Although tacos have become Tijuana’s most famous food export, innovative chefs below the border are bringing the city to the forefront of culinary excellence by preparing such dishes as squid, tuna, spider crab salad and confit pork belly. As a result, foodies are flocking to Tijuana in droves. Four new Tijuana restaurants with dynamic concepts, including one by well-known local chef Juan Cabrera, are getting ready to serve hungry crowds. They’re artistic, atmospheric, fun-filled and contemporary featuring Baja California ingredients and chef-driven food and beverages.
Casa Tijuana Project:
Reigning in the kitchen is talented Chef Juan Cabrera. His food at Casa Tijuana is very fresh, innovative and dramatically plated with much flair from aguachile de polpo to tiramisu. He attended the Culinary Institute of America in N.Y. with a pastry specialty. Internationally known, Cabrera’s career includes cook, professional chef, food and beverage manager at various high-end restaurants (Le Cirque in Mexico City, Kyo in Monterrey, Perse in Villahermosa, Fonda Fina, Cocina Mexicana Contemporánea, Los Compas and others), educator, sommelier training and stints with Ferran Adria at El Bulli and with world-famous chef Enrique Olvera. He was selected for the second season of Top Chef México and is included in the 6th Edition 2021 of Larousse’s “Gastronomic Mexico Guide, The Great Chefs of Mexico.”
Fin de California:
A “Caliterranean” sensory escapist experience, ingredients range from Baja specialty seafood to American-style steakhouse entrees, vegetarian options and house takes on bao buns and tacos. All the elements here deliver a “plunge into the ocean” with a comfortable modern interior design, large tables and velvety booths encircling the entire room along with exciting architectural elements such as charred wood, huge metal rings, soft light panels and alabaster accents. Chef Sergio Chavez’s surf and turf cuisine adds to the sensory adventure with textures, aromas and flavors from the ocean, valleys, multi-inspired influences from Mexico, Asia, American steakhouse and the Mediterranean. Food is artistically plated on handcrafted Tlaquepaque ceramics and served with Mexican artisan cutlery.
Soon-to-Be, Cal-Italian Rooftop Hot Spot Bistro with DJs and Bubbly Mixology. Opening later this spring, located on the rooftop of Fin de California, Banger will be relaxed but with a permanent pre-party glamorous atmosphere featuring “Cataliano” dishes created by Chef Tano – think traditional artisanal egg pasta, white and red Neapolitan pizzas with fresh ingredients from Baja such as fungi, squid, tuna, horse mackerel and totoaba ham and charcuterie and in-house gelato. In addition to local ingredients, the restaurant also sources premium meats from U.S. providers including Creek Stone Farms, Niman Ranch and 1885 Black Angus Beef. Banger is the first in the city to have Vera Pizza Napolitana certification. It’s an exciting, sexy modernistic architectural setting that transports to the Italy of the pop years with geometric shapes, striking colors and white arches – enhanced by the spectacular background of iconic Tijuana edifices. Cocktails are an integral part of the mood – flavors, colors, whimsical shapes and taste intensities. Food and drinks are served on custom designed tableware by Mexican artists and the finest world-class glassware.
La Bete Noir:
“Keep Ensenada Boring.” Made with Love in Baja by Locals for Locals. The ambiance includes an artistic setting with rustic walls, old sound systems and DJs playing a wide variety of vinyl records – a venue designed for music events. The creative cocktails, in collaboration with The Art Cocktail Club, feature quaffs such as Baby Corn concocted with Alto Reposado Tequila, Nieta, Colin Dry and Baby Elite, along with Is for You, Bizz Nizz and Umami, all with intriguing ingredients. Carefully curated menu highlights include lamb meatball pita, raw shrimp with fried head, spider crab salad, confit pork belly, along with daily specials.