Call me adventurous, call me foolish, but when an opportunity presents itself, I love to jump. That’s how I found myself spending 24 hours in Tijuana on a beer crawl/food adventure before heading further south into the Valle de Guadalupe for the weekend.

I know Tijuana gets a bad rap. Everyone has a story of going there as a kid when it was dirty and scary. Heck, I even have one of those stories! But times have changed (sort of) and TJ is now booming with redevelopment and benefitting from an influx of migration southwards from people looking to escape their high costs of living in Southern California.

Finding good information on Tijuana was easy. A quick search on “Tijuana food/beer” resulted in numerous articles including NewYorkMag and Afar. When I saw the New York Times listed it as the #8 place in the world to go in 2017 (Canada was #1 btw), I knew TJ was a place worth exploring, with one small hurdle.

San Diego is a quick 2 1/2 flight from Vancouver and the border is less than 30 minutes from the airport. The only hurdle for a solo female traveller like me? Crossing “la linea” and meeting up with my friend safely in Tijuana.

Lucky for me, I was meeting “Oaxacking” who has friends all over and I was able to get a personal escort over the border and less than 90 minutes from touchdown at SAN airport, I was sitting in sunny Tijuana having a beer with Omar!

Mamut Susy Bando Oaxacking

Mamut Brewery Co  – The beer crawl started off strong at Mamut. A taster of 4 costing only $60 pesos (that’s around CDN $4.20/US $3.15). I liked the small space and outdoor seating, was a stark contrast to the rain I’d left at home, which made me so thankful that I’d made this trip!

Mamut brewery Tijuana

Mamut cerveca Tijuana

Cine Tonala – Walking into the ground level of this movie theatre/restaurant/bar was my firsthand experience of “hip” Tijuana and this was a place I could imagine spending time in. We kept walking up the stairs to the 3rd floor terrace where we sat for a drink, some eats and I got to take in the view along Av. Revolucion.

Tijuana cine tonala

Tijuana Cine Tonala beer

Cerveceria Tijuana Tap House – This one was a bit out of the way, but I’m happy we got to it because I enjoyed the bright airy space with a great beer selection and yummy bar snacks.

Oaxacking Susy Bando Tijuana
Photo: @thepuertoexperience

Ceveceria Tijuana

Cerveceria Tijuana beer
“Japanese” peanuts and olives with chamoy were a new experience as bar snacks for me.

 

Susy Bando Tijuana Puerto Experience
My TJ beer crawl posse.

Cerveceria Insurgente – The tasting room is located in Plaza Fiesta, which was once a mall of seedy nightclubs now being revived into a craft beer galleria housing some of Tijuana’s best craft breweries. We stopped at Insurgente, which had an impressive selection of bottled beer, but of course, I was interested in trying out what they had on tap.

Insurgentes Tijuana beer

Oaxacking Susy Bando Insurgentes Tijuana
Photo: @thepuertoexperience

We had intentions of hitting a few other breweries housed in Plaza Fiesta, but then talk of mezcal hit our group and we knew if we wanted mezcal, that Omar’s stash that he brought from Oaxaca was going to be better than anything we’d get in Tijuana. We headed up to the apartment of one in our group to have a sip of mezcal while taking in the view of the city.

Snapseed 46

We had spent the whole day drinking with not much to eat so headed to the fair that was taking place in town, so we continued our evening there.

Snapseed 47

Snapseed 49

Snapseed 50
Tired and so hungry, I devoured this plate of tacos without even asking what I’d been ordered!

Omar found out one of Mexico’s top-selling artist’s Yuridia was playing at the fair that night, and before I knew it, we were in the cozy arena awaiting her show!

Yuridia.jpg

One Bunk TJ – Every article I’d read on TJ said that the uber-small boutique hotel One Bunk was the place to stay, and when I saw how reasonably priced it was, I booked immediately. Conveniently located on Av. Revolucion, but surprisingly not noisy at all, One Bunk turned out to be better than I’d ever expected it to be.

Oaxacking Susy Bando TIjuana One Bunk

One bunk Tijuana barber
So cool it even has its own barber shop inside the hotel.

Telefonica Gatro Park – Part 1 – We needed sustenance before we hit the road south to the Guadalupe Valley so we asked around for what to eat for breakfast and found ourselves at Telefonica Gastro Park. Because we were there for breakfast, only 2 of the many food trucks were open but lucky for us, both were serving delicious eats.

IMG_8212

Carmelita Telefonica chilaquiles
One of the most delicious Chilaquiles I’ve ever had because the beans were so darn delicious.
Asarosa Telofonica montechristo
Montecristo – French toast with ham, cheese and an egg surrounded by a sweet strawberry syrup – from Adria Mariana’s (a Top Chef Mexico alum) food truck Azarosa. I am a big fan of sweet and savory, but with this I swung back and forth between loving it and being perplexed with it.
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Because we were feeling a bit “crudo” from the night before.

We returned to Tijuana after the weekend in the Valley, I had a few hours to kill before heading back north of the border for my flight which meant a few more hours of exploring.

Alma Verde – After the days of excess I’d just had, a stop at Alma Verde, known for their healthy breakfast and juices was just what my body and mind needed.

Alma Verde Tijuana juices
Cold boosters, ginger shots and cold-pressed juices to revive my mind.
Alma Verde Tijuana parfait
Greek yogurt parfait sweetened with granola, quinoa and yummy berries was exactly what I was craving.
Alma Verde Tijuana Oaxacking sandwich
Omar had more of an appetite than I did so he ordered a pin-pollo sandwich with an egg.

I had just enough time for one last beer before leaving TJ, so we headed back to Telefonica Gastro Park. SouthNorte, the first American independent craft brewery in Mexico shares its space and collaborates with Lirica Brewing, and the result is lots of amazing beers to taste.

Telefonica lirica beer Tijuana
Checking out Sunset Magazine’s September article on Oaxaca with Omar over beers. Yes that’s him in the magazine!
Ottos Grill Telefonica
Atun sellado, tuna with cucumber, chiles and topped with a sriracha dressing eaten atop a crispy tostada was a fresh delicious last bite for this trip.

Just over a day of seriously exploring the craft beer scene and barely scratching the surface on the food scene in Tijuana has left me wanting more. Lucky enough, I’m returning in a few weeks for another day adventure…

 

 

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