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Tijuana

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ghc Oct 1, 2003 03:10 PM

Two questions:

Any good wineries near Tijuana? Thinking of making a day trip from San Diego.

Also, any good places to eat in Tijuana? Constraints are that is has to be very clean (mom is bit of a germ freak)...any price range will do.

  1. a
    aatkin Oct 3, 2003 05:46 PM

    Please don’t be scared off of going to Tijuana. I always have a great time there and in Baja in general. Here would be my suggestions to you. First, I would drive over because I find it easier to reach the less touristy places if you drive.

    1) Have dinner in Tijuana at La Differencia. This is a truly gourmet restaurant and is not unbelievably pricy for what you are getting. I also love the fact that you can try many great Mexican wines (including Monte Xanic’s wines) by the glass there. Blvd Sanchez Tobada 10611-A

    2) Take time to explore the Mercado Hidalgo in Tijuana one morning or afternoon. The market is at Blvd Sanchez Taboda near Calle 9. This is a very interesting market place with food stands, cookwares and restaurants. It did not feel overly touristy to me and was very interesting. There also is a great restauarant that serves biarria (goat stew) which tastes a lot better than it sounds. In addition, there is a great taco stand nearby called El Gordo, I believe.

    3) I would do a day trip down to Ensenada and/or the wine country just east of Ensenada. If you don’t want to take the time to go the wineries themselves, an excellent substitute is to go to Sede Vino, which is a fabulous wine bar and wine shop. You can pretty much taste and buy any Mexican wine there. It is as Ave Ruize 138, across from Hussong’s Cantina. If you do go to Ensenada, another must (IMHO) is to have fish tacos and ceviche at the fish market along the water.

    4) If you want to taste wine in Tijuana, I believe L.A. Cetto winery has a tasting room there. It is located at Av Canon Johnson 2108 at Ave. Constitution Sur. I have been to their winery in the Guadalupe Valley and truthfully I was not that impressed.

    1 Reply
    1. re: aatkin
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      peter Pumkino Oct 6, 2003 05:31 AM

      Cabrales, that's a great post on Tijuana as it really covers everything. I only wish I had this on my few trips into Baja.

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      Gayla Oct 1, 2003 06:36 PM

      The closest wineries to Tijuana are actually down the coast a bit in the Guadalupe Valley, just north of Ensenada. I don't think there are any organized tours doing this trip, so you definitely would have to drive across the border.

      As for eating in Tijuana there are lots of options, none of which should make anyone ill. Cien Anos has been around for ages. Also you would do well to visit the web sites for both the San Diego Union/Tribune and the San Diego Reader. Both publications routinely review restaurants in Baja, with the Reader doing them more frequently.

      Tijuana is my least favorite city in Mexico (and is Mexico's 2nd or 3rd largest city). It's big, it's dirty and it's ugly. The poverty is grinding and if you've got a soft heart, it will break. If you act like a clueless tourist you're more likely to set yourself up to become a victim. If you behave in a nice, low-key, courteous manner, you'll probably encounter no problems.

      Go 10 miles south of Tijuana and the whole atmosphere changes. It's softer, easier and less brittle. Northern Baja is pretty gringoized, but it's still a very fun place to visit.

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        cabrales Oct 1, 2003 05:04 PM

        Well, the cleaniness constraint is a significant one. If you are not already vaccinated against applicable strands of hepititus, it might be worthwhile to consider that.

        Note that some people park their cars on the US side of the border, and then walk over to Tijuana. It's safer to be more than two people. When I was at a friend's wedding at the Four Seasons Aviara, we did that late at night after the wedding festivities. A companion noted that women shouldn't bring handbags over, so I changed into jeans, stuffed some credit cards and $$ (that's useful -- cash) into pockets and headed down. After you walk over the border, there are taxis readily available. The taxi drivers seemed a bit of a concern, but apparently some consider that better than driving one's car over. Be careful you don't get overcharged by the taxi driver. I am not indicating I know whether it's better to drive your car down; just that there are differing views.

        There are many roadside stands in Tijuana. Some were more delicious with respect to their food than others. Small change (dollar bills) come in handy.

        8 Replies
        1. re: cabrales
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          Cristina Oct 1, 2003 05:38 PM

          *Sigh* Tijuana isn't as scary as it seems and the taxi drivers at the stand just after you cross the border are all working stiffs like you'n'me. It's all in Spanish, though, so it makes it seem more complex and mysterious than it is.

          I agree, walking across the border and hopping a cab is the way to go. Traffic in Tijuana is a bear for real and traffic regulations are a little different from those north of the border. Walk across, grab a cab, and ask for either of these two places:

          1. Tacos 'El Güero' (Ehl WEAR-oh) on Boulevar Aguascalientes

          2. Carnitas Uruapan (car-NEE-tahs oo-roo-AH-pahn), also on Boulevar Aguascalientes.

          El Güero, a stand-up taco stand, is closer to the border and super-cheap, serving the be all and end all of tacos (truly). At the carnitas place you can sit down. If you do go to Carnitas Uruapan, ask for pura carnaza (POO-rah car-NAH-sah)[all meat] or else you will be served surtido (soor-TEE-doh), a mix of meat, snout, lip, tongue, ear, etc. Well...unless you *want* snout etc.

