Laja is a quaint restaurant in Baja California featuring pristine local, seasonal ingredients, located about 10 miles north of Ensenada in the heart of the wine country of Guadalupe Valley...
Wait a second! Wine country in Mexico? That's right. Mexico was actually home to the first vineyard plantings in North America; the cultivation of wine grapes began over 400 years ago, and the region has seen a real renaissance of serious wine-making efforts over the past decade.
Good food and wine? That was all we needed to hear to rent a car and cross the border.
With all the information on the internet, there is a surprising dearth of commentary about travel and road conditions for Mexico’s highways. We had no idea how long the trip would take in its entirety, with the biggest question mark being the potential for an excruciating 3+ hour wait to cross back into the U.S. at San Ysidro. We decided to optimistically aim for this schedule:
- 9 am: Leave San Diego for Tijuana; head for Ensenada on Route 1
- 11 am: Arrive in wine country and visit L.A. Cetto, Monte Xanic, and Chateau Camou
- 1:30 pm: Lunch at Laja (their earliest reservation)
- 6 pm: Cross the border at Tecate via Route 3 (2 lane highway)
- 7 pm: Return the rental car in San Diego and catch our 8:15 pm flight back to Oakland
Could it be done? With only 2 hours allotted to get to Tecate and wait through the line at the border, it seemed like a 50/50 chance we’d miss our flight.