Book — Confessions of a Tour Guide: Chapter 22 — Conclusion. 

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Chapter 22. Conclusion. 

I just turned 32-years-old. Facebook posts from friends and people I haven’t talked to in years are posting congratulations on my wall.

I usually hate my birthday. People give too much importance to it. Which puts pressure on having a good time. But it’s just a day. Worse. It’s a Wednesday. And I have some work to do. Work that I don’t want to do. 


Last birthday, I got drunk as fuck early during the day and passed out in the early afternoon. I don’t know why birthdays depress me. 

 

This year, I’m just trying to let it be. I don’t feel as depressed as other birthdays past. 

 

I don’t understand people that like their birthdays.

 

What is to like about getting older? 

 

Count it.

 

I’ve lived for 11, 680 days.

 

Toddler years don’t really count. 

 

I’ve lived for 9855 days.


It seems like a waste.


 

What’s next? 

 

Nothing is next. The same as always. Beer and tacos. Beer and tacos. Beer and tacos.


 

I read all I wrote for the past months. I repeat myself a lot.

 

I repeat myself a lot.

 

I repeat myself a lot.


 

Many stories are missing. Many bachelor parties blend into one. I got three emails about bachelor parties this week. That’s not a common occurrence. 


I just rejected one. They wanted a tour for this Friday. Replied that I’m booked. I’m not really booked. I just didn’t like the way he emailed me. Also, he wanted a bachelor party and strip clubs, no mention of craft beers or fancy food. 

 

I feel like I am retiring from those.

 

I’m not sure what I’m going to do with my tours.

 

I’m not sure what I’m doing with all this crap I’m writing.

 

I do have to work Saturday morning. So fuck doing a bachelor tour Friday night…


 

Next tour is in a week. Old couples. Much more my speed. Craft beer, street tacos, fancy eats, Tijuana views, and perhaps a dive bar. 

No more craziness. 


Ted’s Story.

 

One last crazy bachelor story. 


 

We had to carry Ted across the border. This was probably my favorite bachelor party. I was hired by the best man, who had a Chinese name. I was nervous that it was going to be a Chinese tour.

 

Nah. Of course, they were Chinese Americans. And not all of them. It was around 8 guys, half of them were white boys. 


 

Fuck. My bachelor tours blend so much, that I don’t remember if one of the white boys was a reformed yoga teacher. I’m thinking that’s from a different tour, but for the sake of this fucking story, he was a part of that group.

The yoga white boy had long greyish beard and hair, wore sandals, and other hippie bullshit. Apparently, he was recently married and he had all been doing his yoga persona for a couple of years. Before that, he was a businessman that was always clean-shaven and it was all about the money.


 

Yoga white boy was quiet for most of the tour. Barely drinking. Being a hippy. Peacefully observing the bachelor party mess.


 

It wasn’t much of a mess. It was the classics. Tacos, beers, cocktails, tequila shots for the bachelor, party, party, party.

And then! 

To the strip clubs.


We got to Hong Kong and I grab a table for the whole group. Then took a couple of the guys and the bachelor, Ted, to get him a couple of girls.

 

That’s what I usually do at bachelor parties. Grab the best man or a couple of the guys in the party, find hot girls for the bachelor, sit him down, and have the first lap dance.

 

From there on, the party always splits and they do their own debauchery.


 

With Ted… we walked to the back. He sat down where they were doing the show de espuma. Imma gunna repeat myself once more. Show de espuma is two or more naked chicks covered in shaving cream that you can finger for a dollar. It’s fucking nasty. 


It’s really fucking nasty. I went with a good friend from my hometown when he came for a short visit years ago. It was Monday, so not much was open and I always have to show people that are new to Tijuana to Hong Kong. The first girl we saw had the most beautiful pussy I’ve seen… no panties. Just pussy. I remember my friend’s face lit up like he just saw the face of god and it only cost him one dollar to see it.

 

Later that same night, I remember watching the show de espuma, but not watching the girls… just watching the audience. The wolf hungry audience. 25-30 horny men salivating at two naked young girls. Throwing money. 

 

I am sure the girls in there are in drugs. This shit is a bit extreme. $5 and you can grab a dildo and go to town with them. Guys sometimes delve in and lick the pussy that is covered in shaving cream while the girls slide around the stage for another guy to do the same. So many dirty fingers being shoved in exchanged for money, and then they lick that…

That’s the show de espuma.

 

You can understand why I want to retire from this shit.


Another story that went missing was with some Canadians. Just three guys. Not a bachelor party. Just a Tijuana Adventure that ended in Hong Kong. Many tours ended up there and not necessarily were they bachelor parties. 

One of the three Canadians was an extremely good looking dude. We were drinking beers at Plaza Fiesta, because back then, Plaza Fiesta was actually good. Two cute short Mexican girls approached him (and his friend) while I was talking to the Moroccan-Canadian dude. The girls were really cute, and the dude blew them off. And after asked me, “those were hookers, right?”

 

NO DUDE! They fucking weren’t! They were two cute girls that wanted you…

 

That night… we did end up in Hong Kong with hookers… The Moroccan-Canadian dude was so happy spending $5 to grab a dildo and go to town with the girls in the show de espuma. He thought it was two pumps and done. NOPE! You can really go to fucking town with them. 

 

The Moroccan-Canadian dude came back. My tours blend so much and I’ve done plenty that I didn’t even notice him. It was halfway through the tour that he was like, “yo, remember me? We toured together before!” And I came to the realization of who he was. He was with a different group that time… 


 

Fucking tours.


 

Well…

Ted sat in front of the show de espuma. I told his friends to give him money so I can give it to Ted so he can go to town. I yelled at the girls on the show de espuma that it was his bachelor party and show them a $20. They didn’t fucking hesitate. They knew there was more money to be thrown. One of them instantly climbed on Ted covering the poor guy on shaving cream and the other said: “let’s grab him and put him on stage.”

 

So I helped Ted go on stage and told his friends near me that this is going to get out of control.

 

They stripped Ted down to his underwear. Ted was wasted. He was loving the stage and did a little dance with the girls. Then they laid him down on his back, one climbed on his face, and the other climbed on his cock (with boxers still on). And they started grinding and performing other things… 

 

When this shit started to happen, I ran to the table (that was at the other far end of the strip club) to tell all of Ted’s friends what was going on. 

 

They all went to check it out, leaving behind sunglasses, jackets, and other shit on the table. So I stayed behind with the best man. We discuss what will happen in the next few hours for the bachelor party and while figuring shit out… We saw him.

 

Ted was fucking running around the strip club down to his underwear covered in fucking shaving cream, literally fucking running like a little kid, screaming “I AM GETTING MARRIED TOMORROW WOOOO I AM GETTING MARRIED TOMORROW!!!!” 

 

It was a hilarious view. 

 

The bachelor party kept going. Ted kept getting wasted. At some point, we thought we had lost him. And that’s when we saw him with a girl that was trying to take him up to the room though he was WASTED beyond capabilities of deciding what to do. Luckily, we found him and stopped him. The girl was pissed, but Ted gave her some money anyway. 


 

Not even midnight and it was time to go back. We had to carry Ted to the border. Poor guy couldn’t walk. 


What happened with the white yoga hippy dude? Well… that was a different tour. But the point of that hippy dude was that I ended up losing him on that tour.

 

He was supposedly the calmest most chill dude. But when we arrived in Hong Kong, he fucking disappeared. I didn’t hear from him that night. I had to split the party in two. Part of the party stayed in Hong Kong while I took the rest to the border.

 

I was told that they found him hours later. Apparently, he went up to the rooms with a couple of girls. And repeated. And repeated. 

 

Hippy dude had a thing for threesomes. 


 

And that’s barely a tip on the iceberg of what Tijuana can provide. 


 

Libertarian hedonism stuck in fake progress. 

 

So much change, so little change, the dollar still rules supreme. 

 

Anarchy. Drugs. Sex. Sleepless City. Murder. Drugs. Drugs. Sex. Sex. 

 

Craft Beer. Fancy Baja-Med cuisine. Amazing street tacos. 


 

I just got an email asking about barbershops. There are so many barbers in this city. It’s fucking wild how many barbers there. A tour client that later became a friend comes from Los Angeles to get a haircut and his beard shaven. The fucker can’t even grow a beard! 

 

But he still comes for the weekend with that excuse. Then he just enjoys the city.


 

And enjoy the city I will. It’s my birthday, which doesn’t really mean crap. I want to play tennis again. I’ve been playing tennis with my buddy. Yes. I won the first game… and the last two… We tied!

