Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Ostrich, Deer, and Quail in the Baja Wine Country

Review: La Casa de Ladrillo Restaurant

by Betty V.

On a bright sunny Saturday afternoon this January, my husband and I decided to drive into the Baja Wine Country for a day trip of lazy adventure. We approached the town of San Antonio de las Minas at the entrance into the Valle de Guadalupe and made the first right into the small village when we observed the flags signaling us that there was some sort of restaurant "that a way". Not knowing what to expect from what appeared to be some out of the way taco stand and hungry, we took a chance.

We parked the car a few blocks away as we wanted to walk on this perfect winter day. We walked trough the town, passed a flowing creek on our way towards the flags that signaled us to walk down the dirt road to the restaurant.

At the end of this dirt road, we found a sign that said Ostrich, Quail, and Deer. "What the heck?" was our first reaction. We entered the premises and found quite a surprise. Welcome to La Casa de Ladrillo (House of Brick)

To start off, we sat on the comfortable sunny tree lined patio and ordered a pitcher of Jamaica, a cold juice drink made from the hibiscus Sabdariffa flower - a bit more tastier and much more interesting than a typical coke or that awful Monster caffeine enduced soft drink! LOL!

Talking to the hostess, it turns out La Casa de Ladrillo was originally a typical house on a small piece of ranch land. It was turned into a restaurant about 4 years ago.

Arnaldo Pedrin Peralta, owner of La Casa de Ladrillo, worked as an accountant for 30 years when he decided to take the plunge into entrepreneurship. He had several businesses until the big Mexican devaluation of the peso in 1994 hit him hard. After this devastation, he decided he'd had enough and headed north to Juneau Alaska to work in the fishing industry. As it turned out he ended up working in the food industry instead. He also worked in a hotel where he meet several international chefs that showed him better ways to prepare and showcase food.

With this experience he came back to his native Ensenada. He began by working as an insurance agent. But that was short lived. He was then offered an opportunity to run the Hacienda restaurant down the street from his current La Casa de Ladrillo. He did this very successful for several years.

La Casa de Ladrillo serves a typical Northern Mexican style food. It serves its famous Barbacoa (lamb pitt barbeque). However, their food is not exactly your typical Mexican food as most people may know it. They specialize in Deer, Ostrich, Quail and Crab served in the traditional Mexican style. The food is hardy tasty country style. This is down home cooking in the Valle.

Hidden at a dead end of the street nestled next to a creek with many trees, the outdoor ambiance is picturesque and decorated with traditional Mexican artifacts. The indoors area is very homey, warm, and inviting with an old stove as a centerpiece. The restaurant, gardens and the entire property is serene, extremely neat, and clean.

We ordered their famous Barbacoa. It was served in an aluminum foil shaped dish to keep all the juices warm. The shredded meat was juicy with plenty of the strong succulent flavor that we expect from a lamb dish. Each bite was just a treat for us meat eaters who love that unique gamey strong taste. It came with corn tortillas, a dish with sliced limes, onions, and cilantro along with a side dish of fresh country style beans, not refried - more like a bean soup.

We are in Mexico eating the way hearty Nortenos eat and it was good. Truly, this was simply a great meal both filling and delicious. Boy was I satisfied with this place!

Señor Arnaldo and his staff were friendly and their service was excellent. With local Baja visitors like Jaime Andrade and Martha Mallet with Aimee Andrade and Gabriela Meza from Tijuana who made the 1 hour drive south for a day trip especially to visit La Casa de Ladrillo, this place is a word of mouth establishment that is a destination because it can't be found on the main road.

After our meal, Señor Arnaldo spent some time with us giving us the story of the restaurant. He told us how a group from Mexico City came from the TV station Televisa to tape a show on him and his famous Barbacoa. They were featured in a Mexican gourmet program showcasing regional cuisine from the north part of Mexico. He told us about his long term plans to expand it and to add a playground for children and more gardens over time. No rush here, just something there plan on doing soon. Hey, this place is laid back and really a neat find so let's not change it too fast right!

