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

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


Chapter 22. Conclusion. 

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

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


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

 

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

 

I don’t understand people that like their birthdays.

 

What is to like about getting older? 

 

Count it.

 

I’ve lived for 11, 680 days.

 

Toddler years don’t really count. 

 

I’ve lived for 9855 days.


It seems like a waste.


 

What’s next? 

 

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


 

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

 

I repeat myself a lot.

 

I repeat myself a lot.


 

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


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

 

I feel like I am retiring from those.

 

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

 

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

 

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


 

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

No more craziness. 


Ted’s Story.

 

One last crazy bachelor story. 


 

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

 

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


 

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

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


 

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


 

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

And then! 

To the strip clubs.


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

 

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

 

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


 

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


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

 

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

 

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

That’s the show de espuma.

 

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


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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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


 

Fucking tours.


 

Well…

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

It was a hilarious view. 

 

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


 

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


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

 

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

 

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

 

Hippy dude had a thing for threesomes. 


 

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


 

Libertarian hedonism stuck in fake progress. 

 

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

 

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

 

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


 

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

 

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


 

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

 

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

 

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


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

 

Jigglypuff!


 

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

 

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

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


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. 

 

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.

Burgers Part 3: The Not So Really Burgers – Ramen Burger and the Loco Moco – Common Theory and Trade Winds Tavern

A week passed and I was still pretty disgusted with burgers…


I kept it easy and slow. Avoided burgers at all costs. Then crossed the border to get two in a row.

And because I am a dumbass without a car, I had to take public transit. Hit two places that were near to each other. All the way to Kearny Mesa.


First stop, Common Theory.

The burger here… A ramen burger.

Not only a ramen burger.

One with kimchi, scallion cream cheese, gravy, and a sunny side up egg.

This is what that monstrosity looks like.

Close up.

And cutting into the egg!

That is the owner poking the egg with the fork.

He hovered near me for some of the shoot, which many times I actually dislike, but Cris turned out to be an awesome dude. That is his name. Cris Liang.

Yes. He is Chinese. And we got talking about Tijuana… and wait a minute. This dude spoke perfect Spanish. He was actually born in Rosarito!

So I guess he is Chinese/Mexican/American serving a burger influenced by South Korea and South USA?

Anyway.

The burger.

The burger is not really a burger. And it is one monstrous thing. Despite that a week went by… burgers were still a bit eek to me.

This one you obviously can’t pick up. It’s a knife and fork endeavor. The meat patty was delicious, the kimchi could have been more kimchish (stronger), gravy combo with scallions was great, and an egg is always welcome. Ramen as hamburger buns… meh. Not really. I wasn’t loving it.

Clever idea, but I don’t think I can call this thing a burger (even though I just did 20 times). The same thing could have been accomplished if it didn’t have a burger form. It’s very creative and awesome to look at. Doubt that hamburger buns would work, so I guess no option but ramen. It’s pretty out there. It’s pretty damn good.

The place had a GIANT menu and I saw other food going by. Some chubby dude next to me was going at some fried chicken that smelled delicious. The beer/bar menu is also gigantic. A couple on a date were drinking wine to the left of me (though this place didn’t seem like a wine place). If I ever go back, I don’t think I would get the burger since there were many other options.

If… I ever go back. It’s really out of the way for me.

The bar is ALSO great. The place, in general, had a great vibe. Though it’s in a strip mall, it doesn’t feel like it. Definitely some of the best in the area. Because… well… that area doesn’t have much.

Oh.

And that ramen burger would be a hit in Tijuana. This city loves its gimmicks. The whole place would be very welcome here.


I didn’t finish the burger. I ate most of it. That’s very unlike me. But again, my appetite was still low. Which totally sucked, because I had another burger to photograph.


I walked to my next destination. Trying to walk off the burger and get hungry again.

I didn’t.


The other place was Trade Winds Tavern. Again, in a strip mall. Kearny Mesa is an odd place.

The writer got the Loco Moco. It looked like this.

I’ve never heard of a Loco Moco. Apparently, it’s a Hawaiian thing. I’m not very fond of Hawaiian food. This looks delicious… but at the time, with absolutely no appetite, it wasn’t looking great.

Also, it isn’t a burger.

Yes. There is a burger patty in there… but come on!

Then spam, gravy, bacon, and an egg (on a bed of fried rice). Sounds like a delicious hefty breakfast to me. Not late dinner with a beer.

Also.

IT ISN’T A BURGER!

I was confused, especially because my assignment was to take pictures of burgers.

I took a bunch of pictures of the Loco Moco.

Then went back to the bar and asked if they had it in burger form. They didn’t. I asked if they could make it and the chef said yes. He came up with an awesome burger. Looked even better than the real Loco Moco plate. I suggest they add it to their menu.


BUT AGAIN!

I wasn’t hungry…

Chad came to the rescue and though he said he wasn’t hungry, as soon as I was done taking pictures, he wolfed it all down as if he was starving.

