The End of a Fucking Era – No More Fried Chicken – Bye to Voodoo Stu and Magic Mael’s Gumbo Shack

That was it.

That was the end…

That was the last fried chicken Friday.

And that was the last Sunday special (fried chicken again).


There was a line out the door for his last day. I told Stu to save me a chicken breast and I went back two hours later when it was relatively quieter.

I brought the fried chicken nazi a bottle of bourbon because it fits the theme of the Southerness, because I know he likes bourbon, because I fucking love bourbon, and because bourbon is fucking good.

Especially Buffalo Trace, which I’ve had plenty before but never bought a bottle.

I drank half the bottle…

So you can imagine the type of Sunday I had.


All that was after a crazy Saturday with four white amigos. So even after retiring from tours, I’m still doing tours.

We went to Teléfonica because that’s what they love, then fuimos al BEIS (though the original plan was Hong Kong), and then, street tacos. When they were dropping me off at home, the cops pulled us over.

Yadda yadda yadda.

Mordida.

And we were let go.

The full story maybe later.


Toros lost the match. But it was a fun game and my friends had fun. That’s what matters.


And oh boy is it hot out!


Oh hi.

If you are new, welcome to my rambling, I go in every direction. I call it word vomit. Some people don’t like it. They don’t like that I swear either…

But fuck that.

And because I swear here and there I’ve been called “Bukowskish.” I have never read him. Just his Wikipedia and snippets about him. He seems like a fun dude.

So make of this what you will. Just, please… PLEASE don’t fucking take me seriously.


Alright, back to it.

Fried chicken fried is no more. Stu retired the Voodoo Stu and Magic Mael Gumbo Shack. That’s the official name. It had a lot of funny little quirks. And if you weren’t a regular, you would probably be confused by the lack of menu (or the phony menu) or how the restaurant works. Or how it used to work…

And how it used to work… You bark your order towards Stu like Batman (that’s the restaurant’s old dog). Or be courteous and nice to Mael and asked her for food.

Just ask for food and drinks.

Enjoy. Not only the delicious fried chicken but the atmosphere. A pocket of Tijuana taken you far towards a swamp in Louisiana. Or more like a hipster place in Atlanta. Whatever you want it to be. It just didn’t feel like Tijuana. Though Tijuana never feels like anything but everything and not Tijuana.


Three years of that gumbo shack. I remember when it started. I was living with Chad. And him and Stu bonded immediately like brothers from another mother (both tracing their lineage to the south). And thus began the days of eating at Stu’s pretty much weekly.

Stu started mainly with gumbo. But that didn’t fly well with Tijuanenses who have never heard of the dish.

He used to also give it to you on paper plates to make it cheaper and not to deal with the hassle of cleaning.

Then came the fried chicken Fridays… and that became a staple.

So much, that Stu didn’t bother to open Wednesday through Sundays (like it was at first). But simply Friday chicken, Saturday blackened fish, and Sunday some sort of special. Pretty much whatever he felt like.

It was all more than good.

But some plates were beyond great that it was a joy to eat in Tijuana for so cheap.

And again. That is no longer a thing.

No more fried chicken Friday.


But fear not dear friends, Stu will be back in some sort of kitchen or food projects. In some sort of evolution, just like the Tijuana Adventure, he will get more exclusive and MORE EXPENSIVE!


I missed Saturday’s blackened fish. I was never a huge fan though a lot of people loved it. Peppery fish with a lemon twist. The veggies are what brought me on Saturdays. Stu prepared vegetables in ways that I’ve never had before, so I truly appreciated that shit.

#EatYourVeggies

You fucking hipster.


Nah. Saturday was Teléfonica like I said before. Got my usual tuna tostada and the boys got the Tomahawk steak and some flank steaks on the side.

This.

Looks great doesn’t it?

The Tomahawk is delicious, but not worth the price. The flank steaks are way better. Not sure what they do, but I feel like the meat gets a salt rub/massage and that’s why it’s so damn delicious and tender.

#MassageYourMeat

Ok. No. That hashtag probably means something else.


And Sunday was the bottle of Buffalo Trace. My buddy Bryan joined in. We drank… .we drank a lot. Until 2:00 a.m.

Keep in mind the bottle was drunk around 6 pm at Stu’s.

I forgot to pay him when we left. I messaged him on Instagram and his reply was “Fuck off. You’re good.”

And that’s how you say bye to one of Tijuana’s restaurants.

It will be terribly missed. My Fridays will not be the same anymore. Or my weekends in general. It was a must go to spot…


Oh. And the veggies for the last fried chicken was some sort of minty bean salad (that was my favorite), cold pasta, some chopped chile poblanos with grilled elotes, and a deviled egg!

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.


 

 

 

Double Date Tour Success – I Should Have Brought My Camera

I’m still continuing to give tours, I’m just not really calling them tours. The tours I give are usually much different than the rest of the other tour guides. I tend to befriend everyone that goes on my tours and it just doesn’t feel like I’m a tour guide. That’s why I say I’m not doing them anymore. I don’t know what to call them…

I had a blast yesterday in a sort-of double date tour.

