Book — Confessions of a Tour Guide: Chapter 3 — Shaun and Mike

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Chapter 3. Shaun and Mike.

 

Disclaimer. Those aren’t their real names. I don’t remember their real names. I don’t really remember how I met them. They were friends of friends of my brother’s friends… Something like that.

Let’s just call them Shaun and Mike. They looked like a Shaun and a Mike. Two white dudes. Both certified pilots out of work. One lived in Hawaii, the other in San Francisco or somewhere in the area. Because of pilot bullshit, they weren’t allowed to smoke weed. So they were smoking K-2 incense crap.

Mike was a short guy typical surfer dude who looked mega stoned all the time and said funny shit, sort of like like Adam DeVine from Workaholics. Shaun was taller and a bit more serious, very more pilot looking than Mike, somewhat like Michael Fassbender. 


Rewind.

 

This was early 2010. I didn’t live in Tijuana. I lived in LA. This was one of my first experiences in Tijuana with two strangers and me acting as a guide though I didn’t know the city at all. Crazy shit happened.


Shaun and Mike took me surfing for the first time in my life. We went somewhere south of Rosarito to a completely empty beach where we paid $5 to park, used their restrooms, and basically enjoy the beach. 

 

We smoked tons of that K-2 bullshit.

 

It would have been way dumb to go. But nothing happened. I didn’t catch one single wave while Mike caught several and Shaun did his best (didn’t do that good either). 

 

It was a great experience. I fucking loved it. 


Fast forward a bit. I started surfing every day that year in Los Angeles.

 

Fast forward to now. I haven’t surfed in years and a lesbian stole my surfboard (and my skateboard, my wetsuit, and my favorite scarf).


Rewind again.


After surfing, we returned to my brother’s house. He was living by himself in the same house he lives now, except it was a very run-down house back then. My brother was practically new to Tijuana as well. The place barely had any furniture and the carpet was old and dirty. 

 

Again, not sure who these guys were or how they related to my brother, but they were staying there. Friends of friends of friends passing out on unknown floors.


I lived in a fantasy apartment complex in Los Angeles in a place called Mariners Village (south of Venice in Marina del Rey). The place had small streams and ponds, Koi fish and turtles right under my balcony, four pools, four tennis courts, two hot tubs, a gym, a Starbucks, library, common areas, and much more. 

The complex was fantastic, but I shared a three-bedroom with two roommates (who were cool, but the apartment itself wasn’t huge). It was over 3k, so split into three we were paying just over 1k to live in that crazy complex. It was worth it. I’m pretty sure they are more expensive now.


So naturally, my brother didn’t mind switching apartments with me. That was one of those times. My brother and his girlfriend (now wife) went to stay at my apartment. I stayed with Shaun and Mike in Tijuana.


 

Back then, Tijuana was trying to implement the rule that all bars close at 2:00 a.m.

 

It was weird and it only lasted a couple of months. But for those couple of months, they were adamant at everything closing exactly at 2:00 a.m.

 

I’m sure there were many after parties and whatnot. But I was new in the city and I didn’t know anyone.


I don’t remember how the night started. Probably with something basic in Calle Sexta. Both Shaun and Mike wanted to hit on Mexican girls, but their attempts were not very good. I have a small memory of Shaun getting rejected in La Estrella that pops into mind. But that’s not what is important in this story.

 

All I remember was that I was excited to go to Zona Norte and guide them with my little knowledge of the place.


 

Back to Hong Kong. To the wonder emporium sex palace of depravity. 

 


Nervous as fuck. Even nowadays that I’m used to the area. I get nervous as fuck when stepping in the timeless wormhole.


 

As soon as we walked in, Mike disappeared. Like an expert in brothels, he went around doing his thing. I stayed back with Shaun and hung out buying girls drinks having fun here and there.


After a couple of beers, Mike returned. He had already been with a girl and wanted to go get another. Shaun said it was his turn and for Mike to have a beer with me.

 

Shaun took the girl he was with up to the hotel.

 

Mike stayed for almost no time before he was up again wandering the brothel for another girl.

 

I was by myself.


Not only was I by myself… I suddenly had horrible diarrhea.

 

And I also felt responsible for the guys. 

 

Fuckers don’t speak any Spanish, but I guess they were adults responsible for their shit.


 

I stayed waiting for them. Got another beer. An older woman kept looking at me.

 

She grabbed my ass when I walked in front of her.

 

“Vamos güerito, buy her a drink already,” said her friend.

 

Fuck it. Might as well.


