It’s not often you get to celebrate two top female chefs’ achievements in one day. I was lucky enough to have this experience and participate in two events celebrating the queen’s of Baja’s culinary landscape.

Sabina Bandera has long been known for her famous fish tostada stand in Ensenada, La Guerrerense. After 56 years serving the freshest fish tostadas in Baja California she recently opened her first restaurant location.

Doña Esthela, the woman behind the wildly popular La Cocina de Doña Esthela was presented with an award for “Best Breakfast in the World”. The award was given by the international culinary website and mobile app FoodieHub. These events happened on the same day, and I was one of the lucky few who attended both events.

While the events were certainly monumental, the real treat was tasting the food of these two legendary Baja California chefs.

The Queen’s of Baja’s Culinary Landscape

The Queen of Breakfast: Doña Esthela

dona esthela chef baja with alexa meisler travel writer

It is no exaggeration to say that Doña Esthela is the queen of breakfast in Ensenada. First, she did just win the the tastiest breakfast in the world award. Second, the food is authentic and delicious. Not only does La Cocina de Doña Esthela makes salsa and chips daily, but she also makes the queso fresco (cheese).

La Cocina de Doña Esthela homemade salsa and cheese

Doña Esthela is known for several favorites such as pan de elote (corn bread muffins) and huevos rancheros (eggs with red salsa), but it is the house-made machaca (dried, shredded beef) that won the Foodiehub award for best breakfast in the world. The machaca is spiced with serrano chiles, bell pepper and garlic, scrambled with farm fresh eggs. It is served with a refried beans, freshly made warm flour and corn tortillas as well as the house made queso fresco.

While the machaca won an award, it’s her lamb borrego that is considered her house specialty and signature dish. There are also popular dishes that aren’t on the menu, such as the Sinaloan dish Chilorio made with shredded pork marinated in adobo and cooked with blistered chiles, oregano, cumin, cinnamon and garlic.

La Cocina de Doña Esthela machaca

This gorgeous oven cooks the freshly made tortillas throughout the day.

La Cocina de Doña Esthela

La Cocina de Doña Esthela is truly a phenomenon. Doña Esthela began selling chips and sodas and progressed to include a few very simple foods. She then began cooking for the local construction workers for many of the wineries being built at the time such as Lomita. In fact, she didn’t even name her restaurant. The workers would say I’m going to each at Doña Esthela’s kitchen. Translated this is “La Cocina de Doña Esthela”.

Today she has progressed far beyond a chips and a few simple items. Not only have fans from Baja and San Diego continued to visit her completely family run business. Some might even say she has the best breakfast in the world.

La Cocina de Doña Esthela best breakfast in the world award

La Cocina de Doña Esthela

The Queen of the Fish Tostada: Sabina Bandera

la-guerrerense-ensenada-mama-alexa

One of the most anticipated restaurant openings in Northern Baja was Sabina’s Restaurant by La Guerrerense. Sabina’s food stand La Guerrerense has been featured and admired by great chefs around the world, such as Anthony Bourdain, Rick Bayless, Enrique Olvera, Javier Plascencia, Benito Molina and many more.

Sabina Bandera of La Guerrerense in Ensenada tostada

The new restaurant menu by Sabina allows her to expand beyond her famous tostadas and 13 gourmet sauces.Sabina Bandera of La Guerrerense in Ensenada tostada

Sabina Bandera of La Guerrerense in Ensenada tostada

In addition to serving La Guerrerense’s well-loved seafood tostadas and clams, the menu features white and red seafood pozole, Ensenada style fish and shrimp tacos.

Sabina Bandera of La Guerrerense in Ensenada

Sabina Bandera of La Guerrerense in Ensenada tostada

Sabina Bandera of La Guerrerense in Ensenada

It’s not often you get to honor two top female chefs’ achievements in one day and celebrate the queen’s of Baja’s culinary landscape. After a day of savoring the culinary delights of these two extraordinary chefs, my taste buds may never be the same!

Thank you to my friends Fernando Gaxiola from bajawinefood.com and Scott Koenig from agringoinmexico.com  for planning and including me in this once in a lifetime Baja experience.  

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Queen's of Baja's Culinary Landscape

La Guerrerense food stand is located at 1st Street and Alvarado in Ensenada, BC. Mexico. The restaurant is a mere block from the famous fish tostada stand. Facebook: La Guerrerense 

La Cocina de Doña Esthela is located at Rancho san Marcos el Porvenir. From Highway 3 heading north, turn right on the dirt road where signs point to Hacienda la Lomita. +52 646 156 8453, Facebook: La Cocina de Doña Esthela


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Baja's Culinary Landscape