Tag Archives: dining

Defying a Spring Break travel warning

 

People often ask me whether Tijuana is really dangerous. Well, the U.S. Justice Department’s Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives apparently thinks the drug violence is dangerous enough to warn university students about visiting Tijuana and Rosarito Beach during the popular Spring Break period. Some universities have also taken up the “don’t go south” mantra. I have mixed feelings about these advisories from my experience living and working in Tijuana as a reporter.  I wrote about some of the region’s most gruesome crimes – but I never got caught in the crossfire. Here is a recap of a recent, non-newsworthy Saturday evening spent in Tijuana.

 

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I arrived at Tijuana’s main cultural center, the CECUT, at 6 p.m. to attend a presentation by Mexican scholar Marco Antonio Samaniego on his new book, “Nationalism and Revolution: The events of 1911 in Baja California.” The presentation had a late start (Mexican time frames are typically looser than ours) so I wandered outside and bought some warm cooked corn, called elote or esquite. I like mine plain, but most Mexicans prefer the works: Chile, butter, cheese, lime, salt, you name it.

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Samaniego talked about the significance of the Mexican Revolution along the Baja border and how chaos basically created a volatile mix of interests that collided and intersected, and that some of this was fueled by the perceived or real threat of a U.S. invasion. More of that in a future blog posting…

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Afterwards, I went to the restaurant Tabule to celebrate a friend’s birthday. Tabule is located along the main entrance to the Beverly Hills of Tijuana, a neighborhood called Chapultepec. There is also a Tabule in San Diego. I munched on assorted cheese, duck tacos and a tasty mushroom appetizer. By the time we left at 11 p.m., the place was just starting to get busy (Night life starts late here).

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I think I saw some police sirens at one point during the evening – but they were way in the distance.

 

To get another glimpse of life in Tijuana during a typical weekend, check out Derrik Chinn’s blog where he recently posted an entry on what he did on a Saturday in Tijuana.

The blogger over at Tijuana Bible, Lynn DeWeese-Parkinson, recently went to a soccer game in Tijuana.

And Masa Assassin, an unidentified San Diego-based blogger, dishes about eating some birria tacos in Tijuana before heading to Ensenada this past weekend.

Tijuana-based El Mesero website lists border restaurants


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Finding online information about Tijuana taco places and seafood restaurants – even Brazilian food –  has gotten easier.

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. . .

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