 

Her super stupid fake name was Kristofera. She had been working there for a couple of years. She was much older than me and had an insanely fake body. Fake nose. Fake tits. Fake ass. As fake as it could be. The opposite of what I’m usually attracted, but she was completely naked wearing only fishnets.   

 

She told me stories about the place while trying to convince me to go up to the hotel with her. I’m proud to say my will is still strong when it comes to this shit. I still refuse. Paying for sex is weird.

 

But I still asked how much.

 

$60.

 

HAH! No. I’ll buy you another drink instead.

 

Another beer.

 

Ok. 

 

$40.

 

I refuse again.

 

“$20, just because I like you,” she says. “Plus the cost of the hotel.”

 

My stomach was churning.

 

I was in pain.

 

Mike and Shaun were nowhere to be found. 

 

I confessed.

 

I wanted to go up to the hotel. Not for the reasons she thought. But because I wanted a private bathroom for myself. It was that bad.

 

And yes, they have nice bathrooms in Hong Kong, but this was bad. And I’m stupid when it comes to taking a shit in public restrooms. I prefer the comfort of my own.


 

I asked Kristofera what way to the hotel. She guided me and left her before she put on her bathrobe. Told her to wait for me.

 

I paid $12 for 30 minutes in a sex hotel just to take a comfortable shit.

 

The hotel was under construction so it was a weird walk to the room and I could hear fucking in all the rooms.

 

There was porn on TV as soon as I walked in.

 

Ran to the bathroom. Did my things. Took a long warm shower. Cooled my head down. 

 

And headed back out. To search for Mike and Shaun.


 

I didn’t find them.

 

I found Kristofera again.

 

She made fun of my situation. Called me strange several times.

 

We got along. She tried to help me look for Mike and Shaun.

 

So I bought her more drinks (and gave her a $20 tip). 

 


2:00 a.m. hit. 

 

Everyone was getting kicked out of the bars. I said bye and thanks to Kristofera. 

 

And I ended up adding her on Facebook. I still have her to this day. 


 

Her name is not Kristofera. It’s something very common. And yes. She is old with a very fake body. The lights at Hong Kong and booze does wonders to the imagination.

 

She’s still cool. Last time I talked to her she was still working in the area. I saw her a couple times after… Always bought her a drink and talked to her a bit. She stopped trying to get me to the rooms after that one time. 


The streets were a mess. Crazy amounts of people just wandering Tijuana past 2:00 a.m. searching for anything that is open, but nothing is except 24 hour farmacias

 

Shaun and Mike were nowhere to be found. I walked around for several minutes looking for them.

 

I was tired. I was ready to give up and go home. They can figure out what to do. They are adults. They can stay at a hotel.


 

And then… I fucking finally found them. Both of them together. 

 

Yep. They did their thing. They got kicked out 2:00 a.m. as well. They miraculously found each other and then found me.


 

The night didn’t end there.

 

Everything was closed, and Mike still insisted that he wanted to get with a Mexican chick. Not with a prostitute, but a real one. But still offering money. Makes no sense to me, but fuck it.


 

He ended up chatting with two short stocky girls that weren’t very pretty… but really common Mexican ladies. Somehow he convinced them to have sex with him and Shaun for $50 each. 


 

Nothing was opened. These were just girls. We walked all the way back to my brother’s place.


 

On the long walk there, the girls complained about how much we were walking. And we did. We walked shit-tons, nearing 3:00 a.m. Two crazy fucking white Gringos smoking K-2, two random girls, and …. Me. Looking back, a taxi would have been an easy choice.

 

Shit felt weird. Not sure how or why I agreed to this.


 

I talked to the girls. They worked at a strip club called El Columpio. They were hookers… both 21-years-old. One had three kids, the other had none. They were best friends and did everything together. They explained more of what happens in Zona Norte.

 

I told Mike that he was unsuccessful in getting real girls to get with him. He didn’t believe me. He was convinced that they weren’t prostitutes.


 

At my brother’s place… they did their thing in the dirty old carpet in the living room with no furniture.


 

I went to bed. Or tried too. I heard the girls getting a taxi 20 minutes later. 

 


 

Next morning, we had tacos for breakfast and they went back across the border. I never saw either of them ever again. I never smoked K-2 ever again.


 

The girls…

 

Eight years later… I still see both girls together on occasion. Usually on Sundays at Bar Chips. But sometimes randomly. I’m not sure if they are the same girls, but they look exactly like my memory of them. And they seem to look at me like they recognize me but they are not sure who I am. And I look at them thinking they were those two random girls that Mike picked up.


 

I never really told that story before. Not to this extent. I didn’t imagine I would end up living in Tijuana. I didn’t imagine my brother would get married and still live in the same house…

The dirty old carpet is gone. The house looks nothing like it used too. 

