Exploring San Diego and Tijuana, Mexico: Colorful Culture and Vibrant Food

Mercado Hidalgo

Mercado Hidalgo

There's something magical that happens when I leave my normal life and spend my days carefree - I end up making friends and loving everyone (well, almost).  In early November, I took a short trip to San Diego and Tijuana with my best friend, Margaret. We also had the wonderful company of her friend, Claire, who recently moved to San Diego. The three of us wanted to take a weekend away to explore and venture out to an unfamiliar place. I wanted to highlight some of the events of the trip, along with some of the food that I was able to get my hands on. 

Margaret and I started off our day at a bar called Sycamore Den, where we spent a couple of hours because it was a damn good bar. The bartender was attractive, the drinks were very well made, and the ambiance is comforting and cabin-like. You can tell in the photo that I was very happy to have a drink in my hand. Claire meets up with us and we all head over to a Mexican restaurant called Ranchos Cocina. I ordered the lobster enchiladas for $15 to be disappointed. The lobster meat was rubbery, under-seasoned and bland. Who am I fooling? I should have known better than to expect quality lobster for $15. 

Getting our drinks on. 

Getting our drinks on. 

Ranchos Cocina - The lobster enchiladas were not tasty. 

Ranchos Cocina - The lobster enchiladas were not tasty. 

The next day, we head over to the border to go on our Tijuana tour hosted by Turista Libre, known for taking Andrew Zimmern on his tour. It was a great deal and such a fun atypical tour; $40 for an 8 hour trip with dinner, drinks, and dessert included. Dude, we rode on a cool old school bus that blasted loud Mexican rap and dance music. 

The first destination on the tour was the Tijuana cemetery to explore the grave of some possible rapist. Yes, you read that right. The actual grave, pictured below, made for a hilarious moment when Margaret looked at both me and Claire wondering why so many people were visiting it and asked, "What is this? Is this a gift shop?". 

I loved how people were selling food right outside of the cemetery, so I opted in for these great tasty chips called pasta para duros covered in a vinegar chili sauce. I also got a corn porridge with mayo, cheese and chili sauce, which I wasn't a fan of because the corn they used was too starchy for me; I prefer the version we get in California instead. 

Retired school system buses made into tour buses. 

Retired school system buses made into tour buses. 

Of course there is a band rockin' out at the cemetary. 

Of course there is a band rockin' out at the cemetary. 

The grave of a possible rapist? Margaret thought this was a gift shop. 

The grave of a possible rapist? Margaret thought this was a gift shop. 

Elote

Elote

Pasta Para Duros! 

Pasta Para Duros! 

Corn Porridge with mayo, cheese, and chili. 

Corn Porridge with mayo, cheese, and chili. 

The next destination was Mercado Hidalgo, which I absolutely loved. The bright culture was really highlighted at this great produce and food market. I found two food stalls that I fell in love with; I had the gorditas de nata, similar to a dense cream cake, and the churros. They both tasted delicious and the churros were incredible! I also had some fresh coconut juice which was super refreshing.

Two great street food stalls - the best churros. 

Two great street food stalls - the best churros. 

Gorditas de Nata

Gorditas de Nata

CHURROS!

CHURROS!

The next destination was dinner at El Taller Baja Med, which I wasn't ready for because I was so full from all the snacks that I consumed just 30 minutes before arriving to the restaurant.  The pizza pictured below is 1/2 carne asada with mole sauce and 1/2 squid. I thought the carne asada mole was good but the squid pizza was not.

1/2 carne mole and 1/2 squid pizza - the carne mole was great but the squid wasn't so much. 

1/2 carne mole and 1/2 squid pizza - the carne mole was great but the squid wasn't so much. 

Next, we head over to a popular ice cream destination with over 60 peculiar flavors. Because I am an ice cream snob, this place didn't cut it for me. It had a weird ice and non-creamy texture. We leave and head out to a different location downtown and the three of us left the tour to explore on our own. Here is where we call it a night and get back to the border to wait over one hour to get to the other side. 

The trip was really fun and we met some great people on the tour as well. 

Ice cream shop

Ice cream shop

Claire and Margaret 

Claire and Margaret 

It's Sunday and we are back in San Diego! We had an extremely delicious breakfast at Fig Tree Eatery in Hillcrest. I had a crab cake eggs benedict that was to die for - perfect buttery hollandaise and well seasoned crispy crab cake. Margaret had a gigantic breakfast burrito that she enjoyed. We head over to the farmer's market afterwards and discovered the fantastic chili mango lemonade.

Crab Cake Eggs Benedict - It was amazing.

Crab Cake Eggs Benedict - It was amazing.

Breakfast Burrito

Breakfast Burrito

Chili Mango Lemonade

Chili Mango Lemonade

That night, we hit up a few of the major San Diego neighborhoods but our favorite was Old Town, which highlights the culture of Mexico. We enjoyed the artisan craft stores - it was what we hoped to see in Tijuana that we didn't.

Old Town

Old Town

For dinner, we went to J&T Thai Street Food, which I really enjoyed. I had the duck noodle soup which was nice but I thought it could've used more richness in the broth. The duck was tender and nice. I ordered a side of BBQ pork, which was delicious and well flavored. I think it was a shoulder cut because it was nice and juicy.  The thai tea (not pictured) was also very nice.

IMG_4714.JPG

Monday arrives and for our last meal in San Diego, we hit up Snooze, a very popular breakfast joint known for their egg's benedict. I was very happy. If comparing this to the last dish, I did enjoy the Fig Tree's crab cake benedict better because of hollandaise richness and the crab cake.

IMG_4715.JPG

I went on this trip for three main reasons: the eggs benedict, the churros, and to be with great company. That's a win!

Share This Post