Foodie alert: Baja’s self-proclaimed lobster capital awaits in Puerto Nuevo at Km. 44 at the north end of Bahía Descanso. Harvests have dwindled since the first in-home restaurants opened in the 1940s and ’50s, and the scene is too touristy for some (mediocre food), but the village’s lobster tradition is still going strong.
Choose from dozens of seafood restaurants steps from the ocean (most listed at www.puertonuevolobster.com), which feature the signature lobster platter, with rice, beans, and tortillas on the side. There are a few different styles of presentation, including deep fried and grilled, ranchera style with tomatoes and chili, or just plain boiled.
If you happen to be traveling in mid-October, stop by for the Festival del Vino y la Langosta (Festival of Wine and Lobster, US$25 pp), which takes place in Puerto Nuevo’s restaurant zone. Call the local restaurant association, Cámara Nacional de la Industria Restaurantera (CANIRAC, tel. 661/612-0700), for information.
It’s easy to find your way around the village, as it consists of only three blocks. Four streets run parallel to the ocean, and they are bound by the Avenida Rentaria (one-way toward the beach) to the north and Calle Barracuda (one-way toward the highway) to the south.
Misión El Descanso
Misión El Descanso (1817–1834) is one of the least-visited mission sites on the peninsula. It was founded by Dominican padre Tomás de Ahumada in 1817, after the flood that washed away the crops at Misión San Miguel, just 13 kilometers to the south. The two missions were closely linked for the short time that El Descanso was in operation. A modern church is built on top of the original mission foundation.
The Grand Baja Resort (Km. 44.5, Mexico 1, tel. 661/614-1493, toll-free U.S. tel. 877/315-1002, www.grandbaja.com, US$75–150), just south of Puerto Nuevo, overlooks the Pacific Ocean. The views are great; the rest is not. Most units are in need of repairs, and the beds and linens are old. This is not the place for neat freaks.
A better bet is a rental home or condo in the Las Gaviotas (one-bedroom US$100–175) gated community, located eight miles south of Rosarito. Several property managers offer rentals in this development. Visit www.las gaviotas.com or www.golasgaviotas.com for current listings.
Prices are the same at most of the lobster houses, ranging US$15–30 for main dishes, and you’ll need to pay in cash. Hours are generally 10 A.M.–8 P.M. weekdays, with later hours on Friday and Saturday nights.
Puerto Nuevo I (s/n Rentaria, no tel.) is the original Puerto Nuevo restaurant and still a perennial favorite. Next door, Puerto Nuevo II (Rentaria 2, tel. 661/614-1454) is more upscale.
These family-run places have been serving lobster for many years: Chela’s (Arpon 15, tel. 661/614-1058), La Escondida (Anzuelo/Paseo del Mar, no tel.), El Galeón (Anzuelo, no tel.), and La Perlita (Barracuda, just west of the highway, tel. 661/614-1276).
© Nikki Goth Itoi from Moon Baja, 9th Edition