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Friday, September 26, 2008, after checking into Motel Nanci, and exploring the small town of Bahia Tortugas for a couple of hours, I began to get hungry, as hiking around a dusty little seaside village can work up an appetite. During my visit to Bahia Tortugas, I couldn't locate many places to eat, which seemed odd, but Bahia Tortugas isn't like your average tourist-oriented Mexican town.  It receives little tourists, and little to show in the way of economic stimuli... but anyway, I had noticed a small taqueria just across Highway 1 from Calle Independencia, a small one-person operation by the name of Asadero El Cebo, so I decided to check it out.

Photo:  Asadero El Cebo is housed in a modest, rustic building, open to the street.  Note the cistern on the roof, which supplies much of the water used in the restaurant.

Asadero El Cebo is a small, one-woman operation.  It's located along Highway 1, which is the only paved street in town, and its about as simple of an operation as you can find.  The building could be described as a shack, as it's seriously in need of repair, and like most small Mexican restaurants, its open to the street, and to the most part, the elements.  Outdoor dining is the norm, and it features three plastic tables, each with chairs that don't match; that's it. One lady operates the restaurant, and she performs all of the chores, including preparing salsa, dicing vegetables, roasting the meat, bussing tables, and taking your money.  The chich "chief cook and bottlewasher" definitely applies at this small taqueria.  

Photo:  Like the restaurant, the menu is abbreviated, and quite modest.

Photo:  Juanita, the lady working the restaurant, prepares to put marinated carne asada on the wood-fired grill. Note the television on top of the soft drink cooler and the salsa to the right of the photo.

Soft drinks are kept in a stand-up, refrigerated cooler; beer is never offered at these small restaurants, in small Mexican towns.  (Editor's note:  Beer is sold in some small taquerias in larger cities, such as Tijuana or San Felipe, but they must be located on a pedestrian walkway, or a malecn, and the drinking area must be clearly segregated)  Asadero El Cebo does not have a stove, as all meat is cooked over a mesquite-fired grill.  Torta rolls and corn tortillas are warmed over a cast-iron griddle, which is placed over the coals.  Of note interest, the restaurant features an outdoor sink, attached to the side of the building, which is fed from a large water cistern that's attached to the roof of the building.  I assume they use what scant rainwater is available, to supplement the town's water.  Water in Bahia Tortugas is a scarce commodity.  I find it interesting that the name of restaurant translates to "The Bait Roaster."  Go figure...

Photo:  Mesquite fire, with a pot of beans cooking on the edge of the fire.  This place is truly, low-tech!

The restaurant's limited menu is posted on a white board, and it includes tacos, tostadas, tortas and quesotaco. Condiments are placed in stainless steel containers, on the counter, but it's not self serve, as the gal that is operating the restaurant places the condiments on your taco.  I asked the lady operating the restaurant, Juanita what assortment of tacos she had, and she replied "carne asada."  So I ordered two carne asada tacos.

Photo:  Condiments are placed on the counter in stainless steel containers.  This isn't a serve-yourself restaurant, as Juanita will garnish your tacos for you.

Juanita placed strips of carne asada over the mesquite fired grill, and placed four cd-sized corn tortillas on the griddle, next to the grill.  Carne asada is thinly sliced, marinated beef, and it's a very popular filling for tacos, and corn tortillas rule both states in Baja California.  After toasting the tortillas for perhaps 20 seconds, she flipped them over and toasted them for a few more seconds until the tortillas began to slightly blister.  She removed the tortillas from the griddle, and placed them on a paper plate.  By now, the carne asada was done, so she removed it from the grill, placed it on a chopping board, and chopped it into tiny pieces with a cleaver.  Then, she placed the meat on the tacos, and asked me what condiments I wanted.  "Con todo," I replied, as I like my tacos with everything on them.  So she piled diced onions, cilantro and salsa verde on my tacos.

Photo:  My delicious carne asada tacos, garnished with onions salsa verde, and cilantro.

Photo:  Asadero El Cebo at dusk.  Note the sink on the side of the building that is fed directly from the cistern, and the garden hose, which acts as a drain.  Would the U.S. environmental guys approve of this arrangement?

My tacos were the way that I've come to expect them, when cooked over a mesquite fire:  Tender, juicy, and delicious, with fresh condiments, and soft, corn tacos.  I asked the lady, Juanita if she made the tacos in-house, and she told me that she purchases her tortillas, freshly made at the local torterra, just a few blocks  away on Calle Pedro Altamirano.  

This restaurant may be a bit low-tech, and slightly on the rustic, side, but you can't beat the tacos and you can't beat the price.  Asadero El Cebo prepares delicious tacos.


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