Posted by: patriciamar | January 22, 2017

5 Nonfiction Feminist Books On My TBR

I’m sure most, if not all of you, know, yesterday women (well, people of all genders) marched across the globe to protest Trump. I sadly did not march but seeing all the social media posts ab…

Source: 5 Nonfiction Feminist Books On My TBR

Posted by: patriciamar | January 15, 2017

The Last Text

This last month, the writing challenge at Storybird was a longform story.

Write a story that includes the last text on New Year’s Eve.

I spent the night before the first day of class working on mine, and here it is!  I had fun trying something new.  It’s basic and quick.  There’s a little mystery, some siblings exchanges that many will understand, and a penguin pitcher*.  Enjoy!

*Yes, pitcher– jug.

Posted by: patriciamar | November 30, 2016

#NaNoWriMo for the Win

I did it!  NaNoWriMo Winner 2016!

Patriciamar's NaNoWriMon

I can’t wait until next year, but now–Christmas!

Oh, and I should really grade all those papers……


P.S. Want your own NaNoWriMon?  Check out the NaNoWriMon site.

Posted by: patriciamar | October 20, 2016

Goodreads Giveaway!

Goodreads Book Giveaway

Wandering Canalside by Patricia Willers

Wandering Canalside

by Patricia Willers

Giveaway ends October 31, 2016.

See the giveaway details
at Goodreads.

Enter Giveaway

Posted by: patriciamar | October 17, 2016

My name is Patricia and I am a book junkie.

I got this blog post idea from The Belgian Reviewer (via Jade over @ Drink Coffee and Read Books and Eve @ Eve Messenger’s Otherworldly Endeavors).

Reading/taking this Addiction diagnostic test made me laugh out loud.

Directions: Mark each statement that applies to you.

tick 1. I have dropped a book on my face. More than once.  (Wow!  I didn’t realize this was a thing!)

tick 2. On social media, I follow writers, not singers and movie stars. #jojomoyes 🙂

tick 3. “Unputdownable” IS a word.

tick 4. My idea of a great weekend is starting a new book on Friday at 5 p.m.

tick 5. My fingers type “Google” into the web address bar but somehow I keeping winding up at Goodreads.

tick 6. If I leave the house without a book I feel naked   I have a mini-panic attack. I never leave the house without a book.

tick7. I freely admit I’ve hugged, kissed and/or lovingly patted a book.

red-cross-2 8. My favorite thing in my wallet is my library card. (It’s actually on my keychain…)

red-cross-2 9. I plan road trips just to listen to audio books. (It’s bike rides, in my case.)

tick 10. While reading a book I am oblivious to the outside world. People can shout my name, gesture rudely, but short of bodily injury, I will not notice them.

tick11. I’m happy if there’s a long wait at the mechanic/doctor’s office/airport because it means I get to read.

tick12. When putting together a travel checklist, my first item is always: “books to read.”

tick13. In lines or at doctor’s offices, when everyone else around me is tapping out messages on their cell phones, my face is buried in a book. (Kindle….)

tick14. If a novel I’m reading has a plot twist I wholeheartedly disagree with, I will complain, out loud, to my book.

tick15. When I discover a new book I’d like to read, the first thing I do is to list it as “want to read” on Goodreads. Then I blog about it. (I tweet about it.  My to-read list has more than 1,500 books on it.)

red-cross-2 16. If I reach for a book, my household pets jump onto my favourite reading chair. (My fish doesn’t jump.  Oh, Mr. Ruffles…)

red-cross-217. My favourite historical figure is Booker T. Washington.

tick 18. When I meet new people, the first question I ask is, “What kinds of books do you like to read?”  (I definitely do this.  Is it strange?  No, right?)

tick19. The only thing better than buying new books is when someone reads—and likes—a book I’ve recommended to them.

tick20. I read posts entitled “How to Tell if You’re a Book Junkie.”


Posted by: patriciamar | August 30, 2016

The NetGalley (Goodreads) Book Tag

I am following this tag from ChocolatenWaffles to TheBelgianReviewer, a blog I often find myself reading on my  highway of procrastination (away from grading and writing).   Check it out for sure!

