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The Five-Point Weekend Escape Plan

See the Urban Side of San Diego


5. Oddball Day

Turista Libre takes visitors on an alternative tour of Tijuana’s lesser-known destinations.  

Pack your passport for a trip to Tijuana, where a cultural and gastronomic renaissance is underway just fifteen miles south of San Diego. Prep for the crossing with a Mexican-inspired breakfast of chilaquiles ($8) or tamales and eggs ($8) at the Mission Cafe. The blue line trolley takes you right to the border from downtown San Diego, and cabs on the other side are cheap and plentiful. (If you don’t want to navigate the city on your own, get in touch with Turista Libre, an alternative tour outfit that takes gringos to see the city’s quirkier destinations.) Once you’re on el otro lado, spend the morning shopping for clothes made by local designers at Doratto and Boutique Chandelier, then break for lunch at Caesar’s, where the ubiquitous salad was invented in the twenties, but you can also order beef Wellington ($15) or bone marrow ($6). Next, peruse contemporary art at La Casa del Túnel Art Center, located in the shadow of the border fence. (The house was discovered to be the gateway to a smuggling tunnel before being reborn in 2009 as a gallery.) By night, splurge on beef tongue tiradito ($7.20) and local Guadalupe Valley wines at sleek Mision 19, followed by drinks at La Mezcalera, which serves 24 types of mezcal ($2–$4) and sides of chapulines (fried grasshoppers; $1). Dance to the D.J. set in the back room or head across the street to grab a beer at El Dandy Del Sur (Calle 6a 2030; 664 688 0052), a classic old-man dive recently commandeered by stylish young tijuanenses. Leave ample time to cross back over the border; waits typically run 60–90 minutes or more.

Published on Sep 11, 2011 as a web exclusive.

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