If you've been crisscrossing the border over the years since Tijuana, Ensenada, the Valle de Guadalupe–Baja in general–has become internationally known for addictive street food, Baja Med cuisine, craft beer, world class seafood, a beautiful wine country surrounded by enchanting restaurants, and innovative chefs.
The most obvious effect has been the number of restaurants, street stands, and wineries that have opened by savvy entrepreneurs looking to be the next street food star, or hot spot. You'd think the drop in tourism would have discouraged them, but the truth is that there is plenty of culinary tourism from chilangos, tapatios, and the stateside pochos that frequent la 6ta. Ricardo Nevarez is one of those industrious individuals that has bet his good fortune on the popularity of Tijuana's most progressive street food vendors at Tijuana's Food Garden, were Nevarez's well curated food court is keeping Tijuana's Gastronomic Zone tasty!
Chef Oso Campos and the Tacos Kokopelli crew are fresh off several successes, first at my own Tacolandia event, and at Chef Walter Manzke's Petty Cash Taqueria in Los Angeles, where Campos served as a consulting chef for a couple of months. Kokopelli is still keeping it groovy and edgy at their taco love shack on Melchor Ocampo, and after bouncing around a couple of spots, they've a second stand at the more polished Food Garden–in other words there are places to sit!
There are gringos en vacaciones, the black harder squid ink ceviche, and the mythological Kraken, or octopus taco plus all their other classics. Expect some new items from time to time now that Campos is back in Tijuana full of inspiration.
At first I was a little worried about Poblano, Marcos Flores and his brother–they were all way the hell out there in La Monarcha Plaza which never seemed to be that busy, and they only lasted a few months at the funky little place up on Fundadores–again–not so busy, and then they were gone.
The Food Garden is the perfect spot for La Taqueseria, formerly known as Takesos y Papas, in the Gastronomic Zone, side by side with Kokopelli in this charming food court. The famous Tijuana-style quesatacos, and combinations of eclectic, emulsified salsas and creams that are associated with the Salceados(Tacos Salceados) urban cooking technique are now accessible to all.
You can enjoy up to 15 different types of chilaquiles at Los Chilaquiles–there's everything from mole to salsa verde to regional offerings from Puebla, Oaxaca and Queretaro. Etxeverri serves tapas and pintxos inspired by the Basque country from Tijuana Culinary Art School grad, Chef Andrea Aguari, but there is no alcohol at the Food Garden at this time, so these are just bites, as opposed to bar bites.
There are fancy, refreshing aguas frescas at La Barra and you can get your sweet fix at Creperie La Luna.
The Food Garden is a comfortable, attractive setting with parking and an attendant–you no longer have to stress trying to drive out to these far off neighborhoods, or take miserable rides with cab drivers who've never heard of these places. You'd think they would've realized by now that nobody is going to Carnitas Uruapan anymore, and La Costa has closed!
The Food Garden is an uncovered gem, that's true to it's slogan: Keep Tijuana Tasty!
Food Garden, Bl. Rodolfo Sanchez Taboada 10650, located on the corner of Bl. Sanchez Taboada and Mision de Santo Tomas, across the street from La Espadana.
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