This is a place that I will definitely be visiting often, not only because the Barbacoa is my favorite, but because I want to try their Deer and Ostrich next time. In fact, I am bringing my mother with me because I know, being from the Sinaloa area, she would appreciate the truly Mexican flavor of this hearty place. I can't wait!

From Rosarito drive south on the toll road about 40 minutes. You will reach a toll booth as you enter Ensenada. About 1/2 mile past the toll booth, you will see a sign that says RUTA VINICOLA (Winery Route), turn off and go east for about 15 minutes, as you come down into the valley, you will see the town of San Antonio de las Minas, make a right into the town (only 1 street), make a right on the first street and go down till it ends

Thursday, January 17, 2008

What Paperwork and I.D. do you need to visit Baja California Mexico?

Border travel: more choices, more confusion?
Let's see that ID: As one deadline looms, another is delayed

Remember the great passport-processing debacle of 2007? I hope so, because if you don’t, you may get to relive it all over again.

That’s because the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative (WHTI), which mandates more stringent requirements for travelers entering the U.S. from Canada, Mexico and the (non-U.S.) Caribbean, is about to change the game for those arriving by land or sea. You still don’t need a passport — that deadline has been postponed until June 2009 — but you’re definitely going to want proper ID.

The problem is that what constitutes “proper ID” is about to change again. Here’s what you need to know.

No documents, no travel
Before you make any decision about getting a passport (or other WHTI-compliant document), know this: Starting January 31, all travelers, including American citizens, who enter the country by land or sea will need to show some sort of documentation. (Air travelers already have to show a valid passport.) Oral declarations of citizenship, which were previously accepted on a discretionary basis, will no longer be allowed.

If you’re a U.S. or Canadian citizen over 18, that means you’ll need to provide proof of both citizenship (e.g., a birth certificate or naturalization certificate) and identity (i.e., a government-issued photo ID, such as a driver’s license). Children ages 18 and younger will only be required to present proof of citizenship. Bottom line: When it comes to proving your citizenship, you don’t need a passport (yet), but Customs officials will no longer take your word for it.

Meanwhile, the government continues to move forward on its plans to implement its proposed passport card, or PASS card, which is designed to be a less expensive alternative to a traditional passport. Late last year, the State Department approved the radio frequency identification (RFID) technology by which Customs officials will be able to read the card’s embedded data.

The PASS card is being developed primarily for travelers who cross the border frequently by land or sea — it will not be valid for air travel — and it’s designed to reduce wait times at the border by allowing multiple cards to be read wirelessly while travelers are still waiting in line. (The RFID chip will contain no personal data, but rather an arbitrary number linked to a secure database; nevertheless, some privacy experts remain concerned about the system’s overall security.)

“We’re on track to issue it probably sometime in April,” says Ann Barrett, deputy assistant secretary for passport services at the State Department. “We’re going to try to have a new application form available at the beginning of February, and you’ll be able to check off passport, passport card or both.” The card will cost $45 for adults (compared to $97 for a full-service passport) and $35 for children 15 and younger (vs. $82).

At the same time, several states are working on so-called Enhanced Driver’s License and Identification (EDL/ID) programs. Like the PASS card, these wallet-sized cards will include an embedded chip that can be read wirelessly; likewise, they’ll be valid for land and sea crossings, but not air travel.

Currently, Arizona, New York, Vermont and Washington are among the states developing EDL/ID programs. First up will likely be Washington, which expects to begin issuing WHTI-compliant licenses next week. Under that program, the licenses will be an option (i.e., voluntary) and will cost $40, $15 more than a standard driver’s license.

Procrastinate at your peril
Still, you don’t actually need a passport, PASS card or enhanced driver’s license to enter the U.S. by land or sea just yet. Late last year, the Bush administration agreed to delay that requirement until June 2009. Barring subsequent changes, the documents considered acceptable under the no-oral-declarations regs will suffice.

