Tacos El Gordo…. Yesterday we visited the best Taco Stop in California, by chance, on a quick trip to San Diego and back we stopped by a Taco Shop that we have heard of, from several Travelers as being the best in California… I am not one who readily agrees with other opinions, but, in this case I do….Located on “H” Street in Chula Vista, Ca. Just south of downtown San Diego (they also have other San Diego locations, plus several Las Vegas Locations) A Small quaint simple store front , humble and easy to miss. Parking was tight, the inside was clean, all self service and crowded. The Staff speaks English and Spanish and were both polite and very friendly.
As you can see from our check the Bill was $22.68 for that we got 6 Tacos and 3 Drinks. Three spicy pork Adobada Tacos one with Queso and three Asada Tacos along with 3 large Horchatas a sweet rice drink.
These tacos are sublime, Real with a flavor straight out of Baja. This is what Mexican Tacos are suppose to be. Basic, Simple with a sweet, mild sauce topped with guacamole. The cilantro and pico de gallo are a great balance to the marinated beef. The adobada Prepared on a raised skewer where the pork is placed in layers until it reaches the top of the skewer braised from the outer sides until shaved off for your Taco. It was marinated in an adobada sauce first and then fire roasted which is why this method of cooking Adobada is the best and most authentic. Served to you simply on your red plastic tray which you take to the register, pay, get your cups, get your drinks, then sit down and enjoy the best tacos in California
Called Tijuana Style. Tacos El Gordo also has tacos Sudadero, Cabeza, Buche, Lengua, Tripa, Azteca and Chroizo if you in an adventurous mood. No burritos, No Quesodillas, only Tacos
on a 1-10 Tacos El Gordo gets a Big 10
Spazio.….Located a couple blocks under The Famous Rosarito Beach Hotel on the main drag is a small coffee shop which is easy to miss and has some quirky attributes.
Number one it opens early which in Mexico is a rarity, its Modern like something you would find in Downtown L.A., something like skateboard meets underground arts scene.
Serving a full range of Coffees, Espressos, Cappuccinos etc….With good service and good prices by a polite staff.
The coffees are sourced locally and roasted locally providing a unique Mexican Favor. Hard but not bitter. The espressos were great again strong Instead of sugar it was suggested we tried local honey, which was a good change. They also carried a small assortment of Pastries although not fresh were still good. They also serve some very good Crepes and sandwiches in the afternoon.
Quite like this place .
If you need a quick coffee jump to start you down the road in Mexico, consider Spazio .
Spazio on a 1-10 gets a 8
Manzanilla is the best restaurant that we have been to this year in fact it might be one of the top 3 we have ever been to. If you did not know where Manzanilla was you would never find it. Near the downtown tourist zone not far from the cruise ships down a side entrance to the harbor just before the entrance lie Manzanilla.
You enter through a back gate way into a gravel garden with outdoor bench tables and into a dining room that is both modern and eclectic yet traditional Connected tables and a fine wooden bar set the scene.
The menu is front loaded with seafood bought from the local famous black market caught fresh daily and served fresh nightly. They have a daily plate recommendation along with steaks, pastas, appetizers and desserts all done with a Mexican twist.
I settled for the Arrachera Rancho El 17 con Polenta de Chile Guaillo y Verduritas. Steak with Polenta and Chile with Vegetables. It was superbly cooked on a open grill with a nice char yet perfectly medium inside, season just right, marinated just right, even in the States I don’t remember finding a steak I liked as much as this one.
We also ordered a dozen Clams on the half shell which were sublime arriving in a beautiful presentation that could not diminish there freshness. The pasta was also surprising delicious. Hand made Fidellini de Tomates a las Brasas Albahaca with a great tomato sauce simple yet delicious.
(photos courtesy of Manzanilla)
We also had two Mexican Craft beers. We did not have room for dessert. A fine meal with great service in comfortable atmosphere. The best thing of all the the total check with tip included was 65US$ for two.
