Sunday, January 12, 2014

Tijuana, Remixed

UNTIL RECENTLY Tijuana, Mexico, was best left to kids looking for trouble. But a blossoming cultural scene is helping the busy borderland 17 miles south of San Diego turn a sophisticated corner.

La Casa del Tunel – named for an illicit tunel that was once underneath – now traffics in contemporary art, and galleries along the subterranean Pasaje Gomez beckon visitors off main drag Avenida Revolutcion. “TJ” still breaks a few rules – at sizzling restaurants innovating “Baja-Med” fusion, such as Mision 19 (an Anthony Bourdain pick), El Taller, and la Qurencia, With specials like seared beef tounge with chipote ice cream. Then there are octopus tacos at the Kokopelli street stand and 30-plus Mexican brews at BCB Tasting room (just don’t ask for a Corona).

On a Turista Libre tour aboard a school bus departing from the Mexican side of the border, day-trippers discover many layers of “beautifully bizarre” Tijuana (in the words of guide Derrik Chinn). At Playas, the US Mexico fence plunges into the Pacific – a photo op as well as a reminder of the constant exchange of people and ideas in this land where cultures.

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