Plan Tijuana: The Interrupted Renaissance of Avenida Revolución

Categories: Tijuana Sí!
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Bill Esparza
Caesar's Hotel during Prohibition


Oh to have been in Tijuana during prohibition, to have seen the shows, the glamour, and style at the Agua Caliente casino; to have bellied up to the Long Bar for a beer after having dined at Caesar's or Victor's on their famous table side salads. Back then Tijuana was a much different destination than it is today, I mean, you had a young Margarita Carmen Casino--later known as Rita Hayworth--dancing at the Caliente Club, and there were the horse races and gambling.


Tijuana was an adult playground and an escape from the irrationality of prohibition for Angelenos, just as was Havana for Miamians, until the U.S. repealed the Volstead Act and much of the action moved to Las Vegas. Today Tijuana is a Mexican food and wine lovers paradise, but there aren't enough attractions to warrant more than a weekend stay unless you hit Ensenada and the Valle de Guadalupe, and the vital culinary forces of region are sectarian. For us regulars, we've everything we need, and can go on exploring food and drink for years, but in order for Tijuana to return to its glory days it must become more than just a great place for food--Av. Revolución must rise from the ashes, and the rest of Baja will come along for the ride.  
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Mariscos El Güero, Ensenada, B.C.-The Ensenada Classic

Categories: Tijuana Sí!
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Bill Esparza
Mariscos El Güero


Before I ever discovered the world famous Mariscos La Guerrerense, I was a regular at a traditional seafood stand just a block away, where I first tried the Ensenada-style ground fish ceviche, and freshly shucked shellfish. Mariscos El Güero was and is a serious traditional seafood cart serving the finest products prepared by a mariscos master that along with La Guerrerense and Mariscos El Pizon, forms Ensenada's seafood cart triumvirate.


All of the traditional stands in Ensenada serve more or less the same regional menu of cocktails, ceviches, prepared shellfish, and tostadas (with the exception of the the aforementioned stands)--most are pretty good, but the quality and craftsmanship at El Güero are apparent, and at first bite--transcendent. There are so many tempting items on their menu but there are some dishes you don't want to miss, especially if your ambition is to win the triple crown and visit all three seafood powerhouses.   
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Ta'Costeño at the Food Truck Court, Estación 55: Chef Driven Street Food Enters the Third Wave

Categories: Tijuana Sí!
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Photo courtesy of Ta'Costeño


Chef driven street food in Mexico can trace its genesis to the landmark Tijuana taqueriaTacos Salceados, created almost a decade ago by a formally trained saucier, Javier Campos Gutierrez that introduced creative salsas emulsified with egg whites, fried cheese envelopes filled with surf and turf, and a line kitchen-style taqueria.Then came Tacos Kokopelli, from Tijuana Culinary Art School grad, chef Guillermo "Oso" Campos, and his innovative brand of grilled tacos featuring regional ingredients and sensibilities from the Yucatan, Puebla, Baja Californa and Oaxaca.


The trend has continued with food trucks from two young chefs that both made the Latin America 50 Best Restaurants list this past year--Edgar Nuñes Magaña opened Barra Vieja in Mexico City, and chef Diego Hernandez has parked Troika on the Villa del Valle property in the Valle de Guadalupe. With the latest entry into this fast growing sector of Mexican cuisine, Chef Rodolfo Luviano's (formerly of Tijuana's La Diferencia) Ta'Costeño formerly of Tijuana's La Diferencia--the third wave of chef driven street food is about to explode.  
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Pan Molocano and the Russian Pacifists of the Guadalupe Valley

Categories: Tijuana Sí!

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Dave Lieberman
Though wine grapes have been grown in the Valle de Guadalupe since the days of mission planting, by the late 19th century the wine industry had all but died off as the Republic of Mexico seized land held by the Roman Catholic Church. Faced with a new bureaucracy and administrators located weeks away in the Valley of Mexico, the wineries and the grapes withered and died.

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Ensenada's Newly Elected Legislative Council Says No to Pelayo

Categories: Tijuana Sí!
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Photo courtesy of Por un Valle de Verdad
The wine and food industry in Baja has good reason to be smiling


Two days ago, Ensenada's new government ended months of uncertainty in the Valle de Guadalupe and initiated the process to cancel the unpopular Sectorial Program for the Urban Touristic Development of the Wine Producing Valleys, which threatened to drastically transform Mexico top wine region into a highly unsustainable model for touristic purposes. 

Por un Valle de Verdad, a home-grown movement consisting of winemakers, chefs, hoteliers and farmers in the Valle de Guadalupe, has been fighting this land reuse proposal that was passed into policy in a closed door session, since the beginning. They even threatened to cancel Vendimias, the Valle's annual wine harvest festival. Between their press conferences, attendance at council meetings and social media activism, they've managed to garner local support and attract international attention to their cause to recall the proposal by the loathsome, ex-governor,  Enrique Pelayo Torres. For now it's hands off the Valle de Guadalupe, and a big win for Baja wine and food--and yes--Vendimias is on! 