And now years later… Sorry bro. I truly am.


 

Book — Confessions of a Tour Guide: Chapter 2 — First Time in Hong Kong in Tijuana

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Chapter 2. First Time in Hong Kong in Tijuana.

I started doing Tijuana tours before I moved to Tijuana. I remember thinking that my brother was crazy for moving from San Diego to the shittiness of Teejay. The first bar that my sister-in-law took me was a horrible preppy bar called Red Lion. It was shitty, but beers were cheap as fuck. I was disappointed but intrigued. Nothing dangerous ever happened, which was my main concern. The only thing that was scary was hearing police sirens and see police trucks rushing down the street on a group of four or more, running the traffic lights.

 

Tijuana is the ugliest city I’ve ever been, it’s even uglier than Pachuca. My sister-in-law got infuriated by that comment. But it is. Even now that I have grown to love it, it’s an ugly fucking city. 

 

Streets crisscross randomly and traffic signals tend to not work, there’s garbage everywhere, people are constantly out on the street doing nothing, the whole city smells, at night there is little to no light, the neighborhoods make no sense, big luxurious houses are next to poor looking shacks, it’s a shithole.


But I kept visiting my brother, and escaping to have my own Tijuana Adventures here and there.


I remember the first time I walked into Hong Kong. Tijuana’s most luxurious strip club. It’s more luxurious now than what it was back then. The city has changed so much in so little.

 

 


 

My co-brother-in-law took me to my first strip club ever, and HK is much more than that. It was after a game of bowling with the family. We had been drinking and my co-brother and I stayed longer in the bowling alley by ourselves drinking more. I told him I wanted to check it out… The Zonaja.

 

His eyes lit up. Let’s do it.

 


 

Going to Hong Kong is a crazy experience. And taking people there for the first time is like introducing them into a new world that you didn’t know it could be possible.

 

It’s like walking into the internet. Your desires materialize in front of you, except the porn isn’t free. 

 

I didn’t have much money with me in my first visit. But I was still visiting from Los Angeles  where everything was expensive. Paying $3-4 per beer with naked women all around was nothing. Buying my co-brother some beers was no problem either.


“Give me a dollar,” he said as soon as we walked in. 

Two naked girls covered in shaving cream were right at the entrance. The layout back then was different, but the “show de espuma” is still as prevalent as ever.

My co-brother slid a dollar in between one of the girls legs while looking at me. 

HOLY FUCK! You can touch their pussy with just one dollar.

“Go ahead, your turn,” the girl looked at me with her legs spread. 

One dollar gone. One pussy touched.

Two dollars gone. The other pussy touched.

I didn’t have that many singles. That was my first impression at my first strip club ever.

One more beer and let’s go. I couldn’t deal with what my eyes were seeing.

I don’t remember what else we did that night. But I remember I didn’t have more than $40 and that went out quick.


I’ve been to those places so many times now…


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Book — Confessions of a Tour Guide: Intro and Chapter 1 — How It Came To Be

If you enjoyed this, please support me at: https://www.patreon.com/Matingas

 

Tijuana Adventure

 

I often call Zona Norte in Tijuana “the butthole of the world” because it can be the most disgusting place in the world, but everyone loves a great butt. I’m aware there are other such buttholes in the world like in other seedy cities in SouthEast Asia, but this butthole is particularly close to America. Forgotten by Mexico’s centralized government, Tijuana was bred and raised to be San Diego’s and Los Angeles butthole. It’s a bizarre popular city that is often misconstrued and wrongly cited in popular media. 

 

Bender Rodríguez, the Futurama robot, was born in Tijuana. In the year 3,000, Tijuana is still depicted as a shitty violent town with mud houses and cacti. 

 

Tijuana.

 

It just has a nice dangerous ring to it.

 

Tijuana.

 

It calls for adventure. For anything that can happen. A place to risk it all. Double or nothing. Fuck it. You’ll never come back anyway. 

 

Tijuana.

 

A city with cheap tacos and even cheaper beer. 

 

Tijuana.

 

Chances are that you could have the best or worst time of your life. Flip the coin and find out.

 

Tijuana.

 

You can tell your friends you visited just for the glory of it. How brave of you to cross the border into a shitty city where millions are decapitated by Narcos for no reason as soon as you enter. 

 

Tijuana.

 

A city that has the infrastructure of a five-year-old attempting to play Sim City. 

 

Tijuana. 

 

The lawless city where everyone is corrupt and drugs are easy to find. 

 

Tijuana. A multiverse hidden underneath the skirts of San Diego.

