When I moved to San Diego back in 2008 it wasn’t all that safe to travel to Tijuana – people had even stopped going over for an afternoon of cheap tacos and beers. As things started to change all I heard were nightmare stories about how long it took to cross the border on the way home and I lost interest and all but forgot about it. Then, I had lunch with a girlfriend who had recently spent the day there with her boyfriend and had lots of recommendations – I was sold. The following weekend we made our way down on a Saturday afternoon for a day full of eating and drinking.
We were starving by the time we made our way to the border, parked (it seemed like a nightmare even finding a paid lot that wasn’t full so we ended up parking in the outlet mall parking – I probably wouldn’t recommend this if you were planning on staying very late or overnight in Tijuana, but it worked for us), and walked across we were starving. We decided to grab a cab and head to a nicer restaurant and I am SO glad we did.
We had an incredible lunch at Mision 19. The owner also owns Bracero Cocina in San Diego’s Little Italy – if you live in San Diego or are planning a visit and want some upscale Mexican food, please GO HERE. Mision 19 was just as good and half the price. For appetizers we had tuna tartare, octopus and a scallop parfait. Then we split a pork belly and baby back rib entree which, not exaggerating, might have been one of the best things I’ve ever eaten. The drinks were yummy and the service was terrific. They also had a tasting menu that I would do the next time around, especially if we went for dinner.
After lunch we were stuffed and walked about a half mile or so to another restaurant that had been recommended to us, Verda y Crema. Not needing any more food at the moment, we drank some mezcal and sangria and hung out at the bar. The restaurant was cute and the menu looked great – I’d definitely come back again to eat.
After drinks we strolled around Avenida Revolucion, just soaking in the scene, live music spilling out from restaurants and bars, donkeys painted like zebras on the street corners and touristy stores filled with tchotchkes.
Calle Sexta is known for its bars, but, unfortunately it seemed to be a bit early for the bars we wanted to check out to be open. We happened to wander into a not-open La Mezcalera which looks like it’s back patio is pretty cool at night.
Last but not least, we made our way to “Taco Alley” which is exactly what you’d think – a row of taco shops on a street. We sampled some carne asada, adobada and chorizo tacos from Las Paisas and Tacos El Paisano – everything was yummy and cost about $1 or less – a must stop if you’re in TJ for the day!
At that point the sun was starting to set and we figured we had a long wait ahead of us so we made our way back to the pedestrian border crossing. We were back in America 18 minutes later. I was surprised – and elated! Maybe Saturday evenings aren’t a popular time to make your way back to (or into) America?
They have Uber in Tijuana and it is SO cheap. We easily had service everywhere because you can pay Verizon $2 a day when you’re in Mexico with their newer international options so it was simple and much more comfortable than cabs.
If you have Global Entry bring your Global Entry card and you can access the Sentri line. It wouldn’t have made a terribly big difference the day we went but I can see it being a life saver in the future. Of course, if you are traveling with people who don’t have Sentri or their Global Entry card, you’ll just be sitting on the other side of the border waiting for them.
So, whether you live in San Diego or are coming to visit, heading down to Tijuana for the day can be a fun (and cheap!) adventure. Next time we’re planning on checking out the beach or making our way farther south to Rosarito, Ensenada or Guadalupe Valley for some wine.