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Tijuana


kalypso
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Great article from todays NYTs about the resurrgence of the dining scene in Tijuana highlighting Chef Javier Plascencia

More on Mission 19 from blogger Bill Esparza and his StreetGourmetLA blog.

And even MSN is getting in on the action with this article about the blossoming hipster bar scene

Tijuana has always been notorious for many things, most recently the unspeakable and unimaginable violence. There has been a substantial decrease in the violence and as all 3 articles point out, it is safe for tourists to return to go clubbing on Calle/Avenida Sexta or dining in the Zona Rio or Zona Gastronomica.

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I am happy that TJ is returning to near normalcy. I miss going to Cien Anos. and the Old Guadalajara grill....Even loved Cafe Especial at the bottom of the stairs on Revolution. Many fabulous dinners at Chiki Jai, Fonda Roberto, The much missed El Zaguan and El Abejeno Guadalajara....Over 40 years of dinning memories.....

"We do not stop playing because we grow old,

we grow old because we stop playing"

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  • 4 weeks later...

I had dinner at Mision 19 last night and it was a delightful and delicious dining experience. I wasn't comfortable taking photos in the restaurant (maybe next time)so I have none to share. Mision 19 is a farm-to-table restaruant using ingredients within a 120 mile radius. It is the only farm-to-table restaurant sourcing and using ingredients from both sides of the border. Here are some of our impressions:

Cocktails

Short and sweet (literally) list of 6 cocktails, most with vodka.

- Martini Tamarindo, a vodka martini made with tamarindo (slighly sour, slightly salty) and topped with a coco/piña espuma (sweet coconut/pineapple foam)

- La Fresa, blackberries, strawberries and basil muddled with Cuban rum

- La Pera de Loteria, pear puree, ginger and (vanilla?) vodka with a thin slice of pear as a float on top

- El Mezcalero, kiwi, mango and banana puree, mezcal, rimmed with sal de capulines (grasshopper salt)

- Horcata-Guayaba, horchata and guayaba (guava) and (vanilla?) vodka

- And a martini drink made with pepinos (cucumber), which none of us ordered

We were a group of 8 and we ordered the first 5 drinks listed above. All of them were quite good and I think all of us would be more than willing to order any one of them again with no hestiation. The drinks make great use of the abundance of ripe fruit found all over Mexico which was what contributed the general sweetness of the drinks, which was not unpleasant.

* La Pera was the lightest and most refreshing of the drinks.

* El Mezcalero was the most complex in flavor, which is certainly not a surprise given the use of mezcal. But the smokiness of the mezcal was bueatifully tamed and accented by the puree of tropical fruits.

* Horchata-Guava was the sweetest of the drinks but not excessively so; this was probably the 2nd favorite drink around the table. The horcata used in it is house made

* La Fresa was also sweet like the horcata cocktail, but once again, not excessively so. The strawberry flavor was very pure and the basil accent perfect

* Martini Tamarindo was a very elegant, understated drink. The contrast of the coco/piña foam against the salty/sour tamarind produced a drink that went down very easily and very quickly

Appetizers

The app list was long and reading down it each app sounded better than the one before it. The signature apps are probably the Pinchos and the Oysters, neither of which we ended up ordering. The other app we all talked about ordering but did not was the pork belly with masa crepes. What we did order:

- Tuna Parfait which was a layered blend of avocado meringue, minced serrano, yellow fin tuna, Asian spices and pulverized chicharron. Very clean presentation, very good. Also a fairly rich dish given the avocado and chicharron

- Tiraditos de Lengua Tosaditos, presented on an oblong plate lined with tiny disks of masa and then topped with thin strips of tongue, arugula, radish, cute little beech mushrooms and dressed with a light vinaigrette. Even though I ordered the Tuna Parfait and enjoyed it tremendously, this was my favorite appetizer of the lot we ordered.

- Enselada de Nopales was a generous portion of perfectly cooked nopales (cactus)with a little chile kick. Also served with this dish was one of the most interesting ingredients of the evening. A rinded cheese that was soft and curdy inside, almost like cottage cheese in a rind. It complimented the nopales really well. The menu did include the name of the cheese, but none of us could remember it after we left. Oops. There were also some shrimp on the salad.

