- How to get to Tijuana
- You need Mexican Insurance
- Factory Outlet Shopping
- Shopping in Downtown
- Tijuana Cultural Center
- Rio Tijuana Shopping Center
- Mercado Hidalgo
- Dining in Rio Tijuana
- Where to Stay
How to get to Tijuana
Getting to Tijuana is simple and easy. From downtown San Diego, or from any of the coastal suburbs, take Interstate 5 south to the border. The inland freeway to take is Interstate 805. See the San Diego County map. You should also call (619-690-8999) for border conditions.
After the short drive south from San Diego on Interstate 5 or Interstate 805, you will arrive at the Tijuana border crossing. Many people who are going to Tijuana for the day park their cars and take the Turismo Express Shuttle Bus (12). to and from Tijuana. Finding the parking lot area is simple. Just take the off-ramp that reads “Last U.S. Exit Parking.” Then turn right at the stop light. Then immediately turn right again into Border Station Parking (1) (619-428-9477). This 24-hour attended parking lot is well lit at night and has surveillance cameras for your safety. They also have a 24-hour ATM. The parking rate is ($7) a day Mon.–Thurs. and ($25) Fri.–Sun. There is also a tourist information center and public telephones, but no restrooms.
If parking at the Border Station Parking lot and walking across the border is your plan, here is what is in store for you. First, you need to be in good shape and like climbing hills like a mountain goat. Expect to walk over a bridge and up a small hill to the border crossing, which is on the other side of the freeway. It’s a strenuous 15 minute walk away. Then expect to pay ($5) to get a taxi to take you to Tijuana’s downtown or the Rio Tijuana Shopping district. Be sure to agree on the fare before getting into the cab. And when you return to the U.S. The taxi car will bring you back to the same place were you took the cab. Then expect to wait in a long line for another 45 minutes till you and your purchases are inspected by a border patrol person. However, most people opt to take a modern shuttle bus that leaves from the Border Station Parking lot called Tourismo Express (619-428-0011). It will take you directly to downtown Tijuana and back and is practically hassle free.
Tourismo Express (1) leaves every hour on the hour, with buses going round trip from 7 a.m.– 7 p.m. Priced at ($5.40) each way, ($10) round trip. Even if you decide to walk to the border, it’s a positive alternative to catch a Turismo Express bus from their downtown Tijuana terminal (12) at 1049 Ave. Revolucion when you cross back into the U.S. with all of the items you have purchased. Then they will bring you back to the Border Station Parking Lot (1).
If you wish to tour Tijuana by bus you should contact Five Star Tours (619-232-5040). They are a well established American company offering a Tijuana City Tour. It leaves from 1050 Kettner Blvd., which is also home to the downtown San Diego Amtrak Station.
Another means of transportation from downtown San Diego to and from the border is by the red trolley via the Metropolitan Transit System (MTS) Blue Line (3) (511). One-way fare is ($2.50) for adults (depending on the distance traveled). But walking across the border is definitely the least desirable method.
Therefore, a high percentage of people drive their car across the border into Mexico. While driving does have its advantages there are some must dos and don’t if you decide to do so.
First make sure that you purchase Mexican auto insurance from a reputable company such as Baja Bound.com, which sells reasonably priced insurance online and accepts AE, MC and VISA. The beauty of online purchasing is that you can be quickly insured vs. stopping at the border and getting a policy at a drive thru brokerage firm or having to stop at the border and walk in to purchase it. So by purchasing your insurance online, you just stream through the border and on to your adventure in Mexico.
The reason why you need Mexican insurance is because Mexico does not recognize American insurance as being valid. Mexican law is based on the Napoleonic Code, which means that when you become involved in a crime, you are presumed guilty. American law maintains that you are innocent until proven guilty. Automobile accidents (same for private boats and airplanes) in Mexico are considered criminal offenses.
If you have a serious accident in Mexico, you (and your car) will be detained until it is determined who is the guilty party and damages are paid on demand. Your American insurance carrier cannot send an adjuster to help you, and the Mexican authorities will not accept your American insurance policy as proof of financial responsibility. Just get Mexican insurance and you’ll be safe vs sorry.
