World ? Caribbean & Central America ? Mexico ? Ensenada

Ensenada: Shopping

Ensenada's slightly more refined equivalent of Tijuana's Avenida RevoluciɃn is the crowded Avenida LɃpez Mateos (or Av. Primera), which runs roughly parallel to Bulevar Lȥzaro Cȥrdenas (Costero); the highest concentration of shops and restaurants is between avenidas Ruiz and Castillo. Beggars fill this street, and sellers are less likely to bargain here than in Tijuana -- many of the merchandise is of much higher quality than in the north, and the shopkeepers of lesser stores are used to gullible cruise-ship buyers in Ensenada. Compared to Tijuana, there is more authentic Mexican art- and craftwork in Ensenada, pieces imported from rural states and villages where different skills are traditionally practiced. Off the highway on the way into Ensenada is the can't-miss Art & Stuff in El Sauzal (tel. 949/202-5321 in the U.S., or 646/175-8859; Km 103 Carretera Tijuana-Ensenada). This unpretentious and eclectic gallery has a collection worthy of boastfulness and high prices, but the owner is endearingly humble. Local artist SeɁora Q is the showstopper here with her whimsical interpretations that hint at magical realism on found objects, canvases, and in sculptures.

For jewelry and fine silver adornments, nothing compares to Los Castillo, five specialty stores along Avenida Lopez Mateos (tel. 646/156-5274; www.loscastillosilver.com). Owned for 39 years by the lovely Ensenada-raised jewelry designer Margarita MacFarland and operated by her gracious son and daughters, Los Castillo is the official outpost of Castillo family creations from Taxco, Mexico. For the uninitiated, the Castillos are some of Mexico's most renowned silver artisans and the patriarch, Antonio Castillo, educated Margarita MacFarland in the art of jewelry design. The elegant work of Emilia Castillo, Antonio's daughter, combines intricate sterling silver designs upon pristine porcelain to create original works of art on fine china, which also can be found at Neiman Marcus in the U.S. Emilia's brother, Wolmar Castillo, creates ornate sterling silver serving pieces and jewelry that can't be found anywhere else. If you've come to Ensenada to shop, Los Castillo should be at the tip-top of your list. A few doors down from Los Castillo, and at the opposite end of the spectrum, Colores de Mexico sells designer look-alike bags made of leather. For hand-crafted furnishings, Fausto Polanco (tel. 646/174-0336; www.faustopolanco.com.mx), at Lopez Mateos and Castillo, sells fine hacienda-style furnishings at U.S. prices.

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