Fish tacos and seafood cocktails top the list of foods to try in Ensenada  (or anywhere in coastal Baja, for that matter). One of the best places to try these local delights is the Mercado de Mariscos (Seafood Market, Costero at Miramar, late morning–early evening daily), behind the Plaza Marina on the waterfront. You can also buy fresh fish here to cook yourself.
Manzanilla (Teniente Azueta 139, tel. 646/175-7073, www.rmanzanilla.com , noon–midnight Wed.–Sat., US$10–30) remains one of Ensenada’s top restaurants. Guests are greeted by the co-owner, and the restaurant is known for its rib eye, raw fish, and local wines. The restaurant uses local organic ingredients and seafood.
Rinconcito Oaxaqueño (no tel., 9 A.M.–5 P.M. daily), off Diamante and a block south of Reforma, serves authentic Oaxacan cuisine. You can order nopales, chicharron, or carne asada in a taco or plate (US$1–5). If they are in season, and you’re an adventurous eater, try the grasshoppers (chapulines) washed down with an ice-cold Dos Equis.
Acambaro (El Refugio Ensenadense) (Iturbide 528, off Juárez btw Calles 5/6, tel. 646/176-5235, breakfast, lunch, and dinner daily, mains US$10–15) serves tasty Mexican dishes in a rustic wood and brick setting. Plates arrive with the works: limes, oregano, and salsa.
A group of restaurants along Avenida López Mateos specializes in roast chickens: Hacienda del Charro (López Mateos 454, tel. 646/178-2114, lunch and dinner till 11:30 P.M. daily) is the best one along this strip, also offering chicken tamales and pollo pipián (chicken cooked in a pumpkin-seed mole). The tangy flavor of homemade agua de jamaica (hibiscus) balances the savory chicken.
Las Cazuelas Restaurant Bar (Sanginés 6, near Costero, tel. 646/176-1044, 7 A.M.–11 P.M. daily, mains US$10–25) is an old standby serving border-style cuisine, including codorniz (quail), seafood, steaks, ribs, and hearty Mexican breakfasts.
The most unique food experience in Ensenada is still offered at El Taco de Huitzilopochtli (Av. de las Rosas 5, Col. Valle Verde, tel. 646/174-2381, 9 A.M.–5 P.M. Sat.–Sun., mains under US$10). The house specialty is mixiote, which is lamb wrapped in maguey leaves and then baked for 16 hours in a wood-fired oven. They start the process on Friday, and the food isn’t ready until Saturday morning. The menu is limited only by your sense of adventure. You can order huitlacoche (corn fungus tacos) or huanzontle, a reedy vegetable. The easiest way to get there is to take a taxi from downtown, and you’ll appreciate not having to drive if you’re there when the owner breaks out the “house” tequila.
On the corner of Espinoza and Juárez, Tacos Fénix (7 A.M.–8 P.M. daily) serves up some of the town’s best seafood tacos out of a stand across from the Calimax. Shrimp tacos are light and crispy, and they cost US$1–1.50 each. La Cochinita (Paseo Hidalgo next to Maritime Customs, tel. 646/178-5445, www.lacochinita.com.mx , lunch and dinner daily) is a Baja chain that specializes in Mexican-style Japanese food. There are a dozen locations in Ensenada  and more in major cities throughout the peninsula.
For a quick, though not necessarily healthy, bite to eat, Icarus Wings (Calle Ambar at 29 de Noviembre, tel. 646/178-6055, www.icarus-go.com , 1–9 P.M. Tues.–Thurs., till 11 P.M. Fri.–Sat., till 7 P.M. Sun.) grills chicken, burgers, fries, and, of course, wings.
Las Conchas Oyster Bar and Restaurant (tel. 646/175-7375, lunch and dinner daily, mains US$15 and up), in Plaza Hussong, draws a crowd for oysters (ostiones) and other seafood specialties. It’s a popular place, so expect to wait for a table.
In San Miguel, Boules (San Miguel, tel. 646/175-9769, from 1 P.M. Thurs.–Mon.) is a hotspot for seafood paired with Valle de Guadalupe wines.