Nevertheless, postponing the inevitable is probably not a good idea, especially given the events of 2007. Prompted by a revolving door of proposed regulations, passport applications skyrocketed last year, creating a backlog that swamped the system, pushed processing times to 12 to 16 weeks and put countless vacations at risk. By year end, the Passport Office processed more than 18 million passports, an increase of 50 percent over the year before.

This year, the agency expects to process even more applications — somewhere between 23 and 26 million, according to Barrett. In order to handle the crush, she says, “We’ve expanded facilities, added second shifts and hired hundreds and hundreds of specialists and contract employees.” A new passport-production facility, scheduled to open in Tucson in April, is expected to process up to 10 million applications per year.

Will that be enough to avoid another debacle? No one really knows, so your best bet is to avoid the issue entirely and start the process sooner rather than later. (Visit travel.state.gov for forms, instructions and the latest updates.) “March is traditionally the busiest month of the year,” says Barrett. “Right now is our slow period, and turnaround time is four to six weeks.”

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

The Advantages of Getting a Sentri Pass

Getting a SENTRI Pass

by Jose. A Perez, MexicoMatters.net

After we learned that our daughter and son-in-law would be moving to San Diego, a friend of John’s told him that there is a pass for people who travel back and forth across the border frequently. Since we have friends in Ensenada and like the city, we thought it would be worth exploring. Here is what we found out.

The name of the program is SENTRI (Secure Electronic Network for Travelers Rapid Inspection)

Go to www.cbp.gov. There’s a menu on the right side, and toward the bottom you’ll see SENTRI. Click on it, and on the page that comes up click on Apply on-line. Follow the directions and your application will be submitted. This part of the process costs $25, which you can conveniently pay with your credit card.

In a few days you will get a conditional approval and a notice that you need to go for a personal interview and fingerprinting at any one of a number of border stations. The nearest to us was at Nogales, about 1½ hours from Tucson. We had to make appointments, which we were able to do on the Internet site. The site also provides a list of the documents needed. You should make copies of all of them. It says “Bring original passport,” so I didn’t make copies of ours, but I found out I should have. However they made copies for me. I also had made copies of both our driver’s licenses on the same sheet of paper, so when we were called to separate windows, I tore it in half and gave him the copy of his license. This was also a no-no, I found out.

But to go back for a minute to the process. If you go to Nogales, the office is in the big building right at the border, but there is no parking, so you need to park on the street or in one of the many parking lots located near the entrance to the Customs and Border Patrol complex. The SENTRI office is on the second floor.

When we got inside, we had to sign in and wait to be called up to one of the windows. We were a bit early, but we were actually called up before the times of our appointments. The agent who interviewed me was very pleasant and efficient and answered all my questions. These are some of the answers.

• SENTRI is a 5-year program. At the end of that time, you must re-register.
• The cost is $97 in addition to the $25 already spent to apply.
• Each individual must register separately. You can’t register as a married couple.
• The pass is good at all border crossings that have a SENTRI lane.
• Each person can register one vehicle as part of the cost. It must be inspected at the site. To go through the SENTRI lane, every passenger in the car must have a pass, and the car must be approved. It can be driven by anyone with a pass.
• Any change in personal information must be reported to the SENTRI office. This includes renewal of the car insurance.

The officer made a point of reminding me that I was now a Trusted Traveler and would be held to a high standard. He cautioned me to be especially careful about what I tried to import from Mexico and gave me a list of specific items that are permitted and not permitted.

After our interviews, we were fingerprinted. No more messy black ink. They had a nice little electronic machine on which I had to press first all four fingers of my left hand, then all four fingers of my right hand, then both thumbs. Unfortunately, the machine was very sensitive, and it didn’t pick up my prints the first time. So the officer tried again. Again it didn’t work. He assured me I wasn’t doing anything wrong—it was just the machine. The problem was that if any of the prints failed, we had to repeat the whole process. Finally on the fourth try, it worked. John, on the other hand, got his done right the first time.

Then we had to pay our fees. They told us we had to pay separately. We couldn’t write a single check or record a single credit card transaction. Well, that was no big deal.