          Either place will pass the Mom test.

          After you chow down, flag a cab and tell the driver you want to go to la linea (lah LEE-nyah). That will get you back to the border.

          1. re: Cristina
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            Pat Hammond Oct 1, 2003 06:36 PM

            Cristina, Thank you for your perfect and very helpful response. I have a dear friend from Chihuahua and my heart's desire is to go there some day with her to visit her family. I'm practicing my pronunciation. Not sure where one crosses into Mexico for Chihuahua, but I'm sure your post will help.

            Thanks. Pat

            1. re: Pat Hammond
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              Gary Soup Oct 1, 2003 08:39 PM

              El Paso TX, Pat. And it would be about a 200 mile cab ride....

              1. re: Gary Soup
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                Pat Hammond Oct 1, 2003 08:49 PM

                Oh.

                I guess I'd better hope we're met at the border, then. I still would love to go. p.

                1. re: Pat Hammond
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                  peter Pumkino Oct 2, 2003 06:14 AM

                  Why not drive through Tijuana and head on South? There's a small beach town very close to Tijuana (sorry, I can't remember the name) with a couple of lovely hotels with restaurants.

                  Or if you want to go for longer head for Ensenada, there's a beautiful hotel on the coast (again I can't remember the name)just before the town and they serve a typical Mexico breakfast complete with 'champagne' and a live classical group playing - wonderful for hangovers and a really beautiful spot and not so expensive if you go mid-week.

                  I really do believe you should get out of Tijuana. I quite like it BUT there are problems that I don't think your mother would like. Also be careful with taxis. An English friend was driven off and then pistol-whipped for his CC and PIN no. He really thought they would kill him and he also was pretty sure that the local police were involved (admittedly this was in Mexico City).

                  Personally I love Mexico, the music, the Marguaritas, the friedndly people and the food (do try Mole Poblano - chicked cooked in chocolate sauce, sounds awful but think about it, it's wonderful).

                  Peter

                  1. re: peter Pumkino
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                    Gayla Oct 2, 2003 12:00 PM

                    Crime in Mexico City is endemic, but PLEASE........don't scare people about Tijuana. The taxis there are very safe. You can take them with the assurance that you won't be driven into the hills and pistol whipped, robbed, raped or murdered.

                    The border zone between the U.S. and Mexico has a very symbiatic relationship with pretty far reaching economic impact on both sides of the border. The feeling in San Diego and Tijuana is that sometime in the not to distant future, the border as we know it today will cease to exist. As it is now, the border is a very blurry concept. Many, many folks - Americans & Mexicans - who are employeed in the U.S. live in Mexico and commute across the border daily. Many, many people commute the other way to do grocery shopping, obtain reasonably priced medical and dental care, and of course, purchase pharmecueticals (the legal ones) at uninflated prices.

                    Crime and violence against tourists in Tijuana is fairly low since most tourists don't venture too far out of the traditional tourist areas. Tijuana is home to one of the most violent drug cartels and most of the crime and violence *is* related to the drug trade (and local corruption) more than anything else.

                    Crossing the border on foot and taking a taxi into Tijuana is not a problem. Crossing the border on foot an attempting to walk into downtown Tijuana is not a good idea. As with travel in most 3rd world countries or other foreign destinations, if you do dumb stuff and draw attention to yourself by acting like a clueless tourist, you run a greater risk of becoming a victim (except in Mex. City, where even the most saavy of travelers runs the risk of being victimized).

                    Sorry for the long rant, but Tijuana really is, in spite of it's filth and trade in drugs and humans, a very safe city for tourists. Tourism drives the economy and the local government does take great pains to ensure that tourism thrives.

                    1. re: peter Pumkino
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                      Gary Soup Oct 2, 2003 01:34 PM

                      You're probably thinking of Rosarito.

                      A bit further south, just past the Titanic Museum, is a real seafood-lover's paradise, Popotla. But it's not the place to bring a finicky mother to. No electricity, even, and a very primitive setting, but the freshest of seafood, dirt cheap.

                      1. re: peter Pumkino
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                        Christine Vallejo Oct 2, 2003 04:04 PM

                        I think the hotel just north of Ensenada is Las Rosas. I'm due for a stay there at the beginning of November. I haven't been to Baja in over 15 years, and I used to go there many times every year. My last trip, however, I had a weird experience. I was standing in front of our favorite panaderia in Rosarito Beach, and someone came along, applied his palm to the front of my shoulder, and pushed me. He backed up and did it again, glaring at me all the while.

                        Spooky.

                        But I'm raring to go - there is a place in Ensenada with the best roasted chicken - El Charro I believe - so I'll report back then.

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