Returning to the U.S. (see map) will usually require a 45 minute to an hour and a half wait as every car must be inspected by the border patrol. While there are literally dozens of entry stalls, the magnitude of cars and pedestrians crossing the border is staggering. Thus, the border crossing each day makes the Tijuana/San Diego border crossing the most crossed port of entry in the world. So be patient and you’ll be back in the U.S.A before long. So get Mexican auto insurance at Baja Bound.com. All you need to do is buy it online, print the policy and drive into Mexico. It’s the easiest and simplest way to get Mexican Auto Insurance. Credit cards: AE, MC, VISA. Walking across and returning means long lines as well. So opting for round trip transportation aboard the Tourismo Express Bus service has its advantages. But the last bus leaves at 7 p.m., so if you miss that bus you’ll have to walk. They are afforded a special bus lane, which makes the border crossing faster.
There are two distinct shopping, dining and sightseeing regions in central Tijuana one is the historic Downtown Shopping District, which is about a mile long (see map). Along this thoroughfare called Avenida Revolucion is where you will find souvenir stops and arcades as well as high end stores offering French perfume and jewelry and everything in between. Make sure you get a receipt. So if questioned by the border patrol officer at the border you can verify that it does not exceed your duty free $800 limit.
The other shopping region is called Rio Tijuana (see map), which literally means the Tijuana River. This is where most of the residents of Tijuana shop and dine, and where savvy international shoppers from the U.S.A. shop. It’s where you’ll find the large department stores and lots of clothing stores, Mexican bakeries drug stores, a couple movie theatres and a huge grocery store called Commercial Mexicana (18).
Sitting on the edge of the river bed is the fabulous Plaza Rio Tijuana Shopping Center (18). Across the thoroughfare to the north is the Tijuana Cultural Center (17). Thus, the river and bridge serve as a landmark because if you drive over the bridge means you have driven past the Rio Tijuana Shopping District, which is along Avenida Niños Héroes (see map).
The original world famous Caesar salad, enjoyed by millions was created by Chef Caesar Cardini right here in Tijuana in 1924. Today, 92 years later, Caesar’s Restaurant is still going strong and still serves the best tasting Caesar salad.
Equally uplifting is that over the past five years, when Tijuana wasn’t a popular destiny for Americans, Tijuana transformed itself from being a rough and tumble border town into being the hot spot for enjoying the best tasting international cuisine on the planet. So dining here is a must!
Restaurant critic and travel writer Barry Berndes, as well as highly regarded TV personality Anthony Bourdain, and noted food critic Andrew Zimmer of the food channel, are all in agreement that Tijuana has now emerged as the place where foodies should be dining these days. Even a New York Times food critic touted Chef Javier Plasencia’s Mission 19 as the best restaurant in San Diego and Tijuana.
The Tijuana of old was all about strip bars, and cheap souvenir shops, but not anymore. Foodies and savvy bargain-minded shoppers head south of the border on a regular basis for great tasting cuisine and shopping bargains galore because of the recent peso devaluation. So your dollar is worth more here.
Thus the new Tijuana has undergone a renaissance over the past 5 years to become a robust international city drawing huge crowds for food festivals, jazz and blues concerts, cultural events, special attractions and more satisfying the needs of a burgeoning middle class as a big art, cultural and incredible food scene all wrapped up into a must visit destination. Planning a trip to Tijuana can be even more rewarding when you plan it around one of these special events. See the calendar of events page on SanDiegan.com for what’s happening in Tijuana.
So you’ll definitely want to dine at the classy Caesar’s Restaurant(10) on Avenida Revolucion, where the Caesar salad was invented as well as Mission 19 (26), Casa Plasencia (24), Villa Saverios (34), and La Esperanza (35) to name a few great places to dine. Plus, the Trip Advisor recommends 425 places, worth of discovery.
Savvy shoppers will want to spend their dollars at downtown Tijuana’s Sanborn’s (13), The Emporium (10) and Hand Art (11). These stores have been in business for well over 200 years combined, offering the finest Mexican and imported goods from around the world, including French perfume.
