Nestled between Desert Mountains and the sparkling blue Pacific Ocean, it’s easy to see why Ensenada is a popular cruise destination. Located on the northern Baja peninsula, the vibrant port of Ensenada is full of activities like shopping, water sports and culture.
There’s no better way to experience a culture than through the food. Mexico has one of the world’s richest cultural cuisines, and Baja California itself has become a food mecca for travelers. So, when you’re not beaching it up or exploring the city, you can sample some of the best Mexican food the country has to offer!
1. Baja-Style Tacos
Perhaps the best known of Ensenada’s own foods, Baja-style tacos do not disappoint. Like many dishes of the region, seafood is the star of Baja-style tacos. Fresh white fish like halibut, or sometimes juicy shrimp are coated in Mexican spices and then fried in a tempura-style batter. Served in a corn tortilla and topped with crunchy shredded cabbage, homemade Pico de Gallo and a creamy lime salsa, Baja-style fish tacos are a crunchy, tangy delight for your taste buds!
You can eat tostadas almost everywhere in Mexico, each with a unique regional spin. In Mexico, tostadas are all about – you guessed it – seafood! Start with a tortilla, deep-fried into a crispy round chip and top it with a mountain of local delicacies like sea urchin, ceviche, clam, shrimp, cod and more. Simple yet delicious, tostadas make for some of the best street food in Ensenada. But you’ll also find high-end versions in gourmet restaurants, crafted with innovative and modern toppings.
3. Puerto Nuevo Lobster
Live it up on your cruise vacation with a meal of fresh-caught lobster. Just a few miles up the coast from Ensenada, the village of Puerto Nuevo is known for having some of the best lobster around. Many restaurants in Ensenada offer the famous Puerto Nuevo Lobster, served like you’ve never had it before – with tortillas, salsa, rice and beans. One bite of succulent Puerto Nuevo lobster and you may never want it any other way!
4. Caesar Salad
Get ready to have your mind blown – the beloved Caesar Salad actually originated at a restaurant in Tijuana, Mexico! That’s right, this iconic salad made of crunchy romaine hearts, anchovies, lemon juice, egg yolk, and grated parmesan cheese is a classic Baja California food. So, an authentic Caesar salad on your cruise to Ensenada not only makes a great meal, but a great story to tell your friends.
5. Camarones Enchilado
For more evidence of Ensenada’s rich and diverse food scene, look no further than camarones enchilado. Another surprise to many visitors looking for the best food in Ensenada, many dishes derive from comida china, or Chinese food. Camarones enchilada is a saucy dish made of pan-fried shrimp cooked in olive oil with garlic, Pequin pepper and salt. Try it served over fried or white rice, or in a taco. Or both!
6. Tecate Bread
No, we’re not talking about bread with beer in it. Tecate bread is named for the city in northern Baja where it originated. Sweet breads with names like conchas, orejas and campechanas are a staple in the Mexican diet. What makes Tecate’s version extra special are the high-quality ingredients and traditional brick ovens used to bake them. One bite and you’re hooked!
7. Mini or Baby Vegetables
Discover the fun way to eat your vegetables! With their tiny bursts of flavor, bite-sized veggies have taken the global gastronomy world by storm. The northern Baja region of Mexico has cultivated miniature vegetables for at least 20 years. Find them artfully paired with fine meats and seafood in fine dining restaurants throughout Ensenada.
Trying the local seafood is always a delight when you’re vacationing by the sea. And Ensenada offers it in a million delectable ways. Ceviche is light, simple, and oh-so-delicious, perfect for enjoying on a sunny day. To make ceviche, fresh fish is marinated or “cooked” in lime juice. Next, it’s mixed with fresh cut tomatoes, onion, cilantro, and a bit of chili pepper. This dish is tangy, healthy and delicious. Pair it with a local white wine from the region or a classic margarita, and you’re on your way to a perfect day.
9. Machaca con Huevos
For breakfast lovers, Ensenada has some fantastic treats. If you’re not a breakfast person, don’t worry – machaca con huevos is delicious any time of day. Machaca is a spiced and dried shredded beef native to northern Mexico, and popular in Baja California. Served with eggs, chives and potatoes, this filling combination will have you full, happy, and ready for a day of exploring.
10. Artisanal Cheese
Ensenada food is full of surprises, and artisanal cheese is one of them. Near Ensenada in a region called Real del Castillo, several local farms produce their own fresh cheese. Keep an eye out for Parma, Mancillas, Barajas and Ramonetti cheeses, named after the farms that produce them. And since Ensenada’s climate is Mediterranean-like, you can even find some locally-produced olives to pair with your cheese platter.
Whether you’re thinking about a cruise to Ensenada or it’s already booked, great adventures await you! Carnival still has trips to Ensenada available to help you extend your summer. With each trip you can join exciting shore excursions, learn about an amazing culture and taste exotic food.