Food is part of travel and off-roading will take you to incredible food experiences if you are open to them especially in Baja. One experience not to miss is Deckman’s at El Mogor in Guadalupe Valley just north of Ensenada. The valley is exploding with wineries and new, and traditional restaurants. But it’s not your typical Mexican food experience. Baja has its own cuisine. It’s not Mexican food. It’s Baja food. Off-Roader and Michelin star Chef Drew Deckamn is leading the charge.
Baja is currently going through a serious food renaissance, led by Guadalupe Valley and Ensenada. The region is exploding with empowered chefs, great restaurants, and amazing wineries to create a one of a kind culinary experience. Abundant with natural resources, Baja is a unique geographic region providing a prosperous coastline for seafood, rich mountains perfect for growing grapes for wine and a variety of produce, and flat prairies perfect for raising free range livestock. The year round temperate weather means there is not an off-season for fantastic local food. Just slightly north of downtown Ensenada, Guadalupe Valley is exploding with wine and food culture. Accelerated by the growth of the local wineries bringing in tourism, Guadalupe Valley has some of the most exciting restaurants serving locally sourced seafood and produce.
Deckman’s restaurant at El Mogor is nestled between a grove of massive pine trees at the base of a mountain overlooking the Mogor Badan Winery perfect for amazing sunset dinners wrapped in the warm breeze of the Guadalupe Valley. Deckman’s is an outdoor seasonal, al fresco organic restaurant situated in the Mogor Badan Winery in the Guadalupe Valley, the restaurant and chef have garnered much coverage in such prestigious publications as The New York Times’ T Magazine, New York Magazine, Fodor’s, New World Review, The Latin Kitchen, and Baja Traveler.
I was first introduced to Drew by my late friend and off-road racer Chad Ragland. He told me about a chef that had done all the food for the entire Rebelle Rally having to move camp off-roading everyday. Which was exactly what I was looking for, for our upcoming Legends Rally. I needed a culinary wizard who could off-road, cook, and curate to unlock the magic of food connected to off-roading the Baja peninsula and I found him. The first time we met Drew he was at the helm on his grill at his restaurant. I walked up and introduced myself and told him about The Legends Rally (A one of a kind off-road experience that focuses on amazing cuisine and culture south of the border, all while off-roading the best trails Baja has to offer) and before I could finish explaining Drew said “Im in!” then asked, “Do I get to drive?” I replied “Of course you do, getting off the pavement is what it’s all about.” One thing led to another and Drew offered to do all the food at the VIP experience at The Mint 400. I loved the idea of bringing the food of Baja to Las Vegas. We now have this ongoing relationship always planning culinary and off-road adventures to show people amazing locations and incredible food experiences. The more remote the better. Drew is dedicated to local, sustainable ingredients, Deckman is Los Cabos’ Convivium Leader and Regional Governor for Slow Food International. He is Brand Ambassador for SmartFish, a Baja-based sustainable fisheries social enterprise, and has previously served as culinary consultant for Casa de Piedra Winery, Paralelo Winery, Estacion por Venir Winery and La Contra Vinos. Everywhere we go Drew is always searching for local ingredients so that we can “Taste” the area. The funny thing about off-roading is no matter what you do you get dirt in your nose and mouth “Tasting” the soil of the area. It’s a funny thing that happened to me after I learned to understand and deconstruct the “Taste” wine. It gave me a lexicon and a process to connect all food and drink to the local “terroir”. The same way I read terrain, you can look at a mountainous area and know what the terrain will be like close to the mountain or further away in the Desert, it follows the logic of nature. Or how rainfall will affect an area creating washes.
Drew has been off-roading since 2007, in fact his first restaurant was in Cabo San Lucas where he met Class 1 racer Steve Barry who was a frequent customer to his restaurant. Drew offered to help the team by preparing food for the races. That turned into pre-running, into pit crew, which turned into being in the vehicle, and Drew hasn’t looked back since. He has raced several times with the most recent racing being San Felipe Desert Mayhem, where he teamed up with the Langley’s for his most recent race was the San Felipe Desert Mayhem 175 in Class 16. Drew fell in love with the speed and adventure, but also the camaraderie and the preparation of getting a vehicle ready. The team work that goes into running a successful (or not so successful) race goes way beyond the driver and co-driver. The preparation, the meals together, the pre-running the feeling of accomplishment upon finishing is really what keeps him coming back to racing. His favorite thing about Baja by far is the people. There are people here with incredible histories, the settling of the peninsula, the race history, the fishing stories and the fishermen. The winemakers and the wine. Growers, ranchers and the food culture. Drew’s favorite dish to share with people is shellfish, anything that comes out of shell… clams, mussels, oysters, abalone, and geoducks, etc.
Deckman’s at Mogor re-opens July 2nd!
Stop by his main restaurant in Guadalupe Valley be sure to make a reservation as there is limited seating and frequently sell out. They are open Monday, Wednesday and Thursday from 1pm to last reservation 7pm. Friday to Sunday from 1pm to last reservation 8pm.
Deckman’s at Mogor
Ensenada-Tecate Highway Km. 85.5,
San Antonio de Las Minas,
Valle de Guadalupe, B.C., Mexico
Also be sure to try his new all shellfish restaurant paired with sparkling wines Conchas De Piedra. It’s best way to start of a day of wine tasting in Guadalupe Valley. They are open Thursday to Monday from 11am to 5pm.
Conchas de Piedra
Ensenada-Tecate Highway Km. 93.5
San Antonio de las Minas
Within Casa de Piedra Winery (Upper vineyard)