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Iggy’s BBQ - A Flavor of Old Mexico
by Martina

Iggy’s BBQ - A Flavor of Old Mexico

By Martina

Iggy's BBQ Guadalupe Valley
Iggy's BBQ Guadalupe Valley

There is nothing more thrilling for a Baja traveler than to find something hidden off the main tourist roads. Iggy’s is so close, but you would never know it if it wasn’t for the huge sign out in the middle of nowhere between the coast and the Guadalupe Valley on the free road. Admittedly the dirt road in needs some negotiating. Those cars with low ground clearance should use caution, but the destination is well worth the effort. Iggy’s offers an experience of good old fashion vaquero food and lodging off the grid just 15 minutes from La Fonda on the free road.

Baja calls to the adventurer. A dirt road beckons. A novice might ask, “Why?” The answer is easy. It is the excitement of not knowing what you are going to find. It is travel without expectation that fulfills a wanderlust. This day, I drive my trusty old Pilot into the hills and quickly begin to follow the one lane dirt road down into an open valley. Baja’s natural scrub is blooming. The flowers are delightful, but not showy in soft lavenders, yellows, touches of white here and there. The dusty greens are an infinite variety of plant life, mostly overlooked by the traveler. Before grapevines and cattle ranches, the ancients who lived on this land knew these plants and understood all of the purposes from eatables to health.

Iggy's BBQ Guadalupe Valley
Iggy's BBQ Guadalupe Valley

I brake quickly for quail scurrying across the road. When was the last time I saw quail? I spy the rancho nestled in the folding hills. It is said that this area was settled a hundred years ago. The old growth trees are a giveaway to the age of the settlement, and a sign of shade during the hot inland summers. I arrive to find it is very quiet. I am early by Mexican standards; it’s one o’clock. But smoke rises from a hot grill already loaded with meat as the cook bastes everything with Iggy’s signature BBQ Sauce. Further on I pass stabled horses and find an open parking area.

Iggy's BBQ Guadalupe Valley
Iggy's BBQ Guadalupe Valley

It is obvious this is a thriving operation having seven rustic casitas of vintage wood with stonework chimneys and even a swimming pool. A large fire ring is provided to enjoy the evenings, or bundle up for late fall. There is no TV or internet. If you haven’t seen a night sky without ambient light’s intrusion, be ready to be blown away by the glittering star fields overhead.

The restaurant’s expanse of wooden decking is an area for large outdoor events. Sunlight dances across the patio and onto the picnic tables. I find a patch of sunshine to ward off the chilly breeze that carries the fragrant scent of hay and warm horse. For a moment I am all alone. Nice. I hear a choir of doves’ melodious coos, a dog barks, a soft whinny from the horses. Then seemingly coming out from the trees, Eric walks toward me with a big smile and a menu. He sets me up with corn chips, guacamole and very hot salsa for starters. I take a look at the menu and smile. All in Spanish with names for meat for which I’m unfamiliar. This keeps an old Baja traveler humble from thinking they will ever know everything about this country south of the border.

Iggy's BBQ Guadalupe Valley
Iggy's BBQ Guadalupe Valley

Oh, my. This is a menu for cowboys. There is not a “healthy” selection to choose from, depending on how you define healthy. Yet everything is from the ranch and grown locally. Arrachera, skirt steak; Cargada Costilla, loaded ribs; Borrego, lamb; Cabrito, kid-goat. And one that gave me a pause, Lechón, tacos of piglet. Corn on the cob, French fries and homemade rolls come with a full meal. There are more familiar offerings of course, barbecue chicken and pulled pork. If you happen to bring along a vegetarian, you will see they do offer a very small salad on the extras list. You might ask to see if they would hold the bacon wrap on the Chiles Rellenos. It is certain that Iggy’s will make the hungry meat-eating man feel full and very satisfied. The bar can fix most anything you would like, and there are wines from the Guadalupe Valley. Several actually have an Iggy’s label. For those who might stay overnight, they do serve a big cowboy breakfast of farm fresh eggs and lots of hearty meat choices, as well as a simple cheese omelet.

Iggy's BBQ Guadalupe Valley
Iggy's BBQ Guadalupe Valley

I chatted with Eric who brought my margarita to learn a little more about the summer months here. Not surprisingly they are extremely busy with large family groups, weddings and fiestas of all kinds. They are only open on weekends, Friday through Sunday, 1:00pm to 10:00pm. So, for the American traveler it is best to visit early in the afternoon or off season after the kids go back to school. It is very wise not to make plans during the rainy season as the roads would certainly not be passable. Eric went off to retrieve my taco plate. Yes, I must admit, I did order the Lechón, and the three tortillas were stuffed full of tender pork, topped with guacamole. This would be enough for two light eaters.

Today I had the whole place to myself and enjoyed every minute. I paid in pesos as they do not take credit cards. As I left, I couldn’t help myself and stop briefly to have a conversation with one of the horses. Oddly, I felt we were connecting, he looked so attentive to my compliments of how beautiful he was. I’ve written stories in my column about several horse whisperers, so for me it wasn’t too far afield to think the horse and I were having a moment. The idea of an adventure is to be available when the mystery of Baja shows up. Spending time in nature away from computers and phones can transform a little vacation into something of which memories are made.

About Martina
Storytelling is an ancient oral tradition among many of the world’s early inhabitants. Martina, author, freelance writer and journalist, presents her version of how storytelling can vividly portray travel in Baja. Her stories are visual, vibrant and authentic with intriguing hints of Baja magic filtering through her words. She has traveled and lived in both states of Baja California since 1993. Martina offers the reader a truly heartfelt journey. Enjoy! Martina can be reached at: mteomaya(at)gmail.com.
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