Sonora Mia: Getting Grilled Meat Fix at Tijuana Steakhouse

Restaurant Sign Tijuana

A cactus marks the spot at Sonora Mia steakhouse.

The trip’s first meal drew from the sea, as we feasted on an array of creatures with fins and shells. That was all well and good, but if you’re going to hang with a horde of food writers for a full day, the subject matter inevitably turns to meat. Given that, we arrived at Sonora Mia, a very good Sonora-style steakhouse with meat from Mexico’s beef capital.

We passed under the pixilated cactus sign to find a homey wooden restaurant. La Familia Munoz hails from Hermosillo, the state capital of Sonora, and has represented their state in style for a decade. Every steak comes from Ranch 17, a ranch used by many of Tijuana’s leading restaurants, including Villa Saverios. Cows are grass-fed through and through.

Steak Tijuana

An intoxicating aroma emanates from sizzling mesquite-grilled steaks.

Salsas Tijuana

The best way for a Mexican restaurant to make a good first impression is to deliver premium salsas. Sonora Mia loaded our table with a powerful trio: creamy avocado, orange chile de arbol and fiery jalapeño, seeds and all.

Burrito Tijuana

Our carnivorous feast began in earnest with a Burro Machaca (50 pesos ~ $3.50), a streamlined burrito loaded with dried beef with a consistency akin to pork floss, plus a liberal amount of roasted onions and peppers.

Bill Esparza (Street Gourmet LA) insisted on ordering two different regional soups, and his decision paid dividends.

Soup Tijuana

Herbaceous Gallina Pinta (60 pesos) was loaded with tender beef tail and rib meat, plus beans and hominy. This was a hearty but satisfying soup.

Soup Tijuana

Cazuela (60 pesos) was another winner, strewn with shredded carne seca, peppery vegetables and potato chunks.

Chiles Tijuana

We garnished each soup with a sprinkling of fresh-ground chiltepin peppers, a fiery red peppercorn that’s widely unavailable in Los Angeles. A couple grinds was plenty.

Cheese Tijuana

Believe it or not, but our meal was still just beginning, so I limited my exposure to the Queso Fundido Natural (55 pesos), a molten mass of Monterey Jack cheese topped with rajas (roasted green pepper strips). Somehow, we managed to show restraint by choosing a vegetable over chorizo.

Steak Tijuana

Esparza haggled with our server to schedule a custom Parrillada Villa de Seris (275 pesos), a mesquite-lavished mixed grill loaded with tripa (tripe), pollo asado (grilled chicken), Costilla (beef rib) and two prized cuts of beef – cabreria (akin to rib-eye) and arrachera (loosely translates as flank steak). Ribs were crusty from the grill, well-seasoned chicken was near succulent and the small intestines were blistered, sweet and funky in all the right ways. Still, the prized cuts were steak, with a great outer char infused with wood smoke.

Beans Tijuana

On the side, we received a single devastating dish of frijoles maneados, refried beans blended with chorizo and lard, topped with Monterey Jack cheese. With that much fat, it was no surprise that these beans packed a heap of flavor.

Tortillas Tijuana

We wrapped meat and queso with steaming tortillas de agua, ethereal see-through flour tortillas.

Since this was Tijuana, the whole meal cost less than $15 per person, making Sonora Mia an astounding bargain. Since there isn’t a viable Sonora-style steakhouse in Los Angeles, Sonora Mia may warrant a trip to Tijuana on its own. Then again, you should also keep in mind that Sonora Mia wasn’t even our best meal of the weekend.


Joshua Lurie

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

Blog Comments

Sergio Chávez Muñoz

Excellent.. Best in town!

Sergio, what other restaurants would you recommend in Tijuana? Here are the other places I’ve visited so far:

I’m tasting it all over again. Matt, you have some catching up to do.Great primal shot of the parrillada, Josh.

this makes me want beef. lots and lots of beef.

those are my hands holding the tortilla de agua in the bottom photo – those were awesome tortillas and a another great TJ meal courtesy of Bill, who spent 3 days stuffing us with all kinds of good stuff – I now know how ducks feel during gavage. Josh, I didn’t take many notes because I knew I could count on you for a great recap.
Thanks again to both you and Bill


That’s a hilarious (and apt) comparison to future foie gras. Glad to hear you like my Sonora Mia recap. If you end up writing about any of our experiences, please send me the links and I’ll be happy to post them on Food GPS.

I read a few topics. I respect your work and added blog to favorites.

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