By the way, it makes you think of beer, right?  I think that’s partially why I often end up there.

jennifer weiner

I ❤ Books


  • Link back to the tag’s creator (Kourtni Reads)
  • Thank and link back to the person who tagged you
  • Answer the questions the best you can. If you don’t use NetGalley, you can substitute other sites or places where you get books!
  • Tag a few people to do this too

Auto-Approved: Who’s one author whose books you automatically want to read, regardless of what they’re about?
There are a couple of authors on this list, my current fave being Liane Moriarty. I’m also done with everything she has written, and Truly, Madly, Guilty just came out!  Another author who is irresistible to me is Diane Setterfield.  She only has two books, but I visit her website more often than she can imagine just to see what she’s been doing.

Request: What makes you want to request a book that you see on Goodreads/NetGalley?
I stroll around Goodreads like others use Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest.  I click, click, click, and click through, often adding two dozen books to my “To Read” list in one sitting.

When I finish reading a book that I really like, I go to Goodreads and add every book they have written.

As a writer, I sometimes go to Goodreads with only a keyword.  I find books related to what I’m working on, typically a time period or historical event.

I also enjoy using Groups, Lists, and the favorite quotes collection!

Feedback Ratio: Do you review every book you read? If not, how do you decide what books to review?
Unfortunately, I do not review even close to all the books I read.  I would like to, but between my own (fiction) writing and grading papers, I don’t it impossible to find the time.  That being said, if I read a book that is absolutely wonderful, mostly unknown, or by a new author, I will absolutely make a point to review it.

Badges: If you could create your own badge to display on your blog, what would it be for?
Hmmm… Maybe *Author Completed* — Used after I finish reading every book by a certain author.  I really enjoy doing this.

I’d also love *Pulled an All-Nighter* when I stay up late to finish a new book– one of the best things in life, really!

Wish for It: What’s one book that you are absolutely dying to read?
This is too difficult to answer.

My To-Read list currently has 1,649 books on it.

However, during this September break, I am considering taking down the whole Game of Thrones series.  We’ll see.daenarys-1024

2016 Goodreads Challenge: What was the last book that you received as an ARC that you reviewed? If you’ve never received an ARC, what’s the last book you reviewed?
The last book I reviewed was My Life on the Road by Gloria Steinem.  I learned so much from this book.  It shocked me.  You can learn so much from talking with other people when you’re travelling.  It was very enlightening.

Tagging (Feel free to ignore if you’re not interested):

Teresa @ Treesa’s Bookshelf

You! If you want to do it.

Posted by: patriciamar | July 30, 2016

Fiction: The Sad Barmaid’s Tale


Friday, July 29, I participated in the first ever Sudwerk Symposium.  Kathleen Brandl came up with the idea for the symposium series at the Sudwerk Dock Store and asked me to a part of the very first one.  The Davis Enterprise included an article about the start of the Sudwerk Symposium Series as well.

I happily, albeit a little nervously, agreed and decided to write a new short work of fiction for the event.  I promised to make it available online after the event, so without further ado, here it is.   I hope you enjoy.



The Sad Barmaid’s Tale

Liona was a very competent barhand. Barmaid, perhaps.  Not a barback, not a bartender, but something in between.  She served beers to many and all sorts, and the way that Liona served beer was nearly perfect.  All the customers knew.  In fact, why wasn’t she a bartender?  The injustice.  Something about the title.  Beer was/is traditionally a man’s world. Whatever… 

That was alright though.  She had a place in this lovely little malt ridden world, and she was well suited for it, maybe even a little above it.  A little humble, but not too much.  Not like, no, never mind.  

She very much liked this life.  She knew and drank stouts and pilsners and pale ales and British ales.  She could taste her way through a lineup of lambics and saisons and even the rare berlinerweisse.  She did not know ciders, but she respected mead.  Wine was not served at this drinking establishment.

Oh, yes.  Now she remembered why she wasn’t a fully titled bartender.  One time, back when she was in training, a customer had reached over the bar and filled his own pint glass.  It was very rude.  She had told him directly that it was both impolite and a terrible pour.  The bartender questioned the thickness of her skin and her demeanor.  

¿She was too nice?

Today had been a very long day.  Too long and loud for her taste.  Too many confused drinkers.  

