Craft Beers and Tacos: A Day Trip to Tijuana Worth the Journey

Kevin and I love visiting Mexico. It’s a quick and easy trip from California, has delicious food and we get to practice our Spanish (or in my case, typically just repeating “YES” in Spanish no matter whether I understand or not!). But best of all? Mexico is cheap! We can’t pass up a deal. So when our friend Daniel suggested a trip to Tijuana, I immediately said, “Umm, Sí señor!” Clearly, I don’t need much of an excuse.

The colors of Mexico, flapping above Santiago Argüello in downtown Tijuana.

For our latest trip, Daniel suggested we do the “Tijuana Street Food + Craft Beer + Market Daycation” operated by the tour company Tengo Hambre. He took a culinary tour with them before and had a blast. Daniel not only convinced Kevin and me, but an entire crew of friends. We all met at the San Ysidro Border Crossing, located just 20 minutes from downtown San Diego on a sunny Saturday morning.

Meeting at San Ysidro border crossing, the busiest land border crossing in the Western Hemisphere. What a good looking group!

Skip driving into Mexico for a Tijuana day trip and walk over the border.

Last year, I visited Tijuana for the first time after reading about its growing food scene (check out the itinerary here). Kevin  was shocked by how much Tijuana changed. The last time he visited was over a decade ago — when Tijuana was still favored by the Spring break crowd in search of cheap Tequila shots. And while Tijuana still attracts those looking to party, over the past few years it has built up a culinary and craft brewery scene. We enjoyed it so much that we had a hard time narrowing it down to our top five favorite things.

On last year’s trip, we made several food stops as well as a visit to the Tijuana Cultural Center with Mexican art and history exhibits

I was more than happy to let our guide Violeta take the lead this time. The tour is structured as a ‘roving supper club’ as we ate our way around Tijuana’s famed street food stands, drank plenty of mezcal, craft beer and visited a market. Within minutes of arriving in Tijuana, a white passenger van rolled up. Yep, that would be our ride! We loaded inside with Violeta, who welcomed us to Mexico by pouring shots of mezcal.

Enjoying our shots of mezcal, a smoky (and strong) hard liquor that’s best to sip.

One shot down. But wait, it’s Kevin’s birthday. More mezcal shots! Daniel then informed Violeta that Kevin and I just got married (well, it technically was 4 months ago.). “Another round of mezcal!” Something tells me this tour will be turning into a party very soon.

It’s a party! Kevin and Daniel are excited to be in Mexico.

We soon arrived at our first stop (please, I need some tacos to mix up all this booze!). The food truck (called Asadero El Nuevo Tecolote) is clearly for those in the know. Violeta ordered us their most famous taco called the “Taco Cachanilla” topped with cheese, meat and sour cream. Cachanilla means “of being from Mexicali” (the capital city of Baja, located about 2.5 hours east of Tijuana).

Daniel and I enjoy our first stop to try the Taco Cachanilla. Time to dig in!

Stop #1: The verdict? Our favorite. Though, I think we said this after every stop!

We loved it and were ready for some more. The next stop was a short drive away where we’d get to taste a seafood tostada. We rolled into Mariscos El Conchal, where we sat down at a nearby plastic table and opened up cans of Tecate beer to cool us down.

The group is transfixed – learning more about our tacos and our journey for the day.

The stall offered typical food from the owner’s home Mexican state of Sinaloa. The seafood tostada is their specialty and was topped with cooked shrimp, octopus, abalone, red onion, cucumber, avocado as well as lime and a little soy sauce. And the staff here was working it the entire time — shucking oysters, clams and all things seafood on the street.

Kevin and I are enjoying our second stop, and chowing down on the seafood tostada

We were ready to start walking, and went across the street to stop #3, the Mercado Hidalgo. You’ll find just about anything you can imagine here — fresh produce, spices, herbs, souvenirs, piñatas, nuts, beans, teas… You name it.

Love all the piñatas – especially the life-size matadors (that would come in handy in the car pool lane).

One of the many food stalls inside the market.

We came to the market on a mission: to taste some sweets! We followed Violeta inside the market to the front of El Texano Loco where we were able to pick out a freeze pop. Violeta recommended the pineapple (which I ordered) as well as the cool green pistachio flavor (that Kevin nabbed).

Kevin enjoys his freeze pop!

