Valle De Guadalupe: 13 Must-Visit Places in The Largest Mexico Wine Country

Most travellers to Mexico have heard about Cabo San Lucas, Cancun, and Mexico City, but surprisingly, Valle de Guadalupe remains somewhat hidden. Just 2 hours south of San Diego border is home to Mexico’s largest wine region, also a blooming foodie destination that has been gaining incredible popularity in the culinary world over the last few years. 

Commonly called the Napa of Mexico, Valle de Guadalupe is quickly becoming the “it” location for wine enthusiasts, foodies, and those who simply love to visit the hottest travel locations. In this blog I’m rounding up 13 must visit places (including wineries, wine bars, local restaurant,…) for a great trip to Valle de Guadalupe.

Our Experience

In this blog I’m not going into details about how to get to Guadalupe, safety concerns, immigration paperwork, border waiting times or car insurance. There are many blogs out there discussing these matters in great length and you should check them out before your trip (just type in your Google search engine “Complete Guide/Blog for Guadalupe” and it will give you many options for quality blog posts for Baja travel).

For us, this trip to Guadalupe was just like a trip to any other cities in the US. We crossed border at Tijuana at 11am on Tuesday and the crossing time was about 10 mins. When you go from the US to Mexico, it’s generally very fast (joke on the side: No one cares if you go that direction!). If the guards didn’t stop you for a random car inspection, you can just cruise through the gate without even showing your passports. Even if the guards inspected your car it would only take about 5 mins.

If you are only traveling to Guadalupe, Tecate border is the easiest and fastest route (avoid traffic at Tijuana, well-maintained highway, less waiting time). We wanted to visit Rosarito and Puerto Nuevo on the way to Guadalupe; that’s why we chose to cross border at Tijuana. But on the way back, we decided to try Tecate for less border waiting times. When you go from Mexico to the US, the waiting time at border is much longer and Tijuana is the busiest (waiting time can go up to 2 hours). So we crossed border at Tecate back to the US at 3pm on Friday and the waiting time was only about 15 mins.

*** For pawrents, you are allowed 2 dogs per family to enter Mexico (no questions asked!). There’s no need to show the dog’s paperwork (like vaccination or health records).

13 must visit places in Valle de Guadalupe

1. La Cocina de Doña Esthela

Voted the best breakfast in the world by Foodie Hub in 2015, Doña Esthelas put Valle de Guadalupe on the map as a foodie destination.

We absolutely love our authentic country style breakfast at La Cocina de Doña Esthela. It is hard to believe that this restaurant, located down a very bumpy and rutted dirt road, serves around 1500+ people everyday and has been visited by many famous chefs from around the world.

Doña Esthela won the title for being the best breakfast in the world thanks to her machaca (dried shredded meat) which is a traditional dish from Baja and northern Mexico. She makes her machaca with eggs, peppers, and onions and serves it with freshly hand-made tortillas and a side of refried beans.

Her house specialty and best seller – the Borrego Tatemado is a tender lamb cooked underground bursting with herbs and flavors, served shredded with salsa and handmade tortillas, dipped in its broth on the side. This is the dish that Bourdain made famous around the world. 

And we love that all the food and drinks are served on or in hand-crafted Mexican pottery. This authentic Mexican restaurant must absolutely be on your must-eat list!

2. El Cielo Winery

This is our favorite winery in Guadalupe. With views of rolling hills, fertile grapevines, olive tree orchards along with the warm Mediterranean climate El Cielo made us feel like we were wine tasting in the Tuscan countryside

Valle de Guadalupe produces around 80% to 90% of all Mexico wines putting Mexico on the map as a world-class wine producer. Out of more than 150 different wineries, El Cielo is the most respected in the region.

It produces the most internationally awarded wines in the country, including Tinto G&G 2019, Tinto Galileo 2019 and Hypatia Brut 2019, all earning gold medals at the world renowned Concours Mondial de Bruxelles in 2023.

A great way to fully experience El Cielo Winery is through a cart ride tour or self-guided golf cart rental to admire the landscapes, orchard, olive trees and vines. Opting for the cart tour presents a wonderful opportunity where one of the sommeliers explains the vine process during the year and presents you with three tastings in the underground cellar. 

Outside the tasting room is a lavish wine garden, with picnic tables set under the shade of olive trees. Here visitors can have a bite and a sip while enjoying the scenery and fresh air.

3. Vena Cava

Vena Cava‘s tasting room, with its industrial-chic decor, isn’t just the trendiest spot in Valle de Guadalupe, but also a top choice for organic wines in the area.

The wine tasting experience at Vena Cava is a journey into the world of natural wines. Unlike conventional wines, natural wines are made using organic grapes and undergo spontaneous fermentation without the addition of any additives or chemicals.

A really cool feature of Vena Cava is the fishing boat which has been flipped upside down and acts as the main tasting room’s roof. Vena Cava is all about recycling and sustainablilty.

While at Vena Cava, don’t miss the opportunity to tantalize your taste buds at Troika (the on-site gourmet food truck). This culinary gem serves up creative and tasty dishes using organic fresh local ingredients, pairing them with Vena Cava wines by the glass and craft beer from Wendlandt. 