Manzanilla was voted one of the top 50 Restaurants in Latin America and I would say they are one of the top 50 the all the Americas. Superb Restaurant, Superb Service…Treat yourself and visit Manzanilla.
On a 1-10 Manzanilla gets a 10
Mario Batali’s Carnevino in Las Vegas is a beautiful restaurant. Located inside The Palazzo near the Grand Canal Shoppes right off the main gambling floor. Its biggest feature is the millions spent on the interior. The carved bull in the main dining room alone is a work of art. Along the walls are glass cases filled with thousands of the best wines from around the world. White table cloths and tall ceiling and handcrafted wood works fill in the rest.
The Antipasti at Carnevino goes from Lamb Sausage to Duck Eggs to Mussels and more, very good yet very small portions . Prices 16-21$. The Itaiian sides also very good yet very small go from Ricotta and Egg Raviolo to Beef Tortelloni.
The dinner dishes serve Lamb, Fish, Poultry and Pork, but if your coming to Carnevino your coming for the Beef. According to Carnevino all their beef is “all natural BBL beef is hand selected and aged in our meat chamber by our man Adam Perry Lang. BBL beef is often beyond regular USDA prime standards for marbling and flavor and is hormone and antibiotic free. We rub all of our beef with sea salt, black pepper and fresh rosemary to get a delicious and slightly charred crust.”.
We order the Dry Aged Bone-In Ribeye at 152$ for two people. It was a delious steak cut and prepared at the table. The char on the outside of the steak was perfect and the seasoning of just salt and pepper with a little olive oil was great. A fine steak. I would rate the steak at about a 7.
The dry aging did not really add any extra flavor to this steak nor make it any more tender. I have had as good or better at other steak houses in Vegas at half the price. For example even at the steak house at Circus Circus (laugh but any local knows that this steakhouse was voted best steakhouse in las Vegas for over ten years running) serves a ribeye that is more tender and just as big and just as well served at half the prices and it come with sides included. The steak at Carnevino seemed to be in the realm of say Ruth Chris. An excellent steak but twice as expensive as even Ruth Chris’s.
What other attributes does Carnevino have that justify these Rich People only prices. Just one…The atmosphere of the dining room which is stunning.
If you come here for dinner and get a antipasti with a Pasta side and a Steak and a Bottle of Wine expect to pay with tip a minimum of 325$
Carnevino serves a fine steak in an amazingly beautiful room but is it worth the money……
On a 1 to 10 Carnevino gets a 7
Café Moto in San Diego on a side street just of the 5 Freeway in lower San Diego’s Logan area is a bustling Coffee shop, Roaster, Store, Supplier and by far the best coffee in the area.
There all in one shop provides some surprising choices from Blue Sky dark Roast to Organic Ethiopian Yirgacheffe and even Papua New Guinea “Purosa A Grade” Organic Coffees. So, you can get a sense of their vast selections.
We tried there Organic Fair Trade Columbian Coffee and found it fresh, strong and a little bitter but, after a little cream it was fine.
The prices here are fair. The service friendly and prompt and the atmosphere is cool.
We bought a bag of their Triple Cert French Roast Fair Trade-Organic Guatemalan from the Huehuetango region called Super G to take home and found it a very good, strong, Vanilla hinted, sweet Coffee.
If you’re in the south end of San Diego stop by this out of the way Coffee house and enjoy a fine cup of coffee.
On a 1-10 Café Moto gets a 7
For as long as I can remember, Ensenada has had a whiff of south-of-the-border excess and spring-break stigma. Less than two hours from San Diego, down the Baja California peninsula, it’s one of the easiest and safest places to experience Mexico on a budget — which makes it easy to think of this small coastal city and cruise line layover as a sort of Mexico for Beginners. But dismissing northwest Baja is a mistake. Beyond the souvenir shops selling sombreros, knockoff artesanía (handicrafts) and tacky T-shirts, there’s a college town, a port town and a budding culinary capital that invite exploration. While Ensenada and the surrounding area can require a bit of patience, its pleasures are worth the time it takes to find them — and all the more so because they can be had so affordably
The Baja 500 in Ensenada in Mexico has become spring break for underground motorsports. It has morphed into a 3 day festival with parties going 24/7.
