips. In 2016, he opened a second location on the Border Psycho Brewery in the Plaza Fiesta.

  • 3.

    Beet ravioli, Alma Verde, Tijuana

    AGringoInMexico.com

    Alma Verde is Tijuana of the hippest new place for a weekend brunch. The menu consists of a number of vegetarian and vegan options, and the restaurant even has its own line of healthy juices. The beetroot ravioli filled with a rich, creamy filling of cashew butter – replaced by the typical goat cheese then topped with mandarin oranges, garden vegetables and chopped cashew nuts.

  • 4.

    Sope of curried chicken livers, Sanvil, Valle de Guadalupe

    AGringoInMexico.com

    Chef Surinder Veer Singh Ortega caused a stir in Baja is one of the local food community this year, the opening of the new restaurant Sanvil based on the concept of fusing Indian and Baja California cuisine. There is a lot of “Baja Med,” the mix of Mexican with Medittarean food, and there is “Baja-Euro mergers, but Singh is a pioneer in the “Baja-Indian” fusion in the region. A chicken liver curry sope (thick corn cake) with leaves of purslane and cut into cubes of potatoes, topped with a spicy, ripe mango pickle, yogurt, cherry tomatoes and micro-greens is a preview of the chef new dishes.

  • 5.

    Oyster Provençale, Andares, Tijuana

    AGringoInMexico.com

    Andares De La Baja Cocina by the chef Luis Enrique Gil Moreno is a stylish restaurant in the up and coming la Cacho neighborhood of Tijuana. Andares stands out among Tijuana’s more traditional architecture with modern furnishings and industrial materials. This new hotspot offers indoor and outdoor terrace, and a Baja California cuisine-aware menu– which means that much of the fresh seafood and locally grown products. Their oysters Provençale have a gigamoto oyster seasoned with spices, combined with butter, baked, then grilled for a little extra smoke.

  • Rebekah Sager is a writer and editor for FoxNews.com. She can be reached at rebekah.sager@foxnews.com. Follow her on Twitter @rebekah_sager

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