Equally fascinating is discovering where the locals eat and shop. It’s called Rio Tijuana. Here you’ll find Tijuana’s major shopping centers. Plus, don’t miss visiting the Mercado Hildalgo (19), the native market to buy fresh fruit and vegetables you can bring back to the U.S. with you.
You’ll also want to tour Tijuana’s impressive Cultural Center (17), which is visited by 1.5 million people a year. There is a lot to see and do in Tijuana but knowing where to go and when is the key to making a visit to Tijuana special.
With the advent of NAFTA, international travelers working for multi-national corporations regularly come from the Orient and Central and South America and stay in high rise five-star hotels embellished with marble floors, in room jacuzzis and great dining venues. To satisfy their international tastes, a delicious type of cuisine unique to the region called Baja Med Cuisine was created. Plus, there are hotels offering gaming with slot machines in the lobby. The Tijuana of 5 years ago is practically gone. In its place is the new Tijuana, a bustling international city.
With the recent peso devaluation your dollar goes a lot further here as well. And being a duty free port of entry you can bring up to $800 worth of goods such as French perfume and silk dresses back into the U.S. duty free. So expect to shop in the best stores like The Emporium (10) that has always offered top-of-the-line Mexican made clothing and exquisite housewares. Here too are a limited number of souvenir shops and arcades with souvenirs such as handmade sandals, boots and pottery. You can still get your picture taken on a donkey cart, but those days are just about gone.
Thus, the fact that the SAN DIEGAN and SanDiegan.com does first-hand research to find the best restaurants, attractions, museums and shopping destinations makes this resource an invaluable tool for the ultimate Tijuana experience. However, before you enter Mexico make sure you are carrying your U.S. passport to leave and reenter the U.S. It’s also good to know what you can bring back. So when you go you’ll have a nice time.
Tijuana is a mere 20 minutes from downtown San Diego. The border is open 24 hours a day, and U.S. citizens can enter Mexico for 72 hours or less with a valid passport. English is spoken in all of the restaurants and shops mentioned in this chapter. The shopping hours in Tijuana are generally 10 a.m.–8 p.m. daily, and most major American credit cards are accepted. Also most banks are open in Tijuana 9 a.m.–4 p.m. If you are in Mexico and want to make a local call, be sure to dial only the last seven digits of all Mexican phone numbers in the text.
U.S. Customs allows you to bring back $800 worth of incidental purchases for personal use duty-free, including one liter of alcohol per adult 21 or older. Get a receipt, when possible, to verify the value of your purchases. You can even bring back a 90-day supply of personal use medical drugs if you have a prescription from a licensed doctor in the U.S. For information and restrictions call the FDA (310-971-2280).
For general information about the State of Baja California and Tijuana, contact the State Secretariat of Tourism of Baja California (6) (01152-664-682-3367). You can also visit their website at [discoverbajacalifornia.com].
For information about Tijuana, their English-speaking staff can answer any questions you may have and offer a full assortment of maps and guides. The office is open Mon.–Sat., 9 a.m.–6 p.m. and Sun. 9 a.m.–1 p.m.
Factory Outlet Shopping
If you are planning to cross the border into Tijuana, your trip to Mexico should also include shopping at the shops at the border. San Ysidro, in particular, is a haven for factory outlet stores. They are strategically located just west of the Tijuana border crossing on Camino de la Plaza (see map). They offer the shrewd shopper discount prices on designer and famous brand names. Just take the off-ramp that reads “Last U.S. Exit Parking.”
Here you’ll find a fabulous factory outlet shopping mecca. It’s Las Americas Premium Outlets® (2) at 4211 Camino de la Plaza in San Ysidro (619-934-8400). It’s home to an incredible collection of 125 designer and name-brand outlet stores offering something for everyone. See Shopping.
Shopping in Downtown
Mexico recently experienced its fifth peso devaluation in the last 40 years. So smart shoppers looking for bargains can definitely find them here. People come for the reduced prices and to browse the arcades; the dine in fine restaurants and to have a good time visiting a foreign country.
