Let's face it–New Year's Eve is a rip-off. It's a night of price-gouging and impossible missions to make it safely back home, at least without having to pay for an expensive limo service. As a professional musician, I've spent most of my New Year's Eve's sober and dreading the running-of-the-borrachos, drive home at 1 a.m., but have chosen in recent years to take the night off. A couple of those New Year's Eve's have been in Tijuana–there will be parties from TJ to Cabo, but Tijuana is the preferred destination to get wild.
There's nothing you can't do north of the border to ring in the new year in terms of restaurant packages and clubbing–it's just a whole lot cheaper. Most of the restaurants in the Zona Rio will have four-course meals with champagne for under $100, then it's off to Las Pulgas for la noche paisa to hear some banda, or shaking your ass with the fresas at Classico (this gets my vote), or doing the Mexi-hipster stumble down La 6ta. There are plenty of cabs to drive you to the border, or take you to your hotel–it's an affordable night of traditional New Year's Eve activities, and your breakfast options are plentiful in fighting la cruda. Here are a couple of ways to ring in the New Year in Tijuana.
We–meaning Dave and I–decided that there was no need for a top ten list, or best of 2012 list for our Tijuana Sí! column since we're bringing the flavor every Thursday–let our post be your best of guide, amigos. Instead I thought I'd share some tips for having a memorable evening across the border.
Villa Saverios–part of the Chef Javier Plascencia empire–always has themed dinner parties on New Year's Eve (last year, it was the Titanic). Guests were treated to a four-course dining experience which began with an oyster au gratin, and of course there was a Caesar's salad. There was a soup, and of course, the Mexican family event standard: beef medallions. Mexicans party with their kids, just like you'll see in the Italian-American community parties in Southern California, as well as in other traditional communities. It's an old-school New Year's Eve complete with a meal, a well-dressed crowd, a cheesy band, and noise-makers.
This theme this year at Villa Saverios is a Black and White ball for $95–it's a four-course meal with a reception that begins at 8pm. This will be a dress-to-impress gala attended by the Tijuana elite, but at this price, this would include you.
If that's not your thing, there's always Las Pulgas on Av. Revolucion for banda, cubetas (buckets of beer), cuerpazos (hotties), and bacon-wrapped hot dogs. If you want to be taken seriously here–wear boots, a cowboy hat, a big-ass narco belt buckle, jeans, and a cowboy shirt. You will not be able to dance, fellas, if you don't come correct.
If you want to party like a Mexi-hipster–La 6ta is the place to be for beers, tacos, and Mexico's first San Diego-style taco shop right on 6th street. Porky's, El Dandy, La Mezcalera, and La Tasca will be full of Dos Equis guzzling, and cigarette smoking hipster.
The middle-aged fresas and their younger kids will be at Villa Saverios or other restaurants in the Zona Rio, but their 20-something family members will be doing bottle service when the ball drops. Bottle service is outrageously cheap in Tijuana where you can get the standard vodkas and blended whiskeys for under $100 to mix with cranberry juice, or club soda while the Spice Girls, Michael Jackson, Pitbull—dale–and Usher move your body. It's a parade of stylish beauties at Tijuana's most exclusive dance club–be sure to have dress shoes to get in. Tip: in Mexico, cowboy boots are accepted on ranches as well as the finest clubs. All the Classico kids head over to the tourist zone for tacos and the secret seafood soups stand (more on this on another occasion).
I recommend grabbing a solid meal in La Zona Rio and then heading out for más puro pinche pari. Whether is be Classico, La 6ta, or La Revu–Tijuana is an excellent option to celebrate the New Year.
Villa Saverios is located in Tijuana's Restaurant Row at Escuadron 201, 011-52-664-686-6442, www.villasaverios.com
Las Pulgas is located at Av. Revolucion 1127, www.laspulgas.info
Classico is located in the lobby of the Grand Hotel Tijuana, Bl. Agua Caliente 4500, www.grandhoteltij.com.mx
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