We arrived at meal six and the sun was still high in the sky. At this rate, we were on our way to doing permanent damage and it was hard to generate much excitement for the day’s final three meals. Thankfully, Cien Anos took mercy on our stomachs by offering light seafood-intensive plates that still managed to pack some flavor.
This long-respected restaurant has been at the forefront of Mexican “alta cocina” for years, but Cien Anos has changed since Ruth Reichl feasted on maguey worms and escamoles (ant eggs) in 1998. The menu is now more mainstream under the direction of 21-year-old chef Talia Nunes, who has worked at the restaurant for five years.
For the previous 24 hours, Baja veterans kept touting the wonders of the chocolata, a clam with sweet pink meat and a brown shell from southern Baja. It didn’t take long to get our first taste, but this wasn’t the magical experience I’d hoped for. The meat was limp and overpowered by the marinade. Thankfully we got a more convincing taste in Ensenada the following day.
Baby octopus ceviche was a real highlight, featuring tender cuts of tentacle and sweet onions. Some people complained that the accompanying tostada was too oily and pliable, but that didn’t bother me.
It probably would have been more interesting to feast on maguey worms and ant eggs, but Cien Anos still offered a refreshing respite from our parade of heavy curiosities.
Thank you to the Tijuana Convention and Visitors Bureau, Crossborder Agency, Cotuco (Tijuana Tourism Board), and Tijuana Canirac (Tijuana Restaurant Association) for sponsoring our eye-opening culinary tour of northern Baja. Thank you to Bill Esparza from Street Gourmet LA for leading the tour and for supplying so much invaluable information.