Baja’s Best-Kept Secret

History of La Fonda

The history of La Fonda is truly a unique tale that continues to wind down a precarious & circuitous path. La Fonda, which is made up of a Hotel, Restaurant, Bar & Spa stretches over a ¼ mile of oceanfront, is known as a Landmark Paradise - “Road House” in Northern Baja located at KM 59.5, La Mision. Only a few hours drive from Los Angeles and an hour drive from San Diego makes the proximity to La Fonda a hop-skip & jump from the reality of the hustle and bustle of city life. La Fonda has such a historical legacy, that on many maps of the Baja Peninsula, the city of La Mision is no longer referred to and has been replaced as the unofficial city of “La Fonda”. This odd little roadside joint is where crowds of strangers welcome you as family.

Once owned by Ms. Eva Marie Stocker back in the day, she ended up selling it to Orest “Joe” Dmytriw, a Ukrainian-Canadian-American, and North Hollywood building contractor in 1975. Joe and his wife Sara then continued to build La Fonda over the 27 years in which they held ownership. They were on the forefront of creating La Fonda’s peculiar charm with hotel rooms built of makeshift materials, bunched around steep, narrow stairways. The original rooms were built Hacienda-Style, but the rest came in stages that could have only been dreamt up by a Cubist painter—drinking absinthe. 

Then in 2004, the Dmytriw’s planed their exit to retirement and sold the entire property to Dr. and Mrs. Rettig (Doc & Shawnie) of Newport Beach. The Rettig’s had a long ongoing admiration and love for La Fonda dating back to when Shawnie’s parents told all their accompanying friends, while drinking Margaritas and listening to the Mariachi band, that they were pregnant (with Shawnie). Through the years, many fun stories have been shared about the different goings-on and fond memories that were created at La Fonda. Sadly, and more probable, is the equal amount of stories that have been misplaced in a drunken haze induced by too much Tequila and mind-erasing Margaritas. 

All hotel rooms, as well as the restaurant, bar and spa sit atop the bluff—covered by thick banks of bougainvillea and bamboo – providing a sweeping panoramic view of the endless Pacific Ocean and surf that attracts legions of International Surfers.

La Fonda has a nickname as the “No Tell Hotel” which is colored by a backdrop of various stories and a checkered celebrity clientele. La Fonda once hosted Senator Ted Kennedy on many occasions after his divorce. The All American Hero - John Wayne had his favorite stool at the bar. Sean Penn & Madonna shared a candle lit dinner in the restaurant and countless more have utilized La Fonda as their secret escape where they could let down their hair and enjoy Mexico and all it’s offerings in private.

The typical diverse clientele that frequents La Fonda ranges from wealthy millionaires to die-hard surf rats, as well as the local Federales, adventurers, International visitors, local expats, and the highly revered Mexican residents. All ages and walks of life are known to be seen on La Fonda’s dance floor at any given time. From a toddler clapping their hands to a 90 year old assisted by a walker and every age in between.

Its location and clientele alone do not purely repute La Fonda’s dynamic reputation… The friendly and eager-to-please staff makes you feel welcomed from the first “Hola!” “Please seat your beautiful selves!” Once entering the restaurant the “Tortilla Lady” cooking up her homemade deliciousness greets you. You then navigate yourself into the heavily thatched palapa bar that serves some of the best and alarming strength margaritas to ever pass your lips. Venture out to the ocean view patio where diners are enjoying the best lobster in all of Baja. Other dishes that are being enjoyed are a diverse array of menu items such as their famous Banana Pancakes with Coconut Syrup, Lobstertini Cocktails & freshly made Chips and Salsa, etc. The menu offers traditional Mexican faire as well as classic dishes such as Quail, Prime Rib, Wild Alaskan Salmon as well as Chicken Cordon’- Bleu. The “World Famous” all you can eat and drink Sunday Brunch has yet to be rivaled by anyone either North or South-of-the-border.

One of the fundamental ingredients of making La Fonda so magical is that music is a key element to setting the romantic mood. From Paco playing the classics on his solo guitar, to the strolling Mariachi’s… to the house band that plays on the weekend nights and never seizes to surprise you with their integral Mexican music intertwined with American Classic Rock (Rolling Stone’s, B.B. King, Lynard Skynard, Doors, Led Zeppelin, etc.) to today’s pop hits (Bruno Mars, etc.)

La Fonda in one word is “MAGICAL”! She has survived and continues to survive some heartache that life has thrown her. However, she is a lady infused with elegance, strength, a sense of humor, and a tenacious - warrior spirit that is likened to a mother protecting its young!

Come visit Gary’s La Fonda and discover “Baja’s Best Kept Secret’!