And honestly, I would have too… If it was normal me. Look at how good this burger looks. I made it look good, but I trust that it was also very good.

That looks like a damn proper burger.

Fries with parmesan also looked great.

I tried to add some scenery. The editors like scenery.

The burger glistening under the sun.

I asked for some help from the bartender to do the holding the burger shot. The egg dripped immediately.

Drip.

That was one of my favorite pictures.

I also developed a mini-crush on the bartender. She was adorable.

Then Chad crushed the burger.

Sorry if a bit gross of a picture.


After that, we probably went to Bitter Brothers. That’s a great brewery. But writing about it will be for another time.


It’s Saturday and I just had two mini Tijuana Adventures in a row. Chad came down on Thursday and I was out until 2 a.m.

Then my friend Joey came down late last night.

I was up until 2 a.m.

Both times, though I retire from tour guiding, I still do it. But it’s with friends. It’s different. I enjoy it like that. I actually enjoyed it with strangers as well. I’m just lazy and needed a break.


My favorite burger that rescued my appetite and gave me the confidence that I will eat burgers again comes tomorrow.

I really loved that burger…

Burgers part 4 and maybe final part tomorrow!

 

 

Burgers Part 1: Blogging in Reverse – Burgers & Beer Festival – 52 East is My Winner

September is burger month.

That’s because September is burger fest and I get to be the stage manager at a burger festival. I don’t really do much, my old roommate booked the bands. I just make sure they are there on time and that they get paid.

That’s about it.

So I have time to walk around and grab burgers and beers.

Here are a couple of the best shots of that festival:

This was the first burger I had… and it was my favorite.

It was from 52 East Neighborhood Eatery and it was solid perfection. I ate a lot of burgers this month and I was wowed by the quality of this one. AND IT WAS THE VERY FIRST ONE.

The second burger was by Hundred Proof and it was alright.

Third burger was from Pure Burger and it was better than Hundred Proof, but FUCK that first burger was so fucking great that it just made the rest of burgers not seem as good.

DO YOU SEE THE STAR IN THE PICTURE?!

Hah. That’s great huh? It’s not shopped. The burger was glistening under the sun and that happens at a very close f stop. STARS! Crazy cool.

And that was about it for me with the burgers…

The rest of the fest looked like this to me. Beers. Work. Photos. Beers. Work. Photos. Beer.

This was the stage I “managed.” That was the first band. The Fuzzy Ustins. They were fantastic folky music. Also, great guys. Hope they had fun.

Panca was there doing some live art.

More beer.

This other artist killed it. I met her as Michelle but forgot her artist name. Seriously fantastic art.

This bassist of New Me was fucking rocking it.

And more beer!

That was the best beer I had at the fest the Berliner by Wild Barrel. I went back for it but they were out, I tried their Double IPA and it was also very good.

The rest of the beers were also of great quality… But that Berliner is the only one I remember that it wowed me.


I’m doing everything in reverse.


The festival is Burgers & Beer. This is the second year in a row that I end up “managing” the bands because the dude that is supposed to do it can’t so I come in as a sub.

I ran around this year more than the previous year. So I didn’t get to write notes about beers or burgers.

I also got a lot of sun which gave me a headache and was getting me tired. I didn’t sleep much the previous night either.

It happens when I have something “important” the following day. I can’t sleep. I stay up all night worried that I’m not going to wake up on time.

And that’s what happened.


Burgers & Beer is a lot of fun. It’s all the burgers you can eat and all the beers you can drink for free (well, for an entrance fee). VIP tickets are recommended to try all burgers before lines get crazy. Then friends are recommended so you can collect several burgers. Then lines get crazy so just drink beer and enjoy the music.

That’s how I would do it.

But that’s not how it went down.


I ran around a lot.

And said hi to a lot of people.

And tried to be of general help.

It went alright.


Didn’t eat as many burgers as I hope. Just the ones mentioned. Then tried a vegan one and didn’t like it.

That vegan one ended up being the winner.

Vegan burger the winner of a burger fest. Only in California.


I would have voted tenfold for that first fucking burger. It was seriously burger perfection (at least for me). The bacon was super nice, it had chunky shrooms with cheese, topped with arugula (which I adore in burgers for some reason), and tiny pieces of red onion. And the meat pattie was juicy and TASTY!

Burger perfection if you ask me.

The Friendly is also the other burger perfection.

Oh.

And I had a lot more burgers before the festival.

And found another burger perfection. Probably my favorite burger in San Diego.

And again. I ate a lot of burgers.


That will be a post for some other day. Perhaps tomorrow. But I have a very busy day tomorrow.


What I did before burger fest… soon with Burgers Part 2.

And then you’ll know why I only had three burgers at burger fest…

It was a nightmare. What occurred was a total nightmare… Especially for a foodie like me.


 

 

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.