Great Reception to the Change – Ok. Here We Go I Guess? – Tacos and Drinks at Cine Tonalá

Cool.

A lot of support right away after saying no more tours and now writing about food.

And… now it seems people are excited that I said I would be blogging more.


Crap.

What did I get myself into… again?


“You have a lot of enemies,” remarked someone yesterday while having beers.

I do and don’t. Or who knows.

Some people don’t like what I have to say. That’s for sure.

But in here I intend to be good. I’m not planning on shitting on restaurants or drinks. If I don’t have anything good to say, I simply won’t say it.

If you wanted brutal destruction of places, this is not about that.

Or perhaps some… just a tad.


With that in mind, I went to Cine Tonalá yesterday. This place has mixed reviews from everyone. Americans tend to love all of it. Mexicans tend to think it’s a great place but overpriced and bad.

So what is it?


Well… It has good things and bad things. The good can be very good and the bads can be like, oh shit, I can’t believe I paid that much for that.

Mistakes are made. Mistakes are hopefully corrected. If not by the place, then by oneself. And some things are not worth it.

Things that are worth it.

Santo Tlali. Ok. It’s 105 pesos for a small mezcal drink, but maracuya + piña, habanero bitters, and tajin rimmed glass is delicious and refreshing. Gin Saavedra is also good. I avoid the Old Fashioned until they have a proper ice cube (or ice ball) at proper temperatures and replace the idea of Wild Turkey for something nice like Angel’s Envy, Buffalo Trace, or Makers (at the very least).

But you are not just paying for a drink, you are paying for the atmosphere, the rooftop views, the music is generally good, there are constant events, and new people visiting. So yeah. You are paying for all that and the drink. So the drink better be as good as the views. Some are, some aren’t. There’s one made with Baileys that… well… don’t get it. And usually, you shouldn’t do that.


Look at me. Pretending to know what I’m talking about.

Don’t buy into my bullshit.


Food.

I like the burger a lot. It’s one of my favorites in town. But that’s because I’m a sucker for Persian cucumbers and garlic aioli. My exgf loved the salads (especially the beet with goat cheese) and the portobello burger. Vegetarians usually really like the salads and the portobello burger.

Now the TAY-KOHS.

It is tough to compete in taco town. There tacos. They are good. They would be even better if they were half the price (or at least 1/3 of the price) or if they were doubled in size. If you ignore that, don’t care, earn dollars so it doesn’t matter much, then they are great tacos… but… but…. taco town.

Tacos go for roughly $3 each which should get you a fine taco in many places in San Diego (sans the view and space). And it basically achieves the same thing (plus a view and space). I’ve learned that my favorite is the braised rib with black beans. Handmade tiny tortilla, somewhat greasy and slippery. It earns points for the use of Persian cucumbers, pickled radishes, and red onions.

Told you I was a sucker for Persian cucumbers.

The other two I had was the pesto octopus and the pork jowl. For both, I demand a bigger tortilla. The octopus was good, but slippery that it all fell out. Similar thing on the pork jowl, the tortilla was too small for the amount of meat. Double tortilla? Or perhaps they want me to use a knife and fork on my tacos? Who knows…

Pork jowl tasted similar to carnitas, so if you are craving that and other carnitas spots are closed, then go for it.

For me, if I get tacos there, it’s just going to be the braised rib.


I accompanied the tacos with a Juan Cordero by Insurgente at 85 pesos, that’s a fair deal. Most craft places are hovering between 60-100 pesos a beer. The addition of Insurgente was greatly needed.


All in all, I love Cine Tonalá and that they are in town and will continue to go. You just gotta learn what to avoid and what to go for. Bread and Dip as an appetizer and a couple of drinks if it’s early. Go heavy if it’s night.

It is a great place to easily wow visitors with the view and the creative space.


And this is what I wanted to avoid. To actually pretend to know how to review food…


Today and this weekend is Stu’s final week. I forgot to go buy a bottle of whisky. He deserves it.

I’m going to miss that place so much…


Oh.

And I spoke to Haydee and Bryan yesterday. They are both willing to be tour guides. Haydee will be your family-friendly day tour guide while Bryan will take responsibilities of crazy nights and bachelor parties.

Details, prices, and other things are still to discuss. But if you are looking for tours, there will be some through them.

It’s not all dead. It’s just not Tijuana Adventure with me.


 

 

 

No More Tours!!! – New Focus on the Website = Food+ and Beer+ Reviews

Why?!

Why would you stop the dream job?!

You get to go around and take people to restaurants, eat tasty food, drink tons of beer and other liquor, and at the end, you make a couple hundred bucks!!!

Sounds like the dream, right?

Well… to tell the truth, I’m just goddamn tired.

There’s been countless groups, bachelor parties, brewery heavy tours, a few all-nighters, crazy fucking stories with people from all over the world, copious amounts of delicious food and late night street tacos, appeared in a couple of TV shows, and other broadcasts (and a disastrous one), and a lot of other crazy things happened in my tours.

The stories I tell.

The crazy South Africans.

How incredibly cheap Tijuana can be for some people.