Then we went down to get our car inspected. We had to retrieve it from the parking lot and drive it down to the inspection bay, just this side of the border crossing. The inspector gave it a very thorough examination, looking under the car, inside the trunk, under the hood, and in any cavity that could conceivably conceal anything. Then he handed John a card that was his pass and affixed an electronic antenna to the windshield. It looks just like a label—about 1 ½ x 2 inches. But that’s what will get us through the fast lane.

We wanted to register our second car, but had been told we’d have to bring it in to be inspected. Or we could add it later, but that would cost an additional $42. So, being the cheapskate I am, I decided to drive the second car back. The officer entered all the vehicle information so that we could just bring it in the next day. I asked if we needed an appointment. He said no, but to be sure to call them first so they could have the papers ready. What he didn’t tell me was that no one would answer the phone.

So the next morning, just before we were ready to leave, I called and got an answering machine. I left a message, and we started out. On the way, I left another message with my name, my application number, and my cell phone number. I tried to call again several times, but never got a real person.

When we got there, we drove right over to the inspection bay and said we were there for a SENTRI inspection. Three other cars came in after us and were inspected. When I asked why we hadn’t been, the inspector said she didn’t have our papers. Apparently no one had listened to their phone messages. So I left John there and went up to the office where an officer found my folder right away and told me to go back and that someone would be right there to inspect the car.

Sure enough the same inspector came over soon after I got back, inspected the car, affixed the antenna, and gave me my SENTRI pass. Even with the delay, we were out of there in half an hour.

Now, we have to see how well it works when we actually cross the border. But anything is bound to be better than waiting in line for hours, smelling exhaust, wasting gas, and growing more and more impatient and frustrated.

About the Author: Jose A Perez is from MexicoMatters.net, a Mexico Consulting Firm for Corporations, Real Estate, and Immigration issues here in Baja California.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Don Augustin: New Restaurant Opens in the Baja Wine Country

An Evening at Don Augustin Restaurant

Fresh and Organic Country Mexican Dishes in the Valle de Guadalupe

by Burleigh Sullivan

A brand new restaurant in a brand new strip mall in the Valle de Guadalupe? What the…. we had to check it out!

Nestled just past the quaint hamlet of San Antonio de las Minas and just passed Las Cavas General Store, there’s Plaza Fatima, a new strip mall with small stores and a new flagship restaurant named Don Augustin.

Not knowing what to expect, we took a chance on this new establishment.

“Let’s go for it “ said my friend from Seattle who recently bought some land in the valley. “Yeah, let’s see what’s going on there” said my adventurous wife. Okay! Works for me!

Upon entering, we were greeted by Señora Delia Serna, a lovely lady who greeted us with a proud smile and a warm touch. “Welcome to our new restaurant” she said as she proceeded to warm us up with a few glasses of wine and brief explanation of the restaurant’s philosophy.

Today, I had a glass of L.A. Cetto Cabernet Sauvignon while my arm candy had a glass of L.A. Cetto White Zinfandel. With the wine, one of our servers brought over a basket of pan baked tortilla chips, not fried, with super fresh salsa. Now that was a real treat and a great way to get this whole thing started. More wine please!

Seems Don Augustin Restaurant was named after her late husband who recently passed. He was a philanthropist and social activist in the area for over 15 years and the restaurant was built in his honor. As Señor Delia explains “He deserves the honor. He was a good man who wanted the best for all of us”.

Originally from the Basque region of Spain, Don Augustin was raised in Peru and later moved his family to the Mexican State of Nayarit where Señora Delia was born. Later in life he moved the family to Santa Fe Springs California and then settled into the Valle de Guadalupe in early 90s. “We are so happy to be in Mexico again” says Señora Delia “We love it here, its home for us.”

And home is what this restaurant is all about.

The food is all prepared fresh from the gardens of Señora Delia’s home right behind the plaza.

“We grow our own herbs and we use the freshest ingredients available always” she says. "Every order is made to on the spot. So yes, it takes a bit longer than fast food style preparation but you are always guaranteed a fresh homemade meal. For example, if you order a glass of orange juice, it will be squeezed on the spot and not from some previously made batch" she says! Now that’s fresh! More wine please!

