Street Food Friday: Fried Lobster in Puerto Nuevo, Baja California
In a new weekly Friday column, we'll explore street food and other culinary specialties from around the world. Last week, it was Laksa, Kolok Mee, and Satay in Kuching. This week, we head south of the border to Puerto Nuevo in Baja California to see what's cooking.
Tacos and tamales are clearly the first thing that comes to mind concerning street food in Mexico, which is why it is somewhat refreshing to see a town doing something different. The self-described “Lobster Capital of Baja,” Puerto Nuevo sits been Ensenada and Rosarito, about 90 minutes from San Diego in Baja California. You can definitely get a taco in town, but what the tourists come for is the fried lobster.
Yes, fried lobster. Just when you think something can’t get any better, someone throws it in a vat of fat to find out. The shell is kept on and the entire lobster is pan-fried in lard to keep the meat moist, which is the key aspect and major difference between good and bad restaurants serving the dish. Rice and beans come on the side.
Most stories chalk the tradition back to before refrigeration, but otherwise the details of why the lobsters were fried in fat is rather vague (we're assuming it simply tasted better than boiling them in water). Today's culture continues because of tourism, for sure, and there are plenty of lobster-serving restaurants to choose from: Over 30 in the town of just a few streets.
You can check TripAdvisor for reviews of restaurants, but because many “hole-in-the-wall” places don’t have profiles online, you are better off grabbing a beer at a bar before and asking around for the best place. We like this approach just as much for the spontaneity it creates as we do its local perspective. Go during lobster season, October through March, to ensure you are eating fresh, and not frozen, lobster.