If you have pictured Tijuana as a little border town, you’re in for a big surprise. Tijuana is a full-fledged city of more than 1.5 million inhabitants with all the bustle and vibrancy of a true Latin metropolitan city, while still possessing special features that make it convenient for American visitors. For example, American money is gladly accepted as are credit cards, the merchants speak English, and you’ll find enough signs and directions in English to help you get around.
If you arrive by car or taxi, your tour should begin at the Soriana Supermarket’s parking lot (6) at 868 Avenida Revolucion. If you plan to walk the half mile to downtown Tijuana, begin your tour on Avenida Revolucion.
If you decide to walk across the border and then take a cab, see cab on map (5) ask to be let off at the corner of Third Street and Avenida Revolucion at the Soriana Supermarket (6). The cab ride should cost approximately ($5) but may vary, depending on the number of people in your party. Agree on the fare before getting into the cab, and do not tip. The same amount is what you should pay for a cab back to the border, the Cultural Center, the Rio Tijuana Shopping Center Colonia Aviación and nearby restaurants.
If you’re driving your own car into the downtown shopping district, take the Centro Commercial off-ramp, which the green line winds around a cloverleaf, exiting on Third Street. The two lanes closest to the inside of the cloverleaf are marked “Centro 3a.” Follow Third Street to Avenida Revolucion; then turn right to enter the Soriana Supermarket’s parking lot (6) at the corner of Third and Revolucion. This parking lot is easy to find, and because it is centrally located, it’s a good a place to begin your exploration of downtown Tijuana (see map). Parking is ($10) maximum for the day.
Downtown Tijuana’s main thoroughfare is Avenida Revolucion. The locals call it “La Revu”, which is the 11-block long main street that’s been here for over a century. It’ll be the street where most of the shops you’ll want to discover can be found. The cross-streets have numbered 1 through 11 from north to south. One block over to the west is Avenida Constitucion. It’s where local living in downtown shop.
After parking in the parking lot you’ll find yourself standing in front of the Soriana Mall (6), which has a nice big super market in it. So go inside and browse the liquor department for your bottle of tequila or beverage you plan to get, get some Mexican coffee or canned goods none of which are available in the U.S. The bargains abound here for a fraction of what you’d pay in the U.S. Better yet, if you came by car, you can place them in your car instead of lugging them around with you.
Once out on the main Street, take a look north toward the big arch and then south as far as you can see. The big arc is the northern most point of your tour of downtown Tijuana, but our tour’s northern limit is 2nd Street and our southern limit is 8th Street. It’s along these streets that visitors will find Mexican folk art, leather goods, shawls, sandals, jewelry and souvenirs of Old Mexico galore.
So as you stroll north towards the arch poke your head into the Yatzetl Curio Shop (7). Here you’ll find a bevy of souvenirs to select from be it jewelry, sandals, boots, hats and more. This well lit shop has a great selection of items to chose from. It’s located almost at the corner of 2nd and Revolucion.
At the corner of 2rd and Revolucion is a popular shoe store called Tres Hermanos Shoe Store (8), which means three brothers shoe store. Shoe lovers should definitely stop here. So after visiting this store cross the street and head south discovering one interesting store after another.
At 879 Avenida Revolucion you will find a unique Mexican candy store called El Toria Dulces y Mas (9), which means the sweet candy store, and more. Mexican candy is very tart and well worth taking home with you, especially the tamarind flavored candy. It’s both tart and sweet at the same time.
The next place you are looking for is Hand Art (11) at 1040 Avenida Revolucion (011-52-664-685-2642). This is a must see store celebrating 60 years in business as the #1 store for hand-embroidered linens including table clothes in all sizes and shapes as well as lace mats, doilies, guest towels, tissue holders and linen handkerchiefs. The owner is extremely knowledgeable about his imported wares. Credit cards: MC, VISA.
In the same block at 1025 Avenida Revolucion is a shop called The Emporium (10) (01152-664-685-1324). It’s open daily from 9 a.m.–7 p.m. Raul Mendiola has been the owner of this shop for over 50 years and has a world of knowledge about every artisan that custom makes what he sells and his wares come from the most exclusive areas of Mexico. It is a shop recommended by the Tourism Department for its excellence. They feature unique Ken Edwards stoneware along with real silver from Taxco, talavera and stained glass from Puebla and Tonala, black pottery from Oaxaca pure cotton guayabera shirts from Merida and more. For the best authentic handmade souvenirs goods from throughout Mexico this is the place. Credit cards: MC, VISA.