 

We had a tie-breaker on the one before last, and I think I won… But it was more of a tie.

 

And this last game, it was just a straight-up tie. One set each. Third set and the score was 6-6. Instead of playing the tiebreaker… we just left it at that. It was also getting dark that we could barely see the ball.


Then we had beers, more beers, saw a couple friend, told them it was my birthday, more drinks, a couple of joints, and then home. With el Pinche Kevin. I barely beat him on tennis, but I own him on Super Smash Bros. I fucking beat him with Jigglypuff against Cloud. He beat me right after that… but HAH! 

 

Jigglypuff!


 

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Book — Confessions of a Tour Guide: Chapter 21.5 — Beer Guide.

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Chapter 21.5. Beer Guide.

 

I wrote that last entry pretty drunk. I am still certain that the cops were the ones that took my phone. The last activity was at 2:37 a.m. spinning a Pokegym that’s near my house. They detained me around the area. I posted at 3ish a.m. that my phone was stolen by the cops.


 

And because I’ve been saving for a car… I said fuck it, I’m going to get a nice fancy phone instead. And here I am, with my new device, that’s also a camera, and… much more. 

 

A tiny $1,000 computer in my pocket that I carry everywhere and we call it a “phone.” I’m not comfortable knowing how stupid expensive this little gadget is. Which makes me want to return it… 

 

But it is an amazing gadget. And the camera is surreal. The future. A weird fucking future. A really weird fucking future.


 

Time seems to shrink. 

 

Or maybe I’m just getting busier.


I haven’t had a single drink since the incident.

 

Well… that’s a lie. I had a tequila drink. But that was during work. I was taking pictures of tacos and they served me a margarita that I thought was a virgin. It wasn’t. It had tons of tequila.

 

I was thirsty. I drank half of it. 

 

But that’s it.

 

Three nights of not drinking and I’m proud as the first fish that walked out of the water and started breathing air. 


 

I do miss beer though. But my beer consumption has been excessive that I do need to moderate it heavily. Beer is so good and so cheap in this city. So… let’s talk about that. Shall we?


 

Oh yeah. The photoshoot with the sexy chick didn’t go well at all. I was too hungover. The light wasn’t great. We had the idea of taking pictures of her blowing a bubble with gum. She made weird faces while trying that. It wasn’t good. She didn’t like any of the pictures. I am not thoroughly enchanted with them either.

 

I’m not enchanted with her anymore. Awesome body. But she’s not that sexy as I used to think she was… And she tends to annoy me real quick. I want to see her naked… but the effort doesn’t seem worth it.


And now, my college friend from Minnesota is telling me that they are flying me over there for his sister’s wedding. They want someone to…

 

FUCK. NOT TAKE PICTURES. They already hired two photographers for $300 an hour. That’s SO MUCH FUCKING money. 

 

Nope. They wanted me to play guitar at the beginning of the wedding. But I haven’t played guitar in so long. My guitar level is the lowest it has been in more than a decade. And that’s what I studied in college. So it makes sense they wanted me to play guitar there… 

But I can’t. This is happening in less than a month and I don’t have time to practice… 


 

I told them I was going to do photography way cheaper. Wedding photography is a crazy market though. They already booked the other two… and they probably have a ludicrous cancellation fee. 


 

Oh sorry.

 

Beer.


It was Mamut Brewery Co. who started it all. Cervecería Tijuana likes to say they were the first craft brewery in the city… and they are not wrong… but their beer is shit.

 

Cervecería Tijuana has been brewing since the 90s. The generic name implies generic beers. And not only generic… they are not very good. They recently revamped their taproom and it looks impressive. They also redid their whole brand with new slogans logos… that isn’t very impressive.

 

It’s again… just like their beer and their names… generic. And poorly executed.

 

Whoever did their taproom… that’s good. Beyond good. But it’s all make-up. Point being… you can skip Cervecería Tijuana.


 

Mamut started with a little flag in a small art gallery in Pasaje Rodríguez in early 2012. I would walk by the Pasaje and see the flag and ask about beer.

 

They never had beer. They would brew two kegs per month, sell for less than $1, and be out of beer in a day or two.

 

Dry Stout and Hefeweizen I believed they brewed back then. Dry Stout was the popular one but ran out so quick it was rare if they had any left.

 

They were basically the only craft beer around, except of the extensive breweries from the neighbors from up north (San Diego). 

 

BCB or Baja Craft Brew also opened at that time, a bar that resembles hipster LA that gives out an industrial feel. They don’t brew their own beer, but they started bringing crafts from all over the place. Great place, bad execution. Their menu is extensive, but you usually don’t find half the beers they list. It is also on the expensive side.

 

BCB also holds the title for the most popular bathroom in Tijuana. So many selfies in that fucking bathroom. See… it has three-sided mirrors. So the reflection is pretty cool. I must admit I’ve taken a selfie in there while pissing. I never posted it since my penis was on the frame. 


Mamut has exploded since then. 

 

The quality has been a rollercoaster, but the past year… a new brewer came to work there. A young kid that goes by the name “Ham.” All his beers have been on point. Well… let’s say 1 out of 10 is bad. And it used to be the other way around… 1 out of 10 would be good.

 

That made a lot of people stop trusting Mamut. Including myself. They expanded too big, too soon, lost control of quality, went downhill, started getting heavily criticized, downsized, got better, and now it’s expanding again.

 

Yes. Mamut has been a rollercoaster. The owner, Juan José, wanted to be the brewer. He has a passion for beer and his brewery, but he needed someone like Ham to put him on the right track. And he did. Ham ordered all new equipment, cleaned the fuck out of the old one, and now is just brewing excellent beer together with Juan.

 

And I mean it… Lately… they’ve been having some of the best beers in the city. And there is a HEAVY competition in the Baja area for the best beer.

 

Mamut is also one of the cheapest. They have a sizeable brewery and two taprooms in the heart of downtown Tijuana. 

 

Juan José also has always been a patron of the arts. A patron of the city. Mamut displays local art monthly or bi-monthly. They also have a nice space for concerts and they have been bringing important artists.

 

All in all… Mamut is great right now. It went through a long rough patch when their beers were undrinkable… but their recovery has been swift and great. Seriously, nothing is wrong with Mamut beers, from IPAs to Sours, to Stouts and Porters, to Lagers and whatever your heart desires.

 

They also have Mezcal. And at some point wine.

 

The food menu is decent. 

 

… It’s bad for a food snob like myself. But it’s edible and cheap. Very cheap. So it’s more than decent.


 

And Mamut is just touching the tip of the iceberg of the beer community here. And a lot of brewers/beer community probably hates me for mentioning Mamut as an important factor of Tijuana beer… after all… their beers were really complete shit for a long period. 

 

But Mamut was the first true craft brewery I experienced. Their tiny taproom in Pasaje Rodríguez is still one of my favorite hangouts. 


 

Now for the rest…

 

The rest are a lot…

 

A fucking lot.

 

And there’s not only Tijuana but the whole of Baja.


 

The top 5 players (not in a particular order). Insurgente and Border Psycho (Tj), Wendlandt and Agua Mala (Ensenada), and Fauna (Mexicali).

 

They are the top 5 players because they are the ones that can export to the US. They are all excellent… except Border Psycho. Their beers tend to be heavily alcoholic and you can taste it (in a bad way). But they have also been getting better and they are widely popular because of their “naughty theme.” Though they could also use a better graphic designer.

 

They could all use something better…

 

So let’s review the top 5 breweries in the region, you should be able to find these beers all over California and in many other parts of the United States.


 

Insurgente is definitely the top player. I have never had a bad beer from them. Their theme is congruent and nice. Fuck. There’s just simply nothing wrong with them. They are pristine. They are the only ones that do merch, webpage, photos, beers, everything right.

 

Except their taproom. It’s great beer and simply decorated… but it’s TINY! And in Plaza Fiesta. And Plaza Fiesta… well… that’s another story.

 

Juan Cordero, their hoppy pale ale, is my favorite Insurgente beer. Before that, Lupulosa was the best. But they also had a chain sours that were superb. The Xocoveza is a collaboration with Stone Brewery, I’m not big into chocolate beers, but the best of Tijuana with the best of San Diego together… you know it’s fucking good. They just released Hops and Chill, their double IPA. I’ve tried it, but haven’t make a note of it. Juan Cordero is still my favorite.

