Within twenty minutes from turning inland from the Baja California coast at Ensenada, Mexico the dusty brown hills became vine filled valleys dotted with a mix of rustic haciendas and sleek, modern wineries.
At the Mogor Badan Winery, under the shade of three tall pine trees at the edge of the vineyard, you will find Deckman’s en El Mogor, a seasonal, farm to table bistro run by Georgia born chef Drew Deckman. There are half a dozen tables, festive strings of light bulbs strewn about, and barrels of hay piled high hide some of the equipment, minus an open brick kitchen and grill. Jazz is wafting through the air and there are a couple of dogs running about. Rather than having the feel of something thrown together it feels more natural, like all of these elements came together on their own. Perhaps they had been here all along, just waiting for someone to take notice.
Deckman’s En el Mogor is a seasonal offshoot of Deckman’s San José del Cabo. The restaurant is a perfect example of what can be done in a rural setting surrounded by an abundance of great ingredients and producers. There’s the wheat beer, made in conjunction with Agua Mala Brewery, flavored with orange blossom from the ranch. Figs come from the ranch. Olives and cheese from down the road. El Mogor’s Chasellas and other wines come from a few feet away. There is fresh seafood coming from Ensenada. It’s the Mediterranean with Baja prices.
The 5 and 7 course menus change daily, so you never know exactly what you are going to get. There are dishes like tiradito de lengua de res (beef tongue tiradito) spiced with epazote and chile guajillo and topped with whatever shellfish he can get that day, be it surf clams, pismo clams, gooseneck barnacles, sea urchin, oysters, periwinkles, abalone, or scallops. Bahia Falsa oysters may be topped with watermelon, yuzu, and tobiko. Dessert may be Granny Smith apples with fennel, basil, and queso helado.
Sadly, there is only another couple of months before the season ends. Get there while you can.
Deckman’s en El Mogor
Kilometer 85.5 Carretera Ensenada-Tecate
Valle de Guadalupe, Mexico
646 151 7700
Writer and photographer Nicholas Gill is the editor/publisher of New World Review. He lives in Lima, Peru and Brooklyn, New York. His work has appeared in publications such as the New York Times, Los Angeles Times, CondeNast Traveler, National Geographic Traveler, Afar, and Penthouse. Visit his personal website (nicholas-gill.com) for more information.