Next door is the Caesar’s Hotel, which is also home to the world famous Caesar’s Restaurant (10) at 1059 Avenida Revolucion [ceasarstijuana.com] (01152-664-685-1927), which is where the world famous Caesar salad was invented. Today, this restaurant has been brought back to it’s original splendor and has become an international favorite. Expect white linen table clothes, attentive service and a wide array of international cuisine including Baja Med Cuisine. So dining here is a must! Credit cards: AE, MC, VISA. (See Restaurants).
In the next block is a cigar store that specializes in offering Cuban cigars. It’s called La Casa Del Habano (11) at 1115 Ave. Revolucion (619-607-4621) [lacasadelhabannotj.com].
Here too at 1100 Avenida Revolucion is Caliente Racetrack and off-track betting (12). Here you can play the slot machines, bet on the horses and play cards just like the Indian Casinos in San Diego County.
Surprisingly, 6th Street is now where the bar scene resides vs. it used to be on Avenida Revolucion where the Boom Boom Club and the Blue Fox could be found back in the day when Tijuana was a no limits town. Today, the bar scene is hidden unless you read the SAN DIEGAN.
Your final destination before you head back to where you started is at the corner of 8th Street and Revolucion. It’s a very high quality store in Tijuana with 3 locations to serve you with locations elsewhere including Mexico City. It’s called Sanborn’s (13) and is located at 1102 Avenida Revolucion (011152-644-900-6247) [firstname.lastname@example.org]. This upscale store with marble floors and high end goods and souvenirs has been described as the only store in Mexico that has everything you’ll ever need. Expect to find high quality boots, jewelry, leather, French perfume, cigars, chocolates, pastries, books and even classical music in Spanish. They also have a restaurant serving delicious freshly brewed Mexican coffee and sweet bread. This store also offers underground parking. Credit cards: AE, MC, VISA.
On your return to where you began your dining and shopping spree are a number of landmark restaurants to discover. At the corner of 7th and Avenida Revolucion are two popular dining destinations. Chiki Jai (15) is a landmark restaurant serving basque food at 1388 Ave. Revolucion (011-52-664-685-4955). Chiki Jai has been in business for over 60 years. Since it’s the only basque restaurant in 3,000 miles, do try it!
Across the street is Tijuana Tilly’s (14) a popular lunch and dinner spot. Further up Revolucion is La Especial (16) a good Mexican Restaurant at 718 Avenida Revolucion.
For a bottle of one of the best tequilas in the world, ask for Tequila Orendain. Visit Victor and Sons Liquor (36) at 1020 Ave. Revolucion (011-52-664-685-3030), between 6th and 7th. They have been selling top-of-the line tequila for 30 years.
This concludes your tour of downtown Tijuana’s shopping and dining district. You may wish to wander along Constitucion, which is were residents of downtown Tijuana shop (See map), but don’t expect to find any souvenir shops here. It’s where the locals shop.
Your next destination should be to Rio Tijuana. It’s the bustling shopping area where most of the locals shop, dine and entertain themselves. It’s home to two big shopping malls, several movie theaters and the big beautiful Tijuana Cultural Center. Be sure to visit it.
Tijuana Cultural Center
A must see attraction is the most visited attraction in Tijuana. It’s visited by 1.5 million people annually. The Tijuana Cultural Center (CECUT) (17) at Paseo de los Heroes 9350 Zona Urbana Rio (01152-664-687-9600). [cecut.gob.mx] E-mail cecut.gob.mx is an eye-catching structure with it’s stunning circular IMEX Dome theatre. This center is the pride of Tijuana. It’s also home to the second largest cultural museum in Mexico only surpassed in size by the one in Mexico City. Ongoing exhibits and permanent exhibits make this a must-see attraction. It’s open daily from 9 a.m.–9 p.m. Admission is ($5). for adults and children
The center, which opened in October 1982, is home to live theatre, concerts, a children’s area, bookstore, visual arts exhibits, festivals, botanical garden, souvenir shop, coffee shop and video room. Various festivals are held each year, in disciplines such as: dance, theater, literature, folk art exhibits, concerts, visual arts exhibits, conferences, IMAX film screenings, video screenings, and more. The Tijuana Cultural Center seeks to serve the cultural and artistic needs of the people of Tijuana. Ample free underground parking.
