Valle Part 2 – Las Hijas de la Tiznada and La Cocina de Doña Esthela

Valle Part 2:

First of all, I forgot to give special thanks to Joe Moon for taking me to Valle in the first place. Otherwise, I would have never gone.


You see, my brother forgot to tell me that his friends had arrived and that they were going to Valle already… he told me when they were already on the way and said “but join us later.”

Luckily, Joe was going to Ensenada the following morning. After having some bomb ass enchilados from Los Compadres, we made our way to Ensenada. Except, I didn’t know where I was going.

Joe was cool enough to drop me off at the actual awesome Airbnb.

Truly appreciate that.


For those who don’t know the ultimate enchilado, it has been my favorite spicy shrimp taco for a long time. Here’s a gallery:

https://imgur.com/gallery/NswFV


On the last post I talked about Península en el Valle on a Saturday afternoon. Really great food in a very lovely day.

Sunday morning wasn’t as pretty.


At around noon time, the gang headed to La Cocina de Doña Esthela, widely popular and known as the very cheap for amazing quality.

Before even getting there, I noticed it was PACKED as fuck. One large bus for at least 40 people was parked outside. At least 4 vans for 12-18 people each were parked inside. Another 30+ cars were parked in and outside the place. We parked outside and walked in… to see hundreds of people packed waiting to be served.

At least one or two hours… TO FUCKING REGISTER to wait.

Yeah. Fuck that.

Before even entering I told my brother “fuck this, if we are waiting, somehow I’m going somewhere else.” He got mad for not sticking to the plan… but after figuring out that the wait was going to be massive, we left.

Where?!

WHERE?!?!

That was the question.


I messaged our trusty chef from our previous night to suggest something.

He recommended Tizne, two friends of him opened the place and he said it was great.


It was a bit difficult to find. It’s also called Hijas de la Tiznada not only Tizne. Google Maps wasn’t accurate, it also said they opened at noon… they weren’t.


It’s inside Viña Emiliana, which was open but not really… it was weird and we were lost.

When we finally found a spot that seemed to be the place, they were unprepared and having a staff meeting. I asked if it was the right place, they said it was. I asked if they were open, and though they said they weren’t they promptly said but we will soon if you guys wait for a second.

So we did.


The scenery of Viña Emiliana was lovely, but it was also closed, so there was no wine to taste or anything to do but just sit for a while and enjoy the breeze in the hot day. After a while, they received us in the outside restaurant.

Tizne means smoke or charred (fire spots). I didn’t know that until now. Interesting.

I usually don’t like burnt food but I do enjoy smokey flavors.


For the menu, just like Península en el Valle, no drinks, but worse. They had no beer, no wine, just Pellegrino sodas and some stuff that got ignored.

And for the food menu, only a handful of options. I asked the chef… and from those handful of options, only 2 were actually available, and the other were meat cuts at a hefty price (regular price for Valle).

BUT IT WAS BREAKFAST or Brunch time. There were no really options for that. We all got the same thing that was on the special menu.

From the actual menu, there were no options except a ceviche. They didn’t have octopus (which is what I wanted) and they didn’t have much else…

So we all got the risottos, a couple of sopes (which were tiny), and a ceviche in the middle.

Table!

The black little spots is the Tizne. You can never go wrong with ceviche and add the tizne touch to make it extra good.

That was the risotto with braised beef ribs topped with tomatillos.

Marc’s risotto looked prettier than mine.

It was good, but not exactly what I desired for breakfast. I felt like I was forced to eat something I didn’t really want just because of the lack of options. It would have been a nice appetizer in a small plate and continue to something bigger.

The tiny tiny sopes with shrimp. Again, really good, but not exactly what I would want or order. The black sauce was delicious.

The best thing they brought us was the bread at the beginning with some tizne sauce they had. I didn’t take a picture of that because I didn’t know it was going to be the best thing… And they only brought us one bread and one sauce (despite officially being two tables). If we wanted more, it was going to cost us. I would have just eaten a bunch of that bread and sauce, get some cheeses, and sip on some wine…

BUT, those weren’t the choices.