She preferred to refer to this type as confused.  They had questions, so many questions–That she just could not bring herself to answer.  She could not answer.  

“What flavor is the yellow one?  How many hops are in a typical pint?  

Where did these folks come from?!  Humbug.

Yes, confused was the right word.  Confused.

She understood why they asked her.  It was because she always smiled.  Smiling was her thing.

Sort of.

Not like Joel.  Joel was beautiful and stern.  He could be friendly, but not until long after you met him–months, years.  Then he was funny and caring and chivalrous and… sweet.

She knew.  She had taken her time, and had gotten to know him ve-ry well.

If Joel were a beer, he’d be a… barleywine.  A 2010 Green Flash Barleywine.  Well hopped, sweet on the backside (wink).  That was a good year.

It had been the best month.  At the first sign of the bright orange of citrus in the trees, it began.  Fresh IPA season.  Double ipa, triple ipa, quadruple ipa if you chose to believe.

She did.  Santa Claus and the tooth fairy, and quadruple ipa’s, she believed.

It was her very favorite time of year.  The aroma, the bitterness, and the floral dankness that reached her very core and made her feel alive!  

She tasted every beer that passed through the Perlick taps here at the best beer stoppe in town, The House of the Rising Suds.

Worked day after day, pouring perfect pours, and killing kegs.  She celebrated the Bike Party Pils and banged on a taiko drum.  She downed Dale’s Pale on the American river, tallboys of torpedo at Big Sur, and experienced salty farmer’s market sweat and salty watermelon gose; she drank cans for days.   

The beer based life was salty and sweet.

But today, yesterday? The tides had turned and all the fresh ipas were somehow and suddenly old.  Leona could admit that she had a bit of a phobia of oldness.  oldity, olderous, olderiety–they all sounded so bad.  

Now, months would pass, surely slowly.  The beers rolling past. Half pints, full pints, imperial pints, the God forsaken shaker pint- sterilize the taps, wipe the counter, check the CO2 tank, the smell of simple green on her top and warm lactose on her breath.

The lacing on empty glasses used to look so beautiful.

By August she was reaching.  She had never felt so stale.  The cans, she crushed them everywhere!  On the floor, on the walls, on the bar, on her face!  

She blind tasted all the numbered Lagunitas, 13, 16, 21, 22.  

Summer brought so much of the same… and the heat built.  The square broke one day and was fixed the next.  The tips ebbed and flowed.

Eventually, it was fall.  Autumn colors came late to Davis. She’d semi-successfully made it through the dog days of August and September in the valley, when heat caused you to make bad decisions. Cheap fixes and flavor you’d never admit to in the light of day… Natty Light and Hamm’s.  Uhaghk.

And then one day Joel walked in through the front door–she had opened, the taps were ready and the glasses clean, but the doors were still closed for the day.  The sandwich board still leaning against the front of the bar—and he said those two little words, “Hey Punkin.”



No. No. Humbug.

No, Yes!  She was ready for it, had been ready for days, for months.  Since the Wolf Among the Weeds had become old.  She’d happy hour’ed her way through cans of Lawnmower Lager and Swami’s,

“Leona,” he asked, “want some? In my opinion, today’s the day.  No need to resist thi-is.”

She swallowed the lump in her throat, the last {swill] of the Boont from the night before, perhaps, and nodded.

From deep in his bag he pulled a bottle, and uncapped it swiftly with the adeptness of the man he was, a seasoned bartender.  Beard, overgrown boy haircut.  

Pumpkin beer.

As she knew she would, she became sick with overconsumption in a week.  It had been a rough fling.  Her senses bathed constantly in nutmeg, cardamom and cinnamon.

She went home feelin ill, and wondering if this was it.  Was she done with this seasonal life?  Over it, once and for all?  Next was Christmas beers and winter spiced ales.  She couldn’t take it.  She could still feel the burn of fermented maple syrup on her tongue.  

Not one more pumpkin beer party.  Not one.

Hoppiness! She needed it!  You might even say she was in pursuit of it!  


She consulted the saison savant, and he handed her a complex and loveable Flemish Red, but it wasn’t enough.

A quad from the local Belgian lover, bourbon barrel aged plums that would have normally made her ovaries do flips.

