Two meals in Tijuana?

Planning to walk across the border at San Ysidro one day this week. Recommendations for lunch and dinner? Any particular day better than another for any reason?

Mision 19, Villa Saverios.

What is Food Garden? Contra Vinos has something there, and that’s usually a good sign.

Does Contra run the wine program at Mision 19 the way they do at Manzanilla and Boules? From Google Maps they appear to be in the same building.

Good question. This is where we need DD to step in; she’ll know the answer. Yes, same building.

Not been to Food Garden – never even heard of it until now.

Oh, right, I read about him.

Never been, but I’ve always wanted to have a caesar salad where it was allegedly created:

There are 2 Food Gardens, the original on Sanchez Toboada is a little played out BUT, they have a vendor serving some of the best chilaquiles I’ve ever had. You chose the type of sauce you want and they do the rest.

There are a number of food truck parks around Tijuana most of them serving pretty interesting stuff. They’re pretty quiet during the week and not all trucks may be open. I am particularly fond of Telefonico Gastro Park…Humo does pork dishes including some delicious sausages, Machina 56 makes a killer octopus burger, Don Ramen does, well ramen, Otto serves up some excellent sashimi, this isn’t your typical food truck food. Colectivo 9 is also an option, it’s in an callejon (alleyway) off Avenida Revolucion. Many of the chefs and owners are graduates of the Tijuana Culinary Arts School.

Also in the fast casual category is the food court in the Zona Rio plaza, or Food Garden Zona Rio Most of the major players in the Tijuana food scene have space here in this venue.It’s not a bad option for lunch as it would give you the opportunity to try a lot of different things in one place without having to schlep all over the city. It’s also not your typical mall food court. This is 2nd location of Food Garden.

The Baja Craft Beer Tasting Room is centrally located. Across the street is Verde y Crema a casual entry from Jair Tellez. If you go the beet tacos are worth ordering. A block east on Sonora is one of my favorite restaurants in TJ, Erizo. No web page, but here’s their FB page I actually think this is probably Javier Plascenia’s best executed concept and I wish he would bring it to SD. Interesting coctales, ceviches, clams, oysters, octopus. If the octopus carpaccio is still on the menu, order it. A lot of people adore the chicharron he makes out of tuna skin. Very casual and exceptionally good.

Tacos Salceados, formerly Tacos Ermita claims to be the originators of the infamous quesataco. True or not, their tacos are fairly large and pretty good, creative salsas.

Tacos Fitos on the outside of the Mercado Hidalgo claims to have the fastest taqueros in the world. Their specialty is birria de re (beef) and they are good, fast and economical. The El Paisa seafood stand across the street from the entrance to Mercado Hidalgo makes killer seafood tostadas. For fanstastically fresh ceviches, sashimis and aguachile a few blocks over by the Costco is Mariscos Ruben. Not up for a taco or tostada, try Tortas Washmobile . Unlike the U.S. these are not tortas the size of you head, these are nice normal size sandwiches and you won’t feel stuffed for hours and hours afterwards.

The food at Caesars is a little uneven, but they make a very good margarita and the original Caesar made tableside is fun. The older waiters make it better than the younger ones. The renovation of the restaurant was very good and it does capture the spirit of Tijuana in a bygone era. A couple blocks east of Caesars on Ave Revu (between 6th & 7th) is Leyva’s Liquors. He sells only agave spirits and has hundreds of bottles of tequila, mezcal, sotol, etc, in every price range. If Sr. Leyva is there he can tell you about almost every bottle he has. He speaks perfect English. La Justina is also on Ave Revu and is the outpost of Chad White who used to chef here in SD and was a recent cheftestant on Top Chef.

La Querencia is Miguel Angel Guerrero’s flagship operation. It’s masculine and meat-centric but also quite good. Mision 19 is Javier Plascencia’s flagship. I like both of them and I’ve have very, very good meals at both as well as very average meals. I don’t believe that La Contra is doing the wine list at Mision 19 but I’m not 100% sure on that. Mision 19 is on the 2nd floor of the Via Corporative building, there is a large open atrium type of space adjacent which is where La Contra is along with a few other vendors that cater to the people that work in the building. Bar 20 is upstairs and is an extension of Mision 19. Where La Querencia is bright, direct and masculine, Mision 19 is very urbane and sophisticated. Dinner at either one would probably fit your needs and they’ll call a secure cab to take you back to “la linea”. It’s also not out of the question to do lunch at one and dinner at the other, and if that’s the case, I’d do lunch at La Querencia and dinner at Mision 19. Don’t forget you’ll be on the latin meal schedule so lunch won’t be until about 3 pm with dinner about 9 pm +/-

Too many choices :wink:


Erizo sounds great. They do have a web site:

It is, if it’s fish and seafood you’re after, Erizo is hard to beat. Thanks for the link to their website, it’s good to know there is one!

