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Adobada tacos at Tacos El Gallito
Tacos El Gallito / Facebook

The 15 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 town 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. Just look at the tourist thoroughfare Avenida Revolución, where diners can sample the original Caesar salad, complete with Prohibition-era tableside service, then hop over to one of the Avenida’s avant-garde kitchens showcasing modern Baja cuisine—the style itself influenced by Mediterranean, Asian, American, and local sensitivities.

With momentum fueled by the latest 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 to a beloved truck serving Sonora-style mariscos to the city’s quintessential adobada tacos, our guide highlights the definitive Tijuana eating experiences.

The level of service offered in response to the COVID-19 pandemic is indicated on each map point. For updated information on coronavirus cases in Mexico, please visit mx.usembassy.gov.

Mario A. Cortez is an award-winning freelance writer and photographer based in the San Diego-Tijuana region. His work has appeared in Remezcla, San Diego Magazine, The Daily Chela, San Diego Reader, La Prensa San Diego, and The Eureka-Times-Standard, among others.


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Note: Restaurants on this map are listed geographically.

1. Caesar's

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Av. Revolución 8190, Zona Centro, 22000 Tijuana
B.C., Mexico

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]

2. La Justina

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Av. Revolución 930, Zona Centro, 22000 Tijuana
B.C., Mexico

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 . 

La Justina logo
La Justina / Facebook

3. Verde y Crema

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Av. Revolución, Ave. Revolución y, Díaz Mirón y o Cuarta, Zona Centro, 22010 Tijuana
B.C., Mexico

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. 

4. Tacos Varios de La Sexta

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Flores Magón 8259, Zona Centro, 22000 Tijuana
B.C., Mexico
664 685 4261

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

5. Birria El Sabroso

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Av Aguascalientes 2237, Col. Madero (Cacho), 22040 Tijuana
B.C., Mexico
664 821 7971

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.

6. Telefonica Gastro Park

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Blvd. Agua Caliente 8924, Zonaeste, 22000 Tijuana
B.C., Mexico

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. The food hall also includes a bar, with Tijuana beers on tap and cocktails featuring top-shelf spirits.

Outside Telefonica
Telefonica Gastro Park [Official Photo]

7. Mariscos Ruben

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Quintana Roo 740, Centro, Tijuana
B.C., Mexico
664 566 0965

Mariscos Ruben’s fame has spread beyond the border, landing it on some prestigious best-of lists, including in Food & Wine. A longtime fixture on Eighth and Quintana Roo, this truck specializes in Sonora-style mariscos, defined by caguamanta soup (with a base of manta ray and vegetables) and coal-grilled proteins. Proprietor Mirta Rodriguez has devoted her life to this regional cuisine, meaning you can’t go wrong when ordering from her menu of tacos, tostadas, ceviches, and oysters.

8. Tacos El Franc

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Blvrd Gral Rodolfo Sánchez Taboada 9257, Zonaeste, 22010 Tijuana
B.C., Mexico

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. 

9. Tortas Washmobile Originales

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Av. Jalisco 2424, Centro, 22040 Tijuana
B.C., Mexico

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.

10. Tras/Horizonte

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Río Colorado 9680, Marron, 22015 Tijuana
B.C., Mexico

Tras/Horizonte is both the continuation of chef Oso Campos’ acclaimed Tacos Kokopelli cart and where he continues to pioneer though 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.

11. Georgina

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Antonio Caso 2020, Zona Urbana Rio Tijuana, 22010 Tijuana
B.C., Mexico
664 684 8156

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.

12. La Espadaña

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Blvrd Gral Rodolfo Sánchez Taboada 10813, Zona Urbana Rio Tijuana, 22010 Tijuana
B.C., Mexico

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]

13. Oryx

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Blvd. Agua Caliente 10750-Interior 84, Calete, 22020 Tijuana
B.C., Mexico

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.

14. Mision 19

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2, VIA Corporativo, Misión de San Javier 10643, Zona Urbana Rio Tijuana, 22010 Tijuana
B.C., Mexico

This is where hometown superstar chef Javier Plascencia wrote the blueprint for modern Tijuana cuisine. The chef is a steward of the Baja-Mediterranean movement, focused on classic technique applied to Baja’s agricultural bounty. Through Misión 19’s six-course dinner, Plascencia showcases the creativity that has helped boost Tijuana’s acclaim as a global dining destination.

15. Mariscos El Mazateño

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Calz del Tecnológico 473, Tomas Aquino, 22414 Tijuana
B.C., Mexico

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 articles and television clips, packs a big flour tortilla with spicy shrimp and cheese. The taco perron — literally “bad ass” taco — adds fried fish chicharron into the mix. 

1. Caesar's

Av. Revolución 8190, Zona Centro, 22000 Tijuana, B.C., Mexico
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.