Vegas on steroids.

And a tour guide in Vegas is going to get tired… in Tijuana… I’m surprised I lasted this long.


Other tour guides hire other people to handle some tours… but without me… Tijuana Adventure wouldn’t be the same. Or so it feels like that.

My friend Haydee helped for a while and I am forever grateful. She did a couple of art tours and a wine valley tour.

My friend Bryan wants to be the new tour guide, and for people asking for a tour, besides recommending all the other tour guides, I’ll mention my friend Bryan.

He is a good kid. But he is a kid.


Another reason for quitting.

I got somewhat of a real job. It still not completely real, but good enough to not seek out the extra cash on tours.

Well… when I think about it… yeah… that extra cash is super nice still.


I’m just a bit tired man.

I said I was quitting on my last few tours and still kept going.

Give me a year or so. Perhaps less. Who knows. But give me some time and I’ll be back with something better. More exclusive.

AND MORE EXPENSIVE!

Sorry.

It’s just… trust me. It will be awesome.


No more strip clubs.

Can’t do those anymore.


Instead of tours, the website will be dedicated for me to write stupid shit about food and beer!

You see… I used to write my opinions a lot but suddenly stopped because of creative differences with the editor. That editor is now gone. But I still don’t want to jump through hoops of an editor to say whatever the fuck I want.

YAY!

I get to say the word fuck.

How edgy and cool of me.


So what can you expect?

Quality pictures and my stupid opinions!

Here’s an example of the latest.


Haven’t been to the enchilado gods in a while, I forgot what I was missing…
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My friend Danger Dave took me to Los Compadres for the first time a few years ago. He guaranteed that they had the best camarón enchilado taco (spicy shrimp), better than Tijuana favorite El Mazateño.
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I have since gone to Los Compadres almost every week for the past couple of years for that very same taco. If I upload a picture to social media, I get flooded with questions as to where to find this taco (and many jealous comments). Here’s the answer:
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You find Los Compadres next to Parque Teniente Guerrero at the corner of 4th street and Cinco de Mayo. Open 7 a.m. and 3 p.m. daily, except Sundays. They start running out of shrimp around 1 p.m., so you need to get there early. They also serve fish and shrimp tacos (with or without batter), caldo de cahuamanta (stingray broth), marlin tacos, and more.
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All of their tacos are big. The battered fish and shrimp tacos are nothing to rave about and sell for around $1 each. They deep fry longer than usual, making the batter dark and crunchy. I prefer that type of taco light and crisp, so for battered fish and shrimp tacos I go to a nearby food truck.

Their caldo de cahuamanta they recommend for hangovers, especially if you add a spoonful of their very spicy salsa. It will sweat your hangover away, and Los Compadres will turn a blind eye if want to drink a Tecate at their taco stand. Their marlin taco is decent and similar to what you would find at any other taco stand that sells marlin.

Definitely the MVP and the main reason to go is the camarón enchilado. I could write a love song about this taco. It’s gigantic, greasy, has lots of melted cheese that gets burnt around the crust of the tortilla, and is loaded with a lot of flash-fried shrimp that was dunked in buttery chili sauce. It is topped (all optional) with cream, cabbage, tomato, cilantro, and chipotle sauce. It’s a complex and messy item to pick up and eat.

It’s not just me that has been addicted to these shrimp tacos. My friend Erik Trejo, who worked at Blind Lady Ale House, would regularly cross the border early morning just to eat the taco and head back north to work. The painful wait of crossing the border wasn’t enough to dissuade him.

Another friend who teaches English in Saudi Arabia stayed in my apartment for a month last summer. He ate two tacos de camarón enchilado every morning for his entire stay. He still randomly messages me that he misses the taco.

And it’s not just my friends. I have also bumped into owner of Baja-Med restaurant La Justina, Javier Cair, at Los Compadres. A former neighbor of mine, a white guy that partied too much, would take hordes of Americans and Europeans for that taco and kept the party going while drinking Tecate on the street.

None of the ingredients are gourmet or fancy. It’s a dirty fish taco truck just like the Tijuana Gods intended, and they happen to serve the best camarón enchilado taco I have ever tasted. They have a tip jar in form of a Tecate bottle. Drop some coins in when you are done with your meal and shout “por la causa!” Which means “for the cause,” the cause being to buy more Tecate.


That was actually an old article I wrote here. But they will follow a similar pattern and around that many words.

Just a bit more word vomity.


Most pictures will be taken with the iPhone X which is superb and posts will be posted in the Tijuana Adventure Instagram and Facebook pages. Pick whatever social media poison suits you best.

Then the posts will be later posted here. If there was a way for WordPress to simply post directly, that would be great. Alas, there is not.


Other pictures will be taken with my actual camera (Canon 7D for now). That’s the other job I’ve been also doing a lot.

I never really wanted to be a tour guide. This city needed one. I fulfilled my duty.

I can go back to photography work. Writing work. And now more work.


Tijuana Adventure will remain a hobby of food and beer reviewing.

