To think we almost chickened out and missed the most ahhhmazing culinary experience of our lives.
But we didn’t and I’m so very thankful for these two wonderful human beings here because they made it happen. I just sat in the backseat. Hah!
Jill and I basically planned a Mexico Food Tour for our day trip to Tijuana, Puerto Nuevo and Valle De Guadalupe.
And mis amigos, it was delicious!
Big disclaimer: I am no professional food critic. This is just about my experience and I’m describing it in the best way I know.
After a day full of food (we seriously ate lobsters 2 hours before), we ended it with our last meal at Animalón.
Animalón was recommended to me by my sister-in-law’s wedding coordinator that I just met a few days prior. He made it sound like a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity so I knew I had to go.
We drove down a bumpy dirt road for over a mile in the middle of Mexico’s wine country-Valle de Guadalupe. I honestly started to question my recommendation. I hyped it up all day even though I had never been and didn’t even know the menu.
Sure enough, we entered through a gate into a multi-restaurant community surrrounded by grapevines.
Then we spotted the hundred year old oak tree.
This was the place.
The restaurant sat underneath the majestic tree.
I think Jill and Khang thought I was crazy when I described of a restaurant underneath a centry old tree. But when we walked through the enterence, I could tell immediately that they were enchanted by it just like me.
Y’all, I know I use this word often but it was magical.
We were the only customers there, which made it even more special. We didn’t shy away from walking everywhere to take in every detail.
Our server was Jonathan and he was excellent! He went above and beyond with exceptional customer service from explaining all the food items to giving us a clean plate for each new dish because we were eating family style.
The hostess sat us in the center, but any seat would have been perfect. I was in awe of the low-hanging oak branches and intimate rustic decor. Animalón was very well thought-out in every way possible.
Jill and Khang were still full from lobsters and their 3+ glasses of wine, but I was hungry so I encouraged us to order multiple dishes. The two of them soon found their appetites after one taste.
We ordered the scallops for starters. I wish I took a picture of the menu, but I’ll try my best to describe it from memory.
First off, their presentation was gorgeous! Like edible art–full of colors and textures.
The scallops were small, however each bite was full of flavor that forced my tastebuds on a crazy ride through multiple layers of scallop, vingery-ness, and heat from the peppers. The scallops laid in a jalapeno-infused sauce that I slurped it all up–it was so delicious!
After that I wished we went with the 7-course preset menu. Next time.
The squash risotto did not dissapoint. Smooth and creamy just right to where I would not get tired of eating it if it were my only dish. (I usually tire of the mushiness of risotto) Of course it was adorned with fresh squash blossoms and microgreens.
After our day full of seafood, we decided to go all in with a nearly 3 lb tomahawk steak (their smallest). Yes, it was as good as it looks if not better. It came with bone marrow (and small spoons), bone marrow reduction dipping sauce, potato mousse, and perfectly roasted tricolor carrots.
Khang said it was better than the one he ate in Las Vegas.
We didn’t finish it because we were so full, but of course I was saving room for dessert!
I want to mention that their cocktails were amazing! I am not a drinker, but I loved my lavender strawberry mint mixer. Here’s a photo of how it looked after I was done drinking it. So pretty!
Khang alone ordered four cocktails and actually went up to the bartender to ask for his secrets!
We ordered made from scratch strawberry ice cream with homemade graham cracker crumbles and out-of-this world “milk crackers” that just melted in our mouths.
So good that we ordered a second dessert: Their version of s’mores. Everything homemade, but the liquor threw me off a bit. The chocolate saved it for me with its silky and savory richness.
And that’s all folks! Not only were our tummies and eyes full but so were our hearts.
I truly believe this will ever be my only restaurant post–that’s how inpired I was by Animalón. I don’t see how any place will ever top it.
Oh and I almost forgot to mention: We met the Executive Chef, Oscar Torres! He came to our table and introduced himself. I actually stood up to shake his hand because goshhhh I was meeting a genuis!
We showered him with compliments and he instantly credited his “wonder crew” for everything, which was so humbling!
He shared with us a little about his background. His father actually owned a restaurant and he started washing dishes so this guy knows how things and people work from the ground up.
I remember distinctively when Chef Oscar said, “We’re hoping to make some noise around here in Baja.”
I have complete faith that he and his amazing team will indeed do just that.
Thank you for reading and following along