 

I am sure that by the time you read this… they have a bigger and better taproom and way more beers.


 

Border Psycho. Their first taproom was in Plaza Fiesta. It’s still there… but I don’t think it will last long.

 

They recently opened another taproom in downtown Tijuana. It is much better. It has a decent menu, good burgers, good sopes (soh pehs), okay price. It’s nice that the kitchen is open late. 

 

Their move to downtown Tijuana marks a trend that I see in the future of many breweries opening taprooms in downtown. By the time you read this, downtown Tijuana will have a couple dozen taprooms or more.

 

Like I said… Their beer is very alcoholic tasting (and with good reason, they are mostly high alcohol beers). Even their collaboration with Mason Ale Works, Zonkey, an Imperial Coffee Stout, has a strong alcoholic taste. Many of their beers are above 8%. 

 

They recently brewed Hoptimistic, which is a better IPA than their line beer, La Perversa a double IPA on the caramel, malty, and of course, heavy alcohol side. La Belga Sicotica, what they thought was a Belgian beer, is really a Black Saison. This beer, because it’s called “La Belga” sounds like “La Verga” which means cock. This beer was the reason they started using dildos as their taps. 

 

It started with a big purple dildo at some beer festival (as one of the owners told me), but it graduated to nice glass dildos. Definitely a fun place, but not the best beers. They are improving and trust that they will be getting better.


 

Agua Mala or “Jellyfish,” not “bad water.” Just like Insurgente, there is never anything wrong with Agua Mala. The only thing I dislike is that their IPA (Astillero) claims to have 120+ IBUs. Anything above 80 is barely noticeable. And it’s not even that bitter… So I’m not sure how they got 120+. I prefer their Mako Pale Ale or their Sirena Pilsner. Astillero is still a delicious IPA. 

 

They briefly opened a taproom in Plaza Fiesta with Mamut. That went downhill and now they don’t have one in Tijuana. The Mamut taproom in Plaza Fiesta is also gone. 

 

The theme is “the ocean” so all their beers are related to sea events. Their brewery/taproom in Ensenada is less than a mile from the ocean and it has spectacular views. I’ve only visited once and didn’t get to try the menu, but it looked upscale and expensive. And again, their beers are all on point. 


 

Wendlandt is also another one that never does anything wrong. I know. I know. I repeat myself saying stupid shit. It’s also a brewery/taproom I only visited once. And they weren’t even opened yet (it was a private thing). They are also themed by the ocean as the taproom is right in front of the ocean. 

 

My favorite by them is their Perro del Mar IPA. Awesome labels. A dog captain of the sea with an eye patch… Great stuff. Veraniega (a summery American ale) is a perfect light beer. And the Foca Parlante (chatting seal) is a great balanced oatmeal stout. And again, hilarious label with, a seal with a monocle and a pipe.


 

Fauna. Meaning. Fauna.

 

Speaking of awesome labels.

 

Mother fucking Fauna has my mother fucking favorite labels. All their labels have a magical and “animalistic” feel to it. Very nerdy.

 

I’m going to mention the IPA again as their best beer. Lycan Lupus. And the label… a werewolf in the forest destroying shit. They have a seasonal special beer call “Señor Matanza” a Russian Imperial Stout that only came in a big bottle and a hefty price of $12. I tried one version and wasn’t very impressed, but a lot of people love the fuck out of it whenever it comes out. 

 

They closed their taproom in Plaza Fiesta. It was a magical place. Many of the beer labels were painted on the walls. They had a bartender that is one of the Mexican suicide girls that always gets naked for Instagram likes. I mean… on her IG account, you can pay her to send you private videos. Or she did back then.

 

She looks great in pictures and videos… but in real life, she’s just a short girl with tattoos and big titties. Hot. But not as good as in pictures. Cool chick… though I barely have said a word to her except “I want that beer.” It makes me nervous to think I’ve already seen her naked and she has no idea who the fuck I am.

Too bad the taproom is gone. They only have a taproom in their brewery in Mexicali… and to this day… I STILL HAVEN’T VISITED MEXICALI… and I’ve been wanting too. Hopefully soon.

 

Owned by brothers Larios. Fauna is definitely one of the best breweries in the Baja region and I can’t wait for them to open another taproom in Tijuana. The brothers were painted as gnomes in the entrance of their taproom. Ahhh… it was a magical place but Plaza Fiesta got ruined… 


 

And there you have it, the top 5 players beer in Baja. This doesn’t mean that they are the best… There are so many breweries here. Those are just the ones that you can find in the US and that they are usually available at liquor stores in the area. 

 

Basically, the ones that aren’t going fucking anywhere. Many more are not going fucking anywhere either.


About the death of Plaza Fiesta… I see it in the near future. El Tigre bar marked the trend of all craft breweries moving to that Plaza since the scene was dead and the craft beer scene needed a place to get established. 

 

It’s still there hanging by a thread. The thread… Brew Pub Plaza, which used to be Paralelo 28 (I liked their old name better and now they have an alien theme which is meh), Madueño, Kaminari Secret Pub, and the tiny Insurgente.

 

Those are the ones still alive in Plaza. Border Psycho is still there… but they care more about their new taproom. Lúdica is gone. Fauna is gone. Donkey Punch (which was horrible) is also gone. Tres B (Big Bad Brew from Mexicali) is gone. Mamut is gone. Agua Mala is gone. Legion is gone. Ramuri is gone. I think small players like Vibra still hold their spot in the back.

 

So… Plaza Fiesta used to host many craft breweries… and now they are mostly gone.

 

Madueño and Kaminari make more than excellent beers and they seem stubborn to stay in Plaza… but I’m sure they’ll end up in downtown. 

 

The last one to leave is going to be Brew Pub Plaza. It’s in their name. Unless they change the name… 


 

So… why did all the brewers leave? Why did Plaza Fiesta turn to shit!?

 

Well… it turned into Plaza Fiesta. Party party party.

 

The people saw that the party mall was getting full… a lot of people started renting the empty spaces and doing their own shit bars. And by shit bars… I mean real shit bars. With shit beer, shit drinks, shit cocaine, and worse of it all… SHIT MUSIC. And at unbearable loudness levels. Each bar competes to see who can be the loudest and all the music clashes against each other creating shit dissonance and shitty drunk people.

 

Plaza Fiesta became where people go get stupid wasted with the least money possible. Mostly, people under 25. It’s still a great party… but not for me… 

 

I am barely there after dark. Last time I was there I stopped by Madueño and their Hops and Dreams is still as great as ever. I had the great luck to meet Kaminari at his secret pub and drink a bunch of his beers. Dude knows what he is doing as well. Amazing shit.


 

And an honorable mention. Cervecería Colima. Nowhere near Baja California, but they are aware that the big beers are here. You find Colima beer in many places. And their distributor is a friend of mine… so I get to try a lot of their beers.

Roca Partida collaboration with Insurgente, Ballast Point, Rise and Win Brewing Co (Japan), and Baja Brewing Co was one of the best fucking beers I’ve had in my life. And I don’t even really like porters… but this one had oyster which gave it a chocolate salty taste that was unique.

 

Too bad it was a limited beer and we will probably never see it again. It was fucking delicious.


 

An extra honorary mention. Sotano Suizo and Bosiger. They aren’t moving from la Plaza, they’ve been there since the 80s. Their beer hasn’t impressed me, and in general, I don’t like the place. But it’s a classic Tijuana standard that I doubt will be going anywhere in the following decade. 


And this concludes beer of Baja… Sort of. 

 

And this concludes all the stupid shit I write… Sort of.


I didn’t even mention Norte Brewing Co… I’m painted on the mural inside that brewery…

Book — Confessions of a Tour Guide: Chapter 20 — An Actual Guide Part 2: Food + Tacos.

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Chapter 20. An Actual Guide Part 2: Food + Tacos.

 

It’s a slow Friday, so fuck it, why not write stupid shit to feel productive for a change.


 

Billie Joe Armstrong, the singer of Green Day, was here in Tijuana yesterday with his new project The Longshot. I wanted to go to just take a picture of him. I didn’t. I’m a lazy fucker and I hate crowds of people.

 

I regret it a bit…


 

The past couple of weeks have been nothing but eating and taking pictures of tacos. And writing about tacos. It’s the third time I’m part of the special edition about tacos for the magazine I work for. The second time that I’m in charge of the cover picture.

 

My section is obviously all about Tijuana. More specifically, Tijuana taco porn. Even more specifically, I follow a guy name @Baja_Cali_Food on Instagram and he posts some of the best food porn.

