La Mesa Está Servida: Ensenada’s rise to culinary stardom

A grassroots campaign led by Ensenada citizens seeks to promote regional gastronomy.


Todos Santos/3Makers


In Spanish, ‘la mesa está servida’ means ‘the table is served’.  But here in Ensenada, ‘the table’ has a less literal meaning, one that resembles more of a white canvas, where the artists of the sea channel their creative vision: chefs, scientists, fishermen and farmers cook amazing recipes, investigate the mysteries of the oceans, grow fields of vegetables and have dangerous adventures at sea, and it is here where all them see the culmination of their efforts: La mesa está servida.

 Saca corcho In recognition to the creative energy and talents behind Ensenada’s thriving culinary scene, we honor those who, through art, gastronomy and innovation have become the leaders of a movement that has put this region in the eyes of Mexico and the rest of the world.

   La mesa está servida is a grassroots campaign where farmers, researchers, chefs and everyone in Ensenada’s gastronomic scene can share their stories with the world, allowing consumers to be part of the conversation by sharing their experiences through the social networks.

   This a citizen-led initiative whose aim is to help join efforts to project Ensenada’s potential as a culinary capital of Mexico to visitors worldwide, as well as helping support social projects around this scene that will shape the future for generations to come.

   In Ensenada, the table is served…


The Art of Cooking 

By Erick Falcon


We found no one better to serve our table than our host chefs, Benito Molina and Solange Muris, owners of Manzanilla restaurant in Ensenada.  An icon of seafood cuisine in Mexico, Manzanilla is widely recognized as one of the best restaurants in Latin America, and is the go-to reference for Baja Cuisine ever since Benito and Solange started promoting this region’s rich and diverse products.

Manzanilla has been one of the top culinary promoters of Ensenada’s wonderful Mediterranean quality ingredients: from olive oil and gourmet vegetables to Valle de Guadalupe wines and Pacific ocean lobsters and abalone,  Benito and Solange have introduced top Mexican and international chefs to Ensenada’s products, and many of them are convinced that this is the place to be for the freshest food and wine in the country.

“We have the best seafood, great wines and a very high quality olive oil, as well as plenty of aromatic herbs and spices and gourmet veggies from Maneadero and San Quintín, which form the basis for Manzanilla’s cuisine,” said Molina.

The couple bet all of their money, career and life project to this city, and they have made sure everyone gets to know a little bit more of Ensenada through their international TV programs, interviews, conferences and special dinners with celebrity chefs like Rene Redzepi, Juan Mari Arzak and Anthony Bourdain, only to mention a few.

All mollusks served in Manzanilla come from local aquaculture farms, known for their brilliant oysters, comparable to those from the French region of Bretagne. Local Real del Castillo milk producers supply all dairy products, and Benito is very fond too of Baja craft breweries and acclaimed Mexican wineries from the Valle de Guadalupe, so it’s fair to say that the food and the drink are the freshest you can find in town.



By Darlene Guerra

   Ensenada’s historic roots can be traced to the sea. We breathe it with the ocean breeze, we live it in everyday outdoor activities and it brings amazing ingredients for our food.

   Local researchers have found hundreds of ancient coastline campsites, called concheros, where the first ethnic settlers of Baja California, the Yumanos, would hunt, cook and eat their fish and socialize making their trail down the Baja Peninsula. Arrow tips, mollusk shells and remnants of fires can be found in hundreds of campsites scattered along the Baja coastline, many of them close to Ensenada. That is proof that seafood has always been the protagonist in the history of this region’s gastronomy.

   Ever since fish and other sea species became the means for survival for Baja nomadic groups and early settlers, fishing has been key for Ensenada, and the local fishing industry, once one of the mightiest in the world, is once again innovating with sustainable practices and aquaculture practices that can lead to a better conservation of marine resources, something we have not achieved yet, but are following the correct path.

   Academic activities in Ensenada are widely diversified, yet the Pacific Ocean and Sea of Cortez are the main focus for Mexican scientists working here in institutions like the Autonomous University of Baja California (UABC) or the Center for Scientific Research and Higher Education of Ensenada (CICESE), that currently work on projects that range from discovering medical properties of aquatic species’ proteins, like shark antibodies, innovative aquaculture production techniques and genomic classification of marine species, among others.


Saca corchoA welcoming lifestyle

By Norma Lamadrid


It’s easy to live well when you live in Ensenada.

This city is a hub for science, culture and the arts. Its academic environment fosters multidisciplinary collaboration among students, researchers and entrepreneurs. In the past 10 years, a generational change has sparked a complete renovation of economic activity, and new trends are growing: large-scale wine production and enotourism, architecture, haute cuisine and diverse craft and artisanal producers.

Ensenadenses can seem to be very reserved people in daily life, but are easy-going, laid-back and very open once you ‘break the ice’. We like to have fun and we love good food, which you can say is the result of multicultural diversity that has resulted from the immigration of people from different parts of the world.

Once you are here, many chose to stay, which allows for a broad range of cultural perspectives that add on to Ensenada social life, which you can thoroughly perceive in our coffee shops, gastro bars, food courts, surf shops, beachside cabins and artistic expression forums.

The city’s changing infrastructure usually clashes with local lifestyles, but community engagement is strong, as you can see from all the non profit organizations, environmentalists and other activists’ that try to influence decision-makers to follow one great cause, and this is the cause that   La mesa está servida stands for: to unite efforts, to empower with just recognition to those who have laid the tracks and to inspire those who are yet to follow them.


3mLa mesa está servida 

Three Makers 

From the sea to the kitchen or the farm to the table, local chefs, scientists, entrepreneurs, farmers and other craftspeople unite to share stories, knowledge and experience on Ensenada’s fish, produce, food and wine, the one that has made Baja Cuisine so famous.

Our initiative is to tell local stories and give voice to people that want the best for their communities, and this was born as a humble  way to respond to the collective petition of constructing  an identity that makes us feel part of one Ensenada.

   La mesa está servida was designed to leverage the increasing demand for unique experiences around Mexican gastronomy, and this effort is also to invite visitors to appreciate the talent and creativity behind a served table in Baja California, so that everyone feels like a special guest in this celebration.


Saca corchoABOUT 3MAKERS

Three Makers is a small creative studio from Ensenada that is dedicated to developing, communicating and sharing social causes. Our creative philosophy is being part of a social movement of ‘makers’, a collective network of creative people that act for the benefit of their communities.

Our social campaigns focus on promoting collaboration rather than competition among sectors, so that an active, enduring social synergy can be achieved.

“Today, and through this medium, we present this initiative and invite the community to form part of the table that’s going to show what Ensenada can bring to the world.”