Conclusion: We weren’t prepared for Tizne, Tizne was not at all prepared for us.

With so many restaurants to try, I probably won’t go back, but who knows! I really want to go to Valle more and I am confident that Tizne can be way better.

If Tizne is your thing, then by all means, hunt this place down and try it. If you are not fan of Tizne, then there are many more restaurants to try.


After that, we went to a local tiendita and bought everything to not leave the Airbnb. Beers, meatsies, frutsis, spices, snacks, tortillas, salsas, and more beers!


We didn’t leave the Airbnb that night or the day after.

That was my attempt at Astrophotography while chugging a beer. Problem is, the Airbnb had bright lights on either side of the house that ruined my attempts.

A winery nearby has an awesome statue that would make it DOPE as fuck to get some astro there. I want to get the same Airbnb and hit up the winery to let me in at midnight to take pictures (and then sell them the pictures!) Something like that…


Monday in Valle was all pool and beer drinking while grilling meatsies.


We left Tuesday morning and this time we did go to La Cocina de Doña Esthela.

It wasn’t packed anymore, but it was 3/4s full. The waiter acted as if it was packed though. He kept getting the orders wrong (after asking it several times) and kept rushing between tables looking nervous…

But anyway, there we all basically got the machaca de borrego.

The order comes with tortillas and beans, the waiter forgot them, then brought the tortillas and forgot the beans.

We asked for 5 coffees (2 regular, 3 de olla), a round of waters, and two diet cokes. He brought 4 coffees (all de olla), two waters, and an orange juice we didn’t ask for…

It took him almost until we were leaving to bring the beans and the regular coffee I had ask for. He also only brought one diet coke eventually, but oh well. The bill was all over the place….


As for the food, I wasn’t feeling very hungry, and again, not what I wanted for breakfast. The menu had a lot of breakfast items, but they all seem fair standard and the machaca de borrego seemed to be the strong plate. It was ok for me.

I got it in a box to go, threw in a tortilla, mixed all the machaca with the broth and some beans, and left it on my counter at home for a few hours.

I came back to it when I was hungry, AND IT WAS WAY BETTER!

The broth marinating the meat with a bunch of beans truly brought out the flavor… Or maybe I was feeling hungrier. I am not sure, I just know that it was WAY better that way than when I was having it at the restaurant.


 

Valle Adventure – Wineless Guadalupe but Amazing (and Cheap) Food at Península – Secret Airbnb

One of my brother’s best friend’s from college came to visit him. He is the godfather of my nephew so he comes once or twice a year. He usually brings his boyfriend with, a Russian artist living in NYC. This time, the other best friend of my brother in college also came with.

And it was a Valle adventure party.

Marc (the Filipino godfather) rented an amazing Airbnb for the family in the middle of Valle. That airbnb… well… I don’t want to share details because for the first time I feel like keeping a secret to myself so that fucker doesn’t get outrageously expensive quick.

The place has three bedrooms (sans doors), one large bathroom, one big living room/kitchen and no sink (weird). The inside is not the best, but it’s okay for what it is worth. The outside… well… the outside… is fucking fantastic!

A pool, grassy area, mini golf, BBQ area, nice hammock, and a volleyball sand court in a large property. Perfect for a family or for a nice party. The property fits 8 people and it’s only $120 a night…

So I’m not linking you fuckers to the Airbnb and you have to do the research yourself (it’s not that hard).

Here’s me jumping in the pool with my nephew on top of me.

Yes. I jumped in the pool with my iPhone X. Nothing happened except it acted flimsy while charging the first 12 hours or so. It has behaved like normal since then.

I jumped in the pool with it around 10 times. Risky move. Still good.


I didn’t have as much food in Valle as I wanted too.

In fact… I DIDNT HAVE ANY WINE.

Except for a sip of a white wine that was not memorable.

The whole trip was more about just relaxing in the Airbnb with family and friends and the pool.


But this is about food. So let’s talk about food.


We went to Península in Valle from a recommendation of a friend of my sister in law whose nephew is the main chef at the place.