But Pumpkin beer season after the hot summer of cans had been such a short fling, and it left her so flung.
It hurt.

Finally it was winter, and she could rightfully slip into hibernation before turning in impermanently for the winter wait until barley wine season. Oh, Joel. Sigh.

She waited out the dark days of her year, black Friday, Christmas, New Year’s…

And then it was happening again.  Deja vu. Joel walked through the door and gave her a look.  She turned away with a dramatic swish of her hair.

 She couldn’t take it.

Not another seasonal fling.   

“No, wait!” he called.  “Leona. Darling, I know you’re headed home, and you’ve had a hard day, but I need you….

Could you please help me with this keg?”  

Yes, of course she would.  She’d been known to never say no to Joel.  But why didn’t he just use the dolly?  

Men.  Bartending men.

She took five swift steps towards him and reached down to grasp the top rim (edge) of the keg next to him.  They locked eyes, and his glinted.  ¿Men?  

He let his eyes drop, and so did she.

They dropped down, down, down to the keg cap.  To the keg collar.  Blue, with a yellow-orange keg cap.  A silhouette of pine trees.

Something lifted inside her.

Joel smiled.

She, of course, smiled back.

This was it.  It was her year.  The Younger had finally come to the House of the Rising Suds.




Posted by: patriciamar | July 7, 2016

Short Fiction: All Cats Should Be Long Haired

In honor of tomorrow’s release of “The Secret Life of Pets,” here’s a work of short fiction I just finished.  I don’t own a cat, but I know some.  I’m pretty sure this is how it really is.

All Cats Should Be Long Haired

No cats were harmed in the writing of this story.


She sat on the smooth, white window ledge looking over the street next to her apartment. Surveying this landscape was all in a day’s work.

She watched leaves swim through the air and drop lightly down on the porch in front of the window.  Through the green painted vertical rails, she could look down on the lawn below and then to the sidewalk.  Two trees flanked her view.  The trees had beautiful rough bark, as if covered in veins of life, of earth.

But, oh.

Squirrels lived there.  Dirty, brown thieving squirrels that tittered and clicked their nails over the bark of the trees—her trees—as they chased each other childishly and incessantly up and down and around.

She hated them.

In general, the people in her city gave her plenty to look at, but sometimes…

Another male ran by.  He was wet on his face and arms and chest.  It was disgusting.

She turned away.

Inside her apartment, it was quiet.

Too quiet.

She was becoming more and more certain that her owner was dead.

It had been hours.

Too long and no sign of her, Pamela. 

In the kitchen was her dining area.  Her food bowl was empty and had been.

If her stomach could growl, it would.  If she could growl, she would.

She had a little water left.  She had been conserving it.  Who knew when someone would discover Pamela’s decaying body?  The bedroom door was closed.  The scent of flesh would take ages to permeate the substantial wooden door.

Once the water was gone she would eat the plants in order to survive.  Before, there had been more plants.  Pamela was careless with lives—even her own, it seemed.

She gazed back down across the street to the city hall.  There were people working inside the deep red brick fortress.  The minions worked there, planning huge projects that were loud and violent.  They would soon be ripping up streets and sidewalks and lawns to build their underground human escape route.

She knew where the tunnels were.  There were entrances at the corners of each intersection. If she had to, she could escape when they came to take the body.  Eventually, she would slip out the door and find an entrance, and then escape down the hidden underground path to nine eternal lives.  She had heard them talking about it, the humans.  Only cats had nine.  Humans got but one pitiful excuse for an existence.  Hair dryers and leaf blowers and vacuums—the ideas they came up with…

And there he was, prowling in the grass.


The gargantuan tabby.  He terrorized everyone, night and day and afternoon and morning.  Doesn’t sleep.

We’re domesticated, you short haired bastard!

All cats should be long haired.


She’s up…

My “Master.”

My God, she’s loud.  Will I ever get any peace?

Posted by: patriciamar | June 28, 2016

iAuthor Interview!

This week, I was very excited to see an author interview (about me!) posted on!  Mercedes is a paranormal novelist and the author of the “Vengeance of the Werewolf” series and the upcoming “Gnome Sweet Gnome” series (love that name).

Here is my bio, please take a look!