It’s a very unique thing a very happy collaboration between Mexicans and Americans. To tell you how big it’s become is to say how it’s impossible to find a room during it, how you have to wait 1-2 hours for a restaurant, shop with bumper to bumper people and deal with a lot of drunks.
That said Ensenada goes all out to support this event. They try and help you anyway they can with customer service kiosk set up thru out the town with extra police and military everywhere.
The People of Ensenada are friendly, Accommodating, Polite and know more about offroad racing than probably any city in the world.
This race today is nothing like the Baja 500 five years ago. It is ten times as big with 15 times the drivers. Drivers today are not just Americans and Mexicans but with entries from around the world. Europe, Japan, Canada, South Africa…..
Day 1 is a settling in day with registrations and late arrivals. It’s the day everyone arrives and heads to the shops and then to late night partying at Ensenada state of the art nightclubs.
Day 2 is Vehicle Inspection Day and the official kickoff to the Baja 500. All the vehicles line up on the main Blvd. in what is a 3 mile long precession to inspection. Along that route thousands of people descend on these cars to get autographs and photos and talk to their favorite drivers and to attach their stickers to the race cars.
Day 3 is Race Day. It unofficially starts at 9am with the departure of the Trophy Truck, before that the smaller vehicle and Motorcycles have already left. The Start is time slotted and decided by previous time trials. The start is thunderous with the cars running thru the streets to the nearby wash screaming so loud you have to cover your ears after several left turns they make a sharp right into the city wash and are herded straight into the vast desert to complete their return loop back to the city where they finish.
It was at this sharp right where a Trophy Truck could not negotiate the turn flipped and struck a family killing a small boy. A terrible tragedy stopping the race for over an hour and a half. It seemed to be a case of Mexican Authorities letting the crowds to close at dangerous points and an inexperienced driver out of his depths. A terrible thing to have to witness….
People proceed out to the desert and erect their own tents and await the passing cars or go to other organized events and dare the cars in a sort of bull fight party fest.
The arrival back to the same departing spot where the party reignites and then to baseball stadium converted to greet all the racers with a party till dawn.
This year’s overall winner was Mexican, Gus “Tavo” Vildosola Jr,
ZETA Newspaper Tijuana, Baja California, Mexico
For various reasons, the Baja 500, records at least one death during the most important sporting event in this oceanside community in Baja California, Ensenada, every race!
Governmental entities that organize the events have been declared in the red, bankrupt, as the budget is insufficient and end up paying with money from the community.
The latest edition of the Baja 500 off road race, controlled and organized by the American firm Score-International of San Diego, California, holds the race in Ensenada.
This year, the carnage was disgusting, it left three foreigners dead, six car accidents, one person injured, and trash and ecological damages all along the length of the route.
Even though it appears that the municipal government benefits with the location of the competition, what is certain is that with each race, the municipality, through Proturismo, had ended up in the red since 2011, with debts of 150,000 pesos (US$80,000) which end up being paid with city money.
“The races have had Proturismo in bankruptcy for years,” criticized one person interviewed.
Businesses such as prostitution also have become an attraction for those in that business, and days before the race women in the business arrive in Ensenada from other Mexican states.
The insecurity factor was reflected in the 48th edition, where a motorcycles died from a heart attack, and another from heat stroke in San Felipe. Meanwhile an 8-year old American boy, identified as Zanders Hendricks, was run over and slain, by the ‘Space Monkey’ Trophy Truck.
This is not the first time that tragedy loomed within the most important sporting event in Ensenada.
In each edition at least one person linked to the event dies for different reasons.
