Thanks to my friend Kathleen, I was introduced to Luis Arriaga Reyes a couple of months ago at Hussongs. Luis is an entrepreneur, artist, architect, jeweler, musician and more stuff. He also owns the most comfortable cafe here, Cafe Arabiga, Ensenada.
I was downtown and searching my brain cells for a wifi cafe location to relax after some dental surgery. My mind followed a route from the north end of Costero Blvd and Lopez Mateos south. There are dozens of wifi spots along that tourist area. See Ensenada Interactive Map, top left of this site.
I am no fan of the big chain cafes and the tourist zone seemed too busy for my throbbing jaw.
I am officially adding a 6th Star criterion for judging the quality of restaurants in Ensenada. That star is awarded when I am the only gringo in the house, OGITH. The last thing I want to see are the titanic, 2 ton turistas, Tommy Lee and Trixie, waddling off the cruise ship, recognize me as their cousin gringo, give me a big, sweaty hug and ask, “Where is the nearest Farmacia?”.
That visual picture was the likely dark side motivator that brought me to the light of Luis and Cafe Arabiga.
One city block distance can reveal an amazing difference in atmosphere. Fifty meters away from the “authentic Mexican souvenirs MADE IN CHINA” hustlers is the locals version of Ensenada.
For myfirstvisitever to Cafe Arabiga, parking was easy on Calle Segunda.
I opened the door and was greeted by a smiling Jose, lots of natural light, beautiful furniture, art and a clean cafe. Jose asked me my preference and I asked him to surprise me with a house specialty.
In a few short minutes, I had a delicious, frothy, steaming latte, my laptop setup, the wifi network password and relaxation.
Luis broke away from a business meeting he was having at a back table to share his family’s history, the cafe, the live music and everything else about Cafe Arabiga. The live music especially excited me and am planning on coming back soon for that fun. Music Calendar
How many cafes include a conversation with the owner? Can’t do that at Fivebucks. From their website…“Café Arabiga was born in 1989, as an Art Studio where people can come and meet the Artist and Artisans, while they enjoy the best coffee of Mexico.” Luis and his sister Margarita own the cafe. Jose, my host, has worked with Luis for 22 years.
Obviously, they all started when they were 5 years old.
In addition to coffee and tea, Cafe Arabiga serves sandwiches, salads, crepes and a variety of fresh pastries. I am not a sweet tooth(my dentist would disagree), but, what I saw in the pastry display was tempting. Menu link below.
My mouth and jaw were still sizzling from the dental drill that day. Solid food just wasn’t appealing to me. Another time.
A design feature I like about this cafe is the plentiful natural light coming in from the windows and outdoor patio. Another functional asset is the central coffee bar. No seat is more than 10 meters away, so that service and goodies are always within easy access.
Luis and team have done a fine job designing, building and decorating the cafe. I also like his hand-made “ghost” lights that float from the ceiling.
Watch out for the scary gringo in the tropical shirt. He chased away all of the customers.
If you are looking for an Ensenada locals’ hangout, vs. the usual gringo tourist traps, stop in at Cafe Arabiga. Located on Calle Segunda at Blancarte, Monday thru Saturday, 8A-10:30P and Sunday 5P-10:30P. (646)178-8666. website
To find out more about Luis’ art and creativity, LuisArriaga.Com.
Restaurant Rating Criteria:
- Unique/ethnic atmosphere √
- Unique/ethnic food choices √
- Bar stools(Hey, I’m Irish) √…Cafe Arabiga sneaks by, as I noticed 2 bar height chairs in the outdoor garden
- Several items on the menu less than $10USD √
- Seats less than 100 √
- OGITH, only gringo in the house √