There’s an old saying where I come from: You can take the girl out of the south but you can never take the south out of the girl. That is a statement that hit close to home on this last epic trip through Baja. It was like out of nowhere my childhood memories kicked in and every which way I turned I was looking for a taste of home…a link back to my wily youth spent running wild in the mountains of Tennessee. Baja never, ever fails to deliver and she certainly didn’t this time around either. Here’s what I found in my quest for a taste of the Deep South…in the Deep South.
The Best Pie Ever - Ette’s Pie Shop – Loreto
This quaint pie shop tucked into a strip mall on a main road leading into Loreto was something that really shocked me to my core when I spotted it on a drive-by one fine afternoon. Homemade, American-style pies in a dusty little Mexican village? Unheard of! I blazed in, tastebuds on fire, ready to try everything and was stopped dead in my tracks at the scene I had waltzed into. Local farmers were sitting quietly chatting at a gingham cloth-covered table enjoying a steaming cup of coffee while hardcore expats formed a line to load up on fresh baked muffins, cakes and pies every which way you can imagine. I hopped in line and went into a frenzy ordering a whole apple pie, two superb chicken pot pies, a hot and sticky cinnamon roll and a mess of chewy cookies. This is the kind of place that makes the upcoming holidays palatable if you plan on spending it in Baja. You make the turkey and dressing, they got the pumpkin pie! Just don’t forget the nieve.
Biscuits and Gravy – Cerritos Beach Inn – El Pescadero
This new beachfront hotel in Cerritos was a terrific surprise. News of their opening caught my eye in The Baja Western Onion, the online newsletter that shares all the news that's fit to print about happenings in the Todos Santos area, but what made my eyes pop out of my head was the headliner – "Southern Style Biscuits and Gravy served daily." Now this was something (besides surfing) to race off to Cerritos Beach for. We parked at the beach club and just walked down with the doggies so we could get them good and worn out before strolling into their outdoor dining area. Not to worry though, we were the first early birds and the dogs just flopped down anyhow, exhausted from the beach run. The views from the perch on the hilltop were never ending over the Pacific and when piping hot biscuits smothered in sausage gravy came out with a pair of over medium fried eggs, I just lost it. It was if my Granddad had put on an apron in the back kitchen and got to it. After chowing down, we toured around the adorable new hotel (extremely pet friendly) with a gorgeous weaving swimming pool and bar in the courtyard. It’s likely the most affordable beachfront spot in all of Cerritos and with the new season about to start, I am hoping the menu gets expanded to add on some fried green tomatoes with white pepper gravy.
A Baby Herb Garden – El Corazón Café – Loreto Bay
I love this coffee shop. Literally every year when we get ready to head down to Baja for a chunk of the high season, I wait anxiously until we hit Loreto Bay and cruise right on over to this adorable café to check in on what’s new. Usually a lot is happening. Well, as much as can be going on in the tiny seaside frontier land known as Loreto Bay. The first thing to be discussed with the super friendly staff is the little garden out front. Did it survive the sweltering summer? Next up is always what’s new on the menu? Last season they finally started serving cold beer. The conversation then turns to will there be any neat new pop up restaurants taking over at night later in the high season, as they are only open for breakfast and lunch? The Wi-Fi runs fast, the vibe borders on ecstatic because all the snow birds are finally making their way down as winter hits the northern parts of the US and Canada, and the Sea of Cortez is a mere few steps away making an early morning coffee walk that much more enjoyable.
My Granny’s Oatmeal – La Esquina - Todos Santos
Everyone knows that Todos Santos is more of a hipster enclave than anywhere else in Baja, so it’s not surprising that I found a swoon worthy bowl of oats at the most popular breakfast haunt in town, La Esquina. They caught onto the avocado toast, gluten–free dance before anyone else in town and everything is ordered at the always busy counter and served in little nooks in a huge tropical garden. Late afternoon and nighttime brings on live music, drinks, art shows, and jewelry showcases. With fast and free Wi-Fi, it’s the perfect spot to drift away an afternoon, but, back to the oatmeal that became an addiction after one wee bite. With the addition of chopped apples, slivered nuts, butter, cinnamon, and sugar, it was a bona fide warm oatmeal cookie for breakfast right out of my Granny’s kitchen. Thankfully, they serve breakfast all day long. Make sure you browse the bulletin board while waiting on your food – you might just find a cheap rental that will entice you to stay a season.