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Adobada tacos at Tacos El Gallito
Tacos El Gallito / Facebook

The 17 Essential Restaurants in Tijuana, Mexico

From tortas to tacos to the original Caesar salad, these are the essential spots in the beloved border town

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Adobada tacos at Tacos El Gallito
| Tacos El Gallito / Facebook

To say Tijuana is having a culinary moment is an understatement. The border city has long been a favorite stopover for travelers and a destination for fun-seekers, but over the last decade, the city’s chefs have changed Tijuana’s image from an anything-goes party town into a serious eating destination.

Visitors have come to recognize the deep culinary roots that form the bedrock of the city’s historic restaurants and to appreciate newer culinary influences brought by immigrants from other regions of Mexico, elsewhere in Latin America, and all over the world. On the main thoroughfare of Avenida Revolución, diners can sample the original Caesar salad and then hop over to one of area’s avant-garde kitchens showcasing modern Baja cuisine — the style itself is influenced by Mediterranean, Asian, American, and local sensibilities.

With momentum fueled by the newest generation of chefs emerging from local culinary schools, as well as renewed faith in the city’s traditional food scene, Tijuana’s “moment” does not seem to be ending anytime soon. From a six-course Baja-Mediterranean dinner and a beloved truck serving Sonora-style mariscos to the city’s quintessential adobada tacos, our guide highlights the definitive Tijuana eating experiences.

Health experts consider dining out to be a high-risk activity for the unvaccinated; it may pose a risk for the vaccinated, especially in areas with substantial COVID transmission.


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Note: Restaurants on this map are listed geographically.

Caesar's

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When then-restaurant owner Caesar Cardini made a salad dressing from scraps and tossed it with romaine, he could not have predicted the legacy he would forge. Today, the original Prohibition-era Caesar salad lives on at this timeless Avenida Revolución restaurant, which drips with old-school cool. Each salad is made tableside, giving you a glimpse of classic service dating back to Tijuana’s golden age. Follow it up with another old Tijuana favorite known as Victor’s carne asada, or choose something more modern, like a hand-pressed sope topped with a grilled bone full of marrow, habanero salsa, and a touch of gravy.

Caesar salad ready to be mixed tableside
Caesar’s [Official Photo]

La Justina

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Originally opened under then-San Diego chef Chad White, La Justina now rests in chef Javier Caro’s talented hands (White is still a co-owner). Today the downtown eatery continues to be a hot spot for creative mixology and food influenced by Mexican, new American, and regional Baja cooking. The octopus burger and duck confit tostadas display how all these influences can harmonize, resulting in some of Tijuana’s most interesting dishes . 

Hand holding a pink cocktail with berries in front of a neon sign that reads “Justina es amor.” La Justina / Instagram

Verde y Crema

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This celebration of Baja cuisine set the city ablaze when it opened nearly a decade ago under chef Jair Tellez. Today, having made its return at its fresh new digs in downtown Tijuana, Verde y Crema continues to dazzle under the leadership of head chef Zoe Villarreal. Entrees like braised ribs and tacos coreanos remain showstoppers, and the killer mezcal and regional wine programs—including the proprietary Bichi natural wine line—are reason enough to swing by. 

Tacos Varios de La Sexta

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Tacos varios — literally “varied tacos” — are a street-food staple throughout Mexico due to their homestyle fillings and great value. This cart on Calle Sexta in downtown features a rotating selection of tasty guisados ranging from chicken mole and chile relleno to milanesa steak and chicharron verde. The popular quick-service cart caters to office workers during the day and bar hoppers at night.

Tacos from “La 6” stand
Chilango

Birria El Sabroso

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Birria stands can be found all over Tijuana, and are as ubiquitous as traditional taquerias. A favorite of many Tijuanenses, El Sabroso pours cups of the spiced, red consomme and loads tacos with the soft braised beef. Dip your quesabirria in the broth for an extra splash of flavor.

Telefonica Gastro Park

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It may have relocated from its original home, but Telefonica Gastro Park continues to reign as one of Tijuana’s most popular culinary destinations. It’s the place to discover new, progressive chefs cooking vegan tacos, fusion ramen, modern Baja seafood, barbecue, and more. Concepts focused on smash burgers and fresh churros feature as the venue’s newest tenants. This food hall also includes a bar, with Tijuana beers on tap and cocktails featuring top-shelf and locally distilled spirits.