Today was a beautiful day in the Valle de Guadalupe, about 75 degrees Fahrenheit all day with clear skies. Just spectacular! A dream day! So we just needed to dress up for the crispy evening and enjoy our meal. A perfect end to a perfect day!

Tonight we ordered from her Country Mexican menu. Chicken Mole, a breast and leg of chicken dish with Mole Sauce (a non-sweet chocolate sauce derivative) was a choice of my wife. Chicken Milanesa (Country Fried Steak) went to the gentlemen from the great state of Seattle. It's a state right? Anyway, I had the Flank Steak.

Each dish comes with a Soup of the Day and 2 fresh sides of your choice. There were 3 of us so we each choose a different side from the menu of salad, refried beans, rice, peas and carrots, french fries and of course, and the famous guacamole.

The ambiance is wine country warm with lots vineyard flora and local wine display. The place is super clean and very friendly. Señora Delia proudly says she hires locals who would not otherwise have a chance for employment and teaches them the fine art of hosting, serving, and other duties that truly help the community become even stronger. I could tell this whole thing was bit more than just a restaurant but a real place of community leadership and pride. There is something good here.

True to the Don Augustin philosophy, Señora Delia opens up the plaza on Saturdays to Artisans who set up shop to sell their art goods. “It’s a matter of community support” she says. “We are very proud to honor the philosophies of Don Augustin and to continue his tradition of community care and support.

And so it goes our trip to Don Augustin! Looks like we found another place to call home!

- Winter Season: Wed to Sun: 9am to 6pm
- High Season: Wed to Sun: 8am to 8pm

Main Course Meal Prices
- 50 to 120 pesos ( about $ 4.50 to $ 11.00 usd)

- From the Ocean Highway take the Ruta Vinicola (Winery Route) and drive east about 10 minutes into the wine country. Pass the hamlet of San Antonio de las Minas and drive another 2 miles, pass Las Cavas General Store and on the right side look for the small strip mall Plaza Fatima. Located on Carretera Tecate-Ensenada KM 92, in front of the El Tigre exit.

Tel: +52(664) 155-3280
Email: rafadas@hotmail.com

Friday, January 4, 2008

New Mountain Bike Wine Tasting Tour in the Baja Wine Country

New Eco-Friendly Mountain Bike Tour Treks into the Baja Wine Country

by Megan Richardson

There's a new way to see, feel, and taste the Baja Wine Country and it promises to be one of the very best ways to do the baja wine country in a friendly, healthy, and eco-safe way.

A retired professional mountain biker, wine aficionado, environmentalist, and current resident of the Baja Wine Country area, BajaTrash.com's Bud Green takes you a fun, unique, and thrilling ride through our beautiful Guadalupe Valley visiting 5 different and interesting boutique wineries - tasting, learning, absorbing and enjoying - not to mention riding some awesome intermediate roads and trails.

  • 4 Hour Fun Ride
  • 9am Start Time
  • Tours held Saturday & Sundays
  • Limited to maximum of 20 riders/wine tasters
  • Riders must provide bicycle and riding gear. (Rentals Available on Advance Request)
  • 2008 Tours will be held on weekends.
  • To Register and Reserve your tour date now, email your name, address, contact email address, contact telephone number and the date that you are planning to ride to info@bajatrash.com.
  • The cost per rider is 40.00 usd. This will fee covers the continental breakfast, wine tasting, tour group wine discounts, porter (the guy who will carry your purchases) and professional tour guide Bud Green.
  • Upon receipt of registration, they will email you a release form and your invoice via email where as you can click and pay online via credit card or paypal.

So join Bud Green on a fun filled day of Mountain Biking, and Wine Tasting. Come see what this magical valley of grapes in our Baja Wine Country has to offer YOU! If you have any questions or special requests, feel free to email Bud directly at info@bajatrash.com.