You catch that?

Basically, we went to a place called Península.

Fairly common name. Several restaurants and bars have already used a similar name. So yep, you know I didn’t really like the name.

I also didn’t really like the wine or beer selection. It was basically non-existent. Two types of wines, one type of beer that was supposed to be an ordinary bitter beer, but tasted more like a wheaty lager. It was drinkable and good easy beer to go with the meal, but nothing impressive and I would have liked more options.

Wine options were Chardonnay and uhh I forgot the other one, but both were on the sweet side and not for me. Beer it was.

AND NOW FOR THE GOOD.

The good?!

THE GREAT!


I don’t like repeating places in Valle. I want to try something new every time I go. There are way too many places to try out… but Península… OH BOY!

Península is both the cheapest, one of the tastiest, and the plates are actually filling!

This is what I got:

I’m stupid. I forgot to take pictures of the menu to remember the name of the plate and prices. All I remember I was like HOLY SHIT THIS IS GREAT for the price.

I’m going to say it was around 230 pesos which is already a fair price in Valle to get a tiny ass plate. Nope. Not this. This plate was easily good for 2 to 4 people to share (and obviously get more food). I shared a lot of it (at least 1/4) and I still was happily full with all the sashimi.

Sashimi?

Ceviche?

Both really. With ponzu sauce. Octopus, tuna, (fish?), and scallops, plenty of all! Them little habaneros gave it a nice and surprising kick. No seeds you assume they won’t be very spicy, but you assume wrong (or at least I did). Cucumber, radishes, and pretty flowers are more than just decor (and it does give it a nice color scheme).

That was my plate. Incredibly surprised and happy with it.


Oh. And it had a dab of sea urchin in the middle. I’ve come to find out that I fucking love sea urchin. It’s like all the seafood in existence in one little salty bite. Taste the ocean in an orange buttery gross looking little thing.


Right across the table from me, Stu got the grilled tuna. It was so much food for the price. And not only was it plentiful it was quite astonishingly delicious. Two big tuna medallions mounted on a bed of grilled veggies with mashed up cauliflower paste and a pretty side salad.

The plates look different because they were different. The tuna was so good that Marc also got one. He got a bigger tuna slice instead of two chunky ones.

I picked some veggies and big bites of the tuna dipped in the mashed cauliflower. Again, delicious, and surprisingly great for the price. Other places in Valle would have cost double and the plate would have been 1/2 of that.

Península is a win.


I tried a bite of this green thing.

My sister-in-law got that. She was happy with it. I have no recollection of it but I remember approving of it.


Two other things I didn’t get to try. Marc didn’t share any of his three tacos but approved all three. There were “two big marlin burritos” floating around the table. It was hard to believe that the menu had “big burrito” and actually meant. It wasn’t huge, but it was again, sizeable for the price.

Pictures of food I didn’t eat it but also looked like great choices.

Big marlin burrito:

Three tacos that Marc didn’t give me a single BITE! Octopus, fish, and marlin. I wanted to try that octopus…

After that, we toured the facilities for a while. Península is situated in a place that does olive oil for different brands. It is also has a tower with great views, but if only the windows were clean to take a proper picture… It is also producing wine and they promised that soon they will have more beer options.


Península is the cheapest and most quality food place I have visited in Valle so far. I am missing another 100+ restaurants to cover… so yeah…

If they had a nice drink selection, then it would be my favorite place in Valle (I still don’t have one).


The factory has some art installation by students in Ensenada. The best one looked like this.

That’s me holding my nephew so he can see the art while my niece looks at us looking at art.

Another cool piece. Difficult to photograph.

Descending the tower.

And the happy foodie group with the chef of Península.


We ate out twice in Valle though we stayed for 4 nights. Two of those nights we grilled meatsies and drank Tecates. So yeah, not my ideal Valle, but HEY POOL!

Tecate, meatsies, and a nice pool = still the best of times.


Next post will feature the other two places we visited.


Special thanks to our host in Península, chef David Ojeda, for giving us an unexpected seafood feast in Valle!

