- Senor Gringo
Here's the deal. I am doing a two day/one nighter in Tijuana soon and would welcome any dining suggestions. I already have been to Palm Azul, Cien Anos, and La Lena. Looking for upscale authentic restaurant off the beaten path. Any help would be appreciated. Thanks.
i don't know if you have time for a quick jaunt outside the city, but if you do, check out a former Daniel (NY) chef at Laja which south of the tiajuana at km 83 carr. ensenada-tecate, (646) 155-25.56, www.lajamexico.com
it's located in a beautiful, airy old building on what looks like a vineyard or farm of some sort (i'm a city girl...) the dining room looks out over the fields.
when we arrived and they realized that we spoke english, one of the staff came out and asked our patience while they translated the menu for us. minutes later, a beautifully printed translated menu was provided to us.
we ordered a 4 course pre fixe (you can also get 8 course -- which i will definately do next time), where you get to choose from two options for each course: it was quite some time ago, but i still remember the meal -- the most amazing asparagus soup i've ever had with preserved lemons and plump, succulent raw oysters at the bottom. next came fresh sardine appetizer with some sort of delicious green i'd never tasted before, seasoned with a light vinegrette. the main was perfectly cooked sea bass with favas, pork cracklings and preserved lemons. for desert, there was a wonderful almond cake with anise and mint ice cream, and also a tea mango sorbet with some sort of green unusual tasting granita that was tasty, but totally unfamiliar to me.
quite simply, this was one of the most delightful meals i've ever had. the setting was perfect. the service was impeccable. and the food was fresh and the flavor combinations were right on. i cannot reccomend this place highly enough!
The Ensenada "dining scene" has been discussed over and over here in the last year. We go down there about four times a year just to eat and drink wine, recently returned a week or so ago. Laja is our favorite, but there are SO many other excellent restaurants there.
SEARCH THE ARCHIVES!
And the OP should know that Ensenada and the Valle de Guadalupe are way more than an hour south of Tijuana and the drive on the toll road at night is now not a good idea (if it ever was).
Why in the world would anyone want to stay in Tijuana rather than Ensenada? Highway 3 from Ensenada to Tecate through the wine country is a great drive and I recommend it.
And Restaurante Laja is not in an "old building" and it's not airy unless you mean air conditioned. And it's in the middle of a vineyard, and the patio (if it's not too damn hot) where you can have lunch has great views of the countryside is excellent. Also, if you check out their website, you'll see that they're open only a few days a week.
Frankly, eating one's way through excellent Ensenada and the Valle de Guadalupe restaurants takes four days, minimum. (Think: El Taco de Huitzilopochtle). And Restaurante 623 is closed for "remodeling." I just hope Casa de Piedra is not in financial difficulty.
Some quick answers, if you need more info, I will be happy to respond.
Overall note, in each example the service given in these restaurants is excellent. La Espadana is more informal and "jazzy", meaning quick in the American sense, in the others, there is the kind of pacing found in European restaurants, polite and formal, but including the typical Mexican genuine sense of welcome.
In town: On Boulevard Sanchez Taboada: For breakfast/early afternoon, La Espadana, hands down. All of fashionable Tijuana is there, and it stays busy until about 1:00 pm. Breakfast every which way, standard eggs and bacon, fantastic omelettes, to great huevos rancheros or with mole and menudo Don't have a clue about its dinner business.
Afternoon, evening: La Diferencia, the menu presents wonderful choices, takes on classical central Mexico cuisine (can you say 'huitlacoche'?). Beautiful interior with a courtyard hacienda displaying a tinkling fountain and birds in cages singing around the room.
Afternoon, evening: Los Angulo, a fantastic palapa with a fifty plus foot steeply pitched roof tiled with palm leaves that can easily seat 400 plus diners. Seafood, seafood, seafood Mazatlan style. Oysters on the half shell, seafood cocktails, entrees with Chinese influences and with rich cream/cheese sauces, as well as broiled and poached in parchment presentations, besides simple grilled, sauteed in garlic butter and other choices.
Out of town, heading to Rosarito on the free road, La Querencia. Opens after 1 pm. The menu is focused on the cuisine of the great Mexican desert of Sinaloa with an Asian fusion attitude. Go figure! It is possible to order one taco, but there are are many, many different choices as to the filler: beef, chicken, fish, pork, venison and machaca in five or more edifferent choices. In the appetizers, amongst the other choices, there is beet (olive oil vinaigrette with blue cheese) or scallop sashimi (sesame oil vinaigrette), both outstandsing. In the entrees, you can choose seared tuna (ahi) steak, prime rib, rack of lamb and etc., etc.
re: Senor Gringo
I don't know much about street eats in TJ (my knowledge is more coastal!), but there are some very interesting reccomendations from other sources, check out these links:
Also, the San Diego Union Tribune website:
they have a Baja guide in their Entertainment section, but I would recommend searching the archives, as well.