 

So I went to the places that he posts to see how they are.

 

And they are pretty fucking fantastic.

 

In fact, I found one that challenges my all-time favorite of Tacos el Rey.


I’ve been writing and taking pictures of tacos for several years now. There are way too many to cover with a simple list. Some that I liked have disappeared. Some I have yet to discover.

 

This is taco city.

 

This is everything city.


Drug city. 


 

In recent news, an American Pale Ale called Juan Cordero by Insurgente just won gold medal on the San Diego International Beer Competition.

 

Fauna from Mexicali and Rámuri from Tijuana got bronze on the World Beer Cup. 


Beer city.


 

Tacos el Rey has been around since the 70s. I’ve been living next to them for more than four years. A couple dozen full moons ago, I was eating at Tacos el Rey on acid with two girls: my used to be neighbor, and some chick who was coming from Houston.

 

We went to a show at Mous Tache.

 

HEY! That’s where Billie Joe Armstrong was last night.

 

I don’t remember what show I was there for. All I remember was the bad trip when I thought the Houston girl was into me, I tried to grab her hand, and got rejected.

 

Mistake.

 

And I remember eating in Tacos el Rey and la tortillera looking at me in the eyes and saying “ya te ves bien mal Mateo, vete a dormir Mateo.”

 

I didn’t return to Tacos el Rey for months after the embarrassment. 


 

I still go there at least once a month. They are still so incredibly good.


 

I did so much acid that year… even played a show on acid. 


 

The new tacos I found are called “El Nuevo Tecolote.” They aren’t close to my apartment, so I don’t think I’ll go that often… but they are fucking delicious. The carne asada is prime rib and their adobada is more like al pastor.


 

Near my apartment, there are more than a dozen taco choices. In downtown Tijuana alone, there are over 100 taco places to eat.

 

So yeah.

 

I can’t cover them all.

 

Next to Tacos el Rey is Tacos Los Albañiles. They are pretty good, but expensive and they cater to Pochos. Mexican-Americans coming down from LA. It looks like a taco place from LA. It feels like a taco place from LA. 


 

There’s a fish and shrimp taco truck nearby called Mariscos San Francisco. I like the batter they use there, so I usually get two fish and one shrimp. That’s breakfast. It costs me less than $4.


 

There is another fish and shrimp place called Los Compadres. I don’t like their batter there… but they have the best fucking camarón enchilado ever.

 

It’s greasy, it’s lava hot, it’s packed with shrimp and cheese, it’s the correct amount of spicy and it could be spicier if you like, and most importantly… it’s fucking dirty, just like the Tijuana gods intended.

 

I’ve been going to Los Compadres for many years now. Both Los Compadres and Tacos el Rey were recommendations from Danger Dave. 

 

Most people in Tijuana think El Mazateño is the best enchilado in town… and though it’s good. It can’t compare to the power of Los Compadres.

 

And I’m sure there are many more and some better places. But these are the ones I know.

 

Tijuana is way too big, changes way too often, and it’s ever-growing.


 

We just got a caravan of hundreds of migrants from Central America trying to cross into the United States. Guess where most of them we’ll end up living?

 

Yep.

 

In Tijuana.


 

Migrant and deported city.


 

Back to tacoland. There are birria tacos by my house that are cheap and filling. They aren’t necessarily good, but they aren’t bad. They are the same as the popular tacos in Calle Cuarta. That place is always packed and everyone is yelling at the poor taquero for more shit. 

 

Seriously. It’s a tiny corner with two taqueros and two dozen people that they want tacos or caldos de birria.

 

If they only knew that the birria is the same in a couple other corners in town, it wouldn’t be such a fuckfest.

 

The one by the park (near my house) is usually empty. And they also have asada that looks tasty (but for some reason, I’ve never tried it).


 

There are more taco places in the park. Tacos varios. Tacos al vapor. Tacos de birria. Tacos de mariscos. All fucking kinds of tacos.

 

Every corner has a plethora of different tacos.


And more taco places are opening soon.


 

Then there are the tacos regarded as classic or best. Taconazo. Tacos el Franc or Tacos el Frances in Playas. Tacos los Perrones in Rosarito. Tacos El Polo. Los Salseados.

 

Classic fish tacos as well. Tito’s Tacos, those are stupid cheap and everywhere. Aforementioned el Mazateño.


 

Classic cenadurías resembling central Mexico are everywhere and stupid cheap.


 

Hipster place tacos. Telefónica has a plethora of hipster choices such as the vegan cauliflower mole, same place has the cactus and panela or the pork taco. That’s La Carmelita. The pellizcadas there are my favorite.

 

Telefónica also has the huitlacoche pulpo taco by Tacosteño. The spicy tuna tostada by Otto’s grill. They have my favorite spicy salsa. It’s tasty and it makes me cry.

 

And more vegan choices with La Taquería Veggie. They recently opened in San Diego after major success in Tijuana. 

 

Tacón Veggie is another hipster vegan choice that is fucking great if you can catch them… They run out of tacos fast. And they might either grow or disappear soon. 


 

Tacos el Gordo is another classic, but it’s not that great. They now have locations in Vegas, San Diego, and other places. It started here in Tj. It’s definitely good, but with the plethora of choices, you can find something better.


 

Tacos Coahuila or “where the prostitutes go eat.” There was an article in Vice about this. I’m in the last picture of that article.

 

Tony Tee, famously as the guy who took Anthony Bourdain around Tijuana, but also a major promoter of the city and in general a decent dude who just likes to party.

 

Well.. yeah. Him.

 

He wrote an article about that place. We went together.

 

I’ve been hanging out with him a bunch lately. We didn’t for a while after he got mad at me for writing about his independent candidate, but that’s all water under the fridge now. 


 

Writing about politics.

 

Writing about food.

 

Writing about bullshit. 

 

It all gets you in some sort of trouble.


 

Tony Tee now has his own food truck in San Diego. I might have mentioned it here already because I’m that stupid that I forgot what I wrote already. The tongue tacos his food truck serves is some of the best in the region. He is celebrating his one year anniversary tomorrow.

 

And tomorrow is also a Reddit meetup/tour with /r/Tijuana and /r/SanDiego.


 

Out of the handful of Reddit meetings I’ve done, a couple have been nice and successful and still not worth it. I didn’t organize this one, but I’m a part of it. 

 

Let’s see what happens.


 

It’s going to be a Border Psycho, one of the leading breweries in the Baja region. Their beer… it’s not that great. It’s more the marketing and name behind it. And collaborations that they’ve done with Mason Ale Works or other big breweries.

 

Ok.

 

And by saying not that great… I don’t mean it’s bad. I’m just spoiled.

 

Beer changes here so often. 

 

Border Psycho started strong, opened a taproom in Plaza Fiesta that also started great… but then the staff and uncleanliness of the place ruined it. The taps weren’t properly clean. All beer got infected… 

 

Also, their beers tend to have a heavy alcoholic taste (and they tend to be high ABV). 

 

Their latest IPA called Hoptastic (or something like that.. It’s new, leave me alone). That IPA is pretty good. They have a double IPA called La Perversa that’s on the sweet caramel side instead of hops. 

 

Many other beers are drinkable but difficult to do more than one.

 

They had one special beer called “Beso Polacho” or Polish Kiss that was a “smoked wheat” beer or a Grodziskie, a very old style of beer not brewed often today. I thought it was excellent… but I was one of the very few that thought the same way.

 

It was very complex. It tasted like smokey bacon. Very dry and pungent. And surprisingly smooth to drink. Only a 2.8% abv (or maybe 3.2%) point is that it was light. 

 

I liked it. I’m never drinking that again because they are never making it again.

 

Overall, they have been improving and going in the right direction and do not expect them to go anywhere. 


 

Beers are next. I was on tacos.

 

Border Psycho has a kitchen now… though not necessarily tacos, their sopes are pretty good and filling. Burgers also decent, but sopes are better.


 

Speaking of sopes, it’s probably the best plate at Caesar’s Restaurant, their tuetano sopes. 


 

I used to go to Tacos Las Amigas, between 5th and 6th in Madero, as a regular stop in my tours. I don’t really like their tacos anymore, but they make huge tortillas on the spot. It’s also one of the few places I’ve ever seen where the taquera is a woman and a man is the one that sweeps and cleans around the shop. In a sexist country like Mexico, it’s nice to see something different. 


