Four days in Tijuana could seem like a frightening eternity if you spend any time reading the travel advisory websites for Mexico. Shootings, stabbings, car theft, kidnapping; the list goes on. However I can’t help but wonder if “someone” is trying to convince Americans that Mexico isn’t safe? Armed with the intent of proving those websites wrong, we ventured in our own car across the border to the safe destination of Rosarito, just five minutes south of the Tijuana beaches and only 15 minutes from the US Border.
At first glance, the hillsides full of vegetation and resorts reminded me of southern Spain, and in particular the well-maintained toll road, or “Cuotas”. Fortunately the toll prices are much cheaper at just $2.50 USD. As we continued along, we didn’t see any body parts along the side of the road, and no gangs seemed to be following our black SUV with tinted windows, so we relaxed a bit and enjoyed the drive.
Tijuana seems to have a tequila induced drunken stupor connotation, full of wild parties and cheap Mexican booze. I discovered this phenomenon when I mentioned to a few people of my plans to visit and the response I received varied anywhere from “My God WHY?!” to “Ohhhh, be careful!” My goal here is to satisfy all spectrums and curiosities, as well as the naysayers.
First off, ocean-front lodging is incredibly economical, as we found with our B&B, Casa Farolito. Located just a few miles north of Rosarito, this true B&B offered everything we wanted from attentive service to incredible food. Breakfast was included in our nightly rate ($230) which would cost double for anything on the coast in San Diego. The food was superb and specialties of the Casa & local region. Our hosts attended to our every need, from a welcome margarita to plenty of bottled water and toiletries in our room. Listening to the ocean waves crash on the shore below us was all the therapy I needed for this quick getaway.
For nearby dining, the best restaurant on the entire Baja is located just a five-minute stroll through the gated community to Mi Casa Supper Club. Created by a group of food and wine enthusiasts, Mi Casa started at Chef Bo Bendana’s home kitchen and gradually transformed into a successful dinner hotspot Thursday through Sunday nights. At the prompting of Bendana’s dinner guests, she opened this gastronomic experience to share her culinary creativity with friends and foodies. The menu changes monthly and focuses on bold international cuisine with delicious wines that are all very affordable. We fell in love with the Labneh cheese with black house-cured olives and the sirloin beef in saffron sauce with sweet plums and sesame seeds. Their wines are wonderfully priced, and I particularly enjoyed the raspberry butter with fresh house-made bread.
Tourism is alive and well in Tijuana, you just have to know the right places to visit. Keep asking the local expats as they are happy to share their little secret heaven with people who can appreciate excellent value and quality for a little more risqué vacation.