* Bud Green is also the host of Trekking Thru The Baja Trash, a watchdog effort to help clean up the trash from this beautiful environment. Learn more at www.BajaTrash.com

Thursday, January 3, 2008

Baja Wine Country Videos

Rancho El Nido - Grapes & Veggies planted Summer 2007
This is slide show showing vegetables and grapes that were planted at Rancho El Nido this summer of 2007. There is also one interior shot of the cabin at the end.

Mexico Wine Country Vacation
Cross the border at Tijuana and begin amplifying leisure time with Joel Checkai and Ben Klein as they baja down in Mexico and discover Mexican wine country just south of San Diego in Ensenada Mexico.

Review: Mustafa's Restaurant in the Baja Wine Country

Breakfast in the Baja Wine Country

By Betty V.

It's the holidays in the Baja Wine Country and I was getting that "lets go out for breakfast and cozy up at a local restaurant" thing. It was time to get out and brave the chilly Baja California winter .

So today, I chose Mustafa's Restaurant. It is located on the highway at the north end of San Antonio de las Minas in the Valle de Guadalaupe.

Open since 1986, Mustafa's is famous in the valley to both locals and tourists. Surrounded by grape vines and some nice big trees, I really like the ambiance there because it just feels good. It is cozy and comfy and with the weather in the high 40's, cozy and comfy had my name written all over it.

Once my husband and I entered the large restaurant, we were met by Lupita Rubio, our server today. Her smile is infectious. She is truly courteous and kind. We sat next to the "fire place" where they had a nice heat coming from the heater that kept us warm today. It must have been about 47 degrees outside today. Hey it's winter in the Baja Wine Country and it can be a bit chilly. I was ready!

I ordered some hot chocolate to start and my husband ordered his usual American Cafe con leche (coffee with milk). Lupita was quick and fast with the service. We took a picture of her serving the coffee. She was so shy and it was quite refreshing. She represents her community extremely well and reminds us again why we all love to live in Mexico.

My family has eaten at Mustafa's severel times before so I kind of knew what was best to order in advance.

In the past, for dinner, we have eaten their Moroccan dishes with a very savory taste but this was breakfast and I was not in the mood for Moroccan style Borrego (lamb). So I just went native and ordered a country Mexican dish called Bistec Ranchero.

Bistec Ranchero is beef cut into cubes or strips lightly sautéed with onions, tomatoes and non-spicy peppers. It came with a side dish of Chilaquiles. Chilaquiles are toasted tortilla strips with red sauce and cheese. It also had refried beans and scrambled eggs. All this was served with freshly made flower tortillas. Wow, I love these things! I can eat the flour tortillas by themselves. They are so good. Talk about scrumptious! As for the main course, the meat was very tender and savory and those Chilaquiles were very tasty. I enjoyed it.

Our waitress Lupita Rubio was friendly and very attentive to our needs. She came back often to ask if my husband wanted refills for his Cup of Joe. Our food came on time and the presentation was very good.

My husband had a mushroom and cheese omelet with the same side dishes. He reported that it was very good and tasty and that he was surprised because, at the prices posted, he expected less but got more.

I did notice that a lady next to us ordered Hot Cakes with a side of sausage but that like many restaurants in Mexico, if you order sausages, you get a side of hot dogs. That's not abnormal but to Americans coming down to Mexico, if you want that American style breakfast sausage make sure you ask for it up front and make it clear, otherwise, you'll be getting the Mexican cousin of that Jimmy Dean American sausage.

Overall, for breakfast, I recommend Mustafa's. It is nothing fancy. Just down home country food in a cozy country atmosphere. So if you're looking for cozy comfort, this will do you up just fine.

Happy Holidays from the Baja Wine Country!
Mustafa's Restaurant has indoor dining specializing in Mexican style breakfasts and lunches with an Arabic flavor. Services large groups with prior reservations.
Km. 93 Highway #3 Tecate-Ensenada in San Antonio de las Minas, on the main highway.
(646) 155-3185

A Moroccan Berber Restaurant in the Baja Wine Country

Culture in the Baja Wine Country: How Mustafa’s Restaurant Came to the Valle de Guadalupe

by Burleigh Sullivan

So we went to Mustafa’s Restaurant in the Baja Wine Country to do a review on their breakfast during the holiday season. What we got was a recent history of the wine country and how a Moroccan Berber ended up becoming a key cultural player in the new folklore of this up and coming world class wine producing area - an amazing look back at a piece of Baja Wine Country history.