 

There are thousands of stories written about this border city. And thousands more are missing. 

 

Here is mine.


Chapter 1. How It Came to Be.

 

I remember exactly when I said to myself “Tijuana Adventure!” That’s what I will call my touring company. I wanted something obvious. Something stupid. Something easy to google. Almost every city has a tour named “CITY adventure”. For fuck’s sake, there’s a website called urbanadventures.com and it links you to guides in any city. Sort of like an Airbnb but for tour guides.

 

I didn’t know about that website when I thought of the name. 

 

It was around 7:20 pm on a Thursday, January of 2012, I had only been living in Tijuana for a couple of months. I stumbled out of Zona Norte after a crazy night in the red light district area. I searched my pockets and found I had $37 dollars in my hoodie. I reached for my cell phone and called Brown, my first Tijuana friend. I had to tell him about the night I had. I had my first extreme Tijuana Adventure.

 

What happens in Zona Norte can be fucking insane. It’s Vegas on steroids, much cheaper and with less regulation. It’s the happiest or saddest place in the world depending on who you are. 

 

And I’ve been a tour guide of that area and the greater Tijuana since then.

 

It’s been more than six years of exploring Tijuana, bringing with me strangers from around the world. Organizing bachelor parties and getting paid for it.

 

And now I write this. Half a decade of experiences of a Tijuana tour guide. Most memorable experiences. The highlights. Including my own.

 


I was a tour guide before I was officially tour guide.

 

I was a tour guide before living or knowing Tijuana all that well.

 

I started visiting in early 2010 when my middle brother moved there from San Diego. I moved to Los Angeles with my oldest brother in 2008 after college. I would visit my middle brother in San Diego frequently. To Pacific Beach to be more precise. Fresh out of college and PB go well together.

 

I didn’t know of the existence of Tijuana or did I care back then. I had no interest in visiting. I didn’t know it was that close to the border. It simply didn’t exist.

 

And suddenly, my brother decided to move there because he had fallen in love with a Tijuana girl.


Tijuana is not Mexico. 

 

I realized that on my second visit. Or at least it was not the Mexico I grew up with. I spent my childhood and most of my teenage years in the city of Querétaro in central Mexico, until my senior year of high school when I moved to the Midwest (Michigan for high school, Minnesota for college).

 

Tijuana is nothing like the rest of Mexico.

 

It’s dumb how I noticed it. It was in the front room of La Mezcalera bar. Sublime’s Santeria was playing on the jukebox and everyone in the bar sang it with no accent. 

 

My first visit involved going to a bar called Red Lion. Who knows if that place still exists. It was merely an okay experience. It was cheap which was a plus. But it was a shitty bar. Apparently, my sister-in-law heard that we were preppy and thought that would be the appropriate choice. It wasn’t.

 


I hated Tijuana.

 

It was nowhere as cool as Los Angeles. And I revered LA back then. I loved it so much that I have a half-sleeve tattoo of Venice Beach, where I first surfed (and did horrible).

 

In 2011 I did a road trip through the United States visiting friends, family, and strangers through couchsurfing and craigslist. I started in Los Angeles and covered Las Vegas, Denver, West Des Moines, Detroit, Kalamazoo, back to Detroit, Chicago, Minneapolis, through North Dakota straight to Miles City Montana (weird place), Spokane, Portland, Seattle, Vancouver, back to Seattle, Eugene, San Francisco, Santa Cruz, and back to Los Angeles.

 

I was not the same when I got back.

 

LA lost its appeal.

 

It was fake. It was meaningless. And I hated my job.

 


I stopped my job as a paparazzo in May of 2012. 

 

Yes. That was my job. 


I had no desire to stay in Los Angeles. I had no desire to settle anywhere. I wanted to travel the world. Be rid of all my shitty possessions.

 


I stayed in Los Angeles for a few more months deciding what to do and doing light freelance work. Wasting my savings. 

 

I went to my friend’s wedding in Montreal that summer. 

 

That further convinced me to move from Los Angeles.

 


With nowhere to go. I ended up in a house in Rancho Peñasquitos in the Northern San Diego area. I wanted a place to stay for my brother’s wedding that year but I definitely did not want to move to Tijuana.

 

I moved to a shitty four bedroom house with three roommates. I paid $560 a month for the small room. One of the roommates had two weird cats and she was a bit odd herself. The other was an alcoholic libertarian obsessed with guns and drinking shots of Karkhov every morning before going to work. He went through 1.75-liter bottle every two or three days and twice that on the weekends. The last roommate was a country boy who lost his parents at an early age. I thought we weren’t going to get along. He was the nicest of all three. And he had an awesome dog and cat. 

