Ensenada may not be the prettiest of Baja California’s towns, but it has two very big things going for it: some of the peninsula’s best seafood, and award-winning wineries. From fish taco feasts to tequila and wine tasting, here’s how to spend an awesome 48 hours in Ensenada, Mexico.
Not everyone knows this, but Baja California produces some excellent wine. The stunning Valle de Guadalupe, just 20km (12.4 miles) north of Ensenada, is mile after mile of independent wineries; many offering vineyard tours and tastings for as little as 45 pesos (USD$2.25) if you arrive independently. L.A Cetto, Mexico’s biggest wine exporter, is one of the most established, well organised and, surprisingly, cheapest wineries to visit. If you prefer an organised tour (which normally includes transport, a guided tour and lunch), you’ll have to pre-book this online or ask your hotel to help you book it once in Ensenada (be warned though, they’re not cheap!).
It’s no secret that Ensenada, located right on the shores of the Pacific, is a seafood heaven. Mercado Negro, Ensenada’s largest and most popular fish market, is where all the action happens. For the best seafood deals – and to experience the market at its best – head over no later than 3pm. If you don’t plan on cooking any fish yourself, there are plenty of seafood restaurants here cooking up the catch of the day straight from the market. Their fresh ceviches, served on corn tostadas with a couple of slices of avocado, are heavenly.
The Malecon – Ensenada’s pedestrianised seaside walkway – is where all the action happens. It’s where fishermen disembark their boats to sell their fish at the market, where mariachis play their sets in the hope of a tip, and where local families take an afternoon stroll over an ice cream; join them!
No-nonsense Tacos Don Zefe, an ever-popular choice with the locals, might just be one of Baja California’s best fish taco joints. The freshest flaky fish, crispy batter seasoned to perfection, and a huge choice of salsas make this place an absolute must-visit if you’re in Ensenada. At 25 pesos (USD$1.25) apiece, you can’t beat the price either.
At 50 metres (164 feet) long and 28 metres (92 feet) wide, the Mexican flag that flies over Ensenada is one of the country’s largest, and an impressive sight to see. Due to its monumental size, you’ll be able to spot it from almost any part of the city. However, to truly get an idea of its size, head down to the Malecon.
Serving eye-watering margaritas since 1892, Hussong’s Cantina is the Californias’ oldest drinking hole. With waistcoat-clad waiters, swinging dark green saloon doors, and sepia photos of mariachi legends adorning the peeling walls, you’ll feel like you’ve just walked into a wild west movie. At weekends, the place livens up with old-school mariachi bands (clad in their elaborate shirts and huge sombreros) and locals ready to party. Don’t miss it!
Selling only Mexico’s best tequila (you won’t find any mainstream brands in here!), Tequila Room is a must-stop for any spirit aficionado. The best bit? Tastings are free! (although they do accept tips). Even if you’re not all that into tequila, it’s worth stopping here just to check out the bottles, many of which – with their elaborate, brightly coloured designs – are pieces of art in themselves.