Outside Telefonica
Telefonica Gastro Park [Official Photo]

El Casimiro at Insurgente Tap Room - Cacho

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El Casimiro’s second outpost continues the Tijuana dream team residency between local chef Jose Figueroa and renowned brewers Cervecería Insurgente. In a moment in which local staples are trending at home and beyond, the kitchen slings aguachiles in a fermented red serrano sauce, ceviche spiced with charred jalapeños, and incredibly crispy beef birria tacos. Naturally, you’ll want to wash down your grub with one of Insurgente’s outstanding brews. If there’s a kitchen truly in tune with the vibe in Tijuana, this is it. Visitors centering their trip on downtown Tijuana’s attractions can find El Casimiro’s first location inside the area’s Insurgente outpost.

Tacos El Franc

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No trip to Tijuana is complete without hitting up a taqueria, and El Franc is among the most popular in town. While the main attraction is the large, spinning trompo of adobada—as al pastor meat is called in Tijuana— the carne asada grilled over coals is equally worthy of your attention. Also available: suadero, cabeza, tripa, and lengua, all as good as they get. 

Tortas Washmobile Originales

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Once home to a car wash service, hence the unusual name for an eatery, this humble stand houses some of Tijuana’s best street food. The signature “El Wash” torta packs a crispy ciabatta roll with carne asada, guacamole, salsa, and tomato slices. While its success had led to the owners opening more locations around town, locals insist the tortas from the original stand are the best.

Tras/Horizonte

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Tras/Horizonte is both the continuation of chef Oso Campos’ acclaimed Tacos Kokopelli cart and where he continues to explore contemporary Mexican concepts in the heart of Tijuana. Come in for the signature tacos, fusing influences from all over with Mexican culinary traditions, as well as chef specialties, and some of the most inventive mixology anywhere. The pioneering restaurant recently launched its own brewing arm, with a Mexican lager good enough to book a visit.

Las Ahumaderas

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Tijuana’s famed “taco alley” is an enchanting sight to behold for first-time visitors and hungry regulars alike. What was once five adjacent taco stands, Las Ahumaderas is the name given to the collective of neighboring taqueros with their constantly smoking grills and trompos. Stop in day or night for some of the city’s finest tacos. Carne asada, adobada, cabeza, lengua, suadero, tripa—all the cuts, basically— are on deck.

Georgina

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A favorite with the ladies-who-lunch set, Georgina is a lovely jewel box of a restaurant, from the plush decor to the perfectly put-together plates. Hugely popular for brunch, the European-influenced restaurant is helmed by head chef and owner Adria Marina Montaño, who cooked at Los Angeles’s neo-French landmark République and supported chef Javier Plascencia at Misión 19.

La Espadaña

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As one of Tijuana’s most revered restaurants and a go-to place for family celebrations, La Espadaña is known for its exemplary Mexican breakfast. Standouts include chilaquiles, machaca, and huevos rancheros. The sweet, cinnamon-infused café de olla is a must. 

Chilaquiles
La Espadaña [Official Photo]

Chef Ruffo Ibarra’s marquee project is a tribute to the Prohibition-era decadence that first brought so many people to Tijuana. Recently revamped, Oryx Capital is still one of the pace-setters in Tijuana’s contemporary food scene and a must-visit for anyone looking to get a feel for the city’s culinary renaissance. Make sure to peek inside Nortico, a speakeasy located within the restaurant.

Mision 19

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This is where hometown superstar chef Javier Plascencia wrote the blueprint for modern Tijuana cuisine. Though the acclaimed chef is no longer associated with the fine dining restaurant, it remains part of his legacy, propelling Baja-Mediterranean cuisine with a focus on classic techniques applied to Baja’s agricultural bounty.

Casa Tijuana Project

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Two years into doing business out of a refurbished residential unit in Tijuana, chef Juan Cabrera has established his Colonia Hipodromo concept as a Tijuana must. The El Bulli and Pujol alum dazzles with dishes that oscillate between Mexican tradition and his avant garde resume. House takes on lamb barbacoa and octopus rubbed in red adobo are perennial highlights. With breakfast, midday and dinner menus, it’s never a bad time to knock on Casa Tijuana’s door.

