Un cafecito por favor – Coffee please!

Tijuana Mexico Coffee Shops

Coffee culture is booming!  Tijuana’s streets are popping up with so many coffee shops, it’s hard to know where to go!  My suggestion…all of them 🙂

Mexican Grown Beans

Mexico is one of the top 10 coffee producers in the world.  Most of the coffee is grown on smaller organic farms in the southern states of Veracruz, Oaxaca and Chiapas.  

Climates throughout these states range from tropical with fertile volcanic soil to mountainous highland region providing excellent conditions for cultivating coffee.  Not only do these family farms export their coffee to the US and other parts of the world, but Mexico also consumes quite a bit!

Mexican Specialty: Café de la Olla

Café de la Olla is a traditional Mexican drink and was probably created in the colonial era.  If you like your coffee on the sweet side, you need to try this.

There are a few variations of the recipe, but the main ingredients include: clay pot, coffee grounds, piloncillo (a type of brown sugar), and cinnamon = DELISH

Coffee Shops in Tijuana

There are so many coffee shops in Tijuana that have popped up over the last few years!  It’s hard to do a top 3 here because there’s just too many that are too tasty. I’m just going to provide a list of ones that you might want to check out that are near the San Ysidro border.  And here’s a ready made Top 10 list for you.  

What I will say is that a 12oz coffee averages about $3USD versus the San Diego shops or Starbucks that averages $5USD.

P.S. This list doesn’t include all the various breakfast restaurants that have their own varieties of coffee drinks as well.

When in Mexico…Visit the Mercado!

Mercado Hidalgo Tijuana Mexico

What’s more Mexican than a mercado?  It’s full of colors, flavors and smells of Mexico!  Probably every city and town in Mexico has one and for Tijuana, Mercado Hidalgo has been around for over 60 years supplying all sorts of foods, crafts, pottery and natural remedies.

Getting there

Mercado Hidalgo is in Zona Río and is a 20 min walk from Revolution Ave or 10 min in car/Uber/taxi from the San Ysidro border. The map below shows walking options from Revolution/Sixth Street intersection.

Exploring the Mercado

Mercado hidalgo is about the equivalent of one block squared.  Within it, you can find spices, herbs, piñatas, candy, cheese, fruits, veggies, restaurants, dishware, souvenirs, clothes and many other things. If you’re feeling up to it, there’s plenty of new flavors to try!

Mexican Candy

Not everyone likes Mexican candy because of its sweet and spicy nature. 🙂  If you’re ok with that, then I highly recommend the Pollito Asados and Pulparindos to take home!  If you want to try something on the spot, then look for the big buckets of candy mixed with Chamoy or the sweeter caramelized fruits.

Cajeta is another Mexican favorite, it’s kind of like caramel but made with goat’s milk. You can buy candies made out of it or by it by the pound/kilogram.

Candied fruit and coconut sweets (cocadas) are also very popular and are easy to buy just a few to try.

Grabbing a Bite

Not only is a mercado a place to buy goods and candy, you can also eat there!  Mercado Hidalgo has at least 6 little restaurants and there’s even a few good tacos joints within a block. Here’s a few for starters:

  • La Oaxaqueña – Oaxacan style food including tamales, tlayudas, and quesadillas with blue corn tortillas.
  • Cuatro Etnias – Traditional plates with an upscale modern twist and a mixology bar!
  • El Rincón del Oso – Traditional Mexican soups, birria (beef soup/tacos) and guisados (dishes of the day).
  • Tacos el Gordo – This taco spot is just across the northwest corner of the mercado and they serve up a variety of meat tacos including Adobada and Carne Asada.

Bring it Home or Eat it there?

Just remember not everything is allowed back to California.  The government has quite a few restrictions on meat, fish, vegetables and fruits for personal use.  For the meat/cheese/fruit/veggie department it’s best to just buy enough to eat while you’re there and only bring home the packaged foods.

Here’s a few interesting fruits you can try:

  • Tuna – Tuna is Spanish for Prickly Pear and if they are in season, you can find them de-skinned and ready to eat.
  • Lychees – these are like big white grapes with a seed in the center, very sweet.
  • Granadilla – If you’ve ever tried boogers, the consistency is similar, but the taste is sweet, just crack it open and eat the gooey inside. 🙂
  • Coconut – You can get fresh coconut milk and meat in a baggie for the road!  Your choice if you want to add chile and lime. And don’t forget to try coconut candy!
  • Fruit Cup – Usually you can find vendors who sell fruit cups ready to eat and can include mango, cucumber, jicama or tunas. You can also request it with lime and chile!

Where to get sandwiches in Tijuana

Wild Cypress tijuana mexico

Who knew right? Of course Tijuana has a lot more than just tacos.  Don’t get me wrong, tacos are probably the best, cheapest, tastiest meal you can get here.  But if you’re looking for something different here’s a few places with some pretty tasty sandwiches.

Wild Cypress

This gem opened last year in 2017 and has become a family favorite.  They are a gastro deli and they serve what they call their masterpieces → artisan sandwiches.  We’ve been there so often that we’ve tried just about every one of them and it’s hard to pick a favorite!  Fresh bread marinated meat, full salads, delicious soups, fresh squeezed OJ, coffee and beer!

Yes, you heard me, not only do they serve great sammys, they also have breakfast and beer…ON TAP and not just any old national beer, it’s TJ Beer.

So needless to say…HAPPY HOUR anyone?

Enough boasting about the food, this place is big, bright and has a unique style.  There’s inside and outside areas with tons of outlets for laptops or cellphones. Wifi, coloring and foosball is included!  It’s located off Aguas Caliente near the Torres, right where the Blockbuster used to be.

Kasa Café

Kasa Café has a large variety of cold, hot, and traditional -Roast beef, Pastroni, etc, and non-traditional sandwiches – including the Willy (served on a bagel!), Norteña and Sureña.  Plus the one thing Wild Cypress doesn’t have…Fries! Regular or cheesy. They also serve breakfast, coffees, smoothies, salads, and fresh waters.  They use all fresh ingredients and the service is fast.

They have 2 locations – the original is in Otay, which is how we found it since it’s close to home.  It’s also close to the UABC, so there’s lots of students who frequent this location.
The second is down in Zona Río in the same plaza as the Sam’s Club.

Blue Luna Café

Ah, the Blue Luna, I can’t talk about their sandwiches without talking about the coffee. If you’re in the mood to try a new latte flavor, then head here.  They have some pretty interesting and tasty bevs and use ingredients like matcha, mazapán and dulce de leche.  I admit, it was the coffee the lured me here, but coupled with the food…it didn’t take long to turn into a favorite.

To me the sandwiches they offer are like Italian inspired with a Mexi twist. You can also order up a salad, smoothie or breakfast.  Everything is super fresh, including the bread!

And it seems that wherever you are, there’s a location near you!  There’s 13 locations around TJ!  The ones that I have visited are usually more outside space than inside, so just keep that in mind when heading out.

Wrap it up to go

If you live or work  in TJ and don’t have time to check out the locations, you can hit them all up on Uber Eats.  Although, I don’t think you can get beer delivered 🙂

These are my top 3 sandwiches places, what are yours?