Troika appears like an oasis…complete with the colorful shaded picnic tables, ducks in a pond, rising up out of the stark chaparral.

The plates are on the smaller side.They were not quite a tapa but not a full-size plate either. We tried four different dishes during our trip and all were delicious.

*** SIKIL PAK: Mayan pumpkin seed dip, caramelized bell peppers 

*** TOSTADA: Yellowtail amberjack tostada with anocado and citrus habanero

*** MALEFICIO: Chocolata clam and shrimp with fish ceviche

*** CREPE: With braised oxtail and creamed spinach.

As you sip on Vena Cava’s natural wines and Troika’s gourmet dishes, let the aromas and flavors transport you to the heart of the Guadalupe Valley.

4. Bloodlust Wine Bar

Bloodlust is a gastronomic space and wine bar. The iconic look of Bloodlust was inspired by a drop of wine. Think of it like many drops of wine combined together to form a round space.

There is indoor and outdoor seating, and Bloodlust Wine Bar offers more than 60 labels of wine from Baja and cocktails. They also have a kitchen serving traditional Baja food using local produce from local farmers.

Inside, the bar is low-lit and it felt like we had entered Star Wars. It’s totally surreal to taste wine in such a unique and innovative space.

5. Oja Valley

Want to find the most instagrammable restaurant in Valle? Oja is a stunning restaurant with amazing cocktails and snacks.

Oja is designed thoughtfully with a unique, rustic feel. The entrance to the restaurant makes you feel like traveling in Namibia with rescued zebras on the property.

This is one of the pricier options for eating and drinking in the area. So we just ordered their small plates for afternoon snacks like Tostada de Atun. The whole experience was just amazing!

6. Casa Frida

Located in the heart of the valley, Casa Frida is a must-visit destination for wine enthusiasts and art lovers alike. We enjoyed the wine but the art and the food at Casa Frida were definitely the highlight of this visit.

Entering their wine tasting room is like stepping into a world of creativity as you admire the colorful murals and sculptures.

As you sip on Casa Frida’s wines and munch on the delicious charcuterie board, let the flavors, arts, and rich heritage transport you to the heart of Guadalupe.

At Casa Frida, the beauty of art and the flavors of wine converge to create an unforgettable experience for every visitor.

7. Bruma Winery

Valle de Guadalupe is all about sustainability and Bruma is a winery that wants everyone to share in the rich history of the land. This eco-friendly winery has been a favorite since 2015 and offers visitors the chance to enjoy exceptional wines while engaging all senses with nature.

The visual show-stopper is its 300-year old oak tree located in the Barrel Hall. The ancient tree stands in the middle of the winery and is the perfect place to snap a picture.

8. Los Originales Tacos del Valle

If you’re seeking genuine Baja-style tacos, head to “Los Originales Tacos del Valle” for solid versions of popular roasted meats. This open-air taqueria has been a favorite among locals since 1993.

Options include carne asada tacos and tostadas all served on corn tortillas with mild red salsa and a huge dollop of creamy guacamole.

9. Descanso Fenix Airbnb

We had a wonderful stay at Descanso Fenix Airbnb. As most of the dirt roads in Guadalupe are often bumpy, but the dirt road lead to Fenix is very smooth and flat, only 2-min easy drive to the main road. We love the location of Fenix, close to many wineries and great restaurants/wine bars. Only 3 mins from the famous El Cielo Winery, 8 mins to the Bloodlust Wine Bar, and 10 mins to the World’s Best Breakfast – La Cocina de Dona Esthela.

Link to book

The cabin is exactly what described in their listing – cozy, modern, clean and had everything we need for a staycation. The yard is super spacious; our fur babies love running around and up and down the stairs.

Link to book
Link to book

The spacious yard is equipped with shaded picnic areas, hammocks, lounging chairs, and fire pit. It had everything we need to create a cozy family campfire gathering at night time.

Link to book

We love the magical sunset views from our cabin’s rooftop deck. Perfect spot for our family to enjoy wines, cheese, and the view over the valley. It’s a great central location to explore Guadalupe.

Link to book
Link to book

Other Spots On The Way and Outside Valle de Guadalupe Worth a Visit

The Valle de Guadalupe is located in Ensenada, Baja California. If time allows, I highly recommend visiting the town in Ensenada, Rosarito and Puerto Nuevo as it is equally as gorgeous but a complete change in scenery. Just 30 minutes from the Valle you’ll find the most gorgeous coast and lots of delicious food.

10. Los Portales de Garcia

Between Tijuana and Ensenada there is a beautiful stretch of paved highway. This is the Scenic Highway. It’s not only the fastest route to Ensenada but also the easiest for drivers unfamiliar with Mexican roadways. As you drive to Valle, you will pass by the lovely town of Rosarito and its Instagram-worthy restaurant – Los Portales de Garcia.

