Tijuana is fast becoming known as a gastronomic capital not only within Baja California, but throughout Mexico. No longer San Diego’s tawdry twin, the frontier town has recast itself as one of Mexico’s cultural and gastronomic poles. Now it’s not just spring-breakers who hop across the border to let loose and party – it’s gastronomes looking to sample artisanal mezcals and tequilas in hip bars, find a hidden cantina serving authentic spicy adobada pork tacos – unique to the region – or eat in one of Tijuana’s fresh batch of fine-dining restaurants.
Jair Tellez’s regional Northern Baja restaurant in downtown Tijuana draws on the best local recipes and the finest farm-to-table organic, sustainably sourced ingredients, for a menu of classy Mexican comfort cooking. Signature dishes include octopus tacos and braised ribs, washed down with small-production craft beers or Valle de Guadalupe wines. The house cocktails are great too, especially the watermelon and lavender G&Ts.
Downtown Tijuana’s plushest dining room is popular with a well-heeled brunch crowd, business suits sharing a power breakfast and couples out for an early evening meal. Meals are served in a bright dining room, set in a sleek, glass-fronted concrete cube and chosen from a menu of Mediterranean-meets-Mexican standards, all elegantly prepared – like Sea of Cortez calamari with red pesto and roast tomato, and crab-stuffed ravioli with a ricotta cream.
Decked out in geometric duotone tiles, raw woods and polished concretes, lit by low-slung pool lights and with a long, marble bar and open-plan kitchen, 52 Kool is Tijuana at its trendiest. Chef Oswaldo Flores Lagunas’s modern Mexican menu complements the design – fish ceviche garnished with red onion and chillies, marlin tacos – not to mention superb wines and cocktails. This restaurant sits off Boulevard Agua Caliente in the America neighborhood.
Looking for somewhere to stay? Book into one of the best hotels in Tijuana with Culture Trip. Or, opt for something more budget-friendly, with a stay at one of the top cheap hotels in town. And, to kick start your itinerary, don’t miss any of the best things to do in Tijuana, before relaxing with a drink at one of the best bars.