 

 

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…

 

There’s more than just XXX! New tours coming soon!

I haven’t posted on the Tijuana Adventure blog in forever that it seems like I am not even giving tours anymore…

Quite the opposite. Since the last post, I have had more than 10 tours. Many involving Zona Norte (XXX tours), in fact, many of the emails I receive are inquiring about that though I deleted the tour from my webpage. Tijuana is much more than just a place to get naked girls. But I need to give people what they want, the XXX tours are back, but we don’t go directly just there, I’ll show you the whole city before is sinning time.

I had several one on one tours that were a blast and customers keep telling me I charge to little. I had a bachelor party that went pretty wild. I had a couple of brewery tours and a few international tours. Apparently a hostel has been recommending my service and it has brought me people around the world.

Here is one of the many tours I had… and the only one I took pictures:

hostel inhostel beach hostel pasaj

I got really busy between my part time job, freelance writing and giving tours that I simply had no time to update this blog. But I have quit my part time job to dedicate more time to giving tours!

Not only that, I will introduce a new tour every Saturday! Brew hopping and street food!

Introducing The Brew Hop and Baja Med Tour:

8 to 12 people – Saturdays from 2:00 pm to 8:00 pm $40 will get you:

  1. Walking tour of the city visiting landmarks, art galleries, street art, cafes, shops, etc.
  2. 4 breweries wtih a free flight of beers or a full pour in each stop.
  3. 2 street food stops
  4. Ride back to the border

Poster of this and more updates on the page will come soon.

Also, I had a brief talk with Uber, so I might be getting my own promo code and will be using UberXl to move around the city!

In the meantime, my friend from college, Drew, is visiting. And we are having Tijuana Adventures of our own.

drew

Book your tour now here:
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Follow Tijuana Adventure on Instagram here:

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It wouldn’t be an adventure if I knew where I was going… VEGGIE TOUR

Of course I know where I am going… but Tijuana has changed so much in so little. Seriously… just at the start of 2015, new breweries and restaurants opened up, that my tours sometimes end up in places brand new even for me!

This time, fellow SDreader writer, Vanessa Horne, emailed me for a tour of vegetarian and vegan restaurants in TJ, inspired by Chad Deal’s column on the Reader “Veggiejuana.” The tour was going to be a present for her boyfriend, Gavin, and another couple would come join the tour. Little did I know that the other couple, Courtney and Derek, had already visited Tijuana 7 times in 2014. They have also visited the places I had in mind to take them. So like many times, I improvised and took them to places I have never been. After all, it wouldn’t be an adventure if there was some unknown frontiers in the mix.

We started at Mamut brewery, were we had 2 beers each though it was just over 1 pm. We also had vegan food delivered from Raices and Happy Vegan.  Of course Derek and Courtney had been there before, being one of the most popular spots in Tj at the moment. That’s when I remembered about this tiny brewery no one knows about in a different alley nearby. Azteca brewing served us one of the best IPAs I’ve tasted in Tj.veggie tour
3 or more beers in and it wasn’t even 4 pm. We had to slow down and the plan was to go to Veggie Smalls over at the Food Garden, but again, it would have been a repeat. That same morning, a friend told me about a new place called Bresca, with plenty of vegan choices. So we headed over there instead. We had some coffee and a delicious vegan mac and cheese that they wouldn’t believe it was vegan. Luckily, we ran into the chef on our way out and he told us the secrets behind the recipe.

After that we were set for more drinks. They requested to go to Dandy’s del Sur, the cantina where Anthony Bourdain was at, and then to La Mezcalera. On our way there, I noticed TJ China, an art gallery that is rarely open, was in fact… open!

vegige tour 2
We had plenty of beer, tequilas and mezcales in both Dandy’s and Mezcalera, all before 7 pm. From there, we ventured to new Telefónica Gastro Pub, where unfortunately many places were closing because it was near 8 pm. However, they had the chance to order a vegetarian Pho and again, more beers. And not to sound like a broken record, but again, they said it was one of the best they ever had.

