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“Leave your appetite at home”
Review of Restaurante Laja

Restaurante Laja
Certificate of Excellence
Price range: US$32 - US$72
More restaurant details
Restaurant details
Dining options: After-hours, Reservations
Description: In Laja cooking wine region of Baja California is brewing . Over the years we have achieved the magical space that sums up the essence of Valle de Guadalupe ; Natural and simple elegance of where tastes and feelings so deep and clear capriciously endure over time arise . We offer a set menu that changes every day. The backbone of our kitchen is our own garden . The vegetable is our thermometer , our clock and our reference . We ranks and season ( not all years are equal). At your own pace , from vegetables , sprouts , herbs and seasonings our menu comes alive . The nearby Pacific Ocean offers great and always surprising ingredients and producers of cheese , oils and meats from the region deeply grounded our offer.
Los Angeles, California
Level Contributor
83 reviews
33 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 198 helpful votes
“Leave your appetite at home”
Reviewed 25 March 2014

We visited Laja on a cool Saturday night in mid March.

A few days prior, I had emailed a reservation request for two adults, but no reply, so I called and left a voicemail a day before our arrival. As it turned out, we were only one of five tables dining, so a reservation was not necessary.

We arranged transportation from/to our hotel as we planned to enjoy wine with our meal.

We arrived in the gravel parking lot and made our way to the front door. We were greeted and sat by our waiter. Shortly thereafter, we were provided a piece of paper, folded twice, sealed with a small round gold sticker, containing the menu for the evening. Choice: Six courses $895 pesos, $1300 pesos ($103USD) with wine. We chose the 'with wine'.

There were two tables of families with small children, the rest of the tables contained adults.

Each course was between 2-3 small bites of food. The oysters with Chinese cabbage were tender, the garden salad tasted elegantly organic, the grouper was my favorite – pan roasted, the lamb was a little tough but the puree was delicious, I could not taste the carrots in the carrot cake- just sugar and butter, and the chocolate (similar to brownie) with espresso ice cream was lovely. The bread was very fresh. We were each provided 4 glasses of wine – the pours were generous. I'm assuming our waiter did knew very little English, because he was hesistant to speak and when he would pour a new wine he would almost run away, the first two times we stopped him to ask what we were drinking and he would just show us the bottle.

A visit from the host or the chef would have been a nice touch, the experience was impersonal. Other tables were invited downstairs to check out what we assumed was a cellar - our table and the table with another American couple were never invited.

The room is on the cooler side, so be sure to dress warm in the evenings or in the winter.

I left intoxicated and a little hungry (my husband was very hungry) – thank goodness we had arranged transportation.

Perhaps my expectations were elevated from what I’ve heard over the years and what I read in the reviews.

  • Visited March 2014
    • Value
    • Atmosphere
    • Service
    • Food
Helpful?
3 Thank Mrs_Naito
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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205 reviews from our community

Visitor rating
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    5
Rating summary
    Food
    Service
    Value
    Atmosphere
Date | Rating
  • English first
  • Norwegian first
  • Spanish first
  • Any
English first
Ensenada, Mexico
Level Contributor
45 reviews
40 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 28 helpful votes
“One of the Best!”
Reviewed 26 February 2014

I'm lucky enough to live in Ensenada, home of many great restaurants. Laja is among the very best! Since I was last there, they changed their menu format; no longer do you have the choice between a 4- or 8-course meal. Now, there is only a very pricey 6-course menu, to which they added one other course (grilled quail salad). A lovely note on the menu is that you can order seconds on any course at no extra charge (we did)!! All foods are locally grown and organic and they bake their own delicious bread. We began with vegetables from their garden and roasted kale, followed by the extra course. Then came clams with meyer lemon and manzano pepper, then romanesco salad with toasted grains and a soft-boiled quail egg. Up to now, everything was beyond perfect and we were in foodie heaven! Then came the catch of the day (sheephead) with guajillo broth; this was mediocre as the fish was too soft for my liking. The following course was lamb (which I don't eat), but they substituted duck which turned out to be tough. Then came three dessert courses, each one fabulously splendid: blood orange with lavender oil; butternut squash cake with yogurt ice cream; chocolate with almond and whey. So, we finished on another happy note!