Mustafa Ali, the owner of Mustafa’s Restaurant, is an effervescent gentleman with a big smile and a kind hospitality that makes our Baja Wine Country a unique and interesting place to be in 2008.

In Tangiers Morocco 1944, during a time that can be best described as a real life Casablanca movie where the Germans, Americans, French, and English were jockeying for position to dominate the world, Mustafa Ali was born.

In 1955, Mustafa moved to the U.S.A. landing in New York City. Quickly thereafter he moved west to the great State of California. Ambitious, the new American citizen studied at Palomar College in San Marcos California and worked managing in the poultry industry for many years.

Mustafa, an industrious ambitios man, meet his wife Nelli, originally from Tecate, while she was employed at the poultry concern. They started their family having two children Omar and Shareem.

After years of work in California and seeking a new challenge, in 1983, Mustafa purchased 6 hectares (about 12 acres) in the Guadalupe Valley for $ 55,000. “This place really reminded me of Morocco and that gave me a warm home feeling” says a proud Mustafa. “It was time for a change”.

Upon his purchase and after a night of a spirits and celebration, Mustafa proclaimed to his wife that they were moving to Mexico. So they packed up their bags and moved to the Valley de Guadalupe.

The baja wine country property they purchased came with a small house and vineyards as far as the eye could see. They renovated and made it their new home. “It was a beautiful time for us” says Mustafa.

Originally, the idea was to sell the grapes to local wineries and earn a living. “The local wineries were paying just 1000 pesos per ton and because of the peso fluctuations during that time, they were paying anywhere from 6 to 8 months out. It was impossible to do business like that” said Mustafa. “So I pulled up most of the vines and replaced them with Carnation flowers".

For about 3 years, Mustafa sold his carnations to an array of flower buyers in the U.S.A. earning a super good living. However, the Columbians began exporting their Carnations into the USA at 1 penny per flower delivered. This killed the business off completely. Mustafa continued to sell the flowers to local markets but the writing was on the wall, the Carnation business was over.

With the demise of the Carnation business, Mustafa needed a new business. So on November 6 1986, Mustafa’s Restaurant was born.

Mustafa’s Country Moroccan Mexican Restaurant was an immediate hit with the locals and tourists alike. “We were really the only full-service restaurant in the valley” says Mustafa. “At 8am, we used to have a line outside our door everyday for years”.

Overtime, more restaurants came in and filled the demand. Mustafa’s Restaurant is now the grand daddy of the local establishments – famous with both locals and tourists alike – and we are the beneficiaries of the Moroccan Berber who came to the Baja Wine Country with a dream and that ambitious smile that says "Welcome Home".

Mustafa's Restaurant has indoor dining specializing in Mexican style breakfasts and lunches with an Arabic flavor. Services large groups with prior reservations.
Km. 93 Highway #3 Tecate-Ensenada in San Antonio de las Minas, on the main highway.
(646) 155-3185

Come to Baja but Come Prepared

Beginning January 31, 2008 the US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has implemented new border crossing requirements for US citizens crossing from Mexico to the US.

The requirement for ADULTS (18+) is to have any ONE of the following three forms of ID:

  1. Driver's License (or other Government issued photo ID) and a Birth Certificate
  2. US Passport
  3. SENTRI (in SENTRI lanes)

The requirement for MINORS is now to have any ONE of the following forms of ID:

  1. Birth Certificate
  2. US Passport
  3. SENTRI (in SENTRI lanes)

Note that these requirements don't mean that you are forced to permanently live in Mexico if you lack one of these documents. However, you may be subject to the DHS Secondary inspection which can further delay your crossing.

*Note posted courtesy of Brian Flock from Baja Ocean Realty