Eating in Tijuana.
FOOD is not just a biological necessity, it is a cultural responsibility and societal ointment par excelence. Early as the poets of Homer in the Iliad — when Achilles implores Hektor's father Priam to break his grief and eat — ancient literature shows that the taking of food together in a social setting is an important sign of respect and consideration, an almost religious duty and ritual.
The dinner party — even as we have seen it manifested in the infamous binLauden/Pentagon videotape — remains a universal cultural custom celebrated by both friends and enemies. To share food, to break bread, while you laugh about slaughtering the enemy like ignorant sheep, is to be at peace and respect. Usually.
Most probably it has been like that for tens of thousands, nay hundreds of thousands, millions of years — witness how animals will either eat peacefully together, or not — as lions will share or deny to each other that dead zebra they are ripping apart in a pecking order like chickens whom they would also like to eat as hors d'oeuvres.
So this animistic, biological gestalt of sharing food together comes from long, long before anyone actually got around to writing down the fact in poetry or propaganda. One wonders how CroMagnon hosts treated their Neanderthal neighbors.
But I digress.
Well duh, Mikey! What's next, dinosaur steaks? Primeval mammal meat?
Sorry, Dano, I'll get back on track... now... where were we... oh yes.
It is said that "Aunt Jane" — tia Juana — the legendary founder of Tijuana — offered food to travelers passing through her rancho. Eating here has been delightful ever since that neverneverland of origin–myth.
As a Spanish-speaking descendant of Mediterranean culture (like the Greeks and Trojans), as well as an outpost of post-conquest Mesoamerican civilization (with Aztec/Maya food like tortillas and tamales), Tijuana is full of churches and temples of this most comestible religion, from grand cathedrals of food in every style, Argentine beefsteaks baroque, Baja California seafood gothic, tipico renaissance, and then all the way down the line to streetcorner chapels with daily specials (comida del día, sometimes called comida corrida or especial) which cost three or four dollars and give you soup, a main plate, and usually a drink. A delicious burger with fries and a coke at 1st & I street — site where Danny wrote 11 Octubre 2001 — will set you back almost five dollars — but it's worth it.
There are literally thousands of little restaurants around the streets and neighborhoods, hundreds just in downtown within walking distance of the Revolution. Daniel has even written poems about some of them, here and here and here.
The food is damgood most places you go, but people often speak only a little English, so we recommend the adventure especially to our Spanish speaking friends/readers — or just to the more adventurous types.
Choosing a place to eat while walking around:
EVERY food provider in town, whether restaurant or cart-on-the-street, is obeying one ancient and primordial health law: don't make your customers sick. It don't pay.
BUT the thing is, you ARE in a different environment, here, Gringo, and you MIGHT have a reaction to one kind of food on the street that someone else will eat and feel perfectly fine. Trust your Nose and your gut feeling.
We repeat: WHAT YOU NEED TO DO is use your nose and trust your instincts. Your body craves food but doesn't want to get sick. The restaurants and food carts here do NOT want to make you sick, either. But, repeating again, you are in a different environment and the flora and fauna are naturally different. If you don't like the smell of a place, don't go in. If you do like the smell, well, nothing ventured, nothing gained... or lost. Know your body and what you can handle.
The more established, chain restaurants like Sanborns (8th & Revolution), Ricardos (7th & Madero) or SuperAntojitos Jr. (4th between Niños and Constitution) are very popular with Mexicans and tourists and they serve relatively good, safe food (but not quite as adventurous as seeking out some little hole in the wall down the block around the corner). The Chinese buffet on 4th by Constitution is also very popular with Mexicans.
Personally we are very fond of Ricardos, and it is open 24 hours!
Again, if you're looking for real reviews, by the dozen upon dozen, direct your armchair mouse toward Hungry Hiker (http://hungryhiker-tj.com/) website.
Other Turinfo Pages:
tijuanagringo.com : tur.info
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Copyright 2001-2005 Daniel Charles Thomas
Revision: 11:53 AM 7/16/05