Posted by: patriciamar | June 27, 2016

Ensenada, Mexico: Where to Go and Where to Drink Beer

Ensenada is a gem. It’s sort of a Spanglish gem.  I’m not sure if you knew, or if many people know. 
No, that can’t be true.  There’s a smattering of wooden houses and Swiss-like houses that clearly demonstrates that at least a few foreigners discovered Ensenada and then decided to settle down there long ago.  One of the first spots for cheap retirement?  A mere two hours from the border by bus, Ensenada is a great place to get a little Mexico without a flight (West coasters, at least) and without too many border issues, particularly if you’re going for less than a week.

The main part of Ensenada surrounds the harbor, where a couple hundred cruise ships stop every year.  I thought there would be more of an onslaught of tourists streaming from the ship, and there was a bit of an influx every once in a while, but overall, far fewer day tourists raged the city than I thought.

The downtown is centered around Calle Primera and the Boulevard.  You can also walk along the Embarcadero (the boardwalk) and just check out the harbor.  For leaving downtown (in the inland direction), Calle Ruiz and Gastelum are good options with plenty of possibilities for food.

Calle diez (10) is another interesting street.  A lovely day might include starting at Cafe au lait for coffee (Gastelum), where there is an amazing roof deck for sipping coffee and eating some crazy kind of crepe cake, and good wifi.  Actually, in general, the wifi in Ensenada is amazing (6/2016).  Almost every cafe, bar and restaurant has wifi and many have the password posted.  Back to Cafe au lait–  After your coffee and a nice long sit and read, you could head just up Gastelum to El Pinche Frances, a great outdoor vivero (nursery) where they serve delicious crepes and fries from a permanent truck in a garden.  Alternatively you could walk over to the nearby food collective (Area 86).  There’s not a ton of Mexican food there, but seafood pasta, beer and things like Sushipotle (?? 🙂 ??)

A quick introduction to the bus system.  There are many local buses, there is no real schedule, and there is a very detailed price schedule that, from what we could tell, is essentially ignored.  To go pretty much anywhere, we paid 10 pesos ($.80, change can be given– I even saw a Mexican uni student get change for a 500 peso bill.  Wow!   I would not recommend).

The main areas of Ensenada are, starting from the south – The Bufadora, a point where water sprays up really high on the rocks.  People eat this up–lap it up–with their photos and videos.  I’m not exactly sure of the appeal.  It isn’t really my style of tourist attraction.  Playa Hermosa then downtown, passing by the Hotel Riviera (more info further on down), downtown, then el cerro de …I can’t remember right now (A cerro is a big hill).  On the coastal side of this hill there are a couple of nice hotels, but not too much that we found, to be honest; on the inland side of the hill is La Moderna (a large, slightly older, city neighborhood).  Buses were consistently 10 pesos from downtown to La Moderna, or from La Moderna to Sauzal

(Taxis varied, from 30-80 pesos), though 40-50 pesos is reasonable for a tourist, depending on the time of day.

After the Moderna neighborhood is the area around the university (Universidad Autonoma) and Sauzal, a different town.  In Sauzal, the coastal Highway (Hwy 1) hits Carreterra 3 (Hwy 3), important because it leads you to Valle de Guadalupe and La Ruta de Vino (the wine trail).

To sum up: The layout of the region from north to south:

  • Sauzal
  • The university
  • La Moderna
  • The cerro
  • downtown
  • the hotel Riveria
  • Playa Hermosa
  • and the Bufadora further down

Now let’s chat about Valle de Guadalupe, a beautiful wine area just inland and a little north from Ensenada.  Many take tours there, rent cars, drive their own cars, Uber (si, se puede), or a taxi.  We took a micro, a mini bus that can get you there in about an hour for 25 pesos (US$1.50).

Once on the micro, there are several options, heading from downtown out towards the Valle.  First is San Antonio.  This town is not quite as far out (maybe a half hour bus ride), but is surrounded by wineries/vineyards and chock full of restaurants.  We didn’t stop there because we didn’t have time, but I would recommend it, especially if you’re interested in a somewhat quicker trip out of town or a cheaper taxi/uber ride.