SCORE and Roger Norman, has manipulated and threatened authorities with the possibility of move the race to Puerto Peñasco, in Sonora, or La Paz, Baja California Sur.
Those governments have computed the proceeds and rejected the SCORE proposals because the government revenues would be insufficient to the costs born by the local people.
In Defense of Shockingly Dangerous Desert Racing in Mexico
By Sam Smith, Wired.com
COMBINED, THE MEXICAN STATES of Baja California and Baja California Sur are some 775 miles long. They comprise a peninsula that stretches southward from the California border. Vacation hotspot Cabo San Lucas sits at the Baja peninsula’s southern tip. Between there and San Diego, you have desert, forest, mountains, mud plains, small villages, 1,900 miles of coastline, a handful of paved roads, and some of the most achingly gorgeous places in the northern hemisphere.
And people race things—trucks, motorcycles, cars—all the hell over it.
The Baja 1000 is the king of the nonstop desert races. The grueling, high speed trek, held every November since 1967, covers roughly 1,000 miles starting from the California border town of Ensenada. It draws tens of thousands of spectators, scattered across the region. For safety and competitor challenge, the route is different every year and even alternates regions of the state. Last year, it ended in La Paz, 1,130 miles south. This year, it loops through the desert and returns to Ensenada. And like every Mexican desert race in history, this year’s 1000 will be captivating, wonderful, and shockingly dangerous.
People die in Mexican desert racing. It doesn’t happen regularly, but it happens often enough to talk about. As in any form of motorsport, drivers are at risk. But during this summer’s Baja 500, American legend Robby Gordon hit a spectator with his race truck. (The spectator survived.)
Two years ago, motocross champion Kurt Caselli died after hitting an animal with his motorcycle. The same year, in the shorter Baja 500, San Francisco-based driver Kevin Price lost control of his buggy and killed a spectator. In 2011, motocrosser Jeff “Ox” Kargola sustained fatal injuries following a crash during an eight-day race from Mexicali to Cabo San Lucas.
Maybe that seems like a lot; maybe it doesn’t. Your answer likely depends on your opinion of risk and racing. But to understand why these things keep happening, and why Baja racing is amazing, you have to know a little about the place.
I’ve been to Baja. Several years ago, I crewed for a friend competing in the 1000. We spent long days and sleepless nights in the desert, chasing a car we rarely saw and—thanks to malfunctioning radios—rarely spoke with or could locate. We lived in a van and drove south through the country, our race car, driver, and co-driver sometimes hundreds of miles away.
If you go to Baja and don’t fall in love with either its racing or the landscape, then you sat in a hotel in Cabo and never saw the real land.
Our race ended a few days in, when the steering rack on the car came apart. We spent the rest of the week gathering up the pieces, both figuratively and literally. It was a Mexican vacation without the vacation, very little tequila, and lots of work. Plus several nights under the Mexican stars at remote service stops, next to spectators burning live, in-ground trees for firewood, waiting hours for our car to show up.
It remains one of the best experiences of my life. Baja races draw tens of thousands of spectators, and Ensenada becomes a massive party during the race’s start. On the course, three-ton, 800-horsepower Trophy Trucks—tube-frame machines designed to rip over moonscape terrain at highway speed—shared the same chunk of sand with 70-horsepower Volkswagen Beetles on sand tires. Both ripped through unpatrolled spectator areas—some of them ten or twenty miles long—in fourth gear, mere feet from families and cheering fans.
Spectators do absurd, life-threatening things like play chicken with speeding race cars and set booby traps.
Small towns and villages are virtually and charmingly undeveloped, with 1950s infrastructure and a Mayberry vibe. If you go to Baja and don’t fall in love with either its racing or the landscape, then you sat in a hotel in Cabo and never saw the real land.
