Four blocks south of the ugly U.S.-Mexico border wall, the unmistakable scent of frying chicken sings its siren song to lost tourists. Tijuana's red-light district, the Zona Norte, is famous for its “table dance” halls, its rundown character, and the whores who skulk just off the main sidewalk. It's not an especially dangerous part of Tijuana, but it's not inviting and family-friendly either, the way the Zona Río or the 5 y 10 are.
The décor is nil: This is the original hole-in-the-wall. The few tables are lit by long fluorescent lights; there's not much on the walls. A long trough of simmering schmaltz takes up a third of the counter, a brick-lined swimming pool of gallons of rendered chicken fat with dozens of necks floating in it. A large plastic bucket of tomato-and-fresh-chile salsa sits on the counter next to a pile of corn tortillas. The menu is simple: an order of these is 35 pesos ($3) and gets you five necks; a half liter of bottled soda is 10 pesos ($0.85).