There is no better place in Baja to try your first real tacos than the stands near Tecate’s Hidalgo Park. Each one does this Mexican standard a little differently; Mexicans tend to eat tacos for their evening meal, but the taquerias are usually open from late morning until late in the evening.
Taquería Los Arcos on Avenida Juárez near the famous Tecate bakery (on the opposite side of the street) is a good place to try simple carne asada or the more adventurous tacos de cabeza. Several popular stands are set up along Juárez heading west from the plaza. Look for the longest line and join the crowd.
With a history dating back to 1969,
La Bodeguita on the plaza (Juárez 346, tel. 665/101-7652, 1–9 P.M. Tues.–Sun.) serves wines from Baja California and local cheeses to go with them. Next door, D’Arce Restaurant (Juárez at Cárdenas, tel. 665/654-1616) makes a pleasant stop for guacamole and a limonada. It also has a full menu of Mexican staples. La Michoacana on the plaza has cold treats, including paletas.
For upscale fusion food presented with a creative flare, head to Asao (Lerma, north of Juárez, three blocks east of the plaza, tel. 665/654-4777, www.santuariodiegueno.com, noon–11 P.M. Thurs.–Sat., noon–8 P.M. Sun., mains US$10–25) on a hilltop overlooking the valley and international border. Plans call for development of a boutique hotel called Santuario Diegueño (tel. 665/654-4777, www.santuariodiegueno.com), but for now it’s just the restaurant.
El Mezquíte Restaurante at the Estancia Inn serves dependable Mexican fare. Closer to Rancho La Puerta, on the south side of Boulevard Juárez, La Misión grills juicy steaks and pours strong margaritas, and El Faro, a little farther west on Avenida Juárez, is the place for fresh seafood.
Several tiendas on Avenida Juárez and Avenida Hidalgo stock the basics; a Calimax supermarket (Juárez/Carranza, tel. 665/654-0039), has a larger selection, and there are two additional locations around town. Big-box stores Soriana and Super Ley are located in a modern shopping center west of the town center.
© Nikki Goth Itoi from Moon Baja, 9th Edition