Mariscos El Mazateño

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From its humble origins to an internationally acclaimed eatery, El Mazateño delights diners with its fresh tostadas and loaded tacos made the Sinaloa way. The signature taco mazateño, the subject of countless television and food page clips, packs a big flour tortilla with spicy shrimp and cheese. The taco perrón — literally “bad ass” taco — adds fried fish chicharrón into the mix. 

Caesar's

Caesar salad ready to be mixed tableside
Caesar’s [Official Photo]

When then-restaurant owner Caesar Cardini made a salad dressing from scraps and tossed it with romaine, he could not have predicted the legacy he would forge. Today, the original Prohibition-era Caesar salad lives on at this timeless Avenida Revolución restaurant, which drips with old-school cool. Each salad is made tableside, giving you a glimpse of classic service dating back to Tijuana’s golden age. Follow it up with another old Tijuana favorite known as Victor’s carne asada, or choose something more modern, like a hand-pressed sope topped with a grilled bone full of marrow, habanero salsa, and a touch of gravy.

Caesar salad ready to be mixed tableside
Caesar’s [Official Photo]

La Justina

Hand holding a pink cocktail with berries in front of a neon sign that reads “Justina es amor.” La Justina / Instagram

Originally opened under then-San Diego chef Chad White, La Justina now rests in chef Javier Caro’s talented hands (White is still a co-owner). Today the downtown eatery continues to be a hot spot for creative mixology and food influenced by Mexican, new American, and regional Baja cooking. The octopus burger and duck confit tostadas display how all these influences can harmonize, resulting in some of Tijuana’s most interesting dishes . 

Hand holding a pink cocktail with berries in front of a neon sign that reads “Justina es amor.” La Justina / Instagram

Verde y Crema

This celebration of Baja cuisine set the city ablaze when it opened nearly a decade ago under chef Jair Tellez. Today, having made its return at its fresh new digs in downtown Tijuana, Verde y Crema continues to dazzle under the leadership of head chef Zoe Villarreal. Entrees like braised ribs and tacos coreanos remain showstoppers, and the killer mezcal and regional wine programs—including the proprietary Bichi natural wine line—are reason enough to swing by. 

Tacos Varios de La Sexta

Tacos from “La 6” stand
Chilango

Tacos varios — literally “varied tacos” — are a street-food staple throughout Mexico due to their homestyle fillings and great value. This cart on Calle Sexta in downtown features a rotating selection of tasty guisados ranging from chicken mole and chile relleno to milanesa steak and chicharron verde. The popular quick-service cart caters to office workers during the day and bar hoppers at night.

Tacos from “La 6” stand
Chilango

Birria El Sabroso

Birria stands can be found all over Tijuana, and are as ubiquitous as traditional taquerias. A favorite of many Tijuanenses, El Sabroso pours cups of the spiced, red consomme and loads tacos with the soft braised beef. Dip your quesabirria in the broth for an extra splash of flavor.

Telefonica Gastro Park

Outside Telefonica
Telefonica Gastro Park [Official Photo]

It may have relocated from its original home, but Telefonica Gastro Park continues to reign as one of Tijuana’s most popular culinary destinations. It’s the place to discover new, progressive chefs cooking vegan tacos, fusion ramen, modern Baja seafood, barbecue, and more. Concepts focused on smash burgers and fresh churros feature as the venue’s newest tenants. This food hall also includes a bar, with Tijuana beers on tap and cocktails featuring top-shelf and locally distilled spirits.

Outside Telefonica
Telefonica Gastro Park [Official Photo]

El Casimiro at Insurgente Tap Room - Cacho

El Casimiro’s second outpost continues the Tijuana dream team residency between local chef Jose Figueroa and renowned brewers Cervecería Insurgente. In a moment in which local staples are trending at home and beyond, the kitchen slings aguachiles in a fermented red serrano sauce, ceviche spiced with charred jalapeños, and incredibly crispy beef birria tacos. Naturally, you’ll want to wash down your grub with one of Insurgente’s outstanding brews. If there’s a kitchen truly in tune with the vibe in Tijuana, this is it. Visitors centering their trip on downtown Tijuana’s attractions can find El Casimiro’s first location inside the area’s Insurgente outpost.