 

Near Las Amigas… another great place. La Corriente – Cevicheria Nais. Popular place. When I first got there, it was cheap and they had sold 8,000+ red snapper tostadas written in a blackboard near the kitchen. Nowadays, prices have tripled and they have sold 220,000+ red snapper tostadas, and have several locations, and other spinoff restaurants.

 

That was in just a couple of fucking years.

 

La Corriente is still great. Two tacos or two tostadas is my recommendation (or one and one). Yes, the red snapper is probably the best still. Ahi tuna is second favorite. They have a new ahi tuna called Pacifico that I liked better but that they rarely have since it requires fresh scallops. Tacos, the chile with shrimp and cheese called Taco Kalifornia is one of my favorites, but also Cachondo (octopus) or Mazatlán (shrimp filled with marlin, wrapped in bacon). 

My new favorite thing there is to order the “Pulpo Pacheco” (stoner octopus), it’s four big chunky pieces of octopus grilled with olive oil with a side of tortillas, vegetables, rice, and beans. AKA four great octopus tacos.

 

Oh yeah. And their drinks are fucktastic too. I already mentioned them before…


 

Circle jerk on the food of downtown Tijuana.


 

Tupidos is a classic restaurant with the usual Mexican menu, but on the side, they have handmade Tacos Varios. 

 

Next to Tupidos is Sanborns. Fuck that place. Just go in if you need to use the bathroom. 

 

But also nearby, El Tucumano, an Argentinean empanada place.


 

Just like La Corriente, I saw El Tucumano grow from a tiny place to a huge operation. They used to be in a tiny corner near Mous Tache (oh shit! Mentioned that in this chapter and so many times already… the place Billie Joe was just at).

 

Yeah. Tiny place. Argentinian empanadas with delicious chimichurri.

 

And yes, I know Argentinians are going to be like “fuck you we don’t put chimichurri on empanadas.” I’m aware. These empanadas are probably not Argentinian, however, they are delicious and cheap. So fuck off.


 

Near all, there are Chinese restaurants. If that’s your thing… then go crazy. I can’t even imagine trying to cover a the dozen of Chinese restaurants here. There are hundreds in the city and some were caught serving dog meat a few years ago. 


 

It’s like there are more restaurants per capita than any other place I’ve been at.

 

A lot of Tijuanenses eat out for all their meals. It’s just cheaper. Especially when you earn in dollars. Food is fucking everywhere.


 

Everything is fucking everywhere all the fucking time.


 

Except for a great delicatessen. Yep. A good ole deli. There is nothing like that. There are some cheese and meat stores that try… but usually overpriced and not that great.

 

I just need a classic great deli where I can get a cheap sandwich to go. 

 

Preferably in a liquor store.

 

A deli that sales caguamas and craft beer. That is also a barbershop and tattoo parlor. 

Tijuana could use a place like that. Hipster bastardized the place to beyond Portland levels.


 

KoMe was a Korean taco place that had great tacos, but it was poorly executed. 

 

They lasted 9 months. I wished they didn’t close. That was the last place I wrote for the food section in the magazine. I couldn’t deal with the editor. He turned a positive review into a negative one. 

 

My article didn’t have anything to do with their demise, but I still feel bad.

 

Their mistake was opening to big and simple. They should have done it small, secretive, and hipster.

 

That’s what Millenials want. Places that they only hear from word of mouth as great but that no one really knows the spot.

 

And Tijuana has a lot of those places.


 

There was a birria place by my house that also lasted less than a year. It was goat birria, which is rare to find up here. Almost everyone uses beef birria.

 

I miss them. They were delicious and cheap.


 

There’s taco alley, called Las Ahumaderas. My first apartment was behind the taco alley. The smell from the five (now four) taquerías in a row would enter through my kitchen window. All the taquerías have a similar name to “El Paisano” except the fifth one that closed that was named LAS QUINCE LETRAS. “The Fifteen Letters,” when counted, is actually fifteen letters. Dumb. 

 

I would go to the same one (third from the corner) every Monday when their tacos de cabeza were 2×1. Get four tacos and a caguama from the store and barely spend any money. Being a regular, they opened the caguama for me, put it behind the bar, and serve me in a plastic cup.  

 

The dollar was cheaper back then, but everything was also cheaper.


 

And there are tacos fucking everywhere! In every single neighborhood. In every single place. All types of tacos.


 

I went to Otay for Tacos el Gallito recently. In the same street, I saw that there were another dozen taquerías.


 

I went to La Cinco y Diez, which is barely halfway through the city, for Tacos Wichos… and on the way there… well… You could eat at three different taco stands for a whole year in Tijuana and not repeat a single one. 


 

Fancy restaurants also tend to serve tacos.


 

There is a club called Esquivel that has a taquería inside near the dance floor called Mucha Muchacha. That’s pretty fucking new… let’s see how long it lasts.


 

And I barely even scratched the surface of how many tacos there are. Much less how much food you can fucking eat. 


There are secret foods as well.

 

I’ve actually only seen this one once… and that was before I even lived here. The morning mariscos.

 

Apparently, the corner of 11th and Negrete (or somewhere around there) there is a little shop that sells only caldo de mariscos (seafood broth) from 2 a.m. to 5 a.m. to drunk people.

 

I was there once years ago when I was still living in LA. I wasn’t hungry for seafood soup… so I didn’t order.

 

But there was a long line to order and a wedding arrived at the scene. I was too drunk to recall details, just thinking “this is fucking insanity.”

 

I haven’t tried to get that seafood soup… but have heard it from uber drivers and others about the place. And supposedly, the main guy died, left the place to his sons and it’s not the same as before. 


 

Other secret or weird foods… a liquor store called El Oasis. They recently remodeled it… but it’s like a house that is also a store, that is also a restaurant…

 

That sells giant ass clamatos and beer with whatever ingredient you want in the big gulp glasses from 7-Eleven. Two parrots sit inside the store annoying the fuck out of the customers.


 

My clamato with beer is using cheat codes. Right downstairs from my apartments sits Israel “el Buzito” son of El Buzo (or scuba diver). 

 

He has been selling ceviche tostadas and seafood cocktails in the corner below my apartment since the 80s. It was his dad’s business, which Israel told me that grew to several restaurants, but finally ended up closing to just ending up in the same corner.

 

His dad was an alcoholic, hence the name “Buzo,” because scuba divers are always underwater, which apparently means he was always drunk.

 

Israel is the complete opposite. He is a Christian gentleman that works hard to support his family in his little food cart.

 

And this is where the magical clamato is.

 

I get a caguamón of Tecate in the corner store and get a shrimp cocktail from Buzo (sometimes with clam and octopus, sometimes just shrimp). Eat a bit of the shrimp cocktail, then fill with beer, rinse and repeat. 

Thanks, Chad. I think he originally did this and I just perfected it.

 

That’s one of the best breakfasts you can have on a hot day. Buzo told me where to pick-up the shrimp he uses… 

On Calle Sexta, there are a bunch of fish stores… like three straight blocks of just fish. He says the Chinese have the best and biggest shrimp at the best price. His shrimp cocktail usually has nice big shrimp.


 

Today. Today is fried chicken Friday at Voodoo Stu’s. Dude that comes from Atlanta, married a Tijuana girl and has southern comfort food and gumbo shack in the art alley. Not sure how much longer he will last there either. This week, he is only opening today. He opens less than 6 days a month. Not sure how he stays in business. But I love it there and his chicken is fantastic. His side veggies always make me feel like I ate healthy hearty homemade southern food, or at least I like to deceive my mind to think so.


 

Today. I’m also hoping to play some tennis and maybe get a picture I took of tacos printed. Yep. Someone asked me for a poster-sized print of pictures of tacos.

 

The taco cover comes out soon. 

 

And I have much work to do.

 

A bunch of photography work. A bunch of writing. And a tour at some point. 

 

Book — Confessions of a Tour Guide: Chapter 19. An Actual Guide Part 1: Tacos + Beer. Nevermind… Cocktails.

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


Chapter 19. An Actual Guide Part 1: Tacos + Beer. Nevermind… Cocktails.

 

I’m almost done with my text for the taco issue. I went to food porn places that some dude on Instagram name @Baja_Cali_Food posted. His food porn always made me salivate… so I went to check out the places. One of them (El Nuevo Tecolote) is one of the best tacos I’ve had. The rest were more than okay… but I still prefer my neighborhood tacos.

Up next, going to San Diego to take pictures of tacos by other writers and the cover photo. 

I have a sweet gig going. 