The bus continues on to Guadalupe (you’ll hit the river and cross it).  You could get off immediately and find your way down the Calle Principal, or stay on the bus as it meanders through town, eventually coming back to the Calle Principal.  There are several tasting rooms/colectivos (wine collectives) on this street, as well well as some beautiful looking winery tasing rooms on the way out of town.  Some are free (Sol), some charge.  If you are interested in the full winery experience, you should continue through the town, either on the bus or on foot.

Monte Xanic was amazing, reasonably priced (consider Napa/Sonoma), and had very good wine.  The whites in particular were very nice. The soil is interesting, and you could truly see the minerals in the white wines. You can taste for a fee and buy bottles for drinking there, or to go.  The tasting room staff is very knowledgeable, and bilingual. If you are interested in practicing Spanish with wine vocabulary, it was a great place to do so.  As for the drinking environment, the view of the vineyards and their private pond, complete with rowboats, was fantastic.  I could have stayed there all day.

If walking or driving, there is a closed gate at the entrance to the vineyard. Simply check in with the security guard and give your name–no reservations required. It’s a long-ish but beautiful walk up to the pond and tasting room on the hill overlooking the valle. I would highly recommend for those interested in a little build up.

By the way, trips to Valle de Guadalupe should really be done Friday, Saturday or Sunday. We went Thursday and some places were open, but less than half for sure. Check on hours before you go if you plan to go mid-week.

If, at the town of Guadalupe, you choose not to get off the bus, it will continue on to Porvenir, another town with wineries, restaurants, and tasting rooms. It would be fun to try to hit all three of these towns (San Antonio, Guadalupe, & Porvenir-also called Guadalupe on Google Maps), but time did not allow.

monte xanic views.jpg

The views from the tasting room at Monte Xanic, Ensenada, Mexico

If you’re interested in wine and an all-out weekend experience, you could do all three, Friday, Saturday, Sunday, and probably have one hell of a time.

Campestres (open-air dining experience, locally grown food) also spot the area and look very delicious, although were on the more expensive end of our taste.


El Ex-hotel Riviera
What a sad name for such an amazing place.  This hotel had its hey-day around the 30s and is beautiful, in good condition, and frequently used for quinceañeras, weddings and parties.  There is a little museo (museum) that is cheap (25 pesos) and interesting.  It provides a basic introduction to the geographical region, the indigenous peoples of the area, and some of development history (missionaries, explorers).  For me, the maps were really interesting.  After finishing your half-hour or hour in the museum, definitely head over to the main entrance.

Wait!  Did you see both of the peep holes that look down into the room that used to be a casino?  Very cool.  It’d be a bent-back but intriguing job.

At the main entrance, facing the hotel, on your right will be the plaza/garden, where beer fests and such are held.  Fun!  Before heading to the ornate wood bar where they serve wine, margaritas, and beer with your peanuts, take a walk around the inside of the building.  We were alone and spent 20 minutes wandering through the various salons, including the main hall for dances and the ex-casino. See you if you can spot the peepholes from within.

At the bar, margaritas are big, good, and very inexpensive (45 pesos).  I love this sort of old wooden bar with an expert barman willing to chat the afternoon away.  If you prefer, he will leave you to your devices–staring around at the old posters of Cuba, Marilyn Monroe and the good ‘ole days of Baja.

A note for those interested–when you leave the Hotel Riviera, you will be looking towards the bay, straining to see it because of a huge monstrosity of an interactive Museum (el caracol – the snail).  This is apparently not finished, nor might it ever be.  Certain locals feel strongly about how this “new idea” has destroyed the view of and from the lovable Hotel Riviera.

It’s probably time for a beer, and there is plenty of it in Ensenada.  Mexican national cerveza is inexpensive, fresh and great for warm days and with tacos and seafood tostadas.

fish taco

Fish tacos.  Yumzers.

The ceviche in Ensenada is different from that I had in other parts of  Mexico.  Here it is blended to a sort of  slush.  In other parts of Mexico, it was small chunks of fish, tomato, onion, peppers, etc.  (I have since gleaned that the latter is Sinaloa style ceviche).  Both are delicious.  Both can be de pescado (fish- normal style), camaron (shrimp), pulpo (octopus), mixto (all).  There may also be other possibilities.  The opportunities to eat delicious, fresh seafood in Ensenada are endless.   Other things to try include almeja (clam), erizo (sea urchin), cocteles de camaron, (shrimp cocktails–not the American kind), and OSTIONES! (Oysters! the love of my life).

