Baja Sonora: Bringing Sonoran Tacos to the West

Salsa Tijuana

Our most recent trip to Tijuana featured a well structured itinerary, but we did have one night of free play, and that inevitably involved multiple taco stops. We started at Baja Sonora, a taqueria that culinary trip organizer Bill Esparza suggested for meaty tacos reminiscent of what’s available across the Gulf of California. The bright space seemed ready for franchising, complete with a cactus logo befitting the Sonoran Desert. This original, decade old Baja Sonora is nearby. This five-month-old spinoff featured an open kitchen and Halloween-inspired decorations like spiderwebs, inflatable ghosts and spiders. On a regular basis, they’ve got flat screen TVs. During our visit, they broadcast boxing, which led to a televised bloodbath for dining tikes, which may have been apt considering the volume of carnage we managed to amass on our large table.

Salsa Tijuana
We placed our order at the full-service restaurant before proceeding to explore the salsa bar. We encountered Salsa de California (“no picca”), habanero (very picca, or spicy), tomatillo and molcajete, plus two types of pico de gallo, including one with nopales (cactus paddle strips).

Salsa Tijuana
The other bins contained jalapenos, radishes, cabbage, limes, and creamy avocado salsa.

Tacos Tijuana
At grab-and-go barbecue spots in South L.A., they sell sandwiches with bone-in pork spare ribs and plenty of sauce. It was fun to see something similar at Baja Sonora, with Costilla de Rib Entera (37 pesos ~ $3). This could have easily been a sight gag, but grilling the meat on the bone produced a juicy char. Arrachera Marinada (30 pesos) is their specialty, as evidenced by the “nuestra especialidad!” label on the large menu. Soft, juicy strips of fairly lean beef arrived on a brawny corn tortilla.

Taco Tijuana
Hass (28 pesos), patterned after the famed tacos of Tacos Jaas in Hermosillo, features a crusty chargrilled dice of sirloin, mild roasted California chiles and molten queso.

Taco Tijuana
Mexicano (28 pesos) was similar, with the same sirloin and queso gratinado, but with grilled nopales instead of chilies. This taco was probably too similar to the Hass, so it may not have been worth ordering, but it was pretty good with minced raw onion, cilantro and spicy habanero salsa.

My choice of beverage was Agua de Jamaica (18 pesos), tart and not too sweet.

Baja Sonora may have been a kitschy, aspiring chain, but the Sonora inspired tacos were all pretty good, and this would be a welcome stop should the owners ever decide to expand to Los Angeles.


Joshua Lurie

Joshua Lurie founded FoodGPS in 2005. Read about him here.

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