On the malecón, across from the Mercado Negro, casual Muelle Tres (Teniente Azueta 187-A, tel. 646/189-7608, muelletres [at] gmail [dot] com, 1–6 P.M. Wed.–Sun., till 8 P.M. in summer) serves some of the freshest mariscos around, including local oysters on the half shell, steamed mussels, and clam ceviche. It is run by celebrated chef Benito Molina, of Manzanilla fame.
Nearby, La Cocedora de Langosta (tel. 646/178-3742, lacocedoradelangosta [at] gmail [dot] com, 8 A.M.–9 P.M. daily) makes an outstanding aguachile with local scallops, an unusual abalone sandwich, and, of course, the namesake lobster.
Near the Puente Zona Centro, a bridge that crosses over the arroyo, Barra Azul (Calle 11 at Espinoza, www.barrazul.com , from 1:30 P.M. Wed.–Mon., mains US$5–10) has a seafood bar that makes tempura oysters and oyster shooters, among other delights. There are several kinds of ceviche and sashimi plates as well.
El Rey Sol (López Mateos 1000 at Blancarte, tel. 646/178-1733, www.elreysol.com , 7:30 A.M.–10:30 P.M. daily, mains US$20 and up) is an Ensenada institution for fine French cuisine. The restaurant was founded in 1947 by a native of Santa Rosalía (a town in southern Baja that was built by a French mining company) named Doña Pepita, who studied at the Cordon Bleu cooking school in France. Whether you choose a seafood, poultry, or meat entrée, it will arrive with fresh herbs and vegetables from the family’s ranch in the Valle de Santo Tomás , south of Ensenada.
In the Bodegas de Santo Tomás building, La Embotelladora Vieja (Miramar 666 at Calle 7, tel. 646/174-0807, noon–11 P.M. Mon. and Wed., noon–11 P.M. Thurs.–Sat., noon–5 P.M. Sun., mains US$20 and up), has a Mediterranean menu and an international wine list.
At Km. 104, a chef from Chihuahua has mastered the art of Mediterranean cooking at Belio Restaurant (Km. 104, Carr. Ensenada-Tijuana, El Sauzal, tel. 646/175-8810, restaurantbelio [at] gmail [dot] com, mains US$15–40). Patio dining on the waterfront setting adds to the charm of this decidedly upscale venue.
Stop in for a quick bite at El Faro Café (no tel., mains under US$10) before a day of sportfishing. Located next to Gordo’s Sportfishing, behind Plaza Marina on the waterfront, the café opens early at 4:30 A.M. and serves breakfast only.
Pueblo Café Deli (Ruiz 96, tel. 646/178-8055, 8 A.M.–midnight daily) serves espresso drinks, plus breakfast foods, Mexican fare, salads, pastries, wine, and beer.
Dependable Sanborns Café (Plaza Marina, Costero, tel. 646/174-0971, 7:30 A.M.–10 P.M. daily, mains US$10–15) always has a number of soups, salads, sandwiches, breakfasts, and Mexican dishes on the menu.
Café Café (López Mateos 496, tel. 646/178-8209, from 9 A.M. daily) is a combination coffee house/art gallery that also hosts occasional cultural events and performances.
Wine comes first at La Contra (Moctezuma 623 at Calle 6, tel. 646/178-8213, www.lacontravinos.com , mains US$7–15) which represents most of the best local labels and offers a menu of fresh salads, pizzas, and pasta.
La Casa del Arte (Moctezuma 479 btw Calles 4/5, tel. 646/175-7035, www.lacasadelarte.com.mx , 2 P.M.–midnight Mon.–Sat.) features jazz on Fridays starting at 8 P.M. The restaurant has indoor and outdoor seating, and a broad menu ranging from Serrano ham to spaghetti and meatballs to rib-eye steak.
The Gigante at Avenidas Reforma and Delante is the largest supermarket in town and the easiest to find on your way through. Stop here to pick up just about anything you left behind at home.
Avenida Diamante has a string of local panaderías, tortillerías, and dulcerías. Vendors along the highway south of town sell fresh tamales as well as local olives, chilies, and honey.