Wild Foodie Tour Tijuana
Home to beautiful beaches, ancient cities, and delightful cuisine – Mexican gastronomy was even recognized as Intangible Cultural Heritage by UNESCO in 2010 – the idea of visiting the country is always irresistible.
Audrey and I have always wanted to visit Mexico. We even planned visiting with the Gorditas (our group of friends). So when we found ourselves on a sudden trip to San Diego as recommended by our L.A friends, we took the opportunity to hop to Tijuana. Travel time only takes around 45 minutes to an hour depending on the traffic, and we also love Mexican food, so why not?
How to Get to Tijuana from San Diego
Tijuana is a border city to the US and Mexico. And with the issue of increasing number of illegal migrants crossing the U.S border, one might think that crossing the border via land must be dangerous. But it’s nothing like what most people think, as long as you have your passport and visa with you, you are good to go.
The San Diego trolley, according to most, the easiest way to cross the Mexican border. From downtown San Diego, the trolley will take about 45 minutes on the Imperial Way blue line. You will get off at San Ysidro, and from there, it will only be a few minute walk to the customs line. Passing through immigration is an easy process, and from there you can walk or take a cab to downtown Tijuana.
For those who want to drive going to Tijuana, prepare for a long queue and heavy traffic. You might also want to get a Mexican insurance for your car just in case anything happens, as the insurance in the US doesn’t apple there. Thankfully for us, we were able to foresee the imminent traffic and didn’t drive over. We were pre-warned.
Car Parking Areas
If you don’t want to cross the border in your car, there are paid parking lots available around San Ysidro where you can park your car over your visit. There is a parking lot behind Jack in the Box around San Ysidro Blvd. that charges $8 per 8 hours ($12/8hours on weekends). There are also a lot of smaller parking lots around the area but charge around $20 on weekends.
The Border Station Parking in Camino de la Plaza can also accommodate your car for around $15 per day. The parking lots fill up quickly and have queue that can go for an hour or two, so you are better taking the Trolley.
Waiting time for the Trolley is around 15 to 30 minutes, but you can always book an Uber ride from San Diego to San Ysidro if you don’t feel like waiting.
How to Enjoy a Day Trip on Tijuana
We wanted to get a feel of Tijuana but preferably with some sort of a guide so we can feel safer. A lot of people said Tijuana is a wonderful place but you still need to know where you have to be and do some proper research. I was personally surprised because even my friends who are usually supportive of my endeavours warned against/warned us to be careful especially if it were only the two of us together- or 3, ‘cause Ysabel is with us. Maybe it was just the bad rep that Mexico is getting nowadays because of the immigration issue, but you know, Mexicans are very warm and friendly people.
Every one of you are well aware already that we are huge fans of food tours, so when I saw that WildFoodieTours conducting tours in Tijuana it was just like hitting 2 birds with 1 stone.
We got to taste amazing dishes and at the same time tour around with a guide. It was like having a safety blanket knowing that we are with someone who knows the terrain or the places we are going compared to just the 3 of us wandering clueless around.
Why Take the Food Tour
Albert, our tour guide, will literally cross you over the border. Our meeting place was at the McDonald’s in San Ysidro and walked through the border while he explains about daily life in Mexico, what people do, and other information about the place.
Our first stop was at the local market called Mercado Hidalgo where we saw a lot of people going about their daily lives. Here, we had some fruits with Tajin – famous powdered condiment in Mexico composed of salt, lime, and chile peppers. It was tangy and a little bit spicy which I really liked.
Albert also made us taste random free things while we were going through the market. We had things like roasted nuts, jalapeno nuts, and even grass hoppers which my friends bravely tried, but of course I am not that daring for this.
Things We Tasted
We took the Street Food Tour where we had a taste of the local and off-the-beaten-path food adventure. The tour had a total of around 6-7 stops including the one at Mercado Hidalgo. Aside from the fruit with tajin at the market, we also had Grilled Marlin Tacos. It’s no secret that Mexicans love tacos so you can expect this one to be amazing.
We also had the Carne Asada Tacos which was surprisingly tasty and delicious despite having just a few simple ingredients. Then we had an authentic Baja-style Fish Tacos which unsurprisingly were really good as well, it’s the sauce that makes this one delicious and it also complements well with the fish. But my personal favorite was the Fish Ceviche Tostadas which is a mix of tilapia, onion, tomato, cilantro, peppers, etc. dolloped in a crispy tostada.
For our drinks, we had Agua Frescas at a local microbrewery somewhere around an art alley wall. And for our dessert we had freshly made churros that you just couldn’t resist after all those tasty dishes we had earlier.
Albert also informed us of the eateries around that Anthony Bourdain and Andrew Zimmerman showcased on their food show on the Travel Channel. Just when we thought the tour is ending, he brought us to a seafood restaurant called Mariscos el Mazateño. It was actually one of the restaurants that was featured by Andrew Zimmerman.
Our tour was a really great experience and it has served its purpose. As expected of the Street Food Tour, we had most of our stops in the outskirts of the touristy areas. It’s not a problem for me since we are tasting good local food. But as much as I enjoy trying local stuff, I also wanted to see or go to an area that looks like my idea of Mexico – like flea markets and those street performances.
So I asked Albert if he can show us the main tourist strip, and he was more than happy to accompany us and took a quick walk. We figured that if you want to stay longer after the tour, you can ask your food tour to give you a bit of an overview of the area, if not, he will walk you back to the border back to San Diego. I could use a bit of tequila but Albert doesn’t drink so he doesn’t know much about it or where is a great place to get some.
Albert also told us that there a lot of good Chinese food around the area, so if you are into that you can try and explore the place. He loves the food in Mexico and definitely knows what he is talking about.
I wanted to try another of their food tour, the Ceasar’s Restaurant and Downtown Tijuana Tour, but we were driving back to L.A that weekend so it will be too late for it. Nonetheless, we enjoyed the Street Foodie Tour so much.
Wild Foodie Tours offers 3 different tours. The one we had was at $69/person every Saturdays. The Ceasar’s Restaurant and Downtown Tijuana Tour which includes a 4-course dinner at the famous Ceasar’s Restaurant and an hour of sightseeing and shopping around Tijuana goes for $89/person available during Fridays and Sundays.
Lastly, the Ultimate Mexican Seafood Tour which comes with a seafood feast at 2-3 eateries, beverages, and a visit to Tijuana’s premier seafood market will cost $79 available on Sundays.
How to Book
You can book via their website www.wildfoodietours.com/tijuana-foodie-tours
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