But the place is also famous for a seeming lawlessness. Spectators do absurd, life-threatening things like play chicken with speeding race cars. They famously set booby traps—pits, rock stashes—to cause racers to crash. It’s not uncommon for teams and crews to be robbed on the road or simply lightly extorted, by people posing as armed military. During a service transit the year we ran, we were stopped by armed military at a checkpoint, bribing our way past with cash and racing stickers. Days later, an old Baja hand told me the Mexican police and army hadn’t used that checkpoint in years.
Consider the craziest Baja story of late: In 2007, on the Baja 1000, a race team’s chase helicopter crashed on the course, spitting distance from spectators. One of the dead bodies removed from the chopper was reportedly identified as Francisco Merardo Leon Hinojosa, a lieutenant for Tijuana’s Arellano-Felix drug cartel. Legend—or at least the Mexican media—holds that, the next evening, 50 men with assault rifles stormed the morgue in Ensenada and escaped with Hinojosa’s body and two hostages. The hostages were later recovered. Hinojosa’s body was never found.
And most Baja racers who hear this just shake their heads and go, “Wow. But, you know, that’s Baja.” Not as an endorsement, of course. More a shrug.
It’s not lawless, of course—Mexico is a country like anywhere else, with rules and statutes. But setting aside the odd morgue raid, the police can only do so much in the middle of the desert. It’s impossible to effectively patrol 1,000 miles of race course, and you cannot have a squad car or race official on every hill in a vastly unpopulated peninsula.
Extrapolate that out, and you have the explanation for Baja’s safety, or lack thereof. With a race course that covers that much land, there are only so many safety steps to be taken. You can move fans back from the course in the cities or small towns, but you can’t drape bunting and crowd-control staff over two whole states. Same for booby trap policing. And while some people suggest restricting the horsepower of Baja race vehicles, that only makes sense to an outsider. In the wide-open desert, even a VW Beetle can move fast enough to be deadly for a spectator.
In spite of this, or perhaps because of it, people flock there. And when you hear of an accident like Robby Gordon’s, the Question—everyone who has been to Baja has heard the Question—burbles up again. It always burbles up. It makes the rounds of mainstream media, and if you haven’t been there, you can understand why someone would ask it:
How much longer will this go on?
If you’ve ever watched the local news, you can guess the follow-ups: Is Mexican desert racing even safe? How come lawyers haven’t gotten ahold of it? Should it be “fixed” or—worse—stopped entirely? We should not treat death or injury lightly, but we should also resist the temptation to overreact. To sensationalize, glorify, panic, or neuter.
Like so many human endeavors fraught with risk, there is no easy answer. Maybe there’s no answer at all, nothing between the existence and nonexistence of this race. Like the Targa Florio or the Isle of Man Tourist Trophy, Baja may simply be a binary situation, untamed or extinguished. Given the variables, the only real way to make it safer would be to drastically shorten race lengths, or remove these events from Mexico. And then you do not have Baja racing, you have something else.
I’ve never driven a race car in Baja, but I’ve accepted a small part of the place’s risk and felt the payoff. I’ve stood a little too close in washes as Trophy Trucks came raging through the desert, felt the roar and the rush and the blinding, stinging sand as they ripped by me in the middle of the night at eye-watering speed. I felt alive because of it. I knew I had been somewhere specific, been a part of a specific moment in time. I was, as my friend Bill Caswell says, out in the world and “off the couch.”
Not everyone has to accept that risk. And you have to assume most people who go down there do accept it, and that they try to be intelligent about it, because no one wants to die. Indeed, everyone I met during my time in Baja—racers of any color, even Mexican spectators, for all their absurd, dangerous antics—admitted they knew what could happen. And they still showed up. Because it is amazing, one of our last great adventures.
And if nothing else, I can virtually guarantee one thing: If you stood in the desert wash as the sun rose over the mountains and the thundering blat of a pack of Trophy Trucks deflated your lungs, hundreds of miles and a world away from everything you know, you would have a hard time hating it. You would not ask the Question. You would simply smile, and watch, and, like all the racers and spectators, hope for the best.
