Two Baja California Restaurants Rated Among the Best in Latin America
By Brenda Colón Navar/Reprinted with permission of San Diego Red
Restaurant Magazine has recently published its list of the best restaurants in Latin America, based on the professional opinions of over 250 gourmet experts, and two top eateries from Baja California have made the cut: Laja and Corazon de Tierra.
Located in the the Guadalupe Valley near Ensenada, the heart of Baja’s wine country, both Laja and Corazon de Tierra have drawn widespread acclaim for their superb Baja Mediterranean cuisine, a hybrid culinary style that fuses fresh local ingredients and traditional Mexican flavors with contemporary Asian and Mediterranean accents.
Laja is best known as the home base of celebrated Chef Jair Tellez. With a story that started taking shape in 2001, from a menu printed on newspaper, this restaurant has seen exponential growth in both ambition and reputation. Guests at this benchmark bistro are always encouraged to personalize their meals with different dishes, and various portion sizes. Menu selections are updated weekly to show off the best available ingredients, many of which are grown in the restaurant’s garden.
Corazon de Tierra is where Chef Diego Hernandez and his team work their culinary magic. One of the unique aspects of this benchmark Baja Norte eatery is its lack of a traditional menu. Rather than being restrictive, this lack of consistency liberates the chef, and allows him to constantly create new dishes using the freshest seasonal ingredients. The daily dishes are always amazing, and together with the delicious wines and cocktails and spectacular views, have helped make trips to this highly regarded restaurant a must for visitors.
Last year, celebrity chef Anthony Bourdain visited Baja California and chose Corazon de Tierra as one of the best places to dine in the region. While chatting with Chef Diego Hernandez, Bourdain asked him about his reasons for staying in Baja California, despite having plenty of opportunities to showcase his talents in larger, more publicized areas. Hernandez responded that it was imperative that chefs in the region promote the natural wonders that Baja California has to offer, and that they should make it a point to create new dishes with these abundant indigenous ingredients.
The publicity surrounding Restaurant Magazine’s list should help to showcase the incredible profusion of culinary talent now evident throughout Latin America, and particularly in Mexico. In addition to Laja and Corazon de Tierra in Baja, Mexican restaurants that made the list include Pujol, Biko, Quintonil, and Merotoro in Mexico City; Pangea in Monterrey; and Casa Oaxaca and Pitona in Oaxaca. These ten restaurants prove that Mexican cuisine is much more than just tacos and burritos, and that in addition to reinventing and modernizing traditional regional favorites, the country’s best chefs are creating a culinary tradition all their own.
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