From there we cab to Plaza Fiesta to a new brewery by the name of Paralelo 29. By then I was pretty drunk but we kept drinking until around 11 pm when we called a cab and they headed back to the border before they missed the last trolly.

I wanted to go home after that and sleep…. but somehow I was awake until 2 am after stumbling into more parties in downtown Tijuana.

This post was longer than I intended…. Anyway, more Tj adventures coming up since more emails come my way!

Independence Day in TJ: Fifth wheeling an adventure during America’s birthday

“It might be a little odd, but my girlfriend and I are coming down to TJ on July 4th, maybe with a couple of friends.”

I received an email from a client that saw a post of mine on Reddit asking for a tour. This was right after dealing with another TJ Adventure that will involve the wineries on Valle de Guadalupe (for July 19th and I’m so excited about it!)

“Got nothing going on this Friday, if you want to play it by ear, let’s do this! A friend of my roommate and his girlfriend (that has never been in TJ) are staying in my apartment, you don’t mind if they come over do you?” – I replied to the email.

I met the redditor and his girlfriend (who met on Match.com) on the border  a bit after 11:30 am after some mix-up about the meeting spot. His “maybe” friends never made it, they told me that their friends think they are crazy for visiting Tijuana.

We headed to La Corriente Cevicheria Naiz for some fish tacos and ceviche tostadas where we met with the other couple. A cute couple moment happened when both the guys ordered the same thing and the girls did the same almost in a mirror image.

From there, we did the classic TJ Adventure downtown walk around, which involves Zona Norte, art walk, breweries, stopped by some of the oldest bars in Tijuana (where we watched the World Cup) and other destinations.

The cute couples walking through Pasaje Rodríguez
The cute couples walking through Pasaje Rodríguez

We walked back to the border at 5:30 pm to a very busy border crossing line. After spending the day drinking in Tijuana, they still wanted to make it back in time for the fireworks to celebrate America’s birthday. I, in the other hand, went to pass out from all the day drinking and all the fun.

Tijuana Adventure is getting more emails everyday, but my other jobs keep me very busy. This page will be updated, reformatted soon and will be getting more action!

Saving Private French Guy

I was playing guitar in my favorite café which is hidden in the depths of some apartment building in Tijuana, when a random guy that looked like Luigi (from the videogames) walked in asking for work. His name was Alex and he was clearly not from the area. After a brief chat I learned that he was from Paris, he was traveling around the world and that his credit card, camera, laptop and more things were stolen in a hostel in San Francisco. He arrived in Tijuana because his visa in the USA had expired and he had to leave the country. I told him about Tijuana Adventure gave him my business card and offered my help.

A day later he called me asking for a place to stay. He reminded me of the first person I hosted, another French world traveler. Just like the rest of people that have joined me in many of my Tijuana adventures, he fell in love the city and hopes to visit it soon again.

He stayed in and out of my apartment for 2 weeks and also bounced back and forth between some of my friends, hotel rooms, other couchsurfing hosts and more. His adventures were more enthralling than those of Bilbo Baggins.

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Unfortunately, not that many pictures were saved from all the time he spent in Tj. The only pictures that were saved came from friends or other world travelers that we met, like Joaquin (Argentina) and Zoe (San Francisco) who were hitch-hiking to their way south in Mexico and beyond. Alex is also on his way south. He intends to spend two more weeks in Mexico before making his way to Costa Rica, from there he will fly to Sao Paulo (Brazil) and finally back home to France.

Edit: Forgot about uploading this video! More pics might come soon!

AMF and November Brings No Adventures

That is no foreign adventures. Because your Tijuana Adventure host has been having a blast in the city by himself.

