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.

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


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).


 

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.
.
.
This comes from @saldemaple .
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Yes. Good Bennies. But… not by very much.
.
.
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.
.
.
Again… not bad, but not great. Muffin needed more of a toast factor. .
.
Again… I am an asshole when it comes to reviewing food.
.
.
For 115 pesos it’s a great deal. The place is small but cozy and fashionable. And HEY! Nice bathroom. I like nice bathrooms.
.
.
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. .
.
.


And then there’s this place that I love:

So… I have been coming to this place almost weekly: @brasa_taqueria .
.
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.