The Culinary Pilgrimage Marcus Samuelsson Can't Get Enough Of

Sometimes it's not about the destination but the journey, which is the case when it comes to Baja California, and Mexico. During an episode of "Travel that Matters," famed chef Marcus Samuelsson told host Bruce Wallin that coastal Mexico is a food lover's dream experience. The television personality said, "Mexico is incredible." One of Samuelsson's favorite ways to travel is to fly into San Diego and link up with friends, food writers, and other chefs who know the area and can shepherd him on this culinary pilgrimage for the palate in the Valle de Guadalupe.

He explained they go down to TJ, that's Tia Juana for the uninitiated, and explore the "cool Mexican wineries" where the best restaurants are actually located inside of the wineries. Samuelsson revealed the experience reminds him of another place where he feels at home, sharing that while flavor-wise the food is "very, very different," the coastal vibe of this travel reminds him of being in Sweden. The cold water coming up against the cliffs is a space where he feels comfortable.

Go with someone who knows the area

If you are thinking about exploring Valle de Guadalupe, there are over 120 wineries along this wine route that have been dubbed "La Ruta del Vino." Most of the roads you will travel on are dirt, but the food and wine you will taste and experience at places like Finca Altozano and Lunario Restaurante are not ones you or your taste buds will soon forget. Both eateries draw from local, seasonal ingredients to create their menus. 

Samuelsson is not alone in his admiration for this laidback food and wine getaway. Restaurateur Michael Babcock is also a fan of this region. "The food scene is really vibrant," he told Phoneix Magazine. "It has a mix of deeply rooted traditional northern Mexican food meets [the] San Diego progressive restaurant scene." But just remember that if you want to explore this region it's best to go with a seasoned guide. "Once you go with someone who knows where to take you, it changes everything," Samuelsson explained.