10 February 2016

Several Hours in Ensenada: My First Time in Mexico

There was a lot of activity on Avenida Adolfo López Mateos
This past summer, my wife and I visited Mexico for our very first time. While on a brief cruise, we got out and explored Ensenada for several hours. While we knew that this was a touristy area, we figured we would enjoy it, nevertheless. We also knew not to expect any kosher food, which is why we stayed on our cruise ship for the morning, so we could eat, before heading out into town to drink. While we heard that it is normally sunny there in Ensenada, it was either raining or simply gray, although not cold, while we were there. While sometimes the rain was light and we could withstand it, we often would have to go inside to avoid the rain.

Enjoying margaritas at La Taberna de Ensenada
We first headed to where most of the shops were, on Avenida Adolfo López Mateos. While walking along this street, the first such place we went to avoid the rain was La Taberna de Ensenada, where we had been enticed to enter, not only on account of trying to avoid the rain, but also because of a good 2-for deal on margaritas. While inside, we also enjoyed the lovely ambiance of this bar.

Tasting in a liquor store
We continued along, eventually being coaxed into a liquor store to try some liquors. In this liquor store, Tequila Room, we were treated to a free little tasting of a reposado tequila, which was decent; then a crema de tequila, of which I had never heard before, but enjoyed its smoothness and sweetness; then a mango liqueur, which was really quite sweet, but enjoyable. There was also another tasting going on in this liquor store, and it seemed to have a different variety of options for tasting.

We then headed out and continued on our way, with many people out on the streets trying to coax tourists to come in and enjoy their various drinks specials. Our group of four - another couple as well as my wife and I - were about to go into one such bar, although it was dark, had meager drinks options and really loud music. Fortunately, I got us out of there - it would not have been pleasant. However, we then went to Papas & Beer, which had very enjoyable music. I had a piña colada, which was decent, although nothing special. We soon realized, while at Papas & Beer that it was a very lively happening party place with some raunchiness, which became quite interesting. So, we then left there and went a couple of doors down for a bar experience that was very different.
Enjoying beers at Hussong's

We then entered into Hussong's Cantina, which had a more down-to-earth atmosphere and definitely something less crazy than Papas & Beer. We found Hussong's Cantina to be a decent bar and we enjoyed their mariachi band, which was taking song requests. Since I didn't realize it was the birthplace of the margarita (and would've ordered one, had I known), I had a Tecate, which I found to be a solid lager.

Bohemia beers
We then continued on down the street, coming upon another bar, where one of our group and I split Bohemia beers. I found the Bohemia (4.7% ABV) to be pleasant and kind of reminded me a little bit of apple juice, whereas the Bohemia Obscura (4.9% ABV) was both calmer of a beer, as well as darker.

We continued along and I was convinced to come into a bar for a $1 shot of tequila. At Phosphorus, I had a shot of Julieza reposado tequila for that $1, which was a nice, smooth tequila. I was then curious to have another reposado tequila, ordering Don Julio reposado tequila. This was pricier, coming in at $5, but it was a smooth, yet very flavorful and spicy tequila.

As we continued along, we returned again to La Taberna de Ensenada to get out of the rain and enjoy another margarita. Before returning to the ship, we stopped at a liquor store into which we had visited earlier. While there, I bought my first-ever bottle of mezcal (reposado). We then did our best to not get too wet from the rain on the way back to the cruise ship.

It was a good several hours in even just that one main strip of shops there in Ensenada. It’s clear that there is a lot more to do there - and that’s just on that one street(!). And, yes, it’s plainly obvious that it’s catering primarily to the tourists, especially those who arrive for a few hours while on a cruise. Yet, it has a certain charm, nonetheless. I would certainly find it fascinating to go again, especially when it’s not raining and to more fully explore the area.