The Puerto Nuevo Influence
The origins of the traditional recipes served at Ortega’s Bistro date back 60 years, to the tiny fishing village of Puerto Nuevo, Mexico.
There, the fifth-generation Ortega family fed the hungry fishing community with hearty servings of the local staples: rice, beans, tortillas and steamed lobster. Over time, Puerto Nuevo became an increasingly popular fishing destination for Americans, who quickly took notice of the appetizing regional cuisine.
The Ortega’s family owns and operates several restaurants in Puerto Nuevo and Rosarito. The tasteful tradition and original flavorful influence of Ortega’s is now restored in the heart of Hillcrest. The palate pleasing menu creates an experience, reflecting the diverse collections of cuisine that took root in Puerto Nuevo without having to cross the border.
The Mexican Baja California red rock lobster, flourishing in the bay’s rich waters, are fished out in apparently unlimited numbers. Weighing in at one to two pounds (about 1/2 to 1 kilogram), they come to the table bright red on platters heaped with rice, refried beans, salsa and tortillas.
At most of the restaurants the lobsters come out split and cooked, with the halves stacked on a platter, served family style. The traditional way to cook them is deep frying, but Ortega’s serves them steamed.
Most of the lobsters served today are from farther south on the peninsula, south of Ensenada. Restaurateurs feel certain that the supply is not in jeopardy there, citing its protection by a fishermen’s syndicate and the concern and attention of the Mexican coast guard.
Much of the décor throughout the restaurant has been hand-selected to give guests the rustic feel of true Mexican culture. Like the country itself, the design is welcoming and elegant.
The Mexican design style uses many different resources to accent the environment-from hand woven baskets, rural wood ceilings, candles, and pottery, to wood-carved doors. Many accents are colorfully placed throughout the restaurant, including the stained glass in the lounge area.