 

This is my third year doing the taco issue. And it will be my second taco cover…. Tacover… 

 

Dumb.

 

The first tacover was at my friend’s taco/torta truck named Corazón de Torta. I didn’t choose the location, someone in the office did. Turns out they are cousins.

 

A sneaky way to make the cover.

 

And my hand was on the cover.


 

Corazón de Torta was barely opening and it wasn’t that great… but I’ve been back recently and holy shit… I can easily say they have the best tongue taco in the region, better than most of Tijuana, and only beaten by Birrieria Guadalajara in Ensenada.

 

Guadalajara has the best tacos de lengua I have ever tried. 


But this is not about Guadalajara or San Diego. This is mostly about Tijuana and just a bit of Ensenada. I do declare sir! Tijuana has the best tacos in the mother fucking world.

 

Just hands down.

 

Best fucking tacos in the world. 

 

And I’m going to take it a step further… 

 

We even have the best fucking beer in the world.

 

An outrageous fucking claim… but that’s the reason I live here.

 

And it is all insanely cheap! Especially if you earn dollars.

 

Fuck do I love this city.


 

And most people only come to fuck prostitutes and leave.

 

Not knowing the food and beer paradise behind the dirty streets.

 

It’s fucking crazy how much food and drinking there is.


 

Tijuana’s cocktail game is not to par with other places in the world. I can only name less than a handful that prepares great cocktails and just a dozen places that can perhaps make a cocktail.

 

Let’s get that shit out of the way.

 

Nortico, the speakeasy behind Oryx Capital probably has the best cocktails… but they pricey!

 

It’s a great experience to take people to Oryx… then lead them to the bathroom… and to the secret green wall. Every once in a while I meet people that know about Oryx and still don’t know about the speakeasy. Drinks here are going to cost $10+ each. That’s fucking dollars. So yeah. Pricey but worth it.

 

Tras / Horizonte follows closely. They had a bartender from San Francisco that ended up being an alcoholic and fell in love with a girl that I dated briefly… now they live somewhere else.

 

Fucking Tijuana.

 

Anyway. Their cocktails are flashy, very inspired, and good… but lack the alcohol taste. I’ve probably drank a couple and felt nothing. Also. Pricey. Drinks are actually better priced than the food… Maybe because Tras / Horizonte used to be Kokopelli, which used to be so fucking good and cheap. And now it hurts to pay almost triple for their tacos… when a few years back were better and way cheaper…

 

By the way.

 

Everything might have changed by the time you read this. Everything might change fucking tomorrow.

 

This city changes way too fast.


 

What I try to do in my tours… is download the map of the city that my brain has… into other people’s brains.

 

But that’s impossible.

 

We’re not machines… not just yet.

 

But I do have a map similar to Metroid Prime’s Gamecube style of mapping. The 3D map. If you played the game you know the joys of navigating that map. In fact… they did everything in that game. It should be played more. I should play more Metroids…


 

Continuing with the cocktail list… let’s keep it simple. The other two were not in downtown Tijuana… and downtown is my stomping grounds.

 

Bar Nelson. Find me there on a regular basis… though less and less each day since there is no oxygen in the bar, only cigarette smoke. I’m going to die of lung cancer before any of those fucking smokers. 

 

Bar Nelson is fucking cheap. Cocktail experts… not really. It’s a divey bar and the main bartender and owner knows what they are doing. They can whip up a cocktail. Erica makes a great fucking margarita. And everyone goes for the “especiales” which used to be called “mamadas” years before. 

 

They’ve had the same especial for decades. Old people go to Nelson. Young people go to Nelson. It’s a spectacle.

 

And I’m that asshole that plays jazz in the jukebox. 

 

It happened yesterday.

 

The bartender, Liz, lost the toin coss, so she said “go play jazz.” She hates jazz. Almost everyone hates jazz. I don’t get it.

 

I enjoy it. A lot. But who knows… 

 

Yesterday though… I took it too far. Four jazz songs in a row is too much for bar attendees. I heard what I presume was a gay patron shout out “who is playing this crappy music?” I can tell he was gay because of the way he said and the way he looked. Yes. My gaydar is semi-accurate. I can also tell because the whole table seemed to be gay. His shirt was on too tight. And he had GREEN fucking hair in a stylish fashion.

 

Nelson. Boom. Roasted.


 

La Justina and Cine Tonalá both are newish have fancy cocktails and they are doing a decent job (but a bit pricey). La Justina is much better at it, but their food got stupid small and expensive. It’s more enjoyable to just get a couple of drinks and munch on their free popcorn with ash and salt. 

 

Don’t try the old fashioned at Cine Tonalá. I told the owner this and she told me they made it better. It’s still not good. I’ve had better old fashioned at dive bars in the US than this fancy cocktail place. I got to tell her again… but I’m not buying it. She’ll serve me one, once she comes back from Europe.

The rest of the cocktail menu is pretty good. They have mezcal and some gin drinks that are refreshing. Their beer menu is a fucking mess. The food is hit or miss. Some of it is delicious and well priced, some of it is way overpriced for how tiny it can be.

Try this one, the Santa Tlali (maracuya mezcal):

My ex used to love the beet and spinach salad with goat cheese. I enjoy their burger… dare to say one of the best in town. But that’s not saying much. Tacos are what’s best here… burgers… not so much.

I mean… I’ll probably take In N’ Out over almost any burger in TJ. I just tried a burger in San Diego at a place called “The Friendly.” They don’t give you options, they just serve you this dirty greasy fucking double cheeseburger that would make Randy from Trailer Park Boys proud. Dirty greasy bomb perfection for $5. I could munch on those fuckers forever and then die of diarrhea.


 

That’s pretty much it for cocktails! All dive bars carry the standards, but not every bartender knows what the fuck they are doing besides opening beers and pouring tequila shots.


 

Oh shit!

 

Almost forgot… 

 

El Tinieblo inside La Cevichería Nais… That place has a smokey old fashioned made with mezcal that is fucking killer.

 

They also have “mezcalitas” margaritas made with mezcal and they are all fucking tasty as fuck. There’s the “pulp friction” which is a chamoy based margarita (again… with mezcal, called mezcalitas). La cuchi cuchi which is like the classic mezcalita, a mango one, a spearmint one that is perfect to cleanse the palate for whatever the fuck you are gonna do next. 

 

And the food is fucking amazing. The ambiance is great too. The service is a bit too much, they take your napkin away as soon as you barely wrinkle it. Dudes. Relax. I don’t need my barely dirty napkin taken away immediately.

 

The cocktail list is extensive and it has never disappointed.

 

So yeah.

 

For the best cocktails in downtown… El Tinieblo (which is getting remodeled right now) inside La Cevicheria Nais (which is your only option right now due to the aforementioned remodeling).


 

Honorary mention. Caesar’s Restaurant. 

 

I actually don’t think I’ve ever had a cocktail here. I just know I trust that they can actually do good work. Caesar’s is a Tijuana staple. The place where caesar salad was invented. Though it has changed. It was acquired by the Plascencias in 2011 (I believe) and remodeled. It’s a bustling success. They have great live music on some nights. Their menu is extensive and most of it is delicious (avoid the salmon fingers… DO FUCKING go for the tuetano aka bone marrow or for their oysters Rockefeller). The best thing about Caesar’s… It’s not that expensive. 

 

It wasn’t that long ago that I was sitting with the publisher/editor of one of the only surviving real surf magazines out there, The Surfer’s Journal. 

 

He read my articles before and wanted to chat with me. I ended up hanging out with the guy at Caesar’s for a couple hours drinking and snacking. We had a couple beers each, a couple shots of mezcal, Rockefeller oysters, and something else… I forgot. But the check was $28 or something like that. He was happy.

 

We then went to Valle de Guadalupe the following day to Finca Altozano for his interview with Javier Plascencia, Tijuana’s most coveted chef.

 

That’s the second time I’m in his presence, but the first time I actually sit with him at a table. He is a fucking chill guy living the best life you can possibly imagine. Busy as fuck. But who wouldn’t want to be him…? The “inventor” of Baja-Med. The trendy tasty cuisine of this region. Octopus is his strength. 

 

Octopus is the strength here. And seafood in general. And tacos.

 

Fucking tacos. That’s what I was going to write about and look how fucking deviated I got.


 

Other honorary mention, the classic of classics, Dandy Del Sur.

 

I started going there lately in exchange of Nelson. The main reason is… NO SMOKING ALLOWED at Dandy’s. I can breathe.

