Archive for the 'Tijuana' Category

Mision 19 – Tijuana

Mision 19 - Tijuana

Hours 24 through 28 in Tijuana were spent at Chef Javier Plascencia’s Mision 19. The five-month-old restaurant, which is located in Baja’s first LEED-certified building, is arguably the city’s most exciting place to dine at the moment. Named the “Master of a New Tijuana” by the New York Times, Chef Plascencia serves traditional Mexican cuisine prepared with ingredients sourced from within a 120-mile radius. The chef draws inspiration for his cooking from local farms, the vineyards in the Guadalupe Valley, and even San Diego’s farmers’ markets.

This forward-thinking restaurant is the eleventh member of the Grupo Plascencia consortium, which is headed by the chef’s father and anchored by Villa Saverios.

Mision 19 - Tijuana

Bill and I were guests of the restaurant this afternoon, along with journalists from Baja and San Diego, as part of a press conference about the region’s thriving culinary scene. Prior to the conference, we were treated to a five-course lunch complete with wine pairings. Needless to say, by the time the official announcements were made, everyone was feeling quite toasty. Or maybe it was just me.

Mision 19

All of the wines served at Mision 19 are from the Guadalupe Valley. We started off with flutes of bubbly and an effective glass of “Mexology.”

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28 Hours in Tijuana with Bill Esparza: Tacos, Buches, Menudo, Churros, and Tortas

Around Tijuana

Following Sunday brunch at Scarpetta, I took a little jaunt down to Tijuana with my friend Bill. While escaping to Mexico for a day might be too hurried for some, it’s these impromptu getaways that I absolutely live for. After Bill picked me up in Beverly Hills, we hightailed it to the border, and not too long after, we were living large on Revolución. It had been well over a year since my last Baja eating tour, so I was beyond ready for another gluttonous spree.

After dropping off our bags at the hotel and freshening up a bit, it was time to cruise the streets for delectable Mexican eats.

Tacos Salceados - Tijuana

At my request, our first stop was at Tacos Salceados. I ate here on my first Baja culinary tour, but wasn’t able to enjoy it to the fullest since it was the eighteenth and final stop of a two-day eating blitz. I always hoped to return because even though my palate was beyond spent at the time, I remembered that the tacos totally rocked.

Tacos Salceados - Tijuana

The little taqueria was bright and bumpin’ when we arrived. We started off with a small plate of blistered blonde chilies and young spring onions dressed in a tangy Maggi-based sauce.

Continue reading ’28 Hours in Tijuana with Bill Esparza: Tacos, Buches, Menudo, Churros, and Tortas’

Barbacoa Ermita – Tijuana

8 a.m. Under normal circumstances, following an evening of indulgences, I seek a simple breakfast of fibrous cereal and fresh fruit. For me, balance is key to resting my taste buds and maximizing the enjoyment of meals taken outside the home.

It was clear from the get-go that the circumstances surrounding the Baja culinary blitz were anything but normal. The morning after stuffing our faces for twelve hours straight, we dug into a meaty heap of lamb and Mexican-style Haggis. It seems that my dear friend Balance was left at the border and would not be retrieved until I returned to American soil. I didn’t miss her one bit!

Victor Emanuel Torres (pictured above) is the proud owner of Barbacoa “Ermita,” the site of our first meal on day two of the Baja culinary blitz. A native of Hidalgo, Torres specializes in barbecue from his home state.

We arrived just in time to see Torres removing the copious layers of masa to reveal mounds of freshly cooked lamb. The meat, which was steamed overnight in an above-ground pit constructed by Torres, smelled overwhelmingly good and whetted our jaded palates nicely.

As we settled into our seats, Torres’ son brought over corn tortillas that he had just heated on the griddle. Serving us in a room adjacent to their home, the father and son duo treated our group of camera-wielding, question-asking Americans just like family.

Freshly prepared salsas awaited us at the table. The selection included a pasilla chile salsa with pulque, a red salsa of beer and chiles de arbol, habanero salsa, and a green salsa of tomatillos. There were also bowls of chopped cilantro and onions, as well as lime wedges to further adorn our lamb tacos. It was way too early in the morning for salsa experimentation, so I mainly stuck with the cilantro, onions, and limes.

Steaming in a pit for 10+ hours will result in some awesomely tender and flavorful meat. So tender, in fact, that the lamb refused to adhere to the bone.