Located in the Yuppie high rise area of downtown San Diego near the Midway Aircraft Carrier. Puesto might be one of the 5 best Taco stops in San Diego. But,be warned, bring your wallet because it might also be the most expensive taco stop in San Diego. A very trendy, hip, cool, place with music blaring and tight seating. The service is fair and slow. The ambiance is impressive.
These tacos are delicious. Marinated meats with hand made tortillas, fresh salsas all with custom brewed beer and every tequila you’ve never heard of.
They carry an assortment of San Diego Craft Beers with names like, Ballast Point Sculpin IPA and Cervezeria Wendlandt Vaquita Marina Pale. I settled on the Agua Mala Astillero IPA a dark beer strong but sweet and it was a great choice. There tequila selections are impressive all high end with shots starting at around 10 bucks. If your in the mood for Mezcal they even carry that.
Food wise we settled for a simple fare of tacos and beer. We started with Carnitas and Lamb Barbacoa and then tried 2 Carnitas tacos. All were superb, cooked perfect, seasoned perfect and marinated perfect. The chips were standard fair.The Antojitos of dockside market ceviche was Ok not great sort of touristy.
Overall opinion on the food is come for the tacos and the beer……..and don’t forget to check you card balance before you leave home.
Overall on a 1-10 Puesto gets an 8
Among These Ruins
This hotel is an old school,
you can feel it, though time has passed.
Despite the broken-down walls,
the smashed spaces. The people who live here
seem to be passing through. A few hours
each day. A few months.
they do have their own rooms,
but they seem to be constantly on the move.
I have been looking for my own room for some time among these ruins.
I couldn’t say how long, but now
I’ve come out into what must have been a garden
or some back terrace.
From here, all the spaces are back to front.
Perhaps I will recognize the look of my room
by its own back. Or from it, perhaps, I will catch
Located in a strip mall on a crowded blvd. going to the airport. Klatch Coffee is good coffee, delivered by friendly people. They say their coffee is top 1% of the best. There Coffee is very good but, the best I don’t know…
There blends are good. Well formulated from mild to bold. I think there African coffees are there best. I purchased a bag of there Crazy Goat Blend which they say is a full bodied blend dating back to the beginning of coffee….Very Good, light yet full bodied with no after taste at a reasonable price.
Klatch pays attention to detail. They were voted Micro Roaster of the year a couple years back. They even received coffee of the year from Coffee Review. Bang for you buck, Klatch is the best coffee shop by far in the Inland Empire. Constantly rotating there inventory and dating all there coffee. I have never received a bad cup of coffee here.
Klatch has several Coffee Shops around the Inland Empire and even one at LAX
On a 1 to 10 Rating …..Klatch Coffee gets an 8
Tonyan Coffee located in the middle of the High Desert above Los Angeles in a strip mall in no where Apple Valley is probably one of the best coffee shop finds in L.A.
In the High Desert the people are independent, spirited, and yet easy going and so is there Coffee.
Fairly priced…Good service..Small. This coffee shop sourses and roast it’s own beans. With a very big selection on sale over the bar of maybe 10 different makes of coffee all Organic. We settled on 2…Mexican Chiapas and Double French along with a Chiapas Ice Coffee…other than Coffees there is not much else except for a small selection of pastries, we elected there chocolate chip cookie……
The Mexican Chiapas was a medium brew, sweet no bitterness, mellow yet strong. I liked it a lot…I even bought a bag @ $12 to take home and have enjoyed it all week…highly recommend it. … The Double French is usually what I prefer a strong powerful, wake you up and get you rolling type coffee, and this was all of that with no bitterness very clean, fresh. I added a little cream to mellow it a little further and wala…another great recommendation. …
In summary, Tonyan is one of the best Coffee Roasters in the entire L.A. area. The coffee is all Organic, Roasted fresh blended thoughtfully , the area selected Coffees are exceptional….do your self a favor and check these guys out….
13528 Nomwaket Rd. Ste.A
Apple Valley, Ca. 92307