Less than two hours from San Diego, down the Baja California peninsula, it’s one of the easiest and safest places to experience Mexico on a budget — which makes it easy to think of this small coastal city and cruise line layover as a sort of Mexico for Beginners. But dismissing northwest Baja is a mistake. Beyond the souvenir shops selling sombreros, knockoff artesanía (handicrafts) and tacky T-shirts, there’s a college town, a port town and a budding culinary capital that invite exploration. While Ensenada and the surrounding area can require a bit of patience, its pleasures are worth the time it takes to find them — and all the more so because they can be had so affordably.
There were the family day trips—lunch at Calafia, curio shopping, maybe a stop in Tijuana for a photo with a zebra-striped donkey if we had an out-of-town visitor along. As teenagers, my friends and I took the trolley to San Ysidro and walked across the border, treating TJ like an exotic mall. San Diego kids went to Baja to surf and camp and eat fish tacos and drink Coronas. (Let’s not discuss the nightclub shenanigans we partook in once we could pass for 18.)
The trio, with about 12 restaurants between them in San Diego, Tijuana, Ensenada and the Valle de Guadalupe, are Baja’s Emissaries of Eating. While out promoting their own businesses and brands, these globe-trotting gastro ambassadors are at the same time shifting the narrative of a region once known more for kidnappings and cartels than quail and kumamotos.
According to Baja California’s secretary of tourism, Juan Tintos Funcke, the area has “seen more tourists, particularly Americans, visiting Baja California in the past two years, especially over the holidays. For example, from Thursday through Sunday of Easter week, 354,000 people traveled within Baja California, the largest influx of tourists we’ve seen since 2008.
Until recently, Baja California’s culinary contribution to the world amounted to the Caesar salad, a dish hardly associated with Mexican food. Beyond that, this long, thin peninsula was known more for its Chinese food and pizza thanks to the thousands of migrants from all over the world who began to settle the Mexican state south of California in the 19th century.
The new San Ysidro to Tijuana Border Crossing (also known as “El Chaparral”) has 22 lanes equipped with the latest technology for fast access to Mexico.
Fifteen years ago, my brother who lives near San Diego took me to coastal Baja in Mexico and the experience has stayed with me ever since. We ate fish tacos, went swimming at a sublime, deserted beach and fell asleep on the beach to the sounds of the surf. In December, I’m heading west to visit my brother again, this time with my wife and sons, ages 3 and 5, but when I asked him to take me back to the same places we visited long ago he told me that it wasn’t safe
Even though demolition at the San Ysidro Port of Entry will be closing as many as five re-entry lanes at a time in the next few months, U.S. Customs and Border Protection officials said Thursday that traffic may actually flow faster through the busiest border crossing in the Western Hemisphere. Traffic will be “channeled” into fewer lanes, the pace shouldn’t slacken because Customs will be opening additional inspection booths at each gateway to process two vehicles at a time. The…
It’s always said that when it comes to breaking into the film industry, it’s not what you know, but who you know, and it’s hard to deny that nepotism is rife in the industry. But when it’s meant that talents like Sofia Coppola, Nicolas Cage, Peter Fonda, Drew Barrymore, John Huston and, uh, Clint Howard, to name but a few, it’s hard to complain too much. Today we’ve obtained an exclusive first image of a project that utilizes a number of members of famous film-making families, and it’s looking pretty promising.
The mayors of Tijuana, Rosarito, Ensenada, Mexicali and Tecate recently invited media on a three-day tour of the region to discuss the changes that have been made to ensure the safety of tourists. The Mission Times Courier was one of several media outlets from California, Arizona and Nevada that joined government officials on the tour.