Baja California

Best of Baja 2016: Best Restaurant Nominees

Whic was the best culinary experience this year?

Baja California has many virtues, and among them is the FOOD... yes, we already know this region is a very awesome place for that (That's what this entire series is about), but not everything is seafood or pork dishes on the street, as high level restaurants are also part of the magic of this state.

Undoubtedly, the food was one of the triggers that made the world turn to this Northern corner of the country. This year was no exception and there were many proposals in Baja California's cuisine; we had to leave some restaurants out of the voting but we are sure the candidates for the Best Baja Restaurant 2016 category are more than worthy. Here are the nominees:

1.- Tras-Horizonte

From the masterminds behind the already iconic Tacos Kokopelli, Tras/Horizonte arrives with a new eclectic mix of autochthonous cuisine and baja med, resulting in exquisite dishes that will leave you wanting more.

The chef "Oso"-as he's called- and staff, have a tradition in which the menu evolves constantly, but there will always be good seasoning and dedication to food. All this accompanied by one of the rarest and most interesting mixologies you will find in the city of Tijuana. You can not miss the "Chapulín Colorado" or the "Raspado of Mole" drink, you will not regret it.

2.- La Cayetana

La Cayetana entered the game with a set out of a New York restaurant in the 20s, but with a modern twist. La Cayetana cuisine can be called experimental despite the excellent meat cuts; the cooks have been given the task of playing with seafood to offer foodies some fusions of very interesting options, such as delicious curry clams served with a dish of potatoes, something unusual but worth trying.

These dauntless creations are another factor that helped the nomination of this restaurant, as well as its elegant hanging bar, which is a must-stop for anyone who likes to enjoy of a good whiskey or mezcal.

3.- Fuego

Located in the heart of Valle de Guadalupe, Fuego is still one of the most delicious restaurants in the state. Surrounded by mountains and vineyards, Fuego enjoys a privileged location that allows you to improve your experience at Valley.

Fortunately, their cuisine ranges from simple dishes such as lamb tacos to elaborate dinners, like baked pork for more than six hours. All of this always accompanied with a good glass of wine. It is also appreciated that all its ingredients are harvested by the staff in charge, providing a truly endemic cuisine.

4.- El Lugar de Nos

Chef Mariela Manzano has managed to create Baja cuisine wonders with her restaurant called El Lugar de Nos, a must-stop in the Pueblo Mágico of Tecate. With an exquisite variety of Baja-Med food, El Lugar de Nos is a restaurant that stands out by being unique simply because it is one of the few (or maybe the first) to offer "baja-med" cuisine in a formal restaurant.

EL Lugar de Nos combines a rustic Tecate spirit with the most current tendencies of the state, adding a little family touch, all of this to bring something that excels throughout the region.

5.- La Casa de la Langosta

This business that was officially opened in the 80s thanks to the second generation of the family that introduced this traditional dish of the region, a lobster accompanied by rice, beans and tortillas, the beginning of a Baja tradition.

The father of Susana Dias Plasencia (the owner), was the fisherman that is responsible for it, who at the end of a hard day's work used to take lobsters home where his mother prepared them with what she had at hand, mostly lard, flour tortillas, rice and beans. The food passed from the fishermen's family to locals, and from there to today, where it has become a MUST for tourists.

6.- Finca Altozano

If Baja California has become one of the best food destinations in the country, is largely thanks to the work of Chef Javier Plascencia; however, Finca Altozano in the Valley of Guadalupe has been positioned as a must-see stop when looking for an exquisite meal in the Baja wine country. Finca Altozano is a rustic, relaxed and very pleasant area known for using local products and ingredients that grow on their orchard or nearby ranches. All this complemented by an extensive list of regional wines and craft beers.

7.- Oryx Capital

The talented Chef Ruffo Ibarra and his team have remodeled an abandoned space in front of the iconic Grand Hotel Tijuana to bring us their exquisite food in Oryx Capital. Definitely for lovers of quality cuts and grilled meats.

Oryx Capital was also mentioned in the best places for breakfast category of the Best of Baja due to their delicious and extensive brunch options, but their main kitchen steals the show. Also, there's a special of tacos on Tuesdays, which is a perfect day to go try their original mixology and wide variety of liquors and craft beers.

Vote here. Deadline is Dec. 30.

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Translated by: cristina.mora@sandiegored.com

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