Mexico is a country that is full of surprises just waiting to be explored. There’s hole-in-the-wall restaurants with unforgettable tacos, charming beach towns and welcoming cities, and stunning natural phenomenons like La Bufadora. Cap it all off with the fact that travel in Mexico is a great deal due to the peso’s valuation.
We recently discovered one of Mexico’s finest hidden gems located in Baja California, just south of the town of Rosarito. It’s called Popotla, and this tiny fishing village on the coast has some of the most incredible seafood you’ll ever have.
Discovering Popotla was a happy mistake since it hasn’t really been popularized among tourists, so we wanted to share our incredible experience. We stopped into Popotla for a quick breakfast on our drive south from Rosarito to Ensenada, and stumbled upon the best breakfast of our lives (no exaggeration). Even better, we left with our stomachs full of fresh seafood and only spent $13 USD.
Popotla is a small fishing village located on the coast of Baja California, just south of the town of Rosarito. Famous among Baja California natives for its incredible fresh seafood, this village has gone relatively untouched by foreign visitors despite its great reputation, world-class restaurants and safety to visit.
The town originated as the set of a very famous movie: Titanic. Filmed back in 1996, the Titanic was shot in Popotla’s waters and beaches at Fox Baja Studios. The studio still exists to this day, so you can pay it a visit if you decide to make the trek down to Popotla.
Despite being the set of a blockbuster movie, tourists only began to learn of Popotla’s existence after Anthony Bourdain paid it a visit. Sitting on the beach with a beer in hand, Bourdain filmed a segment eating fresh-caught seafood–like Puerto Nuevo style lobster–at this very spot.
Overall, Popotla is an extremely welcoming village to visitors. Locals are happy to help you find a great place to eat and teach you about the delicious seafood that they catch. If you are foodies like we are, we know that you will love Popotla.
Planning Your Trip to Popotla
The easiest way to get to Popotla from California is to drive. According to the U.S. State Department, Baja California is a safe area of Mexico for American tourists to visit so you shouldn’t worry about driving through Baja California to get to Popotla. It’s approximately a one hour drive from San Diego, and a three hour drive from Los Angeles.
To drive to Popotla, simply take I-5S down to the San Ysidro border and then follow signs for Rosarito/Ensenada Mexico-1D. This road will take you right into Popotla fishing village, and you will be able to use a number of right hand turns towards the beach to head into the village.
Popotla itself doesn’t have a ton of accommodations for visitors, since the main industry is fishing and not tourism. Luckily, Rosarito is only a few miles up the road and has a bunch of really great places for visitors to stay.
We recommend the Rosarito Beach Hotel (pictured above), which is situated right on the water and has great accommodations for visitors. If you stay in Rosarito, don’t forget to check out our post on 19 Amazing Things To Do in Rosarito, Mexico.
Parking in Popotla isn’t a problem at all. Simply park at the restaurant that you are going to (most have very spacious parking lots), or park in one of the lots next to the beach. There aren’t normally a ton of visitors in Popotla, so parking should be a breeze.
Where to Eat in Popotla
With so many incredible restaurants to choose from, we’ll provide some details on a few of the most popular choices for visitors.
Restaurant & Bar Popotla
This is the restaurant that we ate at when we stopped by for a spur of the moment breakfast. We absolutely loved our experience–the restaurant was sparkling clean with a gorgeous, modern design and incredible views of the ocean.
Our server was spoke perfect English and was very friendly and more than happy to answer our questions about the menu. In the end, we decided on a delicious fish-stuffed fried avocado and a smoked marlin benedict. Both were simply delicious; we ate every last bite.
The best part? Our bill for both delicious entrees plus endless coffee was $13 USD. What a steal!
Marisco’s Popotla Jr.
This casual seafood restaurant is extremely popular among visitors and has great ratings. Unfortunately, it wasn’t open when we were there otherwise we may have opted to eat here instead. Reviews praise both the food and the service, and cite the restaurant as being clean and well-attended to.
Popotla Fishing Village
Credit: Lori Atkinson / Explorando Baja
In addition to the multiple restaurants to choose from, visitors can also enjoy seaside street food stands for a more casual experience. The food stands are down on the main area of the beach, where tons of fisherman haul in fresh-caught seafood and cook it right on the beach.
While the fishing village is officially open from 9 AM to 9 PM every day, it’s best to go in the morning when the fish is the freshest.
There is so much to love about Popotla. The fresh seafood, the incredible ocean views, the kind and generous people…just to name a few. If you love seafood, paying a visit to this hidden gem is well worth the drive down from Southern California.
Lastly, if you are planning a trip down to Popotla, don’t forget to read our posts about 19 Amazing Things To Do in Rosarito and 16 Incredible Things To Do In Tijuana, since both are less than a 30 minute drive from Popotla.