It might be the cold, it might be that the end of the year is approaching, but no one has contacted me for an adventure in November. Despite putting flyers all over North and South Park (San Diego), no one wanted to go to All My Friends Music Festival. But it is all for the best, since I ended up working as a writer instead of a tour guide.

amf fly

San Diego Reader published my review of the music festival, but they cut it short. I wrote way more than what they published. For my words not go to waste, here’s a full review of the adventure that no one wanted to join:

All My Friends Music Fest
The FYF of TJ

3 different stages, 32 bands, 8 food stands, 6 different clothing stores and much more, TJ’s music festival garners the popularity that FYF did in its early years. The point of AMF is to showcase the best of underground music and they booked the right bands, but not the right audio engineers. The 4th edition of the festival brought more people than the previous year as AMF gets established as one of the most important music festivals in Tijuana. For those who missed it, there’s always next year, which should be even better.

The first band on the entrance stage, Bonebreaker, started at 2:00 pm to a small crowd of around 20 people, no bones were broken though people were bound to be hurt by the poor choice of the engineers to put the stage on top of some stairs. The engineers worried about the stage looking nice and they did not think of the people or the music. Calafia Puta, a powerviolence band from TJ, played next. Their energetic and destructive sound took the engineers by surprise as the crowd started the violent mosh pit. You simply do not put a stage on top of the stairs and give hardcore bands three monitors for their show. The engineers made the poor choice of cutting the power to the microphone, which enraged the crowd and the lead singer who started destroying everything on his path.

By 5:00 pm, all three stages were going on at the same time. The inside theater stage had electronic experimental musicians, the patio had hip-hop and danceable music, while the entrance stage continued with hardcore rock on the awkward steps. With too much to see, I quickly went from stage to stage to absorb it all and tell you which ones were the very best.

White Ninja, a band from Monterrey playing on the patio attracted the largest crowd with their experimental psych-electro. Their sound is fresh, with sick bass lines with a fat tone, electronic beats accompanied by a drummer and a keyboard player that sings in beautiful falsetto a la James Brown. Melodic, yet dissonant, simple beats with complex breaks, White Ninja kept everyone on their feet dancing non-stop.

Apocalipsis was the closer band at midnight. It was the only band that had people standing up inside the theater. Their instrumental metal was ruined by the poor technicians who could not balance out the three piece band. Nonetheless, the tasty heavy riffs, the sick drumming and the tension building to perfect breaks kept everyone’s attention. By the end of their set, a chubby dressed up preppy kid took the mic to make an announcement. However, they kept playing and to everyone’s surprise, the kid was the screaming singer for their newer songs.

Anthony Negrete, a Jewish ghostwriter and rapper from Moreno Valley that goes by the name of Speak!, flows about hooking up with girls all over the world via Skype. Imagined if Eric Cartman grew up to be an awesome rapper with a “whatevah, I do what I want,” attitude. He was hilarious, dirty and raw. The crowd was loving him and he reciprocated the love back.

Closing your eyes and listening to Rancho Shampoo gives you the feeling that you are in the desert tripping on peyote with a shaman. The solo artist dresses like an Apache Indian, plays a wooden flute and sings like he is evoking the gods to make it rain. Accompanied with La Indian Gold Orchestra, the show was pure magic.

ACxDC, short for Antichrist Demoncore, finished the work that Calafia Puta started by destroying the stage situated on the steps. To make it even more fun and dangerous, people started crowd-surfing. They melted faces with speedy riffs and power shouting. Again, the engineers were not prepared for the chaos that the band unleashed.

More reviews in order…

Trillones is an electronic artist who’s gimmick is to give you plastic glasses that expand light. The hipster dude with glasses stood behind his macbook, a Korg keyboard and a nice telecaster. He gathered only a small crowd and was only missing a Starbucks coffee cup to make his look complete. His music was so spaced out that it relaxed your muscles making you feel like you took some oxycodone.

Teenage Kicks aren’t teens. They are old school punks that still think this is 1990. Equipped with a jazz bass beat up a la Jaco, a beautiful Jaguar Fender and decent enough drumming, the singer shouts old school style instead of the energetic shouts/growls you hear now a days.

Letters from Readers sounds like they would be an Indie band with a chick singer and acoustic guitars. However, they are two guys with glasses making electronic noise with their macbooks and other goodies. It took around five minutes for the first beat to drop after five minutes of intro noise. Rancho Shampoo made a guest appearance in the empty stage and some idiot in the crowd yelled “take the stupid Indian off-stage,” not knowing he was insulting a great shaman.

