Sitting behind a long, half-moon bay of golden sand less than two hours’ drive from San Diego and Tijuana, Baja’s third-largest city has long been a popular beach retreat for local and international visitors. Its streets and rural environs sizzle with scintillating places to eat – from traditional Mexican family restaurants to delectable dining rooms with vineyard views.
Fine-dining and fine wines are served al fresco by the fire under ancient tropical cedar trees and a star-filled sky. Primitivo – twenty minutes’ drive from Ensenada in the Valle de Guadalupe – is worth going out of your way for. The menu focuses on barbecued meats and seafood, with picadillo de jurel (horse mackerel with herbs and spices), beef steaks and octopus being favorites. There’s a rotating, themed tasting menu of the chef’s latest specialties, and food comes with sommelier-matched wines.
On the edge of Ensenada’s Valle de Guadalupe wine region, this family-run restaurant, set in palm-filled tropical gardens, offers a menu of Baja and Yucatán dishes, as well as sommelier-selected bottles from the celebrated El Cielo vineyard. Signature dishes include delicious pork belly tacos. Made with blue cornflour and accompanied by avocado purée, red onion and piquant chilmole sauce, these are best washed down with a crisp El Cielo copernicus cabernet sauvignon.
Treat yourself to a beautiful resort stay in Ensenada or a romantic boutique hotel for you and a loved one, all bookable through Culture Trip. If you need more inspiration for what to do, explore the best beaches along the coast of Baja California and be sure to sample the best fish tacos in the region.