Eater.com – In the early 2000s, Mexico’s wine country was a charming destination for huevos rancheros, the odd Moroccan-Mexican restaurant, Molokan museums, a couple of nice bed and breakfasts, and a handful of boutique wineries. The Wednesday farmers market at Rancho El Mogor featured a half-dozen baskets of produce and a gentleman selling pizzas he cooked in a clay oven. In summer, especially during the annual Vendimias wine harvest festival, chefs brought out the campestres (country grills), used to continue open-flame cooking traditions forged in Northern Mexico in the aboriginal fires of the Kumiai.
Romantics like chef Jair Téllez (of Laja) and oenologist Hugo d’Acosta (of wineries like Casa de Piedra, Paralelo, and La Escuelita) conceived of something more for the region: garden-to-table, wine-driven, world-renowned kitchens. Meanwhile, architects Alejandro D’Acosta and Claudia Turrent dreamed up distinctive, modern, recycled design for wineries like Casa de Piedra, Vena Cava, Bruma, and Paralelo.
Today the area is home to well over 100 wineries and has become a favorite travel destination for people on both sides of the border. The wine, along with Baja seafood and produce, has also attracted the best chefs in Mexico, who cook on Santa Maria grills, in cajas chinas, and in wood-fired clay ovens. Local traditions like grilled quail, roasted pig, oven-roasted lamb, fresh-shucked oysters, and the ubiquitous fish of the day provide plenty of material for Valle de Guadalupe chefs, while the luxury seafood industry and restaurant gardens offer a wealth of ingredients. Those wineries are producing world-class wines to pair with sea urchin, abalone, Pismo clams, yellowtail, and geoduck, and everyone cooks with their own olive oil.
Two decades after Valle de Guadalupe’s transformation began, here are the valley’s essential places to eat.
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