Tecate, the best restaurants and bars in Mexico: 24-hour travel guide
As the only Pueblo Mágico in Baja California, a city designated by Mexico as a historical and cultural attraction, Tecate also has the fastest and easiest border crossing to the United States. In fact, seasoned Guadalupe Valley travelers often make the hour drive from Tecate to avoid the much busier Tijuana crossing.
The quaint town, located about 40 miles from downtown San Diego, is well worth stopping by whether you’re entering or exiting Baja California or just on a day trip. Start your day with its world-famous pan dulce, sample casual Baja cuisine – including must-try tacos – drink a Tecate beer at its birthplace, and take in the highland scenery along the Puerta Norte Wine Route at the Mexico.
If this itinerary seems too daunting to do in a day, plan an overnight stay at one of the area’s well-known resorts or ranches, knowing that a short line at the border is just minutes away. .
9 a.m. – Start with something sweet
Tecate is one of the best towns in all of Mexico for pan dulce, or Mexican sweet bread, baked in wood-fired ovens with regional ingredients. Fidel Martinez, the baker at Panadería Reina Victoria, creates a heavenly pan dulce with flour from Mexicali, premium butter from Real del Castillo, dairy products from local ranches and cooking oil produced in Lower California. Try a budín de dulce de leche, a barrita de mantequilla or one of the soft and chewy conchas, and if you happen to visit after New Years, have the best Rosca de Reyes (Bread of the Three Kings) you will find. anywhere . Either way, buy an assorted box of sweet breads to take home for breakfast the next day.
10:00 a.m. – Try Mexican Steak and Eggs
One of the most popular breakfast spots for locals, El Ciclo, is under the direction of chef Daniel Flores who prepares mouth-watering chilaquiles, fancy steaks and eggs, and omelettes filled with Mexican shrimp sautéed in butter, with garlic and dried red peppers. Get the chilaquile chipotles, tortilla chips drowned in a tangy, smoky chili chipotle salsa, with a snatch steak—a thick, marinated cut of beef—or the cazuela, a skillet of spiced fried potatoes, refried beans, crispy bacon, and tender tear off topped with eggs. If you’re really hungry, there’s a 400-gram ribeye served with fried eggs.
11:30 a.m. — Wine tasting along the Ruto del Vina
One of Mexico’s biggest natural wine players, Bichi, is located on the Téllez family ranch, where it produces biodynamic wines from old vines from recently reclaimed vineyards of local Misión and Rosa del Peru grapes, as well as Tempranillo and carinena. Other wineries to visit before heading back to town include Vinicola Encino de Piedra, Cava y Productos Mediterráneos Garcia, and Vinos Tanama.
1:30 p.m. — Lunch on an outdoor terrace
At Lugar de Nos, or a “place for us,” chef and owner Mariela Manzano, a graduate of the Tijuana School of Culinary Arts, specializes in her own brand of Baja California cuisine. Inside, the warm and welcoming restaurant resembles a cozy bodega while the bright, rustic outdoor patio is refreshed by hanging plants. Pair a glass of zesty Casa Magoni Manaz with Jamaican tacos (hibiscus) and requesón (fresh cheese) and a seared tuna tostada. The menu, made up of many local ingredients, also extends to pastas and pizzas.
3:30 PM – Take a scenic walk with a stop at the taco stand
Visit the nearby town of La Rumorosa via a beautiful winding road through the earthy hues of mountainous terrain which, despite legends and tall tales, is a pleasant walk. Along the way, discover El Vallecito, an archaeological site in Kumiai, the Casa de Piedra Geopark, or wineries like Vinícola Rosa de Castillo, Viñas San Valentín, and Cas Veramendi. A must stop is Tacos Lalo for the La Rumorosa style steamed tacos, tacos steamed in turquoise enamel pots and filled with chicharrón, potatoes or beans and dressed with lots of shredded cabbage and of sweet red salsa.
6:00 p.m. — Break for beers and shots
Founded by Don Raul Mateus in 1957 and now run by his grandson, Alex Mateus, Bar Diana is a city landmark and the city’s oldest cantina. For locals, it’s an institution that has hosted city politicians, construction workers, educators, factory workers and entrepreneurs in a place where the beers are equally cold for rich and poor. Refresh yourself with a glass of tequila and a can of Tecate rojo or maybe a michelada.
7:30 PM – Baja Surf and Turf Sample
Ensamble 43, one of the new restaurants serving Baja cuisine in Tecate, opened in October 2019 with provincial land and sea dishes. In late 2021, chef Javier Méndez, originally from Michoacán, took over the modern-rustic space, featuring leather banquettes and a steel and glass divider wall that connects to a tranquil patio. There are half a dozen raw bar items, including a citrus-marinated ribeye steak tiradito, a tinted and spiced black shrimp aguachile with charred chilies, and a beet ceviche that can be made vegan. . Méndez also excels in abalone sopes and his riff on the “fish of the day”, an Ensenada classic. Heartier plates include grilled mesquite steak, suckling pig tacos, and pancetta al pastor.
9:30 p.m. — End the evening with more wine
Tecate isn’t known for its nightlife, but if you’re in town on a Friday or Saturday night, there’s no better way to end an evening than to enjoy a bottle of Mexican wine at Vinoteca, a garden romantic wine. Sample some regional cheeses with Emevé Armonia from Tintos, a ruby red blend, or a grassy and fruity blend of Carignan and Syrah from Cuatro Soles. Norte 32 Tezinano Cabernet Sauvignon is a house favorite, as is a chilled bottle of LA Cetto’s Primavera, a Cabernet Rosé to sip after a long day of adventures.