To digress, one of our very loveliest evenings was at La Manzanilla, a really nice and very well-known restaurant run by a mustachioed chef and wife duo.  It’s a little tricky to find because it’s on a street heading down toward the docks that has just one entrance before you are stopped by port security.  There is a beautiful wooden bar with a giant blue octopus painted in the center.  The pink-tinted chandeliers create the perfect ambiance for a dozen or so oysters, a bottle of white wine (Sauv Blanc- a pretty nice wine list, not that I can really tell- with prices between $20 and más), and a later tiradito (yummalicious thinly sliced raw fish with soy sauce and chile and seasonings of all delicious sorts.) oysters

The menu looked amazing, but we are very committed to just an abundance of raw oysters with lime and mignonette.

Back to the beer.  There are many national options, however, due to the proximity of the town of Tecate, both Tecate and Tecate Light are quite popular and found almost everywhere.  Modelo is shockingly absent in many places.  I’d recommend XX (dos equis), Indio, or Tecate.

Now, on to the microbrews.

Yaaaay, Ensenada had so many good brews!  The best was clearly Wendtland, a microbrewery that is located on the Boulevard, open ’til midnight, closed Monday and Tuesday, and worth basically a stop every night.  The bar staff is great and they clearly know beer and life 🙂  They have a nice, albeit small, variety of other Mexican microbrews and a few U.S./Euro beers.  I suggest ignoring all of these and drinking Wendtland stuff.  They have 7 or 8 taps and a couple of collaborations, all worth trying.  Prices are good.  Food is good (tiradito, wings).  Really, you’re missing something awesome if you like beer and don’t stop here.

Fyi, the brewery is over in Sauzal.  Apparently it is possible to get a beer there, but after quite an adventure getting there and some time spent wandering down the side of the dusty highway and then meandering through some very fishy (smelling) warehouses, it was closed, and didn’t really seem like a location to frequent.  I’d stick to the downtown location.

However, on your way back downtown from Sauzal (bus or taxi, a little far for walking), there are a couple more great spots.  A new beer collective (Baja Brews) is on the ocean on the way back towards the Centro.  There are currently 7 breweries and four more in the works.  I’ll try to remember them all and list them, but for now, I can recall El chivo gruñon (The Grumpy Goat), and Old Mission Brewery.

baja brews.jpg

Outdoor seating at Baja Brews, Ensenada, B.C.

There is also a stall for Le Pinche Frances, which serves papas (potatoes with herbs), calamari, croquette, crepes, etc.  A burger stall was under construction while we were there.

While enjoying one of many brews or a bite, you can sit inside the hall, or you can head outside for an ocean view facing the south side of the bay and a soundtrack of really thundering waves.  This place was great and a revolutionary idea for small breweries that want a central location but less overhead.

Next, easily within walking distance, is Agua Mala.  This is going to seem repetitive, but I have to do it.  Good brews, good bites, amazing ocean view.  Friendly, knowledgeable staff (for those who need it, they also had notably excellent English language skills at Agua Mala).

(There is one more craft beer bar, 4 20s, but we weren’t able to go.  Locals say it’s nice, with good beers.  There is a nice outside area.  It’s closer to Sauzal and on the interior side of the highway.)


Well, I may have reached the end of my personal description of what to do in Ensenada for a week. Oh, dear.  I haven’t said a word about Hussong’s!  Perhaps another day.

There are so many things to do in Ensenada- places to see, fish to eat, wine country to explore, deep sea fishing trips to take, harbor tours to embark on, ocean geysers to be splashed by, hikes to take, races to watch, Spanish to study…

Buuuut, after a long quarter of work and grading,  I admit we mostly just slept in and ate, fish tacos, so much pulpo, so many ostoniones, ceviche, tacos de asada,  tamales, cocteles de camaron, you get the picture.  Then we would head out walking around the centro, looking either for our next bite, or for a microbrew from one of Ensenada’s various microbreweries.  Sigh.  It was a lovely week in the breeze, in fact.


Comments and questions welcome! Have fun in Ensenada!


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