Rio Tijuana Shopping Center
Just across the street from the cultural center is the modern Plaza Rio Tijuana (18) at Paseo De Los Heroes 96, Zona Urbana Rio, 22320 (011-52-664-684-0393) [plazariotijuana.com.mx]. See Tijuana map. This 792,000-sq. ft. open-air mall is the fourth largest in Mexico. It houses more than 125 specialty and department stores, restaurants and 2 large movie theaters including a Cinepolis. Whether it’s travel arrangements, electronics or clothing, this center has it all including a huge open air parking lot.
Anchor stores include Comercial Mexicana, Sears, DAX, a Cinepolis Movie Theatre and a huge Farmacias Gusher pharmacy. The rest of the 125 stores are equally fascinating discoveries.
Hard to miss is the huge Commercial Mexicana (18), a gigantic supermarket. You’ll find great bargains on liquor and other goods here as well. Plus, you’ll get a good rush just experiencing the south-of-the-border shopping like a local experience of how the locals do their shopping. Plus, the selection of food both canned and fresh are great bargains not to miss.
The premier pharmacy in Rio Tijuana for all of your personal needs is Farmacia Gusher (18) (01152-664-684-0235) [gusher.com.mx] in the Plaza Rio Tijuana Shopping Center. They are open 24 hours a day. They sell Vivioptal multi-vitamin supplements here as well as Bedoyecta Tri.
Farmacia Gusher (18) is equally famous for its juice bar counter, where you can get delicious smoothies made with fresh mango, pineapple and other tropical fruit not as available as in the U.S. Farmacia Gusher has additional locations throughout Tijuana and in Rosarito Beach to the south. Credit cards: MC, VISA.
Another side trip on your shopping tour of Rio Tijuana is a must-see attraction to the native market called the Mercado Hidalgo (19). Sanchez Taboada 22010, open daily 6 a.m.–6 p.m. (01152-684-0485). It’s similar to the kind found in every town thought Mexico. Farmers bring their wares and produce to these markets daily, so you can count on the freshness of everything. You’ll see chickens, parrots, and parakeets on sale as well as a wealth of fruits and vegetables such as pineapples, lettuce, tomatoes, cucumbers and more. You can even see tortillas being made (by hand) by dozens of local Mexican ladies. It’s a side trip well worth taking. You can bring back to the U.S. the following fruits: bananas, blackberries, grapes, lemons, limes (sour), lychees, melons, papayas, pineapples and strawberries. Nuts permitted into the U.S include: acorns, almonds, cocoa beans, chestnuts, coconuts, peanuts, pinions, tamarind beans, walnuts and waternuts. You can also bring back cheese, bakery goods (including breads, cakes, cookies) coffee beans, herbs, flowers, dairy produce and most meats (except pork). To get more information call the U.S. Customs Office (619-428-7203).
Dining in Rio Tijuana
With the hustle and bustle of vibrant Rio Tijuana’s international flair, you’re probably wondering where the locals eat as Tijuana has undergone a renaissance in fine dining and has become Mexico’s hot spot for the best cuisine in the country.
Tijuana’s talented chefs have emerged with incredible tasting ocean and farm to the table cuisine like no other. They call it Baja Med Cuisine, which incorporates the unique flavors of Baja California, Mexico with Asian and Mediterranean flavors married together into an incredible taste enhanced with olive oil, abalone and arugula. So your shopping adventure should most definitely include sampling the cuisine that noted food critics such as Anthony Bourdain from the Food Channel and Barry Berndes, San Diego’s Dean of Restaurant Reviewers say is worth a trip to Tijuana to try.
