Whenever anyone asks me to recommend what to do in a city I’ve lived in or visited before my brain immediately goes to the food. What should they eat? I have my staples. Shake Shack & Landmarc in NYC. Squat & Gobble in San Francisco. El Farolito in Mexico City. And so on.
So when my friend Heather came to visit me in Tijuana, I obviously planned my tour in relation to where we would eat. I got lucky in that Heather was pretty game about trying lots of different things. She was here for about a day and a half. The day she arrived we headed straight to “El Valle de Guadalupe” Baja’s wine valley.
We ate at Finca Altozano (pictured above and below). Pretty fantastic food. Pretty fantastic views. The octopus was a highlight.
The next day was packed with touristy things but mostly food.
Since we were anticipating a big lunch and an even bigger dinner we went “small.” We went to Venecia, a bakery, to get torcidos. Basically a twisted donut. Delicious.
Then we went to Cru, a local coffee shop. We ordered a coffee for her, a tea for me. Small but delicious. In this part of the tour she got the more residential/commercial part of Tijuana. Palmas, boulevard Agua Caliente, Zona Rio, etc.
After this we headed to Tijuana’s cultural center CECUT. Theatre, IMAX dome and museum all rolled into one.
After this we headed downtown. We walked down Avenida Revolución. And headed into Caesar’s for lunch. Caesar’s is the restaurant where Caesar Salad was invented. When you order the Caesar Salad the waiter comes to make the dressing at your table and if you wish you can help him make it.
It tastes delicious and it’s always a fun thing to do and be able to say that you made your own Caesar dressing.
This is the recipe they provide in their website. (serves 4)
- 20 pieces of romaine lettuce
- 1 cup of extra virgin olive oil
- 20 gms. of Perrins sauce (Worcestershire)
- 15 gms. Dijon mustard
- 15 gms. crushed garlic
- 1 egg yolk
- 15 gms. lime juice
- 3 gms.black pepper
- 35 gms. parmesan cheese
- 4 pieces of croutons
- 40 gms of anchovies
In a wooden bowl grind the anchovies with the garlic, pepper, mustard, Worcestershire sauce and lime juice. Once they’re all integrated add the egg yolk to get some texture.
While stirring add the olive oil, slowly in thread form without stopping until you get the desired volume and texture. Finally, add a bit of parmesan cheese.
They also serve Bone Marrow sopes. A sope is sort of a tiny thick corn tortilla. I know this isn’t everyone’s idea of a nice meal but it is so good. I recommend you try it.
After this we headed to Playas de Tijuana. Playas is right next to the ocean and right next to the United States. You can walk along the already existing wall that ends in the ocean.
We walked along the wall and the water and took some photos. This wall is continued all the way to the border crossing station.
We headed to Puerto Nuevo. A tiny, tiny town that has over 30 restaurants and they all serve the same thing, lobster.
And not your typical Maine lobster either, this is Baja lobster cooked in its own special way. Pan-fried. You accompany it with rice, beans, butter and flour tortillas. It is a delicious plate that you won’t find anywhere else in the world.
Whenever I tell people about the way we eat lobster, in a burrito, they can’t wait to try it. Everyone eats it in a different way. The way I do it is first I like to spread my tortilla with beans. Then I pour rice over it. Then I get the lobster meat out of the shell and place it on top. Then I sprinkle a little butter on top of it and then I eat it. I’m hungry now just thinking about it.
Tijuana has been developing as a “foodie” town for the past couple of years with many different types of restaurants that make dining an experience. Lots of restaurants, food trucks and cafe’s popping up all the time.
What I listed above was all we had time to eat when Heather was here but there were many, many places I wish she would have had time to try. For example:
- El Truck Nuestro. A food truck developed by the restaurant El Pan Nuestro, they specialize in breakfast and brought to Tijuana the perfect 12 am- 6am meal . La Torta de Chilaquiles. Basically a chilaquiles sandwich. I could write an essay on the way they perfected it. The right amount of salsa, the perfect crunchiness of the tortilla, the way they stack the chilaquiles and many more things. My favorite one is the Chilaquiles Verdes con Pollo. They also sell baked potatoes with chilaquiles in them, I’ve never tried them but I’ve heard great things.
- My favorite taco stand, not a cart but you can eat your tacos standing outside. Tacos Hipodromo. Tijuana tacos are unlike tacos in the rest of the country and you won’t find anyone in Tijuana that will tell you that other tacos are better.
- Das Cortez. A coffee shop. I don’t really like to drink coffee. A fact that always surprises people since I spend half my money at Starbucks (I like tea). But from what I hear coffee here is really great.
- Any seafood place. Growing up I didn’t realize how lucky we are in Tijuana to have such great seafood accesible at all time. Lots and lots of places where you can get good seafood and some fancier seafood. These are some of my favorite places: El Mazateño, Erizo, Cabanna, Los Arcos, Puerto and La Ola. And those just to name a few. They range in price and culinary experience but the food is great at all of them.
If you are in the area don’t hesistate to come down (or up) to Tijuana and try all that we have to offer.