I always like to post about Vegan travels and although this one is not close to Paris, I hope you’ll find it interesting anyway!
Ever since I heard there was a vegan restaurant in Ensenada, I’ve been itching to cross south into Mexico to check it out. It turns out there are several vegan destinations worth visiting in Tijuana and Ensenada, within a short drive of the border.
Rock & Donuts
First (attempted) stop was to head to Rock & Donuts, a vegan donut place in Pasaje Rodriguez, a little arcade off the main tourist street in Tijuana, Avenida Revolución. We got to the right spot – we thought – and people told us it might be open in the afternoon, but we never actually saw it open. But we did discover that also in the same Pasaje is a place called Happy Vegan. We weren’t that happy though, because that place was closed too. Still, it seems like if you get there at the right time, Pasaje Rodriguez is the vegan capital of Tijuana.
Just down the street is Bona! Boutique. It’s a cool boutique and café, with lots of local crafts and design goods. As well as carrying the vegan donuts from Rock & Donuts, they also usually have panqués veganos on the menu, described to us as ‘amazing cakes’. If you like your tea or coffee with a splash of milk, they have powdered soy milk for you.
Ten minutes drive south of downtown is the Food Garden – a lively and creative food court. The main attraction for vegans there is Veggie Smalls. It’s an all veggie food stand, and in fact if you ask them to hold the cheese, everything is vegan. The menu includes tacos, hot dogs, burgers, and very good French fries and onion rings. You have to try the cauliflower tacos – delicious! This is an excellent veg fast food place, with nice outdoor seating in a stylish, modern, comfortable setting. They also have a great range of local craft beers and the people there are very friendly.
A beautiful drive down the coast from Tijuana is Ensenada, which has a few gems for vegans. We stayed at Las Rosas – 10 minutes north of town, with balconies overlooking the ocean – which is a hotel I would recommend.
Quesadilla is a 100% vegan (with honey) Mexican restaurant located toward the south end of downtown Ensenada, a couple of blocks in from the coast.
The menu is broken down into three main sections: quesadillas (with almond cheese), huaraches and tacos. There’s a large variety to choose from and they offer daily specials such as chilli relleno.
Everything we tried was good and we also enjoyed breakfast there a couple of times, with smoothies, pancakes and Tofu a la Mexican.
The staff are friendly and can understand a bit of English. The only downside to this restaurant is that they close at 4pm on Friday and are closed all day Saturday.
We ate here a lot and would gladly have eaten here every day, because it’s great.
A great spot to pick up vegan snacks and grocery staples, is La Milpa. It’s a classic little natural food store that carries products like seaweed, grains, crackers, fruit etc.
On the main street through Ensenada is a large modern Starbucks Coffee. They have really fast wifi and they have soy milk. But there’s nothing vegan to eat here.
On the long tourist shopping street in the center of town you’ll find the artisan bakery Hogaza Hogaza, where they make some good bread, most of which is vegan. We tried a plain and a garlic-fennel ‘hogaza’ which we enjoyed on the outdoor seating.
Valle de Guadalupe
Since you can’t go to Quesadilla on Saturday, that’s a great day to hit Wine Country. Ensenada’s Ruta del Vino is the home to dozens of little wineries, speckled across the picturesque and pleasantly empty valley. No wonder it is sometimes known as ‘where Baja meets the Mediterranean coast.’
We ate lunch at the Terrasse de San Roman restaurant at the AlXimia vineyard. The waiter was super accommodating to tweaking the menu for us and we got a nice selection of salads and a veggie-packed pizza. AlXImia’s modernist architecture and the valley surrounding it make the Terrasse a wonderful place to be.
Sticking with the modernist theme, we hit the Origen restaurant at the Encuentro hotel and Vineyard for some snacks and drinks. We enjoyed a delicious guacamole with pistachio nuts in it, along with herb tea and local beer and watched their helicopter put on a little show for us. The view from the balcony was beautiful and serene.
I am looking forward to staying here on my next trip to La Valle (without kids, though, because they aren’t allowed at the hotel due to the rugged terrain.)
As you drive around Baja, you’ll see plenty of small fruits stands offering fresh coconut to drink, fruit cups of mango and jicama and other fruity treats. I loved just pulling over, watching the guy prepare the fruit with his machete and then enjoying the delights. I also really liked the combination of pineapples drizzled with freshly squeezed lime juice and dusted in chill powder – so simple, but so delicious.
With a bit of planning, Tijuana/Ensenada make a great getaway destination. The food is good, the people are friendly and the scenery is beautiful. It’s a great time to get back to Baja!