 

Rancho PQ is basically as far away from downtown San Diego to downtown Tijuana. I started to frequent la ciudad whenever I could. 

 


That house in Rancho PQ ended in ruins. The weird roommate and the libertarian one betrayed the other two as they secretly moved out and left us a messy place with no chance to get other roommates or come to an agreement. I had to move out, quick. 

 


I crossed the border with all my shit and left it in my brother’s place in Tijuana. Then I flew back to my hometown in Querétaro to explore my future there. My parents were still living there.

 

I saw no future there.

 

It was boring. Dull. A place to retire or start a family. Not a place to move after Los Angeles.

 


I ended up in a one bedroom apartment in Tijuana behind taco street (a place named Las Ahumaderas) for $350 a month. The landlord of the building was a friend of my brother’s who, back then, worked in a call center in San Diego, commuting daily across the border.

 

That was my plan.

 

To do the daily commute across the border.

 


It was too much for me.

 

The border waits were over two hours long and I wasn’t landing any proper jobs in San Diego.

 


I was running out of money and ended up selling my car for $6,600 USD.

 

That lasted me for a half year of doing absolutely nothing in Tijuana but getting constantly lost in the city and in my head.

 

25 years old and I had no idea what to do next.

Brasa Taqueria and Sal de Maple (and much more) – Keep up on Instagram! Rarely posting here…

Sorry for whoever follows this blog looking for food posts in Tijuana…

I am mostly posting a lot under my Instagram: Tijuana Adventure.

Last place was Sal de Maple and I wrote:

Bennies are one of my favorite brunches, so you bet I am going to be picky as fuck with them.
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This comes from @saldemaple .
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Yes. Good Bennies. But… not by very much.
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It’s rare to complain about “creaminess,” but I am going too. They were drowned with cream. Bacon and the pretty veggies on top barely made an impact. It was all dominated by the cream.
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Again… not bad, but not great. Muffin needed more of a toast factor. .
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Again… I am an asshole when it comes to reviewing food.
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For 115 pesos it’s a great deal. The place is small but cozy and fashionable. And HEY! Nice bathroom. I like nice bathrooms.
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My buddy got the grand slam. I ate his sausages (no homo). They were good (no homo). .
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Overall: decent cozy brunch place. .
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And then there’s this place that I love:

So… I have been coming to this place almost weekly: @brasa_taqueria .
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There’s a reason for it. They are fkin good. 90 pesos (around $5) for two arrachera tacos topped with a bone marrow. It’s a thing of beauty. Both the marrow and the arrachera are a delight. Salsas are spicy (beware). They have more stuff, but this is my highlight and recommendation. Don’t forget to drink a beer at @barrica9 with your tacos (ample menu of crafts for 65-80 pesos).

 

That post gathered a lot of natural likes on Instagram… and I might give it a sponsor to see how far it can go…


THERE HAS BEEN A LOT WAY MORE POSTS…

But just no time to post on IG and then here. Afterall, I am not making money from all this crap, just doing it for the love of the city.

At some point… perhaps I will go back to doing tours.

Worth Revisiting: Pastas at Riochia 7 – Fancy Eats at Oryx Capital – Trying Out Army Food Truck –

Sorry. Sometimes I forget I have a blog and that I said I would be writing more about food. This doesn’t pay me… so that doesn’t inspire me to write much. However, maybe by next year, it will turn a profit?

Not sure how that will work, but I’ll try.


I, however, have posted on the ole’ IG. Not much. Just a handful of things after Tuetano Taquería.

This pasta by Bruno Lazcano in Riochia 7.

I wrote with the post:

I was out of town for a week, and when I came back the chaos of the city dissuaded me. Then I had amazing craft beer and ate this delicious pasta at @riochia7and remembered why I love this city so much…


Wow. Didn’t say much. I will later since Riochia 7 is worth revisiting to get more food, especially more pasta!


My other post was of La Cevicheria Nais, place that I go often. They have a new thing on their menu that I keep ordering every time I go.

I wrote: Arabian shrimp taco.
It’s pricey. It’s worth it. Only at @lacorrientenais

Short and simple. It worked. Got over 100 likes.


Also, posted some random street tacos. I had just bought a new lens and I wanted to play with it.

Another short and simple post, I wrote: 2 de adobada y 2 de suadero con todo in one of the countless downtown taquerias. Only $3 for all. Quality. Meh. But filling!

There are so many similar downtown taquerias it’s tough to choose the right one. For the most part, they are all decent and cheap.


