HOW TO: Eat Your Way Through Tijuana

I’ve just returned from a long weekend in Tijuana, which is quickly becoming one of my favorite local getaways (just 3 hours from LA). The city has much to offer the urban explorer, but to be honest I mostly go for the food. Did you know the famous Caesar Salad was invented in Tijuana?! Here are some of the favorites I’ve found over the years.

Telefonica Gastro Park

Modern and playful, Telefonica Gastro Park is an outdoor food garden that’s perfect for groups. You’ll want to check out each of the different food trucks and then meet back at a picnic table with your foodie finds. There’s a brewery inside with a large selection of local beers. I still think fondly of my swordfish taco!

Plaza Fiesta

As the name implies, Plaza Fiesta is where the party happens. It’s basically a city block of bars and restaurants with pedestrian walkways in between allowing you to roam from drink to drink, dish to dish. There’s always a fútbol game playing and you’ll always find some excellent local brews.

Taco Stands

Every taco stand is my friend. If you see one and you’re hungry, just walk up and order. It would be hard to go wrong in Tijuana. However, I will mention Tacos Don Esteban, Taqueria Franc, and Las Ahumaderas as popular local stops. Don’t forget to bring pesos as most places are solo efectivo (cash only).

Colectivo 9

Stepping away from Mexican food a bit, try Colectivo 9. It’s tucked down a tiny alley in the lively downtown area, so keep your eyes sharp for the sign. You can find sushi, empanadas, burgers, falafel, burritos, and pizza. Behind a sliding glass door you’ll find a small bar that has original Mario on NES available to play.

Mercado Hidalgo

If you like to cook, you can’t miss Mercado Hidalgo. A few dozen shops sell fresh produce, hard to find ingredients, hundreds of spices, fresh mole to bring home, and professional grade supplies. The area feels festive as you’ll no doubt see a child picking out one of many piñatas that festoon the outdoor walkway.

Oryx Capital

For an elevated late night snack, Oryx Capital is open until 1:30am on weekends, serving up inventive cuisine all the while. The ingredient list is unusual (we ate “rye dirt” with roasted beets) and yet perfectly balanced and thoughtful, the cocktails are generous, and the ambiance is hip and lively. Reservations recommended.

Misión 19

Treat yourself! You deserve an extraordinary fine dining experience like this. In fact, get the tasting menu and you’ll be able to experience several of the colorful, creative dishes in one night. Add a wine pairing for true excellence. Unlike many tasting menus, Misión 19 knows how to leave you sated without feeling like you’ll need to roll out of the restaurant. Be sure to thank your chef.