Ensenada's Newly Elected Legislative Council Says No to Pelayo

Categories: Tijuana Sí!
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!
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!

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!

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!
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!
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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Verde y Crema, Tijuana: Chef Jair Téllez's Second Wind

Categories: Tijuana Sí!

In 2009 to 2010, during Baja California's darkest hours, where tourism evaporated due to the big scare of the H1N1 pandemic, the escalation of Mexico's drug war between the government and various cartels, and the full implementation of the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative--Chef Jair Téllez found himself at a crossroad. The story of Tellez and Laja was prologue to an epic tale of Mexican food and wine that is still being written--his legacy was secure. In 2001, Laja moved the Valle de Guadalupe a quantum leap forward from prune juice and huevos rancheros to a world famous farm-to-table movement for an emerging wine region. 

But after a nice run, the bad new scared off the U.S. tourists, the chilangos were still a couple of years away from turning the Valle's economy around, so Téllez's attempt to find an audience in Ensenada at Restaurante del Parque lasted only months before he threw in the towel. Fast forward to 2013, where Téllez's red hot MeroToro in D.F. and Laja both placed on Latin America's 50 Best(he's the only chef to get 2 spots), he was recently named GQ Mexico's chef of the year, and now the triumphant Téllez has his sights on Tijuana with his new, chic,urban concept, Verde y Crema.     

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If You Build it, He Will Come: Enrique Pelayo Torres' Attempted Rape of the Valle de Guadalupe

Categories: Tijuana Sí!
Enrique Pelayo Torres, Municipal President of Ensenada (PRI)

Perhaps I spoke too soon when I wrote about the sustainable growth of the Valle de Guadalupe in last year's Weekender for Los Angeles Magazine. Coming off of the biggest Vendimias, or wine harvest festival season to date which also saw a few hotel openings, the government of Enrique Pelayo Torres, Municipal President of Ensenada and its 26 boroughs (the Valle de Guadalupe is included) wants to move Mexico's premier wine country into warp drive, in a land whose success has come from the spirit, vision, and labor of the regions vintners, and award winning chefs. 

Without asking the people that live and work in the Valle de Guadalupe, Torres, like a thief in the night, has attempted to subversively push through an aggressive land reuse program titled the Sectorial Program for the Urban Touristic Development of the Wine Producing Valleys.This pinche cabron from the PRI plans to dedicate 48% of the Valle soil to fancy condos and recreation, like the golf course Torres is already working on, in an all too predictable Mexican pattern of build first and think later that has ruined many great cities in Mexico. If you've enjoyed the unspoiled country that Anthony Bourdain had referred to as "the New Tuscany", now is the time to act.     

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MAP: How to Beat the Four-Hour US-Mexico Border Wait at San Ysidro on a Sunday (A Tijuana Sí! Special)

Categories: Tijuana Sí!

We've reached a tipping point in Baja tourism; people have finally started to discover that Baja is there, it's safe, and it's chock full of things to do. Unfortunately, this means that the lines to cross back are longer than ever. People over at Baja Nomad have reported four-, five- and even six-hour crossing times as CBP works feverishly to add more capacity to the world's busiest border checkpoint and as the U.S. issues heightened security directives due to people who want to blow us up.

It will get better, and soon; the ongoing project, which also involved moving the Mexico-bound checkpoint a third of a mile to the west, will result in a maximum capacity of 64 cars at a time at San Ysidro when they're done, but unfortunately during construction, the lines just keep getting longer and longer. It's the sort of thing that could cause even the hardiest Baja traveler to stay NOB (that's North of the Border).

This week, Tijuana Sí! is going to take a break from food and drink coverage and talk about how to get across the border in the most expeditious way possible. This information was correct and current as of the date of publication, but there's construction everywhere and they have switched which side the Ready Lanes are on more than once. That is to say, your mileage--or kilometrage--may vary.

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Cocina de Baja Reunida: The Third Annual BC Culinary Fest Comes to Tijuana Oct. 24-27, 2013

Categories: Tijuana Sí!

Two years ago, Javier Plascencia started the BC Culinary Fest in Tijuana to celebrate the renaissance of Baja's culinary scene, and as a one-stop shop to introduce curious people to the wonders being created just south of the border. Curious Mexicans and norteamericanos wandered through the windswept patio of El Trompo, the Tijuana children's museum, eating everything from paella to border dogs, from just-made requesón to aged wine.

This year's festival, the third, is from October 24-27, based at CECUT, the golf ball-shaped cultural center in Tijuana. Previous years had events from Mexicali to Bahía de los Ángeles; this year, chefs from all over the state as well as from Guadalajara and Mexico City will come to Tijuana.

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