Calafia Puta only played two songs when the engineers decided it would be a good idea to cut off the microphone. Enraged, they kept playing as the singer and the crowd sang A capella to the fast shifting chords and heavy drumming. Then the engineers decided it was a smart thing to cut off the power for the guitar and bass amps which just fed everyone’s anger. Destruction entailed afterwards, broken microphones, power strips and more.

Deep Magic was glitch noise avant-garde non-sense. The audio engineers were in fault again as the artists did not feel comfortable with what they were given and could not entice the small crowd. So the two electronic artists that shared stage simple made noise until their time was up.

Biocrisis took the stage on the steps and after the chaos of Calafia Puta, the crowd stood their ground on the bottom of the steps. Once again the audio was all messed up as the bass overpowered both guitars with a boomy tone that was not fitting to their metalcore. Halfway through, the band started to sound more leveled, but the crowd was tame just listening from afar.

DJ Smurphy is neither a DJ or a smurf. She’s a girl with short hair dressed up in clothes that shout “I love doing LSD.” I expected horrible, it was actually pretty damn good. Psych-electric beats with vocals in English mixed with digidelay and other effects. Her sound has much maturing to do.

Celofan is a local post-rock band with melodic vocals that say nothing. The type of music that is better enjoyed when you are in a long drive, not on a stage of an experimental music festival.

Selma Oxor is one of those artists who think that by simply wearing sexy clothes and touching herself on stage she’s doing the most mind blowing things in history. But is just poor and sloppy. She stepped on her loop pedal by accident several times and her loops were just of her moaning. When she grabbed her pink Squier guitar you could tell she never practices or cares about the sound. Once the shock value of the sexy girl wearing a one piece see-thru leotard wears off, there’s nothing to appreciate. Reminds me of this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wmy9CTn6xMs

Los Blenders, a surf punk band from Mexico City had the crowd dancing with their sick bass lines, sloppy guitar playing and lazy vocals.

Sixties Guns, a good band from San Diego that failed to impress. The members are multi-instrumentalist but they failed to captivate the crowd with the electronic beats and the lack of actual drumming.

Electric Healing Sound play songs in poorly spoken English and out of key. The drummer plays no bass drum, the bass player has repetitive bass lines and the rest is just “meh.” Not really electric, not really healing, barely even consider it sound.

Maria Minerva, to my disappointment, did not seem to be into the show. The crowd seemingly were just paying attention to the tall pale artist’s body and failed to sense her music. In return, she played a basic set with low energy.

Icy Demons, another band I was excited about, failed to impress. The stage on the steps finally got a barricade but that created an awkward sense of separation between musicians and their audience. They took the opportunity to practice their new songs in a sloppy fashion.

Sun Araw, an experimental electronic artist with a partner. Facing each other stage, Sun Araw had a keyboard and his guitar, his partner just electronic goodies. True bromance on stage, their sound was perfect. A duo that seems to be connected to each other’s brains like Guy-Manuel de Homem-Christo and Thomas Bangalter (Daft Punk), Spencer Seim and Zach Hill (Hella) and Nicolas Godin and Jean-Benoit Dunckel (Air).

Food: Veggie Smalls (vegan and vegetarian burgers), La Brownie Girl (all sorts of delicious brownies, vegan friendly), Pizza Fria (Calzones and pizza, vegan friendly), Blondie Brown (vegan hot dogs and meatball sandwiches), Santa Barriga (more vegan goodies). Convenient store, tacos and clamatos were also available.

Shops: Polen (screen printed shirts for Arts and Trees), Pesadillas and Dealer’s Brands (screen printing and thrift store clothes), Chicle & Bonita (lady fashion), Achemele & Octopus Clothes (screen printing), Circus (urban drama screen prints), Mexican Fashion (popular brand in TJ), Tourista Libre (TJ tours).

Alcohol was hosted by Indio beer, only other choice was Tecate Light. Beers went for $4 for two bottles (served in a plastic cup). Mixed drinks with either whisky, jagger, rum, vodka or mezcal were also available for the same price.

