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


ismael said...

it's a wonderful place and restaurant Senora Delia always welcomes and treats everyone as good as she can and always with a smile on her face she's a lovely lady!!! the whole place its magical hte whole Guadalupe Valley! Sandra thats including you although you probably never meant what you once told me...


ismael said...

very good service Senora Delia is a lovely lady who always treats everybody as good as she can always with a smile on its a magical place the whole Guadalupe Valley is beautiful!!! Sandra thats including you!