The bus crawled into Tijuana after an unusually long border crossing and our group of 25 food writers and chefs only cared about one thing: where to eat. Our first stop in Mexico was Tacos El Poblano, which has been slinging carne asada tacos to customers at their open-air spot in the city’s Mesa neighborhood since 1974.
We each started with a carne asada taco (13 pesos, about $1), which the talented taqueros assembled within seconds. The corn tortillas cradled three kinds of fresh-cleaved beef: lomo (loin), pulpa (eye of round) and chuleta (chop). Some cuts were chewy, others fatty or luscious. The meats all contributed to a collective meat-mind meld. The taqueros lavished each taco with diced onion, salsa roja and creamy guacamole sauce and slid it across the tiled counter.
Most of us ended up ordering a carne asada tostada (13 pesos), which was even better than the taco, with identical ingredients and a tortilla that was singed until charred and crispy under the grill’s “broiler.”
A pastor station was located on the other side of the restaurant, but the focus was clearly on the asada, so the spit-master had little to do but shuffle the spice-soaked pork around the grill. Sad. So sad.
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.