The first time my husband and I dined at Tapanco in Rosarito Mexico was during Christmas holiday of 2014. We were in the middle of an extensive remodel of our house and had no kitchen. Since moving to San Diego, we have taken many short 3-day trips to Baja, and we love Rosarito, so we decided to spend Christmas there.
What we didn’t know is that nothing is really open in Mexico on Christmas Eve and Christmas day. Really nothing. We booked a room at Hotel Calafia. We had eaten at the restaurant in the past and thought let’s try staying at the hotel there. Not a high point of our mini holiday getaway. The hotel needs a complete renovation, and the rooms were subpar. What we also didn’t know is that it was that their restaurant was closed.
It was Christmas Eve and we wondered where we would eat. In our basic Spanish, we asked a person at the hotel for a suggestion of a place to eat and they mentioned Tapanco. We drove to the south end of Rosarito and found Tapanco.
You can’t miss it, there is a huge sign with not just the name of the restaurant in large letters but also the words…Why Not!
From the outside it looks like a typical Mexican restaurant, and there were quite a few locals, always a good sign.
We parked the car in front of the restaurant which offers a security person watching the cars and went inside. What a delight.
The décor is authentic, rustic and creative with large tables, a tortilla making station where fresh tortillas are made constantly, a garden type room where we sat during our first visit there that evening, and an open patio area.
We had no sooner sat down when our waiter approached and a took our drink order. Note you have never had a better Margarita then when you sip it in restaurant in Mexico. No sugary mixes, just lime, tequila and salt…refreshing.
Next up, tableside mesquite smoked tomato salsa molcajete, homemade tortilla chips…we are in heaven.
And the excellent cuisine just continued, from a salad served with fresh dressings featuring olive oils from the Guadalupe Valley to classic Sonoran-style northern Mexican steakhouse fare and traditional dishes.
Everything homemade, everything fresh and beyond our expectations.
Having grown up in the Midwest area of the United States, my experience with the cuisine of Mexico was really chain restaurants, which are a poor reflection of the cuisine of Mexico. Once moving to San Diego in 2002 and subsequently taking many trips to various regions of Mexico, and even simply eating Mexican foods in many restaurants in San Diego, I have learned to appreciate the complexity of the regions of Mexico and the variety of cuisine that exists region to region.
This was the first time we ate at Tapanco, the second time was the following Christmas with two of our three grown children and the third time was a year later for our anniversary. We will be back once COVID restrictions are lifted…I can already taste the molcajete!
Notes and Tips:
Tapanco is a restaurant that showcases the hospitality of Baja, the expansive selection of the cuisine from fresh fish from the Pacific to meats from local ranches, and a culture of dining well.
So, the next time you decide to cross South, stop in Rosarito at Tapanco. Why Not?
Located just south of Rosarito on Hwy 1 as you drive along the coastline. KM, Blvd. Popotla 31, Popotla, 22710 Rosarito, B.C., Mexico
Typically, open from 8 am to 10 pm
Tableside Molcajete Salsa
Oak roasted/grilled meats including beef, lamb, game (quail is their specialty), and seafood
Hand tossed, freshly made tortillas
Locally sourced ingredients
Expansive wine and food menu