A lamb taco with cilantro, onions, and a squirt of lime. The warm and rustic tortilla was heartier than most and tied the pacakge together well. The tacos were somewhat dry, especially considering the tortilla’s thickness, so we sipped and dipped hot consomme on the side. The rich but mildly flavored broth contained lamb juices and garbanzo beans.

We washed everything down with cool glasses of homemade jamaica, an agua fresca made of hibiscus.

The finale was a pancita rellena—barbecued lamb stomach stuffed with offal and red chili. If it weren’t for the dominating metallic taste of liver, I would’ve been all over this south of the border Haggis.

Barbacoa Ermita
Ermita No. 807
La Mesa, Tijuana
Phone: 664-622-1969

BAJA BITES: 2 Days, 3 Cities, 18 Meals
Introduction > 1 > 2 > 3 > 4 > 5 > 6 > 7 > 8 > 9 > 10 > 11 > 12 > 13 > 14 > 15 > 16 > 17 > 18

Villa Saverios – Tijuana

Photos by Street Gourmet LA and Masa Assassin

8:30 p.m. We concluded our day of epic gorging with a lavish four-course Baja Med supper at Villa Saverios. At this point in the Baja culinary blitz, hunger was beside the point and we were game for just about anything.

Villa Saverios is one of a handful of restaurants owned by Juan Plascencia, the founder of Baja’s first pizza parlor. Since its establishment in 1967, the Plascencia restaurant empire has grown to six eateries with locations throughout Baja and nearby San Diego.

Our group of fearless feasters was seated away from the stylish local set in a private dining room/wine cellar. As we settled into our seats, Chef Javier Plascencia (Juan’s son) came by to welcome us and to say a few words about his passion for the region and its cuisine. [Although I do not have photographic evidence, I assure you that Chef Plascencia was just as foxy as La Querencia’s Chef Miguel Angel Guerrero Yagües.]

I love that in Tijuana every meal kicks off with a potent tamarind cocktail. This one consisted of a chilled blend of mezcal, Damiana, and tamarind. The tamarind pod garnish provided a puckery snack as I sipped the sour-tinged drink.

Salicornia, also known as sea asparagus, were also on hand for us to nibble on. Thank goodness I was sitting next to Chef Ramiro of La Casita Mexicana or else I would have never been able to identify the salty branches on my bread plate.

Our first course of the evening was a gorgeous octopus carpaccio with arugula, tomatoes, grapefruit, and locally produced olive oil. What surprised me about this dish was the manner in which the sections of octopus separated—piece by piece the circular rounds came apart and melted on my tongue. The dish’s flavors were clean, bright, and just what we craved after a day of intense eating.

Course number two consisted of three small bites—black mussel “cappuccino” (left), char-grilled octopus on hummus (right, top), and spaghettini Romesco-style tacos (right, bottom).

Served in the cutest of saucers, the cappuccino captured the deep flavor of mussels without a trace of the mollusk. The foam accent made the experience all the more cappuccino-like. The most intriguing item on the plate was the pasta taco. According to Chef Plascencia, this dish is an updated version of a snack he was served by his grandmother, who wrapped leftover fideo (pasta) in a tortilla. His interpretation included Christorra sausage, avocado, fresh panela cheese, cream, and salsa ranchera.

Course number three had me begging my stomach to please make room for more. The costilla de res con mole de higo, short ribs in black Oaxacan mole flavored with Port wine and figs, put me over the edge with its well-rounded flavors and textures. Slow-cooked for six hours, the tender and caramelized meat rested on an impossibly creamy puree of potatoes mixed with mascarpone. A sprig of thyme and a grilled fresh fig completed the flawless dish.

For the final course of the evening, we were treated to wild berry (blueberry and blackberry) tamales drizzled with sweet cream. I wrote in my notes that the tamales were “true to both elements, nothing gets compromised.” What I meant was that even though this was a dessert tamale, all the elements of a traditional tamale were present, including the strong taste of masa and the classic gelatinous texture. Even so, the flavors from the fresh berries were unmistakable.

Villa Saverios
Boulevard Sanchez Taboada Esq. Escuadron 201, Zona Río
Tijuana, BC, Mexico
Phone Number: 0 11 52 664 6502

BAJA BITES: 2 Days, 3 Cities, 18 Meals
Introduction > 1 > 2 > 3 > 4 > 5 > 6 > 7 > 8 > 9 > 10 > 11 > 12 > 13 > 14 > 15 > 16 > 17 > 18

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