Tijuana’s vibrant culinary, arts and craft beer culture has landed the city on the New York Times’ list of the 52 Places to Go in 2017.
Tijuana ranked No. 8, right after Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming and before Detroit, which it called “a comeback city set to make good on its promise.”
Under the headline, “Trading an unsavory reputation for a great food scene,” the Times said Tijuana is undergoing a culinary renaissance and cited the city’s craft brew pubs, chic coffee houses, “hipster food trucks" and trendy Baja Med restaurants as driving forces in the city’s turnaround.
“Though still rough around the edges, this fast-growing border town is on the rise,” the Times said, also noting Tijuana’s proliferation of luxury high-rise condos and a new, $60-million transit system.
Tijuana, Ensenada and the Valle de Guadalupe have experienced a gastro-tourism boom in the last five or so years, with food-savvy visitors from San Diego, L.A. and beyond crossing the border for authentic street tacos, pristine seafood, bountiful produce, craft beer and unique Baja wine.
Tijuana’s cuisine, in particular, is influenced by its residents’ far-reaching global roots - from Sinaloa to Oaxaca to China, said Derrik Chinn, who runs the Turista Libre tour company, which is leading a Taco Tour next Sunday.
“I think this gastronomic diversity is something much of the world doesn’t necessarily know about Tijuana,” Chinn said. “But it’s something that comes together here at the border in a culinary Petri dish of sorts, making for unique fusions and inspiring new takes on cuisine that we’re seeing, with a new wave of creative efforts in the city’s ever-expanding collection of food truck parks and other start-ups.”
The New York Times’ ranking highlighted two of Tijuana’s culinary destinations: the Telefónica Gastro Park food-truck hotspot and La Querencía, the signature Baja Med restaurant from chef Miguel Ángel Guerrero.
“I feel very honored - it was a surprise to be mentioned. Being (a) native of Tijuana, I feel very happy for my city,” said Guerrero, who is as known for his hunting and fishing for his own ingredients as he is for coining the phrase Baja Med.
Tijuana’s positive ranking comes at a time when much of the news in the U.S. about the city centers around its record murder rate, foment over gas prices and shortages and trepidation over the incoming Trump administration’s immigration policies.
The Times’ annual list, which was published in the paper’s Travel section today, is geared toward adventurous, sophisticated travelers who trot the globe from the Atacama Desert, Chile (No. 2) to Zermatt, Switzerland (No. 4).