- Salad of Golden Beets and Artichokes was the one dish at the table that I didn't get to try, though the person that ordered it said it was quite good and had no trouble polishing it off.

- Edamame Miso Soup was the other dish I didn't get to try, but heard it was very light and went down pretty easily

- The foie gras app was also a hit and very well done. This one was also a case where we couldn't remember all the ingredients in the dish without the menu, only that everything on the plate worked well together. The overall flavor profile was a bit sweet and it worked well against the softness of the foie.

Entrees

The entree choices are less numerous than the appetizers. We ordered:

- Milk fed Baby Chicken was incredibly tender and juicy and gussied up by being cooked and served with truffle and thyme.

- Fish of the day was a white fish none of us had heard of but turned out to be quite good

- Shortribs wrapped in fig leaves and served with mole negro and cacao is the chefs signature dish and at least half the table ordered it. None of use were sorry. It's absolutely delicious. The shortrib was fall-apart tender and the mole was the perfect partner for the meat. A few of the fig leaves were a bit tough but it was pretty easy to just push them aside.

Entrees not ordered included:

- Pork loin & Glazed Rib combination

- Sauteed Duck Breast w/Kumquat Reduction

- Lamb

- Steaks - which included Arrechera, Rib-Eye in various sizes, Filet in 2 sizes, a Cowboy Steak for 2 and a laundry list of accompaniments and sauces to pair with the steaks.

Portion sizes are not overwhelming so there was room left for dessert, we ordered:

- Housemade ice creams in 4 flavors that come in little cones. A bit messy to eat but very good.

- Chocolate Textures which turned out to be a tour de force of everything chocolate

- Creme Brulee with Piloncillo cookies. The creme brulee was itty bitty, which was a good thing because it was very rich. The cookies were more like empanada dough filled with piloncillo, very flakey but not rich. The cookies were accompanied by 3 housemade marmelades, orange, apricot and piloncillo.

- Chocolate ice cream over which a shot of espresso was brewed

There are also several coffe/liquor combinations available for after dinner enjoyment.

Service was very good. There is sufficient waitstaff and they all have been very well trained. Service was unobtrusive and there was no hurry to rush us out the door to turn the table.

Our total bill with tax for 8 people was $396. That included 8 cocktails, 5 glasses of wine, 9 apps, 7 entress and 5 desserts. With tip each of us paid $60. All 8 of us felt that for the quality of the food, the ambiance and the service that $60 was a steal, not to mention an incredible value

Since this is a farm-to-table restaurant the menu will change depending upon what's seasonal and available in all the local markets. This was one of the better meals I've had in the region in quite a while and I look forward to returning soon and frequently.

Tijuana is not nearly as wild and wooly as it was a few years ago. We were perfectly safe the entire evening. We walked across the border and got a cab to the restaurant. It is a good idea to have the address and/or a map of the location as well as the phone number. Because it's in a new (and green, LEED gold) building not all cab drivers know where it is. The restaurant will call a cab for you to return to the border. We arrived at the border crossing pedestrian line at about 10:45 pm on a Friday night. Surprisingly, there was no line and we breezed through. Yes, you will need a passport or Sentri pass (unless, of course you live in MX)for a dinner trip down from the U.S. The downside of walking across the border is that the walk back is a little on the long side. If someone has mobility issues, this might be a problem.

Mision 19 is open M-Th 1 pm - 10 pm and Fri & Sat 1 pm - 11 pm. It is on the 2nd floor with elevator access from the parking garage. They have elevator operators to make sure you get to the correct floor. Parking is available on site and valet parking is available.

Mision 19

Mission San Javier 10643

Zona Urbana Rio Tijuana

VIA CORPORATIVA building

+52[664]634-2493

reservaciones@mision19.com

If you are a local in SoCal I would strongly urge you to take a road trip to Tijuana to check out Mision 19. If you are in the San Diego area and interested in fine dining, this needs to be on your radar.

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