by Susan A Mahalick/Bajatimes. Reprinted with permission from SanDiegoRed.com
Fresh ingredients, great food and budget-friendly
Many have heard of Puerto Nuevo, a lobster village and a fun adventure in dining. Few, however, have the same pleasure of knowing Popotla, Km 38. Just south of Baja Studios there is an arch and a dirt road leading into a little village full of tiny eateries and curio shops. Unlike Puerto Nuevo, much more than lobster is served up, caught only minutes or hours before it is served to you. The entire village can be walked in a mere twenty minutes.
My friends and I went on Saturday night, arriving at about 5:30 p.m., to be there before it could get too cold (that pesky marine layer). We passed by many vehicles parked on the side of the road, but we drove forward in spite of them. We were rewarded by getting guided into a parking space adjoining La Costa restaurant. The close-by parking decided our eating establishment for us. A table awaited, complete with umbrella, at the water’s edge. The waves were rolling in and the sun was sparkling on the water. Seabirds abounded. The waves crashed onto the rocky shore.
Our server came out immediately and asked our pleasure. A round of beer was ordered while we perused the menu. Prices ranged from $2.50 for a white clam made to order with cheese (gratinos) or done up in garlic and tomatoes with chilis. I ordered the brown clam which is a bit bigger and cost $3. Wrapped in foil and broiled until the cheese melted and the clam was done to perfection, this was my choice of appetizer. The most expensive items on the menu included oysters on the half shell, a dozen for $11 or lobster which was $12. One of us ordered the seafood soup, overflowing with ocean treats like fish, octopus, shrimp, and crab legs poking out the top. Another got the breaded shrimp dinner. I completed my meal with fish done up in lots of garlic, a common specialty in the Baja. Not a bone was present in the filet which covered half the plate, and again the fish was done to perfection. Rice, beans and a small salad accompanied my fish for $8. Tortillas in a small warmer accompanied our food. My friend to the right ordered garlic shrimp which covered half of her plate with medium shrimp for $9. Everyone was completely satisfied with their food.
Popotla is a great place to try some beverages you might not have heard of before. Tamarindo is popular in Baja, as is Jamaica. Jamaica is made from rose hips and is packed with vitamin C. Sweetened and served over ice, it is a nice alternative to iced tea if you are watching your caffeine intake. Try coconut juice, chilled and quite refreshing. How about a drink made from sea urchin for the adventurous.
The marine layer started to come in, and Popotla began to empty out. We got back into the van parked beside the restaurant and headed home, replete with some of the freshest fish to be had in this tucked away and not to be missed little corner of the world.
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