Then… for the first time in more than a year, I went to Oryx Capital. It was delightful. I went with a girl who I started to date and quickly dissipated into nothing (but for my personal shit, I have my other blog).

I wrote: I haven’t gone to Oryx in a long long time (over a year). I am glad I visited them. The bone marrow is as good as Plascencia’s in Finca Altozano, Yellowtail aguachile with squid ink and serrano is superb, and the roasted cauliflower with cheese+bacon be a tasty tasty thing.

It was seriously really fucking good. Obviously on the pricey side. Worth it.


And finally… I visited Army Food Truck Sandwiches.

That’s what I ordered.

BOLD MOVE.

Ordering a Philly Cheesesteak in Tijuana. Or actually ordering any type of sandwich in Tijuana. I don’t think this city can do tortas very well and there are not that many sandwich options around.

I got two halves for 190 pesos, one Philly cheesesteak regular, the other had chipotle (and no cheese). The regular cheesesteak was better, but it was nowhere a true Philly. It’s not like I’m an expert on cheesesteaks, but it wasn’t as cheesy or beefy as I would like. Green peppers and onions were great. The other thing that was damn great was the bread. It was nice, soft, and warm, with some fluffiness to it, and well seasoned. Bread was fucking killer.

I couldn’t finish them in that sitting. Left them home and they retained the taste (or perhaps improved) while I wolfed it all down when I got back home from the bars.

And this place offers a HUGE VARIETY of sandwiches and others on their menu. Chicken sandwiches, cold cuts, vegan, wraps, salads, and massive carne asada fries. Usually, when a place has too much in a menu, not all of it’s good. The Philly cheesesteak was more than decent, but nothing something I will go back for.

I am curious about other sandwiches though.

Oh. But I will probably order it to go. They took a while to prepare the sandwich and while we waited they blasted horrible pop music that made it difficult for me to stay there.

I went with a friend and that’s what he ordered. Eww. Avocado.

I tried pieces of chicken and bacon. Bacon was better than your usual shitty supermarket bacon, so that was nice. The chicken was just your shitty pieces of chicken, grilled with little to no flavor.

My friend said he probably won’t go back or maybe in more than a year. He wasn’t disappointed but also not impressed.

North of the Border – Back to Tacos and Beer – Tuétano Taquería and Latchkey Brewing

It is rare to cross north of the border for tacos. Much more to cross just to San Ysidro for tacos…

But south of San Diego has been having a slow revival. Breweries and restaurants opening up where there was nothing but chain crap and abandoned businesses.

I crossed the border for work. No pictures of burgers this time. It was pictures of other stories. My job is not always as great as just take pictures of burgers and get to eat them.

Nah.

I had to drive far.

It was still fun. Had to take pictures at a concert. But that’s another story and another job.


Before I did the drive, I stopped by Tuétano Taquería, the new taco place in San Ysidro.

It’s a far walk from the border, but I was craving this place since I first heard of it at the beginning of the year…

I met Priscilla, the owner, earlier in the year in a private dinner at Toshi Toshi with a group of foodies. I’ve been following her on Instagram before but I have no idea how it started. Oh wow. She has 21k followers. Follow her HERE @VainillaMXNA

Priscilla is an accomplished chef with the dream of opening a taquería in San Ysidro. After years and years of planning and working to make it happen, she finally opened the doors to Tuétano Taquería a couple weeks ago.


TUETANO is BONE MARROW for those who that didn’t know.


And some of you don’t even know what bone marrow is…

If you never had it… think of it as steak flavored butter. It’s the goopy inside part of the bone which is all fat and nutritious. It’s not for everyone, but I enjoy it.


The first taco I ordered was the one I saw trending online… birria taco with bone marrow on top.

You grab the bone marrow.

And poke the delicious goop meat.

Through the hole.

BAM!

Delicious.

But the taste of the birria overpowered it that I felt like I rather have just marrow…


Great greasy taco. Small. Better than some birria in Tijuana. Great tortilla. Wish it was double.

$2.50 for the taco $2.50 goes for the extra bone marrow.


The menu is a mix and match whatever you want.

There’s birria, arrachera, quesadillas, cochinita, rajas, and several others. You can top it all with a bone marrow.

The place is a small location in San Ysidro and as of now, it feels sort of empty. It needs to be lived in a bit more. The kitchen is tuck away in the corner and you see all Mexican señoras working the comal and making tortillas and the rest.

Next thing I got.

And… that’s a no for me.

Much better.

If you don’t get it. You don’t know me.


Delicious arrachera. Delicious spicy salsa. Ok cheese.

One more.

Dirty cochinita!

Let’s add some limon to that.

Again, small and delicious.