Okay, onto stop #4. Clearly we are running low on alcohol at this point, so we head over to the main tourism drag on Avenida Revolución to taste craft beer at Border Psycho. But they don’t just have beer here. Within minutes, the bartender is breaking out shots of… you guessed it! More mezcal!

Kevin has a hard time picking out the mezcal to sample. I suggest the green label since I like the color of it!

This is one of the new microbreweries taking off in downtown Tijuana. The region is becoming famous for its locally craft beers as well as beers from Monterrey and Colima, to name a few.

The gang’s all here — trying out the microbrews at Border Psycho.

The next stop (#5) is just stumbling distance away. Cerveceria Transpeninsular (that’s a mouthful!) is located up a discrete staircase off the main tourist drag. You’ll feel worlds away from the chaos, as you look down on the packed Avenida Revolucion.

Enjoying the cool IPA draft on a hot day in Tijuana.

A great overlook onto Avenida Revolucion, the main drag of Tijuana.

The microbrew is a prime spot to watch the spectacle of the traditional Mexican Quinceañera (a girl’s coming of age celebration on her 15th birthday). We saw stretch limos packed with kids dressed up in their finest (to the less elaborate version with kids popping out of the sunroofs of Toyota Corollas).

We’re about to reach our 6th and official final stop. We hopped in the van and rode just a few minutes away to Horario Tacos El Franc, which was packed wall-to-wall with Mexican families and workers (always a good sign!).

Yumm, can’t wait! Ready to have some more tacos!

The packed counter and tables at our final stop

We would have two tacos here: a version with beef and another with pork. Each were topped with plenty of guacamole. After just one bite, we all had to agree, these were our favorite tacos we had all day.

Can’t get enough – loving the tacos at our last stop.

Kevin is ready for more!

Where did the day go? And how were we able to eat and drink so much? Before heading back across the border, we decided to grab a coffee at the very cool Container Coffee Roaster on Avenida Revolucion, and walk off some of that food.

The fancy coffee machine – getting my caffeine fix after eating all the tasty tacos.

Aerial shot! Daniel climbs up to the top balcony and snaps our photo inside the coffee shop.

There is great people watching and window shopping along the Avenida. And you’ll find no shortage of hawkers here — who LOVED calling out to us offering dates with their daughters…or sons (as one hawker astutely noted!). I guess a group of 6-foot white guys (well, Kevin and I excluded) strolling the streets of Mexico tend to stick out!

One of the many alleyways off the main Avenida Revolucion drag.

Exploring the alleys and side streets of downtown Tijuana.

It’s time to go. Or is it!? One last stop: to grab drinks on top of Cine Tonala, which is an indie movie house/bar. The place was already packed since we were visiting on Mexican Independence Day and there was a big boxing match that night.

Inside the hipster Cine Tonala, one of the interesting new businesses popping up in Tijuana.

Enjoying one more sip before heading back over the border.

What a great trip! After closing out our bill, we walked back to the border. Allow at least 30 minutes — it feels so close, yet so far away! Parts of the walk were pretty empty/abandoned. So if you’re nervous about walking empty streets, especially at night, there are plenty of cabs to take you to the crossing. But we were ready to stretch our legs — after all, we ate and drank so much!

Until our next Tijuana adventure – adios!

THE LOW DOWN:

  • Club Tengo Hambre gives curated excursions of Mexico’s best culinary offerings. They currently offer tours in Tijuana, Mexico City and Valle De Guadalupe (Mexican wine country). They also offer tours in Los Angeles, given its strong Latino community.
  • The founders, who started off as bloggers (go bloggers!) aim to celebrate both the social aspect of food in bringing people together and the rich culinary scenes of Mexico.
  • We recommend checking out their weekend “Daycation” tours, which make a great side trip from San Diego.
  • The “Daycation” tours meet at 11:30 AM at the San Ysidro border (easily accessed by tram or driving). You’ll wrap up around 5:30 PM (or later depending on whether you want to explore Tijuana on your own).
  • The trips book out quickly! We made our reservation weeks in advance. To make a booking go directly to the Tengo Hambre website.
Summary
Craft Beers and Tacos: A Day Trip to Tijuana Worth the Journey
Article Name
Craft Beers and Tacos: A Day Trip to Tijuana Worth the Journey
Description
Tijuana is making a big comeback as a foodie and craft beer destination. We'll take you along our day trip with Club Tengo Hambre, to taste the best tacos in Tijuana and try some of the local craft breweries popping up across the city.

No Comments, Be The First!

Your email address will not be published.