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Flautas de Marlin at Tacos y Mariscos Ensenada in Playas de Tijuana

Categories: Tijuana Sí!
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Bill Esparza
Flautas de marlin at Tacos y Mariscos Ensenada


You will never stop hearing about the fantastic smoked marlin dishes here from Tijuana Si! staffers, like the famous taquitos de marlin at Mariscos Ruben, or the stewed tacos de marlin at Mariscos El Mazateño. Smoked marlin is a special product found on the Baja Peninsula, Sinaloa, Nayarit, the beaches of Sonora, and other Pacific coast states in Mexico. It is found in LA, the OC, and San Diego, but isn't as fresh or very inspired north of the border.


Tacos y Mariscos Ensenada in Playas de Tijuana is modeled after Mariscos Walter, with a menu that's virtually identical to the classic Tijuana seafood taco stand famous for it's taco de jamon del mar, or tuna of the sea--it's whole chunks of braised, smoked marlin on a tortilla. Tacos y Mariscos Ensenada also has their jamon del mar, but where they show a bit of originality is with their flautas de marlin, a dish that's worth the drive across the border all by itself. 
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Pozolería Los Compadres: A Bowl of Guadalajara In Tijuana's Fanciest Area

Categories: Tijuana Sí!

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Dave Lieberman
Mexican Sunday mornings are all about soupy food: menudos, pozoles, birrias, barbacoas con consomé. It's the way to make up for all the indulging on Saturday night, plus it's easy to put them on the stove to simmer during Mass. While I'm no fan of menudo--no one ever cleans the tripe well enough--I'm a sucker for pozole, and not just during the Christmas season, either.

Early last Sunday, while my friend Michaele and I were nosing around waiting for Das Cortez to open in the fancy part of Tijuana, we stumbled past Pozolería Los Compadres back behind the Galerías Hipódromo.

"Want some pozole?" I asked.

"Sure!" she replied.

Pozolería Los Compadres is an old house, a tiny row home filled with tables and a flat screen jabbering Sky TV; the owners are straight from Guadalajara, and they've created a small regional restaurant, one of the only truly tapatío restaurants in the city, in their home away from home. The menu is simple: white and red pozole, carne en su jugo, lonches and tortas ahogadas, beef birria (which is a specialty of Tijuana, not of Guadalajara), and various little snacks such as coyotas, filled pastries from Sonora and Sinaloa that are incredibly popular in Tijuana.

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[UPDATED With Map, Proposed Alternative] Section of Tijuana-Ensenada Scenic Highway Collapses

Categories: News, Tijuana Sí!

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Baja California Civil Protection (DEPC-BC)
[UPDATED with proposed alternative, Dec. 29, 8 p.m., and map of affected area, Dec. 28, 6 p.m.]

[ORIGINAL ARTICLE, Dec. 28, 4 p.m.]:A section of the toll road leading from Tijuana to Ensenada collapsed more than 300 feet toward the ocean early this morning, which is leading to lengthy detours along the smaller, less-traveled free road.

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Christmas in Baja: How our Favorite Chefs and Traditional Restaurants Celebrate La Navidad

Categories: Tijuana Sí!
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Bill Esparza
Break out the vino mexicano, it's Christmas in Baja California


Baja California is a state that has one of the closest relationships with the United States, especially with us Alta Californios--the cross border culture is alive with tourism, shopping, commuters going both ways, and industry. Many of the chefs have a cross border lifestyle having raised their children on both sides of the border, so items like turkey, and ham--traditional U.S. holiday foods--end up on the Christmas menu. Yes, Christmas, because in a still very Catholic Mexico, Feliz Navidad is spoken.

Take some Mexican and U.S. traditions, and throw in the cache of Baja ingredients from land and sea, and you've got yourself Christmas in Baja California. Here is how 4 star chefs and traditional restaurateurs will be dining with their families on la Nochebuena and la Navidad.

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San Felipe, Baja California: Beyond Spring Break, a Relaxing Fishing Village Still Flourishes

Categories: Tijuana Sí!
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Bill Esparza
Almejas blancas, a specialty of San Felipe


Before I ever visited San Felipe, I dismissed it as a Spring Break destination for those unwilling to pay for a flight to Cancun, or Cabo--in other words, the Laughlin of Spring Break in Mexico. And then there was that Rubio's connection. What I found in Baja's northernmost city on the Sea of Cortez was a quiet, relaxing fishing village that had many expat retirees, but wasn't over-developed. 


San Felipe is very hot--it's part of the municipality of Mexicali, which is one of the hottest regions of Mexico, but during the months of October through March, San Felipe has excellent weather and beaches. It's a great place to pick up fresh seafood products right from the fisherman's wharf for grilling on the beach--it's the land of abundant shrimp and white clams. San Felipe is the perfect weekend getaway for relaxation, to take in the unique local attractions, maybe catch the Baja 500, and some solid Baja Cuisine--here's a guide to the best eats in San Felipe.
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