If you’re thinking that trusting the farm to the table and ocean to the table food should not be trusted then the next time you shop at Costco or your local grocery store in California you’ll find that it’s imported from Baja California’s huge agricultural district and the seafood comes from just off shore. But don’t drink the water. Order instead bottled water such as San Pellegrino with a twist of lemon.
As for your wine opt for L.A. Cetto (20) and Monte Xanic, two world class Mexican wineries produced in the Ville de Guadalupe. It’s Mexico’s wine Capital. See the Ville Guadalupe Chapter in this book for where to eat and taste the finest wines in Mexico’s wine region. It’s less than 75 miles away, and well worth the trip.
L.A. Cetto (20) has a classy wine tasting room worth visiting. Since you can bring back a liter of wine, why not enjoy one of the world’s finest wines. The wine tasting room (1152-664-685-3031) is open 10:30 a.m.–6:30 p.m. Mon.–Fri. and Sat. 10 a.m.–5 p.m. While it’s city close, it’s best to take a cab. Credit cards: AE, MC, VISA.
So glance at the circled numbers on the Tijuana map for the street where these restaurants are located. Many can be found in Rio Tijuana along Paseo De Los Heroes and Sanchez Taboada.
Caesar’s Restaurant (10) in Hotel Caesar between 4th and 5th Avenues in downtown Tijuana (01152-664-685-1927) Open Daily at noon. Valet parking. See map. You owe it yourself to become part of history and dine here. Of course you should order the Caesar salad, but there is so much more than salad to enjoy be it oysters on the half shell, fine wines and memorable main course entrees. Today, the cuisine showcases Baja Med Cuisine created by Tijuana’s own Javier Plasensia. The restaurant is located inside the famous Caesar’s Hotel near the corner of 5th Street and Avenida Revolucion, which is the main street in downtown Tijuana. This historical hotel was part of Tijuana’s glitzy past when it was a luxurious spa and gambling destination back in the 1920s and 1930s. International cuisine is prepared by a gourmet chef. This restaurant is one of 10 other restaurants owned by the Plasencia family in Baja California. They are associated with two restaurants in San Diego: the Bracero in Little Italy and Romesco Mexiterranean Bistro in Bonita. So expect to be treated like royalty. As for the price, due to the recent peso devaluation, the prices are down to earth. Banquets, Catering. Full Bar. Credit cards: AE, MC, VISA.
Casa Plasencia (24) Robirosa 250, 22014 Tijuana (01152-664-686-3604). [Casaplasencia.mx]. Open daily noon till 10 p.m. daily except Sun. when it closes at 9 p.m. This beautiful appointed classy restaurant offers white table cloth dining. It features the famous Baja Med cuisine made famous by the Plascencia family using the flavors of Baja, the Orient and the Mediterranean. Featured is Baja California influenced Mediterranean cuisine,which is an fusion of Spanish, Italian, Greek and Arab dishes prepared with Baja ingredients and a Mexican touch. Cachete (beef cheek) tacos are what they’re known for and trucha zarendeado – trout butterflied. Full Bar. Banquets and catering. Credit cards: AE, MC, VISA.
Giuseppis Restaurant (6) Blvd. Aguacaliente 2600, Madero, Cacho, 22040 Tijuana, B.C., Mexico (011-52-664-684-1018) Open Mon.–Fri. 11 a.m.–10 p.m.; Sat. and Sun. till 11 p.m.While they have six other locations, this was their original location and is thus a classic with its black and white checkerboard floors and red and white checkered table clothes. Plus, chianti wine bottles hang from the ceiling. Classic traditional Italian cuisine is served including a memorable chicken picante. Plus pizzas and home delivery has made this restaurant a local favorite. Credit cards: AE, MC, VISA. Other locations:
Blvd. Aguacaliente 664.684.1018
Plaza Río 664.684.1777
Playas de Tijuana 664.631.1095
Mundo Divertido 664.103.6465
Giuseppis Paseo 2000 664.211.8014
Av. Revolución 664.638.4066
Los Arcos Seafood Restaurant and Bar (23), 1000 Salinas Blvd. at the corner of Escuadron 201 St. (01152-664-686-4757). Open daily. This restaurant is one of over 15 locations located throughout Mexico, with the original location being from Mazatlan, all of which is a good recommendation to eat here. This seafood restaurant is a great discovery yet to get there you should definitely take a taxi cab. And agree on the price before getting into the cab. This is a local favorite. The tropical atmosphere is lively with people talking, laughing as rhythmic music often played in the seaside resort town of Mazatlan, Mexico plays in the background. And the decor is nautical. Over 50 memorable seafood entrees are offered. Highly recommended is the Tequila shrimp. Credit cards: MC, VISA.
