When thinking about Baja California many people hold reservations about security and safety. Fear not, traveler! Baja California has seen a veritable food and beverage revolution and with that influx of culture comes some added security measures. Here at San Diego Sailing Tours our wanderlust often takes us south of the border to experience the sights, sounds, tastes, and smells (yes, we said smells) that TJ and beyond has to offer.
First things first. Be sure to bring your passport or passport card with you. As of September 2015, all travelers entering Mexico through San Ysidro must have a valid passport to enter. Otay has not implemented such measures yet, but the plans are on the horizon to expand such a port of entry in the future. The process is relatively painless and the Mexican border and customs officials are very pleasant.
Upon arrival in TJ, you’ll find many taxi drivers plying their trade. It is up to you whether you acquire their services or not, but we strongly suggest firing up your Uber app. Yes, Tijuana offers Uber in both Spanish and English! For roughly 1/3 the price of an Uber in the States, you can get the same service for much cheaper. It’s also arguably a safer and more efficient service. We recommend walking a couple blocks away from the border before hailing an Uber, as some drivers are apprehensive about picking up customers so close to the line of taxis directly across the border.
Our first stop: Tijuana
BCB, or Baja Craft Beer tasting room!
Located in Tijuana’s upscale Chapultapec neighborhood, this tasting room boasts one of the largest selections of beers south of Los Angeles. Beers from Belgium, France, Germany, and the U.K. can be found here as well as over 50 different craft beers from San Diego and Baja California. With it’s sleek and dark industrial design, this place is a hip and happening spot with locals and San Diegans alike. BCB also offers a relatively extensive list of bar foods with a bit of gourmet flair.
Ever wonder where the world-famous Caesar Salad came from? Well, here is your answer! During the Prohibition Era many Southern Californians flocked to Tijuana to drink, dine, and gamble legally. At the Hotel Caesar, the famous salad was crafted and became renowned. Today, the hotel is but a twinkle of what it once was, but the hotel restaurant is world-class. Arguably one of the best dinner and lunch spots in Baja California, Caesar’s offers a wonderful selection of Mexican and European cuisine, as well as high-end cocktails and beverages. Located on the famous (or infamous) Revolucion Boulevard, it is a quick walk or ride from the border.
Looking for 5-star food without the 5-star price? Look no further than Mision 19. It is located 5 minutes from the border with garage parking. This restaurant, created by world-famous chef Javier Plascencia, treats diners with views of Tijuana, an extensive list of craft cocktails at a good price, and amazing food. From filet mignon, to fresh seafood samplers, Mision 19 has a wonderful menu.
Next stop: Rosarito
Mi Casa Supper Club
Want to enjoy a romantic and intimate dinner or lunch with sweeping ocean vistas? This place is it! Set up on a hill overlooking the ocean, Mi Casa Supper Club offers amazing views and food to match. With it’s elegant boutique feel and warm environment, this restaurant is guaranteed to please. Enjoy an East-meets-West fusion meal paired with an amazing selection of local and California wines.
Friday night is Prime Rib Night at Baja Calpyso and it’s all the rave! Enjoy fresh seafood, pasta, and prime rib at this beautiful beachfront restaurant. Right on the sand, you can take your cocktails and food out to the water if you wish. The price is very good considering the portions and the service is amazing.
Betty’s Authentic American Burgers
If you’re yearning for some good ol’ fashioned American food, head to Betty’s for some grub. Fresh ingredients and food made from scratch, this beach-side burger joint offers enormous burgers that will definitely hit the spot. It’s a popular place for locals and tourists alike, and gets crowded on the weekends. Be sure to visit during lunch hours to avoid the crowds!
Our last stop: Ensenada
This gorgeous boutique restaurant is maybe one of the nicest we’ve been to. Boasting sweeping views of the Guadalupe Valley, this mostly open-air boutique restaurant serves locally sourced food to the most discerning of customers. Since it is tucked in Baja California’s famous wine country, it also proves to be a great place for wine lovers to sample some of the best the local vineyards have to offer.
L.A. Cetto Winery
Mexico’s largest wine purveyor, L.A. Cetto is a must stop for wine lovers! Gorgeously constructed and boasting modern amenities, this vineyard and tasting room has it all. An exclusive restaurant on site provides excellent food and a bilingual staff ensures clientele north of the border feel at home.
Bodegas de Santo Tomas
With all of the interesting things happening in Baja’s wine country, this Vineyard is known for it’s tasting tours. Nestled in Guadalupe Valley, this place offers more than simply wine. Bilingual and knowledgeable staff serve you par for course and only relent on keeping your glasses full when you do. Be sure to bring a bottle back over the border when you’re finished to bring back to a loved one!
That’s all for now. Although we barely touched the tip of the iceberg, we leave it to you to find other amazing places to test your pallets. A cursory look on Google will reveal so many places we simply could not fit in to this post. While Tijuana and Baja may still be feeling some effects of it’s unsavory past, the future looks- and tastes- better than ever!