 

It’s a classic. Almost legendary. People come from far to drink at Dandy’s. 

Dandy’s: where the legendary Anthony Bourdain set foot to have a drink with la Señora Aida whose birthday is one day before mine. They have their picture framed in the bar.

 

And I got a VIP card.

 

I didn’t do anything to deserve it but pay 250 pesos (around $14 at the time I bought it). It guarantees a 2 x 1 in any first (national) drink every day. The card pays for itself in 7-10 visits. It has other perks, but the best is the 2 x 1.

 

They suck at cocktails. They are strong and not well mixed. They also have their own “especial” but I haven’t bothered to try it. 

 

I know about their cocktails because they have specials depending on the day. 3 whiskeys for 90 pesos ($5). Straight up shitty whisky. 

 

Palomas 2 x 1. Fucking shitty as palomas.

 

Cuba libres. Shitty. 

 

I’m not sure if they can actually prepare actual drinks. I guess I’ll have to venture into cocktails there… but I rather just get a couple of beers 2 x 1 and get out.

 

That’s what I did yesterday.

 

After visiting the new Mamut taproom on Calle Sexta. What used to be Praga 2. What before was the shitty strip club that I mentioned with Hudson and Penner.

 

Right across from Dandy del Sur. Near La Cevichería Nais.

 

All this shit is nearby. And there’s still dozens of bars and restaurants that I haven’t ventured. 

 

And that’s just fucking downtown Tijuana… when I go to other regions of the city it feels like I went to another fucking city.


 

I have a sexy photo shoot in an hour and I haven’t had breakfast. This turned out to be about cocktails. Next will be about tacos. Or perhaps beer. 

 

Beer is going to be extensive… should save that shit for last.


 

About the sexy photoshoot… this is newgrounds for me. I had a friend model for me a couple times and she is sexy as hell, but it was more urban wear that looked like an American Apparel ad or something. Not really because AA likes to use exotic and really young looking chicks. This girl has a rocking body, but a tomboy feel. The point is… it was sexy, but not as sexy as the next.

 

I did a different sexy shoot with a different friend. She got semi-naked… the only problem is she isn’t that hot. It was still a fun shoot and turned out some great frames that she liked. So that she is happy means I’m happy.

 

And today… in an hour or so… yep… An hour. 

 

Another friend designs lingerie for “suicide type” looking chicks. You know… like goth lingerie. So I’m meeting two models who I have no idea who they are and taking pictures at a laundromat for a lingerie brand.

 

I’m sort of nervous… sort of excited… 

 

Let’s see how it goes. 

 

I’m not getting paid… so I should actually do some real work after (and I have two paid gigs lined up this weekend…I’m set).


 

Book — Confessions of a Tour Guide: Chapter 16 — Reality Show Appearance as Fake Mad Dog Mateo.

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Chapter 16. Reality Show Appearance as Fake Mad Dog Mateo.

 

So… 

 

I was in a reality show over the weekend.

 

My tour were British guys following a commercial pilot. I signed a non-disclosure agreement, so I don’t think I am allowed to talk much about this but fuck it.

 


 

They were five guys total, don’t remember anyone’s name except Noah, one of the camera guys, and Christian, the star of the show. There was another camera guy, a sound guy with a boom mic, and the director. The pilot and the director were the main show. A clap would initiate the takes.

 

Some crazy shit I’ve never been part of. Until now.


 

I talked a lot. I told some of the stories I already wrote here. The South African guys’ story that was the previous chapter and the story about the pilots which was earlier at some point in this stupid shit.


 

I said shit I might regret. Similar to the shit I’m writing here. 

 

No ragrets.

 

Fuck it.


 

It was a fake tour for a reality show. Fake Tijuana Adventure. Fake Mad Dog Mateo. 

 

Fake reality show. Nothing new here.

 

The tour was basic, I didn’t even plan it much. I didn’t think of it. I just improvised like always. 

 

It started with my basic explanation about the city and why Tijuana exists. We walked to Norte Brewery Co for the sunset views of the city. Here I told the story of the pilots on camera to a reality tv show pilot. I ignored the cameras and just acted natural.

 

I’m going to hate it once it’s out. 

 

And people in Tijuana are going to give me so much shit about it.


 

After Norte, we moved to street tacos. Las Amigas that they never disappoint and it’s an interesting taco stand. I found out that the star of the show was a vegetarian here. Good job telling me about that before rolling cameras… 

 

All the guys got one taco, but we wanted more food.


 

We had a second dinner at Cine Tonalá. 

 

They didn’t want to drink or party for real. More like do it for the cameras and move on.

 

The meal or drinks didn’t get recorded. It was like a break from work. 


 

After done with the second dinner, they started recording again. Us exiting the Cine and talking casually about the meal.


 

From there they had one request. Strip clubs where they could record.

 

And of course, there is only one shitty strip club that would allow us to do such a thing without a warning. El Zorro. Yes. The same one with the South Africans just from the previous chapter.


 

I convinced the bouncers and waiters to let us film. We told the girls that they weren’t going to be on camera… and none of them were attractive… 

 

We ordered a bucket of beers but didn’t drink any. 

 

I ran to the bathroom quickly, and when I came out, girls were all over the guys. A fight ensued between the producer and the pilot. The pilot went to get a private lap dance. The producer stormed out with the cameras following behind.


 

It’s a reality show.

 

That was planned.


 

After they “reunited” I walked them through Zona Norte and told them they couldn’t film here or to be careful. The camera guys started filming as the “paraditas” or the street prostitutes ran for cover while hiding their faces.

 

“Están grabando!” I would hear them say to each other and scramble to hide. Never seen that before.


 

A cop started following us. I told them to ignore it and we kept walking.

 

But then he blasted his siren and stopped us. I said I would handle and expected the worst. It was the complete opposite. He told us that if we needed anything to let him know or give him a call. He was super excited to see the cameras and told us to record whatever we wanted. It seemed like he wanted to be on the show. So the crew kept filming. They were live bandas being fucking loud and they filmed that. 

 

It might be some of the best recordings of Zona Norte and it was only 9 pm. And now I know, if you enter Zona Norte with a bunch of gear, the cops are fine with it, the prostitutes are the ones that hide and hate it. 


 

And then it was over. Walked back to the border.


 

I offered them more places to visit and drink. Nope. They were done. The job was done. Short fake Tijuana Adventure. I got paid. Signed the contract. And took them to the border.


 

I wonder what will happen next with them. I wonder how the show turns out. They don’t really even know where it’s going to appear. Or maybe they did and they just didn’t want to tell them. Netflix maybe? YouTube? Maybe only in Europe? 

 

Oh shit. I just googled it and it has an IMDB. 

 

“A documentary filmmaker follows his best friend, a Windowed airline pilot, around the world as he looks for a new love, via the TINDER Passport dating app.”

 

We did talk about Tinder and Bumble. So the premise they told me is real. No Tinder girls were met. 


 

HOLY SHIT! 

 

After more research… I’ve been duped.

 

The “pilot” was, in fact, the producer that I was in contact with.


 

I’ve been googling these guys… They told me the producer stayed back in LA setting up the next appointment. Nope. The producer was the main star the whole time. And obviously, his name wasn’t Christian.

 

Holy fuck.

 

Nice one.

 

Nice fucking one.


 

I should have googled these fuckers a bit more before I actually took them on a tour. They have two movies, one out with a bad rating and the other still in production. And now their new show. 


 

Oh fuck.

 

What’s going to happen to my appearance….

 

I might get heavily edited or cut. This show might not even be aired. But… oh well.

 

Shit is done. I made some money. Tour is over. 


 

I have more tours coming up. A lot of people have been hiring me to film around Tijuana. Might as well change what my tours are about and help filmmakers and journalists. They seem to have enough money to pay me.


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

Book — Confessions of a Tour Guide: Chapter 11 — Music and New Friends.

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


Chapter 11. Music and New Friends.

It is crazy how much can change in a short period of time. Last week was incredibly slow and today I find myself scrambling to see what I should take care of next. So many stories I pitched that I need to write. So many emails for other gigs. A completely different feel than last week. 

 

And it’s not only that change. This city changes constantly. And that changed my tours. And it also changed me.


I rarely do bachelor parties. Or like how my last tour called them “stag parties.” Much less just take a single individual to the strip clubs. 


My last tour wasn’t even a real tour. It was more like real work. Irish reporters found me through the internet and they hired me for two days to help them with their work on the border. We covered a lot of Tijuana ground. I helped them with some interviews. And I helped them navigate this city. 