Av. Revolución 8190, Zona Centro, 22000 Tijuana
B.C., Mexico

2. La Justina

Av. Revolución 930, Zona Centro, 22000 Tijuana, B.C., Mexico
La Justina logo
La Justina / Facebook

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 . 

Av. Revolución 930, Zona Centro, 22000 Tijuana
B.C., Mexico

3. Verde y Crema

Av. Revolución, Ave. Revolución y, Díaz Mirón y o Cuarta, Zona Centro, 22010 Tijuana, B.C., Mexico

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. 

Av. Revolución, Ave. Revolución y, Díaz Mirón y o Cuarta, Zona Centro, 22010 Tijuana
B.C., Mexico

4. Tacos Varios de La Sexta

Flores Magón 8259, Zona Centro, 22000 Tijuana, B.C., Mexico
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.

Flores Magón 8259, Zona Centro, 22000 Tijuana
B.C., Mexico

5. Birria El Sabroso

Av Aguascalientes 2237, Col. Madero (Cacho), 22040 Tijuana, B.C., Mexico

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.

Av Aguascalientes 2237, Col. Madero (Cacho), 22040 Tijuana
B.C., Mexico

6. Telefonica Gastro Park

Blvd. Agua Caliente 8924, Zonaeste, 22000 Tijuana, B.C., Mexico
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. The food hall also includes a bar, with Tijuana beers on tap and cocktails featuring top-shelf spirits.

Blvd. Agua Caliente 8924, Zonaeste, 22000 Tijuana
B.C., Mexico

7. Mariscos Ruben

Quintana Roo 740, Centro, Tijuana, B.C., Mexico

Mariscos Ruben’s fame has spread beyond the border, landing it on some prestigious best-of lists, including in Food & Wine. A longtime fixture on Eighth and Quintana Roo, this truck specializes in Sonora-style mariscos, defined by caguamanta soup (with a base of manta ray and vegetables) and coal-grilled proteins. Proprietor Mirta Rodriguez has devoted her life to this regional cuisine, meaning you can’t go wrong when ordering from her menu of tacos, tostadas, ceviches, and oysters.

Quintana Roo 740, Centro, Tijuana
B.C., Mexico

8. Tacos El Franc

Blvrd Gral Rodolfo Sánchez Taboada 9257, Zonaeste, 22010 Tijuana, B.C., Mexico

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. 

Blvrd Gral Rodolfo Sánchez Taboada 9257, Zonaeste, 22010 Tijuana
B.C., Mexico

9. Tortas Washmobile Originales

Av. Jalisco 2424, Centro, 22040 Tijuana, B.C., Mexico

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.

Av. Jalisco 2424, Centro, 22040 Tijuana
B.C., Mexico

10. Tras/Horizonte

Río Colorado 9680, Marron, 22015 Tijuana, B.C., Mexico

Tras/Horizonte is both the continuation of chef Oso Campos’ acclaimed Tacos Kokopelli cart and where he continues to pioneer though 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.

Río Colorado 9680, Marron, 22015 Tijuana
B.C., Mexico

11. Georgina

Antonio Caso 2020, Zona Urbana Rio Tijuana, 22010 Tijuana, B.C., Mexico

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.

Antonio Caso 2020, Zona Urbana Rio Tijuana, 22010 Tijuana
B.C., Mexico

12. La Espadaña

Blvrd Gral Rodolfo Sánchez Taboada 10813, Zona Urbana Rio Tijuana, 22010 Tijuana, B.C., Mexico
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. 

Blvrd Gral Rodolfo Sánchez Taboada 10813, Zona Urbana Rio Tijuana, 22010 Tijuana
B.C., Mexico

13. Oryx

Blvd. Agua Caliente 10750-Interior 84, Calete, 22020 Tijuana, B.C., Mexico

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.

Blvd. Agua Caliente 10750-Interior 84, Calete, 22020 Tijuana
B.C., Mexico

14. Mision 19

2, VIA Corporativo, Misión de San Javier 10643, Zona Urbana Rio Tijuana, 22010 Tijuana, B.C., Mexico

This is where hometown superstar chef Javier Plascencia wrote the blueprint for modern Tijuana cuisine. The chef is a steward of the Baja-Mediterranean movement, focused on classic technique applied to Baja’s agricultural bounty. Through Misión 19’s six-course dinner, Plascencia showcases the creativity that has helped boost Tijuana’s acclaim as a global dining destination.

2, VIA Corporativo, Misión de San Javier 10643, Zona Urbana Rio Tijuana, 22010 Tijuana
B.C., Mexico

15. Mariscos El Mazateño

Calz del Tecnológico 473, Tomas Aquino, 22414 Tijuana, B.C., Mexico

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 articles and television clips, packs a big flour tortilla with spicy shrimp and cheese. The taco perron — literally “bad ass” taco — adds fried fish chicharron into the mix. 

Calz del Tecnológico 473, Tomas Aquino, 22414 Tijuana
B.C., Mexico

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