of Puerto Nuevo
The best lobster spots
Nuevo-style lobster has been a phenomenon since 1956, when
several women in the tiny fishing village south of Rosarito
started dropping fresh lobsters into pots of bubbling oil
and serving them to a few outsiders.
the still-small-but-now-bustling Puerto Nuevo served more
than 672,000 deep-fried California rock lobsters.
of restaurants in Rosarito and the surrounding area served
more. More than 250 tons of the bottom-crawling crustaceans
are pulled from Baja California waters each year just to feed
the frenzy of lobster-loving tourists. Hundreds of additional
tons are shipped in from elsewhere between mid-February and
mid-September, when harvesting Baja California lobster is
Puerto Nuevo boasts more than 35 side-by-side restaurants
that all sell the same thing -- fried lobster, beans, rice,
flour tortillas, chips and salsa. To the uninitiated, confusion
reigns. We'll tell you which spots are the best, but first,
a few insider tips:
vs. frozen: Most of the larger, more popular restaurants
are owned or controlled by two families. This gives them the
volume and ability to import live lobster from Baja California
Sur and from as far away as Cancun during the months when
local lobster is out of season. Smaller mom-and-pop operations
are often forced to serve frozen lobster during this period.
All of the restaurants we recommend serve fresh lobster year-round.
Choosing a lobster: The most tender legal lobster is the medium
size, weighing from 1 to 1* pounds. Restaurant owners will
admit that anything over this is tough. While very small lobsters,
often called "slippers," are delicious and extremely
tender, they are illegal to catch, sell or serve at any time
The larger, long-standing restaurants run very close in
price for basic lobster dinners: about $16 to $18 for a full
meal with a medium lobster; $24 for a large lobster; $30 for
the extra-large "burro," which can weigh up to four
pounds. The smaller restaurants have less overhead, less staff,
offer fewer choices and thus can compete hard in price. But,
ask the right questions before committing. If a sign outside
shows "$10 SHRIMP - ALL YOU CAN EAT," ask if that
means all the shrimp you can eat or all the side dishes. If
a restaurant offers five lobster tails, ask to see the size.
Just say no: Usually, you'll be shown a tray with three different
lobster sizes to choose from. The enormous "burro,"
grande or extra-large may look tempting, but don't order it.
According to Puerto Nuevo chefs, lobsters this large are tough
and best suited for Lobster salad.
it up: Ask for spicy molcajete sauce rather than the bland
dishes: Salsa, chips, tortillas, rice and beans are all
in the all-you-can-eatcategory. Don't be afraid to ask for
more of any of these, especially fresh, hot tortillas. Nobody
eats flour tortillas in a restaurant once they've gotten cold.
Before you go
Cards: Not all Puerto Nuevo restaurants take credit cards.
Best to bring cash or ask before you order.
Most Puerto Nuevo restaurants do not take reservations
directly, but the Rosarito Convention and Visitors Bureau
(011-52-661-612-0396) is happy to make calls on your behalf.
Most restaurants are open from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. weekdays,
winter and summer, and until 10 p.m on Friday and Saturday.
A few restaurants stay open until 11:30 p.m. on summer weekends.
there: Puerto Nuevo is a clearly marked village on the
Old Road, 10 minutes south of downtown Rosarito. Take the
Rosarito-Ensenada toll road to the Puerto Nuevo turnoff at
kilometer 49. Turn left onto the Old Road and continue south
a short distance to the village, which will be on your right.
It is exactly 10 miles from Rosarito's southern toll gate.
of Puerto Nuevo: the best spots
The most popular restaurants in Puerto Nuevo are La Casa
de Langosta, Puerto Nuevo I and II, La Escondida and Ortega's
Manuel's. Sandra's also is a favorite with locals, and Ortega's
Patio and the Lobster House rate a visit as well. All are
winners when it comes to a great lobster dinner and are all
competitively priced. Here are other considerations to help
narrow your choices:
Menu: La Casa de Langosta. With everything from lobster
burritos to lobster omelets for breakfast, this broad menu
also includes steamed lobster with wine, lobster thermidor
and several creative combo plates like the Seafood Combination,
which features calamari, fish and lobster. You'll also find
oysters Rockefeller, along with Seven Seas soup.
Food: Puerto Nuevo II. Chef Enrique Murillo loves to cook,
and his appetizers are as good as his lobster. Depending on
the availability of fresh ingredients, they include smoked
marlin with capers and chile chipotle, steamed baby clams
in butter and parsley sauce, awesome octopus loaded with garlic
and butter and perhaps the best mussels on the Gold Coast.
Atmosphere: Ortega's Patio. The upper deck of this smaller
restaurant is the\ prettiest, most charming place in Puerto
Nuevo, with billowing blankets strung for shade and bougainvillea
blooming all around. A nice slice of sea view and good people-watching
on the main street below add to the casual atmosphere.
View: The Lobster House. It's the only major restaurant
on the dirt street closest to the ocean, and the upper deck
here has the only unobstructed, 180-degree ocean view in the
village. On a warm, sunny day, this is a splendid place to
be. On windy, cool days opt for the first-floor dining room.
Best Value: The Lobster House. With almost the same menu
as La Casa de Langosta (and the same ownership), this restaurant
usually charges $1.50 to $2 less per meal for the same size
portions. The Lobster House is relatively new and has been
building business with competitive pricing.
Best Wine List: La Casa de Langosta and The Lobster House.
You'll find a full selection of Baja's top wines, including
L.A. Cetto, Santo Tomas and Casa Domecq at both places. Good
choices with lobster are Santo Tomas' Blanco Seco, Cetto's
Fume Blanc and any of the Baja wineries' Chardonnays.
Best Wait Staff: Puerto Nuevo II.
Most Kid-Friendly: Ortega's Patio and Puerto Nuevo II.
Getting around: Puerto Nuevo is only three blocks deep.
Puerto Nuevo I and II, La Casa de Langosta and La Escondida
are all on the left, in that order, as you enter and head
toward the sea. Ortega's Patio and Ortega's Manuel's are both
on the right, closest to the ocean. Sandra's is on the second
side street to the left, around the corner from Puerto Nuevo
II. The Lobster House is the last restaurant to the left,
on the dirt road fronting the ocean.