I have done this before. A couple wants to tour around Tijuana and wants someone to show them where to go. The problem is that just as one tour guide is that I don’t want to be third-wheeling. It would be really awkward. So whenever I am presented with this circumstance, I invite a lady friend with all expenses covered to go out. This time, I asked a friend, who I just found out that she is my neighbor, to join us in this Tijuana Adventure.

We met Ryan and his wife Meara right under the arch on 1st street. Ryan and Meara have been married for 8 years (or was it 18?) have been together since their college years. Ryan from Minnesota, Meara from Oregon, they have lived all over the USA and have traveled quite a bit from all the stories they told me. And since they are keen of traveling, they have been to Tijuana more than just a few times sans my help (they even have Global Entry).

My friend/date, works retail up in Hillcrest, so she is used to crossing everyday and living the border lifestyle. However, she had never been to some of the places I took the tour on.  And what fancy feast did we have (not the cat food).

Since Ryan and Meara have been to Tijuana a few times, they already knew my favorite breweries, so they wanted to see much more than craft beer besides Plaza Fiesta and Norte. This made me venture into new territory as well, keeping the name of this website to a real ADVENTURE.

First stop was Nelson bar, a Tijuana classic and one of the oldest bars in the city (also, the first building to have a working elevator). They wanted to see what cocktails Tijuana offers so this was a must stop. Nelson’s is known for having Especial, a simple drink that consists of light and dark rum, splash of sprite and coke (on a highball glass with salted rim).

We hit up La Justina next for a bite to eat and more cocktails. I always get the Snake Oil here, which is bourbon, fernet, coke and two roasted marshmallows (in your hipster mason jar glass). We sampled some of the menu including tacos de lengua, there steam buns (which are amazing), oysters, and a tostada served on a bean sauce.

After a short walk, I showed them Bresca (that resembles North Park to my taste), and Colectivo 9. But we were looking for cocktails, so we went to El Tinieblo, the bar behind la Cevicheria Nais. The Mezcalitas here are amazing (margaritas but made with mezcal). I know they have other drinks that are great, but they haven’t upgraded their menu and I always forget to ask for the ones that are not in there.

We then took the long walk to Teléfonica Gastro Truck Park. No cocktails here, but we enjoyed a few craft beers and Ryan and Meara split a hot dog from Humo. After that, we enjoyed another long walk through the maze of La Cacho towards CazaClub, a restaurant that I knew about, but had never been inside (I used to live across the street from there). Cocktails here were good, but way too sweet. I got the “Homenaje” (Homage) which was bourbon with basel and tobacco leaves and honey. I expected a smokey taste, all I got was sweetness. The other drink I tried was the Coco-rosa, a pink frosty drink that tasted like a piña colada/Brandy Alexander but without the grated nutmeg (and if I’m going to have a girly drink, put some nutmeg please, I love that touch on girly drinks).

We did heavy walking through the eve, because after that, we walked to Plaza Fiesta. I took them to the newest craft beer tap room, El Sauzal. They had some DJ playing good dancy music but too loud for us to enjoy a conversation. Here I tried their Bob Barley beer, but I was also already pretty drunk, details are fuzzy, all I can say is that it was good.

We stopped by the other new tap room from Rosarito, Los Reyes Brew. Both Ryan and myself opted for their double IPA while the girls chose water. I had a glass of water as well and… well… it was really nice good cucumber water. About the double IPA… it didn’t taste like an IPA. It was too syrupy and had no hoppiness to it. If an IPA is not hoppy, I’m not happy (especially a double). Still fairly drinkable.

And for the last stop… Paralelo 28. I had Silenus’ Xanthos IPA and like I mentioned on the beer guide, it is one of my favorite beers in Tijuana. We parted ways after that, taking an Uber home and Ryan and Meara to the border.

When I got home, my neighbor had a party going. I stopped by for one drink (some random wine in a plastic cup cuz my neighbor got mad after grabbing a glass). The party went until 5:30 a.m. I didn’t. Wine kills me and it did it’s job fine. I went to bed and did not hear the roaring party.

FOR THIS WHOLE ADVENTURE, I didn’t have my camera. I thought about carrying it everywhere, but for some reason, I opted against it. Not going to happen anymore, next time I’ll bring my camera with me so this is not just a wall of text.

The only picture I have is of this morning. The small community patio of the apartment building woke up like this. I can only imagine what my neighbor’s apartment looks like (apparently it got vandalized… )

2016-05-01 12.48.28-3
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My cousin says I should be a new form of Anthony Bourdain. And that’s kinda what I’m going for. I don’t know how much Anthony Bourdain would charge to join him in an adventure, but I would like to think it’s nothing. I am still going to give tours, but tours are reserved for awesome people that don’t cancel on  me.

I have also invited other writers to share their Tijuana Adventures to give this blog diversity and include everything that what Tijuana can be. Another friend is also designing a logo, so far he only provided this:

2016-04-30 13.32.16

It’s better than what I have done, but I think it can still be way better.

Let’s see how this goes!

Thanks for reading and let me know if you like the new Tijuana Adventure.

Matingas