Los Portales de Garcia is a gorgeous ocean-front cliffside restaurant on the edge of Rosarito. The restaurant draws inspiration from Spanish and Mexican architecture, with the restaurant designed like a stone castle, partially indoors with a terrace for outdoor seating that offer spectacular views.

Its stone castle structure and cliffside location is reminiscent of the stunning European coastal vibes. Not only it has an awe-inspiring location overlooking a rocky and dramatic cove, but it also is a culinary gem with a diverse array of mouthwatering seafood dishes.

Only an hour drive from San Diego – Tijuana border this restaurant will get you into a serious European vacation mood and also a fun stop before heading to Guadalupe.

11. Puerto Nuevo

Just about an hour south of Tijuana is this little fishing village called Puerto Nuevo. If Ensenada is for ceviche lovers, then Puerto Nuevo is paradise for lobster lovers.

Puerto Nuevo has their own style of making a sweet lobster. The popular way to cook a Puerto Nuevo lobster is by chopping it in half and throwing it in sizzling hot oil for a good fry. This really softens the lobster and makes it extra flavorful while crunchy on the outside.

Some of the popular restaurants in this small town are Restaurant Puerto Nuevo #1, Restaurant Villa Ortega’s,… but we opted out for Siete Mares which doesn’t have a huge online presence but it was perfect for us. Here the grilled seafood platter, which includes lobster, various types of shrimp, fish fillet, octopus, guacamole, rice, beans and flour tortillas, serves at least four and cost only $70 (with a breathtaking ocean view). 

12. Seafood Stands in Ensenada

Here in Ensenada seafood stalls can be found on every corner and they serve seafood that was caught just hours ago; ceviches/tostadas/cocktails/campechana…are prepared from start to finish right in front of us. It’s as fresh as it can get (what Tokyo’s Sukiyabashi Jiro is to Japanese sushi, Ensenada is to ceviches). You’d be charged top dollar for this quality of seafood in a US fine dining restaurant, but in Ensenada it’s simply the freshest catch served to working people.

This is why you’ll see small crowds of people gathered around tiny carts munching on oysters, chocolate clams and shrimp cocktails as early as 10am in Ensenada. So if you visit Ensenada, you can leave your fears of street food and feel free to enjoy this seafood paradise destination. Ensenada is for true gastronomes at heart.

Following the footsteps of Anthony Bourdain in his episode “No Reservation” we visited some of the best seafood places in Ensenada:

*** La Guerrerense: This mariscos made it to Newsweek’s list of the “101 Best Places to Eat In the World” and has won multiple awards! Bourdain called their signature dish (sea urchin, pismo clam, avocado, chile sauce and peanut tostada) Michelin quality seafood in the street.

This seafood stall was started in 1960; their signature dishes include seafood tostadas, seafood cocktails, and raw shellfish dressed with house made salsa. Two of their special dishes that help them win the first place in World Street Food Congress in 2013 are their sea urchin ceviche with clam on top and sea snail ceviche. The award-winning creative tostadas are clearly marked on the menu to make it easy for us to decide. Those are more pricey, but the simplest ones like mixed ceviche or clams are equally delicious.

Everyone knows the protocol: Get a sea urchin tostada and a salt cod tostada to start. Then dress the tostadas with guacachile (spicy guacamole) and chiles de mi jardin (toasted chiles in vegetable oil with peanuts). Next order a campechana (mixed seafood cocktail)!

*** Mariscos El Güero: One of the hottest mariscos cart in town is Mariscos El Güero and it totally lives up to the hype. Chocolate clams are something you have to try in Ensenada. These clams are, in our opinion, best eaten in simple escabeche style (served cold, lightly marinated).

After the clams, we ordered a mixto tostada backed with chopped seafood (squid, octopus, pen shell clams, and raw shrimp lightly cooked in lime). Creamy and savory, with a touch of heat from their hot sauce. This was my favorite of all the ones I’ve tried. This masterpiece of culinary simplicity was just under $5.

13. La Bufadora

Less than an hour south of Ensenada lies our favorite sliver of the far north: Punta Banda peninsula. This is where the famous La Bufadora geyser is located.

La Bufadora is a marine geyser. The water jumps are a combination of a cave with the waves, which when hitting, are thrown upwards. At high tide, this blowhole shoots water up to 90 feet in the air!

Final Words

Valle de Guadalupe with Michelin quality restaurants, over 100 wineries, as well as five star accommodations, there’s no better place for a wandering foodie to spend a weekend away. Valle de Guadalupe has such a strong and exuberant food culture; it’s one of the best untapped foodie regions in the world. While the area is quickly growing in popularity it still has a long way to go. For those looking for a fun, relaxing, or luxurious getaway, this Mexico wine country has it all.

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By inAra

Hi there! I’m May, a girl who loves to wander and wonder! I’m from Saigon, based in Los Angeles, but my current location is anywhere and everywhere. Travel, Photography, Tea Time, Picnic, Home Decor and Event Planning are a few of my favorite things.

inArabymay is a travel and lifestyle blog inspired by beautiful destinations, by color and nature, and by wonderful people that I’ve met on my journey.

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