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In the Belly of Baja
By Misty Tosh

Come Back Memories, Baja-Style

By Misty Tosh
@bigsweettooth

Baja Sea Baja Sea

Some memories are not to be meddled with, especially when they come to affairs of the mouth. Like when a certain herb surprises you when applied differently than the way you use it back home or witnessing just-caught fish (from the very ocean you were just swimming in) be cleaned and char-grilled right before your eyes. There are a billion random elements that lead up to one impactful food recollection – here are a few of mine, Baja-style of course.

I’ve never been a hot dog girl. But something happened to me in the fishing village of Los Barriles one night whereby, I became obsessed with them. It went from simply craving a late-night snack (please, not another taco) as the crimson sun was sinking into the Sea of Cortez to all aboard the side-by-side for a non-stop hot dog bonanza to last weeks.

Now, I had driven the side streets of Los Barriles many a time at the breathtaking sunset hour and rubbernecked the activity that surrounds the local hot dog stands ramp up out of nowhere and suddenly, entire mini-villages come to life within minutes. Folks saunter out of the surrounding landscape, vehicles crawl to a stop and park haphazardly anywhere they can find a spot, ATV’s growl up to the front of the line and the hot dog maestros just keep ‘em coming – piping hot and piled high with goodies.

Hot Dog y Taquería Dylan Los Barriles Baja Hot Dog y Taquería Dylan Los Barriles Baja

What’s the big deal about a hot dog, you ask? We’ve all had them – doused in mustard, mayo, ketchup, kraut and sometimes chili and cheese. Ok, yes. That combo certainly works. Until you have had a Baja-style Mach 10 Hot Dog Extraordinaire jump onto your taste buds and take you to another planet. Which was exactly what happened to me one innocent and very balmy night at Hot Dog y Taqueria Dylan, located at 3-dog corner on the north side of Los Barriles. What looks like an abandoned lot is actually the epicenter of a bona-fide hot dog nation.

First off, we skidded in the moment they opened (7pm) just so we could partake before the crowds arrived. And, again…they do. Within seconds. Not expecting much, we ordered up a mess of dogs loaded to the max, assuming we were going to get the Mexican version of the American ballpark dog. Well, what showed up on the table moments later at our al fresco table really only had one similarity to the American way of serving a frankfurter and that was that it was nestled in a soft steamed bun. After that, this Baja hot dog straight up went into beast mode. Each dog was tightly wrapped in bacon griddled up with onions and peppers and once placed on the pillow bun, topped with everything one might find on a great taco – including the MEAT. Whaaaaa? Yes, think hot dog, bacon, and shredded carne as the base line, topped off with tomato, lettuce, mayo, avocado crema, tangy pico de gallo and melted cheese. I can honestly say, it might have been one of the best first bites of my life. Especially because it was so unexpected and served on the side were even more goodies (jalapenos, cucumbers, and the like). The tanginess of the lime and cilantro twisted up with the fattiness of the bacon all jammed into a soft bun, not a corn tortilla, was an epic taste sensation that still has me searching for versions of this style of hot dog in America. But, I’m afraid that without the Los Barriles soundtrack of local dogs barking (and gently nuzzling you for unlikely leftovers) and the rumbles of ATV’s, it won’t be the same.

Hot Dog Los Barriles Baja Hot Dog Los Barriles Baja

Another ravenous craving sent me on the wild hunt for a good snorkel spot. Ideally, with a bit of drip-down-your-chin queso at the end of the line. We all jumped on our quads and headed north of Los Barriles on the dirt road that hugs the glistening sea and before we even stopped to snorkel, it was determined that if an ice-cold swimming pool and a vast meal could be found, that should happen first. The closest spot was Punta Pescadero hotel, which serves totally acceptable food, but this time around, things were different. I’d been coming to this remote hideaway for years and was always happy with the vibe, but change is on the horizon and apparently, it’s already hit La Punta restaurant.

We landed with a bang, ordered up a round of cold ones, requested half the menu and promptly jumped in the pool. It was deserted at lunch time which made our arrival and takeover of the pool area just about perfect. By the time the food started rolling out the kitchen, we were cozied up at our shaded pool-side table wrapped in fluffy towels, with a dash of sunburn keeping us warm. So as mentioned, something happened between the last time I was there and this particular time. Chef change? Menu update? Flavor blast? All of the above! Platters of food started piling up faster than we could grab a chip. Sizzling queso topped with seared mushrooms, peppery shrimp fajitas, mixed ceviche swimming in a tomato broth, and truly yet, another bit that blew my mind. It was a cheese and seafood stuffed pastry tucked into a bath of completely obliterated refried beans that had been drizzled with crema. Let me put it this way, the friendly table almost went into bite war over this diddy. The design and thought that went into the dishes was totally unfamiliar to me at this spot, so every little detail was so appreciated and noticed by all.

Punta Pescadero Punta Pescadero

And by the way, once we rolled out, we were so stuffed, but we’d come for a snorkel - it had to be done, no matter the challenge. So, on the way back to Los Barriles, we pulled off just under a cliff and waded in with our gear. Since the wind had picked up, we let our full bellies and the strong breeze literally float us unassisted past schools of fish and gorgeous coral collections and it was refreshing to realize that what was supposed to be a simple aquatic adventure could turn out to be a mid-day journey that fulfilled mind, body and mouth. Again, not a memory to be messed with.

Hot Dog y Taquería Dylan, at 3-dog corner on the north side of LB.
It is on the right side of the road.

Punta Pescadero
They also have a private airstrip for those impromptu fly-in lunches.

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