Last year was my first experience visiting the Valle de Guadalupe, we did a day tour with friends and had such a blast my sister did some research and booked us a room and made reservations at Javier Plascencia’s restaurant Fina Altozano. The Ruta de Vino is flush with wineries, restaurants and a few breweries, there’s so many to choose from but we went with the man responsible for the resurgence in the food scene in Tijuana, Javier Plascencia born and raised in Tijuana is credited with creating the Baja Mediterranean style of cooking, he utilizes the fresh seafood and abundance of produce that are indigenous to the region. He grew up working in the family business, a pizzeria empire called Giuseppis, he studied culinary arts in San Diego starting at the age of 16, working in various restaurants in San Diego and around the world. He returned to Tijuana and in 2011 he opened his first Restaurant, Misión 19 , introducing his Baja Med dishes to the food universe. He now has restaurants in Tijuana, Miami, Valle de Guadalupe and the magical town of Todo Santos which is an hour north of Cabo San Lucas. From 2015 to 2017 he operated a place in San Diego, Bracero Cocina de Raiz, it was nominated for a James Beard award in 2016 but is no longer open.

Denise was able to book us a 3:00 pm reservation on the Saturday after the Ensenada Beer Fest, there weren’t any dinner times available but the afternoon sitting turned out to be a very good choice as it gets pretty cold in the valle once the sun starts to set, summer might be a little different weather wise. Finca Altozano is not only a restaurant but there is a separate coffee shop and lunch hut, farm animals are nearby fattening up for a future grilling, yes this is a meatcentric menu. They sat us promptly at 3:00 and our foodie adventure began. Fresh bread was brought to our table and we ordered 2 glasses of white wine, all the wines are from the Valle and Denise knows her grapes so she picked our vino. Not all wines are available by the glass but the ones she picked were excellent and went for about $5 a glass. BOOM. We ordered for our appetizers fried Brussels Sprouts and an order of grilled sausage, the menu didn’t indicate what type of sausage it was but it was mildly spicy, tasted like chorizo, came with some greens, the Brussels Sprouts were perfectly fried, crispy and tender. We both picked dry aged steak for our main course but there were many options, seafood, lamb, pork, quail, pasta dishes, chicken, but steak won out. The dinners came with beans, a small salad, more bread and freshly made tortillas, both corn and flour. The ambiance at Finca Altozano is ranchero casual, most of the other guests were local residents, we didn’t feel rushed, rather it seemed like they encouraged us to take our time. Our second glass of wine was a red, I’m a beer guy and don’t know much about wine, I trusted my sis to handle picking our vino, she did a great job, this wine was very good, I really enjoyed it.  It started off sweet and fruity but as it opened up it became mature in flavor, amazing how a good wine does that over time. So we just took our time with each course, with each sip of wine, this is why you take time off, to enjoy new places, discovering spots in Tijuana, Ensenada and now Valle de Guadalupe is kind of my thing right now. Craft beer is booming, new restaurants are everywhere, the tacos are the best and people are super nice and friendly. We shared a dessert of churros and  I was done, we got our bill and I was expecting close to $200 but the total was $105 for everything. Worth every penny/peso!!

There’s so much more to discover here in the Valle de Guadalupe, I encourage everyone to come down and first take a tour, it’s a huge area, if you have a truck bring it, ha! A lot of the hotels and restaurants are off the beaten path on dirt roads that are very uneven, I drove my mini van which survived but I recommend a car that sits a little higher. Provecho!ensenada,

Last modified: April 5, 2019

Finca Altozano Valle de Guadalupe

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