When most people think of Tijuana, “fine
dining” is not what they have in mind.
Many people in the U.S. don’t associate Mexican cuisine with the likes of
French or Spanish and don’t imagine
having a 6-course chef’s tasting menu in a border town in Baja.
Thankfully, the stereotype is changing.
Mexican food is no longer being thought of as a monolith of cheap street tacos.
Dining at all price points can be found in Tijuana and I wanted to sample some
of the city’s best restaurants.
Mision 19 is the absolute best restaurant in
Tijuana. For a cost of about $60 USD, I enjoyed a 6-course meal with a cocktail
– much cheaper than it would have been in the U.S.
The location itself feels rather exclusive.
Far from the chaos of Revolucion and tucked away inside a nondescript corporate
tower, this place has an almost nightclub vibe.
When we went on a Friday night at 8:00pm, the
restaurant was about half full. It was impossible to tell where everyone was
from or how they knew each other. The groups of other diners fascinated me with
their mystique. The interior is simple, not overly decorated or adorned – all
the design is reserved for the plating.
My dining companion, Albert William, and I
each started out by ordering a cocktail. Mine, I'm sure, had Mescal in it. It
was perfectly balanced, not too strong or too sweet.
We were then offered a sample of experimental breads from the kitchen. Four tiny, savory pastries that had
unique blends of Mexican and French tastes.
The first course was a tuna ceviche, a raw
fish with citrus flavors, seaweed, and trout caviar.
The second course was a sea urchin cream
served in the shell of the sea urchin. By far the best way I have ever eaten
sea urchin outside of Japan.
The third course was my favorite – a lobster
served with Cotija
and parmesan foam in a buttery sauce. It was the most divine
flavor I ever tasted.
The fourth course was a taco, which was
served a top of bed of hot coals.
The presentation was outstanding and I found
the taco tasty as well.
The fifth and final savory course was a
braised beef short rib in a sweet corn pudding. Amazing.
The sixth course, dessert, was a delightful
ice cream dish with a short bread and rose petals.
Honestly, this is one of the best meals I
have ever had in my life and I can’t wait to return.
The first night I was in Tijauna, I visited
Oryx capital. After a quick stay in their speakeasy Nortico, I had a late
dinner around 10:00pm.
The first free treat they offered us was a strawberry in balsamic reduction.
I ordered an appetizer which was a corn soup
and one of the best I’ve had.
My friend got a Taco de Negra, with
fish, squid ink, beet, avocado, purple cabbage and cheese.
I ordered a tagliatelle with tongue and parmesan. Very
I enjoyed my meal at Oryx, but it did not blow me away like Mision 19. It may be unfair to compare the two, because they each offer unique culinary experiences.