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Jul 17, 2008 11:47 AM

100% Tijuanense

Tijuana is a drug.

Since being invited there by street and spending three incredible days on the otro lado, thoughts of it have possessed all space in my mind.

That addiction had to be fed so I went back yesterday with two friends from work. Coming back we all agreed we had an unforgettable experience we just hope more visitors to the city get the opportunity to have.

We took the trolley down and crossed by foot. The only downside of crossing by foot is having to experience Revolucionesque BS barkers in the Viva Tijuana Plaza and across the river in the stretch of Calle Primera till you get to the Arch and Madero.

>> La Vuelta

We took Madero South about 11 blocks and then cut into Revu at the end to go to La Vuelta to introduce my friends to Casta Beer. Mariachi starts at 8;30 every night except Sat and Sun when they begin late afternoon.

>> Cerveceria Tijuana

We then continued around the bend that becomes agua caliente and merged South on Fundadores to hike up hill to Cerveceria Tijuana.

Here in their European styled Tavern we ordered the Tj tasters - which let us sample all of their beers and a round of morenas.
Our favorites were La Bufadora, Brava, and the Morena.
Very cool off -the beaten path place and really awesome staff.

>> La Querencia

Feeling the need to soak up some of those beverages, we hailed a Taxi libre walking back down Fundadores to take us to the Gastronomic Zone off Sanchez Taboada; destination Querencia. On the way I spotted a restaurant called Flor de Oaxaca - which I have marked down.

I wanted to do some trailblazing for the food scene down here but my wonderful experience at the sister restaurant Bajamed Pizza Co. street brought me to left me yearning to experience more of this style. That and having recently re-read the NY Times article on Tijuana which mentions La Querencia.

Our meal was delicious. Delicious - in a way that makes me think that gastronomic motivated visitors to San Diego would be fool hardy not to make the trip across the line to experience this Tijuana renaissance in cuisine.

The restaurant clientele appeared to be biz power lunchers and the 'beautiful people" of Tijuas. I really like the feel/atmosphere of the space and the trippy stuffed game on the wall and heads of deer etc. Only in Mexico.

The menu was perfect for my pescatarian friend who even indulged in the outstanding roasted pato taco - in recognition that this place's food was too unique to be passed on.

To drink we had naranajadas, tamarindos and castas, thought they have a very impressive wine list and nice bar.

The salsa accoutrement contained a chile de arbol/tahini, ranchera, outstanding roasted tomatillo, the hottest salsa of my life the crema-habanero, as well as my favorite crema-chipotle-oyster salsa. Fresh oregano dusted bread is offered to address these with.

Ordering exclusively off the antojito menu - we had
*Tacos de*
- Chorizo de Abulon
- Marlin Ahumado
- Pescado [ensendada style
] - Pato [soy-chile bbq with mixed greens]
- Mantarraya [stew - tomato, caper, olive]
& a Chile Guero capeado relleno de Jaiba.

I wont go into nuances of flavors but man what a rare chance to try to famous chorizo de abulon and the hype is deserved. I will be bringing more people here sin duda.


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  1. Nice K.R
    Their is so much to see in T.J you could go every weekend and just scratch the surface. I have so many fond memories at La Vuelta. You can request the mariachis play at your table when they are on break; it used to be 10 bucks a song. After a few tequilas I used to belt out the best renditions ha-ha. I even hired them to play at the church for my wedding it was awesome.

    Also check out Cien Anos on your next trek.

    5 Replies
    1. re: Masa Assassin

      I agree 100% that there is so much to see in Tijuana. More reason for us to go over there together for some chelas and fine food that is missing on our side!

      La Vuelta is soo chingon - how cool is that - that you got them to play at your wedding!

      Is Cien Anos still open?

      1. re: Masa Assassin

        $10? KR... what was the going rate in Guadalajara probably $3?

        1. re: Eat_Nopal

          Yeah 10 bucks and this was awhile back. :o

          1. re: Eat_Nopal

            EN, it's apparently been a while since you requested a song in Guadalajara. The going rate was 100 pesos just about six months ago, the last time I asked mariachis at BirrierĂ­a Chololo to sing "Volver, Volver" for a friend on his way home to London.

            1. re: cristina

              Ay Dios! It was just in 2002 that I hired a 12 piece Mayan Jazz Band (4 man Marimbas, Brass Section, several on percussion, strings etc.,) for that rate (mind you they were playing descarga pieces that were averaging 5 to 6 mintues as oppossed to the average 3 minute ranchera).

        2. >> La Differencia

          My friends wanted to try some of Baja's wine offering so I suggested going over to La Differencia's bar for some copas. There, I had the extraordinary Tempranillo from Santo Tomas under the exposed brick vaulted celing of the bar area. I also took the chance to look over the menu for changes. Two dishes that employed bone marrow really piqued my interest - a filet in marrow sauce and a cazuelita of nopales and mushrooms stewed with the tuetano.

          Beautiful restaurant and pretty funny waiters.

          >> Tepoznieves

          LIFE-CHANGING ice cream experience, I kid you not. I am super glad I remembered this place when enjoying wine at Diff. Its just a 5 minute walk south on Tobada.
          The place in flanked on all three sides by ice cream bunkers and bright colored dressed young employees eager to give you samples.

          Here is the menu:

          I had Zapote Negro, Avocado and Nopal. I liked the Nopal the best!

          Forget Revolucion BS, Tepoznieves must be on your itinery when visiting the great city of Tijuas. Whens the next time you will be able to taste rose pedal ice cream fried in butter and sweetened with honey?

          2 Replies
          1. re: kare_raisu

            Teponieves is well known chain in Mexico and is originally from Tepotzlan. Hence the "Tepo" in the name. They are usually quite good and have some pretty unusual flavors. The malteadas and smoothies are quite good.

            1. re: DiningDiva

              The mole flavors are some of the most intriguing (among the unusual).

          2. Well, we shall be hitting La Diferencia again, around September if not sooner.Because, no, it's not about football season or any such trivial matter, it's "chiles en nogada" season! La Diferencia has an excellent version that they serve with little numbered flags on them to keep count on the number made during the season.

            Topoznieves, I think we'll stop there, oh what, tomorrow?

            4 Replies
            1. re: streetgourmetla

              Do you know if Cien Anos is still opened I loved that place in the heyday. I still dream of the tuetano con champinon :P

              Calle Jose Maria Velazco 1407, one half block north of Blvd. Paseo de los Heroes

              1. re: Masa Assassin

                Haven't been there in years, as other restaurants have distracted me, but I remember it being a great dinner.I will do a drive by tomorrow and get back to you.

              2. k-r,

                Really great report and I believe you caught the essence of, in very well-chosen words, the unique food and ambience of La Querencia.

                Please keep exploring TJ and reporting on what to try next.

                Thanks, GJ

                1 Reply
                1. re: Gypsy Jan

                  GJ -
                  Absolutely! I just got back today from an overnighter to see Julieta Venegas at the Jai Alai. Incredible...

                  There is just so much to explore in this city that causes me homesickness to be away from just hours separated here just miles away

                2. Here I have posted my pictures of the cien % tijuanese tour