The aguachile de camaron is blisteringly hot but ridiculously addictive
The callo (scallop) preparations are almost all uniformly wonderful.
If you still want a fish taco they do a classic one.
There should be the prized chocolate clams either cold or in some other format.

Exchange rate is somewhere between 18 and 19 pesos to the dollar, making the prices at Erizo incredibly affordable.

I’m a Verde y Crema fan.

Robert, you asked if any particular day was better than another.

Monday - same as in the U.S., places aren’t open and the A-team might not be in the kitchen. Slow day

Tuesday - somewhat like Monday, but most places will be open

Wednesday thru Friday - best bet. Every place is open and firing on all pistons. Wednesday and Thursday are quiet but animated, fewer tourists/more locals.

Crossing on foot changed dramatically about 10 months ago. No more just breezing through. The pedestrian crossing is now on the east side behind US customs. You will be required to get a 1-day FMM (it’s free) and do the red light/green light aduana thing. In the last few months there have been gobs of Asian tourist groups crossing on foot. If you get stuck behind one of these tour groups it can take 30-45 minutes to cross south. Mexican immigration hasn’t quite figured out how to get them processed without disrupting the other crossers as well, but they are working to get that bottle neck resolved. I crossed south a couple weeks ago on a Sunday and it went fairly quickly even with a tour group in front of us.

Yes, we’ve discovered the new southbound border bottleneck a few months back when a group of us went down to the Valle for wine tastings and then dinner at Finca Altozano. There were about eight or ten of us and we were in a van. We all had to get out of the van, walk across the border, go to the building, stand in line, and one by one fill out the form and do the red/green light thing, like at a Mexican airport. Then meet the van on the other side. Like coming north. It added yet another layer to the already-burdensome border ordeal. I haven’t been down since. Sounds like they’re getting their act together a little better from your comments, but even so…

You crossed by vehicle and they make most vans stop and go through the immigration/customs process. I was talking about the pedestrian crossing on the east side of the I-5 where there are no vehicles involved, just your feet :slight_smile:

I have crossed by foot at night a few times the last few months and not had to deal with any of that going into Mexico. Is that typical now for daytime or only with groups? When I went down a few months ago with co-workers for a brewery tour we had to get out and register.

In driving across I’ve experienced both. We’ve been waved right through and we’ve been made to get out and go through the whole immigration/customs process. Last October I took a tour bus of 44 people to Rosarito for the day. We had to get off the bus and go through their process. PITA. This past February I was in a van with 9 people and we were waved right through.

If you’ve parked at the border or arrived by trolley, bus or drop off, you use a different crossing than by vehicle. It’s on the far east side of the port of entry. Getting off the trolley it’s super simple, you just kind of walk up the alley south of McDonalds, follow everyone to the right and go through the revolving gate. After that there is only one way to go, into the immigration line. That’s been the process since last September. It’s also a PITA but not so bad if there aren’t many people ahead of you. Mexican nationals can bypass the immigration line, but they do have to go through the customs line.

Last few times afoot we had to fill out the form going into Mexico at San Ysidro…AND…a SENTRI pass is insufficient for that process. We were told you must have a passport to go INTO Mexico.

They waived it for us once, but made a point of it.

Is that official policy? I dunno. But I bring the passport now.

On the other hand, I just got back from lunch at Finca about an hour ago. Down and back via Tecate, NO WAIT at the border- I was on my moto and didn’t even have the pleasure of weaving to the front of the line.

FN, including time spent at the border, plus driving time from Mission Hills, how do the total travel times compare for the two routes (via San Ysidro vs. via Tecate)? Frankly, even if they’re the same, I’d rather be in motion than in a line.

Oh, and how was the food?

Yep, that’s what the Mexican government is trying to enforce, but I strongly suspect it depends upon where you cross. SENTRI only works (thankfully) going northbound. I wonder what they’d do with a passport card.

A friend and I walked across at Tecate a few weeks ago to meet up with a friend for lunch at El Lugar de Nos. We walked straight through, not a Mexican immigration official in sight. No taxis either.

I think Tecate is the easiest crossing in either direction as long as you aren’t trying to cross back north on a Sunday (and sometimes Saturday) afternoon or evening. Border closes at 11 pm sharp, no exceptions.

Except for Canada and Mexico (in the past), I can’t think of any country where a valid passport isn’t required to enter.

Walking into Mexico around 12:30 this afternoon from the San Ysidro trolley station, there were only half a dozen people in line ahead of us and the officials quickly filled out the forms. Coming back, there was a meltdown, took 50 minutes. We were thinking of going back Thursday, but forget it.