El Mesero – or “the waiter” – is a Spanish-language restaurant web site based on the Yelp model of rankings, recommendations and handy maps. I find the service interesting because I am studying the creation and management of online communities at the University of Southern California and so I naturally gravitate to examples of how this intersects with the border.
On El Mesero, You can find Chinese food in Tijuana and track down the nearest Tacos el Gordo, a popular cross-border chain that started in Tijuana. Since much of the content appears to be user-created, you won’t find everything. Try searching for a McDonald’s in Tijuana and you are out of luck. But Bob’s Big Boy, a favorite Tijuana burger establishment here, shows up.
Menu listings are available for some of the places, as well as links to the restaurant sites. Tijuana had 2,116 food places on the site when last checked. Looking up Brazilian food, I was glad to find Pampas, a Zona Rio restaurant I like for its succulent meats and robust salad bar. Spanish-language information is available for other cities in Baja California and around the world – including San Diego – though places like Moscow (with just one listing) still need to be fleshed out with content.
I exchanged emails with the founder of the site, Francisco Ito, of Tijuana. He says he is a web programmer – not a restaurateur. He said he started the site because he saw a need to create an online directory and community forum of food and drink establishments, and I agree that is something that has been sorely missing in Tijuana. El Mesero can be found at http://www.elmesero.com/. I am posting some of the information he sent me (in Spanish) to the comments section below. . .