Last Saturday we didn’t have any plans (a rare occasion) and since we are blessed with our proximity to an international border, Grant and I decided to head over to Mexico for the afternoon to practice some Spanish. We’ve visited Tijuana several times in our journeys to Baja California but we had never experienced it quite like this before!
I had read some foodie blogs and articles on how Tijuana is trying to promote tourism by opening trendy restaurants, boutiques, and breweries so SENTRI pass in hand we decided to check it out.
Everywhere we went had a very trendy hipster / millennial vibe. This truly was not yo mama’s Tijuana!
This one is a hidden gem (literally). Fortunately our phone plan works in Mexico so we were able to use our GPS. When it said we were right on top of the brewery, we didn’t see a sign or anything! I looked down a hallway with an open door and saw some graffiti of woolly mammoths on the wall (mamut is mammoth in Spanish) and thought it might be the place. In spite of the lack of advertising it was actually pretty busy. Mamut has a typical micro-brewery feel. It was a big space with a simple bar. We sat on the outdoor patio and overlooked the chaos and fun that is Tijuana! Insider Tip: From the patio you can see a mural of hops and wooly mammoths across the street!
La Justina had the cutest decor. Atmosphere and service were top notch and the best part…quality craft cocktails for around $4 USD! And by quality I mean the bartender was like a chemist with all kinds of elaborate ingredients. She even used a torch to make smoke for their version of an old fashion! Served in mason jars with chiles, lavender, basil, marshmallows, and other eclectic garnishes, these drinks were the best.
Did you know the caesar salad was invented in Tijuana? Grant read this before we left so we had to try it! Caesar’s is a pretty fancy restaurant with an old school Italian atmosphere. The server makes the salad at your table from scratch. Anchovy filets, raw egg, the works. We swallowed it down with a glass of Tijuana tap water…seriously (and we didn’t get sick!) Again the price was right. This delicious classic was definitely shareable and under $10 USD!
These two alleyways are bustling with boutiques, coffee shops, book stores, and restaurants. What used to be an area filled with cheesy souvenir shops is now a hipster haven. Young people have taken over the area and maintained the authenticity of Mexico while mixing in a modern vibe. We went down Pasaje Rodriguez again later in the evening and it was just starting to come alive!
This restaurant on Pasaje Rodriguez was hilarious! It is a parody of the US South and had a redneck theme including a PBR flag and state of Georgia map! There is a fake menu on the wall featuring items such as fried opossum, barbecue squirrel, and armadillo étouffée! It seemed more like a restaurant that would be in Nashville more than Tijuana! We didn’t eat here but were so glad we stopped by. Maybe we only thought it was funny because we are from GA but it was pretty great!
Norte is a cool rooftop bar on the penthouse level of a building with beautiful views of the mountains and the city! The bartender at La Justina recommended it. The music, brews, and vibes were on point!
From the Norte rooftop we noticed another rooftop on top of the Hotel Lafayette that was full of life so we decided to head over. It just so happened to be a pop-up fashion and art show that was only there for two days in the unfinished hotel building. We met some great artists. It was such a cool experience complete with a rooftop DJ!
The best part of our trip was this awesome food truck park! I tried BBQ and Grant got tacos. Everything was SO delicious! A background of live music and stringing lights above picnic tables made for a cozy ambiance.
** As of July 2017, Telefonica Gastro Park has a new location. We were still able to easily find it using Google Maps and while it is new and improved it still maintains simplistic vibes.
On a return trip to Tijuana we stopped by Plaza Fiesta. While Mamut and Norte are fabulous stand-alone breweries, Plaza Fiesta is a cerveza-lover’s dream! With over a dozen tasting rooms and bars, the party starts after dinner and goes until the the wee hours of the morning! It is like the Bourbon Street of Baja. Start with a flight at Insurgente’s tasting room then taste your way through the plaza and dance the night away!
There were some other places we wanted to check out but they were further away. We parked and walked around Avenida Revolucion so we primarily stayed in Zona Centro. Good thing it’s only 30 minutes away, we will be back!
For more information on Mexico, grab this Lonely Planet guide book.
Stay Trendy Tijuana,
Inspired Recipe: Mexican Street Corn by The Mostly Vegan
This Mexican Street Corn is SO GOOD! Traditional Mexican street corn has mayo and cotija cheese but this plant based version did not disappoint. The”mayo” is homemade from cashews but it is simple to make and maintains the texture of real mayonnaise. I skipped on the fake cheese altogether but with the garlic, sriracha, and cilantro this dish wasn’t missing any flavor! Try it as a side with your favorite Mexican food!
*Did you make one of our inspired recipes? We would love to see! Tag us in a photo of your yummy creation on twitter (@gypsysols) or Instagram (@gypsysols)