More than one hungry soul has driven down here from Southern California just for such a treat, and habitues have their favorite places in which they believe they are enjoying the best lobster in the world!
But the development is really fairly new, as is so much that is interesting in Baja. Nobody knows exact dates, but sometimes in the 40's the cove was discovered by fishermen from Lake Chapala, which is just south of Guadalajara in Jalisco state in Mexico. Gradually the word got around, and an entire colony from Chapala gathered at the little cove on the Baja coast, providing daily catches for their families and sometimes to the nearby restaurants.
By the 50's there were people who were appering to purchase the fresh fish as they came off the boats, and the fishermen sold lobster and other delicacies from their front porches. Finally, some of the fishermen were taking tourists with them out to the fishing grounds, and upon return, the tourist was often hungry. It was then logical to serve an simple meal in the fisherman's beans, tortilla, and rice. But it wasn's long before the homes became too small, and larger facilities became necessary.
In the early days, the turn off from the libre was marked by a sizable building with a big 7-up sign painted on its side. That landmark had been a rest stop for Tijuana-Ensenada buses in the 40's, but everyone seems to agree that its menu was too quick and informat to include lobster. And it was closed before the real development began in the area.
The first really commercial lobster restaurant was started in 1955 by Rosario Grana, and it still is serving Lobster Puerto Nuevo in the same spot, which is on the very first southwestern corner of the main street of the town. Rosario is still presiding over her kitchen, and original customers will still feel right at home there because the general layout of the place and the food has not changed, though facilities have much improved over the years.
It wasn't long, though until other families were also moving out of their home kitchens and into areas where they could handle large crowds. Among the first of these were the Ortega and Plascencia families.
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 they are available grilled or steamed upon request. At the last lobster meal this writer enjoyed in Puerto Nuevo, nine halves were served for three of us. Beans, rece and tortillas are also served from bowls on the table, with drawn butter and salsa also to be passed around. Plenty is available for refills of the supplemental delight, and the price runs about $ 13.00 per serving unless larger sizes are requested. For parties, enormous specimens are available for a specified price.
When the fishermen first went out from Puerto Nuevo, there were so many lobster that they were often used for bait, but the size of the cath has greatly diminished in recent years. There for the scarcity, poachers being the most common. Anchovy fishing for the fertilizer plant in Ensenada is also blamed for the scarcity of, not only lobster, but also other fish in the kelp beds just off the coast here, but all agree everything possible is being done now to protect the fishing grounds.
At any rate, most of the lobsters served in Newport and Rosarito today are from farther south on the peninsula, south or Ensenada, Restauranteurs 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.
Puerto Nuevo has grown from a quaint, primitive fishing village to one of the most popular spots on the Azure Coast. Weekend evenings, the town is filled with exuberant seafood lovers, and the many restaurants are supplemented with tourist businesses of all kinds. Time condominiums are being built to the south of the cafes, and a first class hotel has also been added to the tourist scene there.
The streets just off the highway have been paved, and the restaurants and shops are now shoulder to shoulder in an area of about four square blocks. But drive to the end of the main street, walk down the dirt road to the ocean, and you will see the same tranquil cove that brought the original fishermen to the area. If you arrive between eight and nine a.m. you will see the boats coming in with the day's catch. If you are there later, you will see the boats beached for the day, but the fish is being prepared in the various restaurants up on the hill to please your particular palate.
The ocean still laps the shoreline in its gentle rhythms, carrying the fishermen in and out its tides to harvest the succulent seafood. It is indifferent to the delights it provides for the marisco lover at the top of the cliffs and to the prosperity it has created for the fishermen of Puerto Nuevo!.