I thought I was ready to eat 7 more. But I oddly fell satisfied. Both the cochinita and the birria are greasy disasters. Add to that more fat with the bone marrow. And you have deceiving tiny tacos.

Cochinita could use more of that acidic cochinita kick. My neighbor’s mom used to make cochinita and memories might betray me, but that was some really great cochinita. And the flavor lingers in your mouth forever.

This one did. But softly. I tasted the taco later while I was working at the concert.

All in all, some of the best simple tacos you’ll find north of the border at a more than decent price. It hurts when you are used to Tijuana prices, but for San Diego it should be considered cheap.


My suggestion for myself for next time. Get two tortillas ($1) and two bone marrows (for $5) and ask for a cup of frijoles puercos that SHOULD BE IN THE MENU.

Priscilla told me how she makes the beans with marrow and they sound so fatty and delicious…

So that’s my idea.

Make two beans and marrow tacos. Sprinkle some salt. Go to town.

Arrachera, pibil, or birria also great choices.

And I’m sure the vegetarian choices are great as well.


I’M SO HUNGRY NOW!


Another not so exciting photography gig took me to Mission Hills a few days later. I took the trolley.

Near the Washington Trolley Station is the old Mission Brewery, San Diego’s oldest brewery.

Except it is not.

After doing the gig, I walked back to the trolley and decided to check it out.


The old brewery changed to other brands a few times and since April (I think) of this year, it has become Latchkey Brewery.

The main brewer is old Ballast Point brewer, which is fucking PROMISING AS FUCK!

Oh.

And Latchkey delivers.

Oh boy! Do they deliver!

First.

All pints are $6

Just that. $6.

And a flight of four?

$6

I got me a pint of their “It’s My Jam” Berliner Weisse with raspberries and black currants. Fucking fresh red pinkish sour with a 6%

Refreshing and deceiving.

They had around 8 IPA or IPA similar tasting beers (NEIPA APA ETCIPA). I had a flight of four.

I didn’t take notes because I’m lazy. So I’ll tell you what I remember.

They all had a unique taste. I think it was the hops used that I never had before. Cashmere and Ella. Especially Cashmere. It has a funky unique taste to it. They were all tasty but not like other IPAs. Couldn’t quite figure out why.


I got a crowler of the Berliner Weisse and went to catch the trolley.

Except I missed it so I decided to kill 10 more minutes at the brewery.

Ordered two more samples of I forgot which ones and same uniqueness to it. Chugged them and went back to the trolley happy with my crowler.


I opened the crowler three days later. I might have been a day too late. It wasn’t as fresh and lively as poured directly from the tap.

Still delicious. But it gave it a more soda-like quality.


And now I head out to a Tijuana Saturday.

The city is changing A FUCKING LOT that it is TOO MUCH TO FUCKING KEEP UP!

Norte is celebrating their third anniversary. They are opening a kitchen and two new beers.

I’m going to go try that right now before the city gets all wild.

Also.

Because I’m hungry right now.


 

 

 

 

 

 

Burgers Part 4: Best San Diego (IMHO) Burger Revealed – Cali O Burgers, Craft House, Tom Ham’s Lighthouse – Enjoying? Let Me Know!

I waited another week to continue my burger mission. I was feeling much better, but the idea of burgers was still not the most appetizing.


I ended up in Cali O Burgers, famous for their bison burger. Buy some burgers. Or bison burger? Buy some burgers!

Buy some bison burgers!

The first bison burger I remember was in Taylors Falls in Minnesota. OH YEAH! WTF?! Minnesota in a Tijuana/San Diego food blog!?

Well fuck. I was over there with some friends. This was around a decade ago. Time goes fast.

And I just googled the place. My memory doesn’t lie. It looks exactly the same. Check it out.

That place had bison burgers. And we bought some burgers. And we kept repeating bison burgers, buy some burgers, buy some bison burgers!

And that’s my stupid story about bison burgers!


I didn’t get a bison burger. So my story was pointless.

I got the beef burger.

A simple delicious beef burger.

Downed with Elysian’s Space Dust IPA.

I really like that beer. I know Elysian sold out. But that Space Dust is delicious.


The burger was good. I wish I got the bison, might have been more special. If I go back, it would be for that.

My appetite was back. I was glad for that. Not that much appetite for two burgers, but at least to eat a whole one and feel normal after that. I finished the burger and went to the next place.


Next place was Craft House inside Rip Current. It was a bit weird because there was a bit of miscommunication with the owner. I thought he was expecting me, but he wasn’t expecting me, but at the end, it all worked out.

I didn’t eat the burger, but I did have a couple of great beers. 

