The same factors of high rent and escalating costs that have fostered a burgeoning in the appearance of upscale food trucks north of the border are also driving the trend toward the culinary collectives that are now popping up around Ensenada. Both phenomenon allow restaurateurs the opportunity of staying in business with more manageable expenses, while at the same time give patrons the advantage of being able to enjoy a higher level of cuisine at prices that are more comparable to those found at corporate fast food chains.
One of the area’s first, El Callejon Colectivo Culinario, is situated on Floresta about a half block west of Avenida Lopez Mateos, and sits adjacent to the popular gourmet food truck, El Pinche Francais, which enjoys a large following and predates the opening of the actual food court.
In this relaxed open air venue, diners have the option of selecting artfully prepared French cuisine from the stationary truck, as well as delicious Argentinean style grilled meats at La Tranquera, savory Cuban food at La Gua Gua, Japanese specialties at Sushi Fussion, healthful wraps and salads from Wrap & Roll or a slice of Italian style pie at Funky Grill Pizza.
All of the offerings are reasonably priced for what you receive, as more and more people become aware of this convenient and gastronomically titillating oasis for the hungry. Designed to cater to those dining a bit later in the day there are no breakfasts served here, since the earliest that anyone in the court opens is 1:00pm. Nonetheless, they balance things out by staying open until 10:00pm and even later on Friday and Saturday nights for those in search of a quick and tasty bite to eat after a trip to the cinema or a local watering hole.
While El Callejon may have been one of the original co-ops of this nature to set up a local food court operation, they have been closely followed by a few other groups of small food kiosks around town, including one that has now opened up right across the street from them. But despite all of this competition it is likely that, if properly managed, most of these new food courts will eventually be successful because of the value, convenience and eclectic variety that they offer to their growing throng of hungry patrons.