I’ll try to be as honest as one can be without much hyperbole. Re-reading what I wrote about the sushi place sounds a tad exaggerated, but I meant every word. That place is fantastic and can’t wait till I’ll be back.


Both, Instagram and Facebook, pages grow by themselves without my need to sponsor them. And it’s stupid, now that I don’t do tours, I feel like throwing a couple dollars over to Zuckerberg and the social media void. At the same time, the real challenge is to grow those fuckers organically.


Oh.

And Reddit karma.


I basically promote and defend the fuck out of this city for free. They should pay me for it.

And somehow they do. Tijuana rewards me.

Tijuana has been good to me.


I might also get back into booking math rock shows. Hopefully, playing music again.


You see, it’s always been in this order:

I am a musician, writer, photographer, videogamer, and tour guide.

That last one was an additional one. It’s fun to be one and I’m very good at it. But it’s not my passion. It was paying me.

Video games I fucking adore and they had paid me for it in a few occasions (game tester for a couple of Guitar Heroes as well as the Transformers game and other little shitty things here and there). That doesn’t pay me now, but I still love it more than being a tour guide.


Writer and photographer right now are competing for which one makes more money.

They are sort of equal.

Some weeks I make more money writing. Some weeks I make more money doing photography.


Music is what I’ve always loved but has been a forgotten lover lately. I’ve been playing more guitar and a bit more inspired. So I need more time for this.


It’s the end of an era!

Thanks to everyone that came on an adventure with me. It’s been real. I seriously loved every single one of them except two.


And you all know this…

If you ever back in Tijuana, and I’m available. Just buy me a beer and let’s hang out. I like talking about all the new shit that the city has been going through and new places where to eat and drink!

I made friends with most of you. And I’m sorry if I don’t remember all of you clearly… it’s been a lot of tours. And they all blur into one crazy huge mega tour.


Oh. And one more reason to do this silliness. Last year I wrote more than 1,000 words a day but it was all about my personal life. Well, now it will be just about this. Keep my personal life out of this for a while (though I give 0 fucks).

And also. Because there are a lot of shitty people that do this and are no good. I feel like I’m better. So what?

I’m doing it for fun. Not for you. More for like myself and Tijuana. If you don’t agree with me, that’s okay. I probably don’t agree with you!


Thanks for reading and hope y’all enjoy a silly blog of food and drinks in this marvelous city. Let’s see how long this project will last…

 

Tijuana Adventures Featured in TravelMag.com – Sorry, This Has Been Sort Of Abandoned – Tours are Still Active

Ahoy! To all of those who stumbled into this page of Tijuana tours and adventures.

The blog has pretty much been abandoned for more than a couple of months. Things that I said I would fill in later, I never did. And ideas that I have never materialized.

Despite the page being virtually abandoned, a writer from TravelMag.com found me. And he had something wonderful to say about the tours.

Here’s the link to the article, or click the screencap.


Thanks to writer Paul Joseph for the mention.


So… why so abandoned?

Your tour guide has been busy with photography and writing. I’ve been writing every day the whole year in my own personal blog that I dubbed word vomit because I pretty much write about everything and anything. I also started a new gig as a freelance photographer for the magazine that usually runs my articles. So I’ve been pretty busy with other things that aren’t my tours.


Despite this, I have had several tours since the latest post.


And also, paid for the yearly subscription of this webpage. It was done automatically. I’m not sure if I actually wanted to do it.


Shit.

My latest post was from February…


I had around eight tours since then. Very sporadic and random tours. The latest was a repeat customer with new friends. A guy from Vancouver (with Moroccan family) brought two friends from Kosovo (but that grew up in Vancouver).

It was really fun times since the last time the repeat customer visited was a couple of years ago and a lot of things changed.

And a lot of things have changed with Tijuana Adventure as well.


Though I had the fantasy to make this into a food and beer blog, I’ve been too busy to keep that going.

However, I did start becoming very active on Instagram posting a lot of food porn.

If there was a way to post everything on my Instagram directly to WordPress, this page wouldn’t be totally abandoned.


So if you enjoy pictures of the Tijuana/San Diego reader, better follow me! It’s been a steady climb of followers. Easier than my actual profile @Matingas_

Repsonse has been good with the food pics. And it’s given me an outlet to write about food.


I also did business cards for myself and for this business.

They look like this.

Yes.

Exclusive tours.

I don’t do private groups and most people that know me have heard of me somehow, so they know what to expect.

So I’m more exclusive now. You get a tour with a photographer, writer, and musician with SHIT TONS of stories to tell. And that’s really what makes the tours special. They are small. I get to talk to everyone. I get to tell stories. We get to know each other.

So again.

My tours aren’t like other tours.

Go to the other tours if you want a basic (yet very fun) tour.


And finally.

I’m still working with Haydee if I ever need a replacement, or if I’m not available, or if people want to go to Valle de Guadalupe. She’s more knowledgeable about the wine valley than me. And she could also drive people there.

Basically, Haydee is still IN doing tours as needed.

I wish I had more tours for her. I wished I had more tours for myself. But life gets busy with other things and then time flies.