 

We got pretty amazing shots.

They got some really great interviews. It’s not the report I would like about Tijuana since they are focusing on migrant issues and the border. Not a travel piece about Tijuana. But once it was all done, we got to hang out more and had a couple of beers.


I never thought my tours would turn into that. I never thought I would be back into photography. I never thought I was going to be writing this much or that I would actually make money doing this.


I still can make more money. I have to work so much more.

 

But the goal of the beginning of this year was to finish this silly book. 


So now I have three photo gigs to take care-off, the tour is over, two long stories, and perhaps a couple of short stories. 

I’m hungry.

And I need to get to work.


 

So… I had my own apartment. A roommate that was barely home. And when he was, we partied a lot.

 

Routine settled in. 

 

Every morning wake-up, shower, go to the office, pick breakfast on the way.

 

Come back late in the afternoon, drink a beer, do more work, go to bed.


 

Rinse and repeat for a few months.


I almost fell in love with a girl who was friends with my roommate. She told me she thought I was gay because I lived with him.

 

I had no idea my roommate was gay.

 

Is gay.

 

He has never told me.

 

I never asked him. We never talked about it. I love that guy. We hang out often. I just don’t think he wants to talk about it.


 

That girl was in love with her ex. It ended as quickly as it began.


And then I met him.

 

Him.

 

My sensei-master at writing.

 

The one that might be editing this text.


It’s getting near the end of the tales since I’m catching up with current times of what happened to what is happening.


 

I met the Chad master at a show in Mous Tache. That’s what I did for the weekends. I went to shows in the city.


 

Chad looked like a young Santa Claus. German looking blond with blue eyes, a protruding belly, with a caguama in one hand, cigarette dangling in his mouth, and his goofy fucking smile.


He doesn’t remember the first night I met him. He remembers a different night a few weeks later.


 

That first night, he told me he was a writer. He told me how much money he made per article. He failed to tell me this was for cover stories or for his own columns, not every writer made that much.

 

Also, he had been writing for the Reader for years.


 

That’s when I started losing interesting in writing about soccer. I was tired of the job and routine. 


 

As far as Tijuana Adventures go, there wasn’t much tourism and I wasn’t getting many customers.


 

I was going to shows and meeting bands and musicians. I would tour them around and help them with anything I could.

That’s when I thought about doing tours for traveling bands. 

Stupid me didn’t realize that bands never have any fucking money.

So those obviously never went anywhere except partying with musicians.


 

That’s the night Chad remembers. When Mothers of Gut came to town with HABITS. 

 

I don’t think either of those bands exists anymore. But they were great.


 

HABITS was a crazy synthesizer band mostly done by Dustin. The singer would climb speakers while singing distorted shit whilst the drummer made noise next to a keyboard and more synth shit.

 

Something like that.


 

The genius behind Mothers of Gut was Aaron. His band was just fucking crazy. The drummer had the body of Super Saiyan Zach Hill mix with the veiny full of heroin arms of Iggy Pop. He fucking beat on them drums like a motherfucker. The guitarist had long hair and looked similar to the singer of HABITS. The bass player was missing his front teeth.


Two songs into the show of Mothers of Gut, the bass player fucking tripped off stage and broke the head of the bass.


Show over. There weren’t many people at the show anyway.


 

The large group ventured into Zona Norte. I don’t remember much of that night except finding out that the drummer did not have an ID of any form or shoes. 

 

He had crossed the border and forgot to grab his passport or any ID. Not forgot… He didn’t have any.


 

There’s also a picture of the toothless bass player with a prostitute in Hong Kong. 


 

I believe they all crashed in Chad’s apartment that night. 


 

A small friendship developed that night. That friendship would change my life.


Later on, I would show a stranger that I met a coffee shop the CD that Mothers of Gut gave me. He fucking loved it.

 

And another small friendship developed with Danger Dave.


Chad, Danger Dave, and Pachangas Matt. The year of the Rumble Fest.

That’s coming up next.

But not before explaining a bunch of other mess that was going on.


 

Book — Confessions of a Tour Guide: Chapter 7 — The Tijuana Adventure.

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Chapter 7. The Tijuana Adventure.

 

Someone was yelling out my window this morning. It was someone I didn’t want to see. I pretended I wasn’t home. 


The morgue article got accepted. Now I am unsure of when it’s going to get published.

 

A cover story that I wrote came out today. It’s about a friend who self-deported to Tijuana. His story is yet to come. 

 

I wrote his story for the magazine almost 9-months ago. I got paid. I forgot about it. And then I found it was going to be a cover.

 

Awesome… I guess. It’s been so long since I sent it that I feel weird that it ended up being a cover.

 


 

I like the pictures I took for it. And I like the ones that they used. 


 

I grabbed several copies that now sit on my shelf with the other huge stack of magazines that I’m supposedly going to eventually clip to make some sort of scrapbook with all my stories.


 

Now on to the next one. An article about the battle for the water in Mexicali. Hopefully, it won’t take me long.


Let’s go back to that night that started it all. The one that I mentioned on page 2. Some morning in January in 2012.


My savings account was running low.

 

Like really low.

 

To the point, I was eating and drinking really cheap and counting every penny.

 

I wasn’t making any money.

 

I didn’t know what I was going to do to make money.


 

The tours weren’t a thing yet. It was just a concept. I didn’t have a web page or anything. My first post was a year later.

 


Sorry.

 

The timeline is all over the place.

 

It happens.


So what happened the previous night?

 

How did I end up in Zona Norte on a Tuesday morning with $37 in my hoodie’s right-pocket?

I remember that hoodie. It was one of my favorite hoodies. Green and brown. Thin enough that if it’s warm, it’s still a wearable hoodie, and if it’s chilly, it’s still the best hoodie.

 

I miss that hoodie. I’m not sure what happened to that hoodie.

 

That hoodie witnessed that night.

 


 

Besides going back to the second page, this goes back to chapter 4 as well. Remember that girl from Adelitas Bar? The naked ass hovering over my shoulder? 

 

Yeah. I added her on Facebook.

We never really talked.

 

I noticed immediately that it said she was in a relationship with someone.


 

That someone had a friend in common. I asked that friend in common and he said: “that someone is always dating hookers.”

 

… Interesting….


 

I got a message from her. The hooker in a relationship with someone who was friends with a friend of mine.


 

“I just broke up with my boyfriend, I’m alone with a cubeta in la Malquerida.” That was the message.

 

Words to explain. Cubeta = bucket. She had a bucket of beers with her. Usually 6, but sometimes 10 or 12.

 

Malquerida = the name of a strip club near Adelitas and Hong Kong.

 

It’s a good strip club though people have been shot in there. It’s nice and clean and the beers are cheap. It’s more for locals than tourists. It’s way more Mexican with a live band (which many times can be amazing).


 

Back then, La Malquerida was shittier. The second floor was in the process of being rebuilt. So it wasn’t as nice. And it was cheap as fuck.


 

“You should come to help me drink this beer.” 

 

I hesitated.

 

I was broke. And I told her. I don’t really have any money. 

 

I had $20 with me and some change.

 

That was it.


 

I messaged my friend Brown before heading her way. He said, “what the fuck are you waiting for you dumbfuck?!”


I got dressed and headed out the door on those cheap taxis de ruta and walked to La Malquerida.


 

I’m not sure what time it was when I got there but it was a couple hours before midnight.


 

I got to La Malquerida and she was already a little bit tipsy.

 

We drank and chatted and she complained about life and whatnot.

 

I don’t remember much except thinking like “holy shit, drinking for free with a hooker, this is awesome.”

 

She was very flirtatious with me. 

 

I just followed her to whatever she wanted.

 

And she wanted me to spend her money on strippers. So I did.

 

And drank more beers.


Then she took me to the upstairs where the private rooms are, except back then they were under construction, but still somewhat functional.

 

Hey.

 

It was shittier. I told you.


We went into one of the private rooms and she lit up a joint. We smoked together while she gave me a private dance.

 

It didn’t escalate to anything except to just having fun.


We left the private room and finished the bucket of beers and walked outside.


 

As we stumbled outside La Malquerida, she mentioned she’s never been in Hong Kong.

 

I asked why not? And she didn’t have an answer, except “let’s go.”


 

 

I said this was going to be diaries of an old man. I should censor myself… And I have shit to do, stupid errands. I should reconsider typing what I was about to type.


 

Somehow. I’ve convinced a lot of women to sleep with me. 


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