Mission 19 (26) at Calle Mision de San Javier 10643 segundo piso, Zona Urbana Rio Tijuana (01152-664-634-2493). Open daily. This second floor restaurant in a sleek office building is considered one of Tijuana’s best restaurants. The cuisine is the creation of renowned owner chef Javier Plasencia, who created the Baja Med cuisine. So expect exceptional cuisine with unique ingredients such as savory octopus and pork bellies that guests can’t stop raving about. All of the ingredients come from the region. Banquets and Catering. Full Bar. Credit cards: AE, MC, VISA.
Oryx Capital Gastro Pub (28) Blvd. Interior 84 Agua Caliente 10750 Tijuana (01152-664-686-2807). Open daily. Chef Ruffo Ibarra brings a new style to dining in Tijuana. The sleek restaurant is also home to Tijuana’s first speak easy called Nortico and featuring Ramos Gin Fizz, Clover Club and Brandy Crusta. On the restaurant side Chef Ruffo is well-known for his impressive brunches, which are the talk of Tijuana as being the best. Lunch and dinner entrees include Rib Eye with perfectly cooked vegetables, organic chicken, savory salads, tortas, hamburgers and sliders all to the liking of his clientele. Full bar. Credit cards: MC, VISA.
Villa Saverio’s Restaurant (34) Sanchez Taboada Blvd. and Escuadron 201 (01152-664-686-6442) Rio Tijuana. Open daily. Incredible mouthwatering cuisine is prepared in a theatrical kitchen while attentive waiters watch over you while you dine. Everything about this restaurant is first class. You won’t be disappointed that you dined here. Overseeing the creation of the Mediterranean inspired cuisine is Chef Javier Plasencia. Classical entrees include classic chicken cordon bleu, filet mignon in Chianti sauce and pan seared scampi with crab in a garlic lemon and caper cream sauce. Everything is excellent! If you can’t decide where to dine, dine here! Banquets and Catering. Full bar. Credit cards: AE, MC, VISA.
Where to Stay in Tijuana
Grand Hotel Tijuana (27) 4550 Agua Caliente Blvd. near the country club (01152-681-7000). From $140. If you are undecided about where to stay, stay here. It’s the ultramodern high rise overlooking the golf course and you can see miles in every direction. Plus, it is just across the street from Casa Plasencia Restaurant and Oryx Capital and only a block away from Colonia Cacho’s restaurant row. This 422 room hotel and suites offer all of the luxury you’d expect including three restaurants. Credit cards: AE, MC, VISA.
Hotel Lucerna (31), Being inaugurated by the President of Mexico is an awesome recommendation for staying here. It’s also ideally located on Avenida Nino Heroes. Plus the floors are all built with marble, plus they have a spacious swimming pool and a fine restaurant. There is nothing second class about this hotel. Credit Cards: AE, MC, VISA.
Pueblo Amigo Hotel and Plaza, (25) 9211 Via Oriente, Zona Rio Tijuana (800-386-6985) or 01152-664-624-2700). $95-150. This is a 5-story 108 room and suites hotel with conference rooms, workout room, breakfast buffet, off-track betting on U.S. horse racing and slot machines in the lobby. This is an idea place to stay. Everything is first class. Plus, their indoor elevator looks the lobby’s main floor. The rooms and suites are first class with marble floors and a jacuzzi in the suites. Credit cards: AE, MC, VISA
The new Tijuana is a robust international city with a Latin flair. Cars spin around the modern roundabouts and busy shopping centers attract international shoppers.
Plus, everybody enjoys the Baja Med cuisine, as featured in the Tijuana restaurant section.