  • Visited February 2014
    • Value
    • Atmosphere
    • Service
    • Food
Helpful?
2 Thank Dorbaja
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Scranton, Pennsylvania
Level Contributor
74 reviews
56 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 29 helpful votes
“Speechless”
Reviewed 12 February 2014 via mobile

I am still in awe of this restaurant. From the wine to the meal to the service, it was flawless! I tend to be on the safe side of foods but this menu had me tasting everything from sea urchin to blood oranges. An absolute must if you are in this region!

Helpful?
1 Thank StefanieC1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Concord, North Carolina
Level Contributor
19 reviews
7 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 14 helpful votes
“Great introduction to this region”
Reviewed 6 February 2014 via mobile

With a day to spare on a vacation to visit family in San Diego, we took a drive to this developing wine region of northern Baja.
Laja was the pick for an afternoon meal after sightseeing. I'd heard most of the details about its food and wine and expected to be impressed. We were.
The menu today was a price fixed 6 course meal and we chose to have the sommelier pair wine for each course.
Each course was carefully prepared, and if you pay attention to, and appreciate, the finer details of Laja's artfully crafted dishes you will come away truly amazed. If you are looking to shovel some food in and fill up fast, head into Ensenada and get some tacos.
The service was spot-on, never leaving us wanting, and when one person in the group really enjoyed the desert, another was brought out to enjoy.
I hope to be back in this area soon, and have a brand new experience at this great restaurant.
As a side note, the "dining room" was cool as was the weather outside. If we had not been dressed warmly it may have been uncomfortable.

Helpful?
1 Thank gromets
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
San Diego, California
Level Contributor
72 reviews
65 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 51 helpful votes
“Fin de la Senda”
Reviewed 3 December 2013

Laja is a unique restaurant. It is much closer to Highway 3 than is Corazon de Tierra, so access is easy [although I inadvertently passed it on my recent visit and had to double back]. I like the crunch and the shallow dip of the gravel driveway as one enters the grounds at Laja. All is peace and quiet as I exit my parked car and gaze to the distant horizon. Then I hear it: even though I am over one hundred feet from the restaurant, I hear the incessant wailing of a baby. The sounds get louder and louder as I approach the building, and when I open the front door, the blare literally blows me off my feet. The baby is with a group of five who are seated at the first table by the door. I take my seat at my usual table in the far corner. No one in the group takes the baby outside as it continues to wail; They are too busy eating and drinking wine to bother. I chose the eight course meal, and the portions seem more generous than my last visit---I could not even finish the pasta "a la guitarra" The glass of wine for each course [I chose a wine pairing option, although the wine list is excellent if you want to go with a bottle] was promptly brought to the table by the kind and pleasant owner, Andres Blanco. I always enjoy chatting with Andres, about what he is doing at Laja, about Ensenada politics or about his visits to California. The dining room is all dark woods and white-washed walls, which creates a simple and serene environment. When I was in the middle of my meal, a group of 12 Americans came in, with children of various ages in tow. The women and girls all sported a garland of flowers encircling their forehead, and the men had bulky long lens cameras hanging from their neck. I called them the "Flower Children". The Flower Children proceeded to treat the space like a personal venue for a cocktail party---moving about with wine glasses in hand, the children running around in and out "to see the turkeys---gobble, gobble", one of the women exclaimed. Their food would be placed on the table and they would sit for a moment, then it was up again to move to and fro at their little private cocktail affair. When I left, they were still carrying on in front of a staid threesome who had entered and were seated near the bar. No one said goodbye to me when I pushed open the door to leave, and I walked out into the gravel walkway on my own. That was a sad oversight, because I enjoy Laja. The service had been smiling and good, but an oversight at the end of a restaurant meal is grave, since that is how the customer remembers his experience: It is what happens first and what happens last that is critical in the formation of our opinion of the restaurant experience: We can forgive what happens in the middle, but what happens at the beginning and what happens [or doesn't happen, in this case!] at the end, is ingrained in our mind forever.

  • Visited November 2013
    • Value
    • Atmosphere
    • Service
    • Food
Helpful?
5 Thank CharlesCorreia
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC

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