And of course, the photoshoot.

MLEM!

Even more MLEM!

The chef insisted I take it home. So I did.


I was going to have it for breakfast or give it to someone (Hola Marifer!) but I’m glad I didn’t. But while editing the pictures I got really hungry and there wasn’t much to eat at home.

Two burgers in one day after being sick with burgers. Yeah. I wasn’t craving it. I didn’t want a burger.

But I decided to have a couple of bites to calm my hunger and to continue editing. I ate 1/5 of it and it was tasty as fuck.

Went back to editing pics… and suddenly I craved it again.

Gave it a few more bites and left half of it. For the morning or just for later.


After I finished editing, I put Netflix on to go to bed. That’s how I sleep. With Netflix as background noise.

But while watching The World’s Most Extraordinary Homes… I craved the burger again.

Something about the bacon… and the sauce. And the meat patty. So well balanced. Such a perfect creation.

I gobbled it all down like a madman. Fulfilling all my taste buds.

My love for burgers came back, albeit, it has to be high-quality burgers. Yep. I became more of a princess. But seriously, Craft House delivers a mean fucking delicious burger. So good, that even after some hours of sitting on the delivery bag, and for a dude who got food poisoning on burgers and never really wanted burgers again… Craft House made me believe.


Craft House is definitely a place I will go back for burgers and beer. North Park is an area that I actually do wander in sometimes. And I was sick of the same places. This is a nifty corner tucked away a few blocks from the main corners where the hipster tourist mania has been occurring.


After that, I still had at least one more place to go to fulfill my mission. And my appetite was back. I took a break for a day and went back for the last burger.

I made it across very early so I had more than an hour to kill before heading to Tom Ham’s Lighthouse.


The trolley dropped me off at Santa Fe Depot. I decided to be a tourist and walked around Seaport Village. Caught me some Magikarp that I was missing and made my walk to Tom Ham’s.

It’s a very long walk.

A very very long walk…

I decided that halfway there I’ll just grab a scooter since I have the Bird app and I saw dozens before.

Nope.

Once I hit the halfway point, I didn’t see any more scooters of that brand.

I was a mile away and I was about to be late. And I was FUCKING tired. I seriously thought I walked more than that my iPhone told me. So I gave up and called a Lyft for the final stretch.

What an old man.


They were expecting me at Tom Ham’s. Lunch was half full so I had one section of the restaurant to do the photoshoot. They offered me a beer. I obliged and got a Batch 6 strawberry apricot sour by Belching Beaver.

It was murky and great. While waiting for the burger, I had an idea for the photo.

Great view huh?

Well… this is what happened when the burger arrived.

This is what happened when the burger arrived.

It was one of my favorite photoshoots.

I sort of want to print it out and frame it…

Even without the view, the burger pics look amazing.

All angles. Just super photogenic burger and place.

And one of my favorites because I like catching myself in the reflection.


So how was the burger?!

I ate half of it at the restaurant. It was great. A bit of a difficult to bite since it is a tower. But give it a big squeeze, put one tomato on a side, and that tower turned a bit smaller. Still a huge fulfilling burger. And a great burger that is. It’s no Craft House, but the views make up for it.

And a place with such views you would expect the prices to be outrageous. Nah. they were reasonable.

Also, they served me the first beer, but they also brought me different beers to go with the burger.

The story requested a brown ale and an IPA. So I got three beers…

At least I wasn’t driving. But I had to deliver the pics to the office.

Got a box to go for half my burger, then headed to the office, then to meet a friend because I was spent the night in San Diego so I wouldn’t be late to the burger fest the following morning.


At that friend’s house, I got hungry at midnight. I wolfed down the other half of the burger over the sink.

It might be that some burgers taste better if they’ve been sitting for a while. It might be that might appetite is weird. It might be that I get more enjoyment eating like a god damn pig that civilized in a restaurant. But that burger tasted better like that (I also remove some of the caramelized onions as I found they were too many).


The following day was the burger fest!

And I already wrote about that.

Because I blog in reverse.

Go read it here.


Craft House gets my award (the official Tijuana Adventure award!) of San Diego’s best burger. And since San Diego is Tijuana and Tijuana is San Diego, Craft House is the best burger of the region.

My other love, The Friendly burger. I just had it this weekend and it wasn’t as good as I remembered it. But it was still the delicious cheap greaseball that I love. And I loved it again.

Until September of next year… if I still have the same gig. Or if I have a gig similar to this gig. Or if people actually start paying me for writing shit.


It’s Monday. Time to work.

Enjoying this stupid blog and the pictures?

Let me know in the comments!

Seriously. Let me know.