Eating And Laughing In Baja
By Misty Tosh
Epic battles have been raged on the roads that crisscross the Baja; at least in my dusty truck they
have. And every single battle revolves around food. Should we eat here at this tasty
looking fish taco stand? Or do we keep cruising to see if something else has popped up “just
down the way?” Our simple daily desire to fill our bellies with good food can turn from excitement
at the unknown to, “Guess this whole relationship is over” in less than a nano-second when things
don’t pan out for our tastebuds.
Which is why it’s so refreshing to find a few out-of-the-way spots that have a solid sense of
humor. With a little vino and some killer food, these two super dog friendly restaurants know how
to craft a good laugh...something my gang definitely needs when good eats are the priority come
every single sunrise.
El Triunfo is a gorgeous old mining village in the mountains between Todos Santos and Los
Barriles, steeped in history and intrigue of outlaws past. The usual pit stop in town is a wonderful
Italian eatery tucked just off the main drag – blink and you will miss the sign for Cafe El Triunfo.
We’ve always made it a point to have a pizza and a glass of wine while passing through town but this past
adventure, things changed rapidly.
We were slowly doing a drive by of the cafe to find a sliver of parking and literally right around the
corner we found what is to become a bit of a foodie mecca in Baja for many moons to come: El Minero. A
few reasons. Numero uno – it’s not Mexican food, it’s Spanish food – and that’s a big difference.
And, I think we all know what that distinction means – paella and sangria! Oh the joy in finding
this bright yellow beacon one fine afternoon (with no breakfast on the belly) on the way to Todos
Spirited music greeted us the moment I poked my head in El Minero ro ask if they allowed dogs (yes) and it
was as if a mirage had materialized that was custom fit for me. Live edge tables, fantastic art, local
Baja brews on tap, made-to-order Sangria with the freshest of chopped fruit. That was just to
start. Out came a bottle of mezcal with chili dusted lemons and a bowl of salty peanuts. The
menu was a masterpiece with a cluster of words to salivate over. Behemoth grilled
sausages (sage & rosemary were a fave) took the limelight on a mixed plate of homemade
goodies (local cheeses and marmalades, just made mustard, warm sesame bread) that was a sight
for sore eyes. Bring on the potato salad and please add more mixed greens to everything, we
We literally ordered the entire menu, including a massive portion of Sunday paella cooked over a
huge fire on the back veranda, and gaily watched as throngs of folks jumped up on Juan Matute’s
bronzed mule, Sofia, to have their picture taken while donning a huge sombrero. The good times
didn’t end there. We sipped on sangria while chatting it up with local farmers coming to check in
on their herb garden they were growing for the chef, we threw toys for our dogs into
Sofia’s watering vessel so they could dunk their snouts into the cool liquid to retrieve them. We
voted the staff the friendliest in all of Baja and asked a billion questions – who had the brilliant
idea to turn this speck of history into a bona fide tourist attraction and watering hole in the middle
of nowhere? AND, serve up piles of drool worthy food to boot? Tenaja Holdings was the answer
we got, a forward thinking community development enterprise out of La Paz who spent four years
restoring the property, garden, and grounds. With plans to turn an adjacent crumbling building into a museum, it was all we could do
to not stay the night and keep eating, drinking and socializing with our new friends. Enough
about them, let’s get on the bronzed mule we shared with the dogs! The pups tried to sit still while my guy
donned the sombrero and gazed stoically off into the distance as we laughed in the sun.
Just down the road a spell is another wee village called Los Barriles – known for wind surfing,
loads of taco joints and perfect sandy beaches. This is all fine and dandy, til the day you can
stomach Mexican food no more and would give a right arm for some good ole Americana loving.
Enter La Trinidad. This way-way-way out of the way RV Park and restaurant is the best-kept
secret in town. Just make sure you know where you are going or BAM! Another hunger rager
will nearly blind you. It’s dirt roads all the way to La Ribera (it’s about 15 miles south of
Los Barriles) but once you get there – the Friday night all-you-can-eat buffet is just what the doctor
Start with an enormous goblet of red wine, followed by a crock of smoky ham and bean
soup. The slow cooked ribs, buttery corn-on-the-cob, twice baked potatoes and simple green
salad is exactly what a troupe like ours needs after hours spent on the water with barely a crumb
for lunch. But...but...but...dessert takes it all over the edge. Think creamy New York City style
cheesecake, perfectly spoonable, delightfully cold and instantly devoured by the entire table en
masse. Oh, and let’s not forget about the
laughs...it’s the funny quotes on the wall that really
make the joint special. Just go, you will see what I mean. Clearly these folks were looking for
some humor out there in the nueva frontier and they finally found it on the edge of the earth.
Visit the El Minero website
Visit the Tenaja Holdings website
Visit the La Trinidad website