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 filling.
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.
Coming 2019*** 52 Kool