TAQUERIAS DE TIJUANA
Photos + Words: Colin Jaskiewicz + Isaac Howe
Most Americans think they know what a taco is. A crispy corn tortilla shell, ground beef, and lettuce. If you think that, then we’ve got good news for you. You’re wrong.
A taco is a soft corn or flour tortilla, filled with some sort of meat, and topped with diced onions, cilantro, and salsa. Now you’re thinking - that sounds familiar, or ‘I’ve had one of those’. But there’s one final caveat. The tortilla. If you live anywhere outside of southern California or Las Vegas, then chances are you haven’t had a real tortilla. The style tortillas available throughout most of the US - certainly the only ones available growing up in the northeast - are closer to a bready wrap than a traditional tortilla. And the difference is HUGE.
After moving to Southern California I can never eat one of these grocery store tortillas again. I’ll only use it to mop up my counters as a towel. A real tortilla is a game changer. Seek them out.
Now living in San Diego we’ve got good access to traditional Mexican food. But just 20 miles away is Tijuana, Baja California, and it blows away anything you can find in the US.
We devised a plan to evade Memorial Day Weekend traffic. Ride down to Tijuana, and stop at a handful of taquerias before riding back. San Diego is an interesting place. It’s between 60 and 80 all year, but cloudier than you’d think. It’s a fairly liberal Southern California city, with 3 military bases. We sit just 20 miles away from Tijuana, which has an even bigger population than San Diego. Head south from Tijuana and you’ve got Baja California, which is longer north to south than California.
If you’ve never been to Mexico (we’re not including resort areas here), you’ve got to add it to the list. Anything you’ve seen on the news is blown out of proportion. Is it safe to be a narco trafficker or an extremely low-income person in Mexico? No, but then again the same goes for the US. The worst part is the geopolitical hotspot of the border. Mexico has such a diverse landscape filled with different regional cultures - each with its own cuisine (and much more). And yet it almost seems off-limits for most Americans, and is 100% off-limits for most Mexicans to come North. I hope that one day the living situation in both countries will be good enough to have a completely open border where both sides can freely enter the other to experience all they have to offer.
Enough said of that. You came here for a casual taco ride. We’ll let the photos do the talking.