Tacos El Franc

No trip to Tijuana is complete without hitting up a taqueria, and El Franc is among the most popular in town. While the main attraction is the large, spinning trompo of adobada—as al pastor meat is called in Tijuana— the carne asada grilled over coals is equally worthy of your attention. Also available: suadero, cabeza, tripa, and lengua, all as good as they get. 

Tortas Washmobile Originales

Once home to a car wash service, hence the unusual name for an eatery, this humble stand houses some of Tijuana’s best street food. The signature “El Wash” torta packs a crispy ciabatta roll with carne asada, guacamole, salsa, and tomato slices. While its success had led to the owners opening more locations around town, locals insist the tortas from the original stand are the best.

Tras/Horizonte

Tras/Horizonte is both the continuation of chef Oso Campos’ acclaimed Tacos Kokopelli cart and where he continues to explore contemporary Mexican concepts in the heart of Tijuana. Come in for the signature tacos, fusing influences from all over with Mexican culinary traditions, as well as chef specialties, and some of the most inventive mixology anywhere. The pioneering restaurant recently launched its own brewing arm, with a Mexican lager good enough to book a visit.

Las Ahumaderas

Tijuana’s famed “taco alley” is an enchanting sight to behold for first-time visitors and hungry regulars alike. What was once five adjacent taco stands, Las Ahumaderas is the name given to the collective of neighboring taqueros with their constantly smoking grills and trompos. Stop in day or night for some of the city’s finest tacos. Carne asada, adobada, cabeza, lengua, suadero, tripa—all the cuts, basically— are on deck.

Georgina

A favorite with the ladies-who-lunch set, Georgina is a lovely jewel box of a restaurant, from the plush decor to the perfectly put-together plates. Hugely popular for brunch, the European-influenced restaurant is helmed by head chef and owner Adria Marina Montaño, who cooked at Los Angeles’s neo-French landmark République and supported chef Javier Plascencia at Misión 19.

La Espadaña

Chilaquiles
La Espadaña [Official Photo]

As one of Tijuana’s most revered restaurants and a go-to place for family celebrations, La Espadaña is known for its exemplary Mexican breakfast. Standouts include chilaquiles, machaca, and huevos rancheros. The sweet, cinnamon-infused café de olla is a must. 

Chilaquiles
La Espadaña [Official Photo]

Oryx

Chef Ruffo Ibarra’s marquee project is a tribute to the Prohibition-era decadence that first brought so many people to Tijuana. Recently revamped, Oryx Capital is still one of the pace-setters in Tijuana’s contemporary food scene and a must-visit for anyone looking to get a feel for the city’s culinary renaissance. Make sure to peek inside Nortico, a speakeasy located within the restaurant.

Mision 19

This is where hometown superstar chef Javier Plascencia wrote the blueprint for modern Tijuana cuisine. Though the acclaimed chef is no longer associated with the fine dining restaurant, it remains part of his legacy, propelling Baja-Mediterranean cuisine with a focus on classic techniques applied to Baja’s agricultural bounty.

Related Maps

Casa Tijuana Project

Two years into doing business out of a refurbished residential unit in Tijuana, chef Juan Cabrera has established his Colonia Hipodromo concept as a Tijuana must. The El Bulli and Pujol alum dazzles with dishes that oscillate between Mexican tradition and his avant garde resume. House takes on lamb barbacoa and octopus rubbed in red adobo are perennial highlights. With breakfast, midday and dinner menus, it’s never a bad time to knock on Casa Tijuana’s door.

Mariscos El Mazateño

From its humble origins to an internationally acclaimed eatery, El Mazateño delights diners with its fresh tostadas and loaded tacos made the Sinaloa way. The signature taco mazateño, the subject of countless television and food page clips, packs a big flour tortilla with spicy shrimp and cheese. The taco perrón — literally “bad ass” taco — adds fried fish chicharrón into the mix. 

Related Maps