Bands that were missed or failed to gain my attention…

Matthew Sullivan, never even saw him on stage.

Josue Josue is experimental hip hop in Spanish that failed to get the attention of the crowd or myself.

Ramona actually sounded good, though the singer seemed to be to shy to be on stage. Local band that I rather see some other time.

Ford Proco, heard that they were awesome, did not have a chance to see them.

Lao played the last show on the patio, I took a look and saw only a couple people dancing to his Tribal music. Lesson learned, Tribal is gone and no one wants to hear it.

Ases Falsos was the pop rock that was much needed for those who went to a music festival and actually expected normal music. They had a large audience for their simple latin rock that reminiscences that of La Gusana Ciega, but from Chile.

Siete Catorce started slow, got better and he could have played for 5 hours straight. The type of electronic artist that keeps playing until you like him, but not adept for a music fest.

Ibi Ego, caught the beginning of their set and their last song. It had a bit of a dance feel like The Rapture, but with no churro to be enjoyed to listen to them, I went for Sun Araw instead. They had a big crowd, but the barricade also seemed to interrupt the flow of the music.

Geddes Gengras, caught the last song of this seemingly electronic artist genius. Never have I seen so many cables on a table connecting stuff that I had no idea what it was for. Minimalist digital glitch noise only enjoyed by those who have heard John Cage before.

Adventure gets canceled, November slows down tours, but I’m now a published Freelance Writer

November slowed down Tijuana Adventures. The sunset happens way earlier on winter time, that by 6 pm it’s already night time. I had an Adventure ready for the weekend for a friend and his wife that were coming all the way from LA for their wedding anniversary. It was going to be a tour of the great food in Tijuana, and since my friend is a vegan, I planned to hit all the spots that are vegetarian friendly. Of course, there was going to be night time adventures as well. But at the end, they canceled for circumstances out of their control.

So there was no Tijuana Adventure for November’s second weekend. But something different happen that makes me proud. The San Diego Reader published two articles written by me. The first one is about the Real Tijuana. The second one is about the event this upcoming weekend. I decided to review every single band that will be playing on All My Friends music festival because I want the tour to have the very best. And at the same time I gave my thoughts on the bands. This was the result: Previewing All My Friends Music Fest.

Your Tijuana Adventure guide is now officially a published freelance writer as well as a musician, photographer and of course, Tijuana tour guide. November might have started slow, but many more adventures are to come!

Screencap of my articles published in the San Diego Reader
Screencap of my articles published in the San Diego Reader

Sorry mom, but XXX sales…

I must admit it, the idea of Tijuana Adventure is to show you the art, music, locals, etc. What I called the real Tijuana. But obviously, sex sales. My family told me I shouldn’t be doing it, but the main interest for many travelers is Tijuana’s Zona Norte (Red Light District). I had my first solo client for the XXX tour. He came all the way from New York, read much about Tijuana and really wanted to go to Zona Norte. The tour started way earlier than I would ever expect to do a nighttime tour, because it started at noon. The client needed to be back to America before 6 p.m. We started with the usual downtown tour, so he got a taste of the real Tijuana, then we ventured down to where he wanted to go, the famous Zona Norte. There’s a lot of brothels/strip clubs/whore houses there, call it what you want, you get the idea. There’s some that are the best and famous worldwide, there’s others that are virtually unknown and have little to no customers as of yet. My client read about a few of them, but due to the hour, the only good choices were the top 2 in all of Tijuana. I had a complete blast with the New Yorker that I felt bad for charging any money for my tours. But he was so grateful that he gave me a $$$ tip that I did not expect at all.

He made me realize the potential that XXX tours have, especially for daytime hours and on the weekdays. So I expect to start giving way more tours like that, though the main goal is for people to know that Tijuana is more than just that. It’s a great growing city with magnificent art, music and culture. All the beauty hidden behind a horrible façade of scary tourist traps, poverty stricken areas and sense of danger that does not exist if you are on tour with me.