You’ve undoubtedly heard of it – and probably not much of what you’ve heard was good. Mexican border city Tijuana has a rough reputation, but that has never stopped avid explorer and flavor-seeker Anthony Bourdain from visiting a place!
In his classic acerbic style, Bourdain talks about how historically we – as U.S. citizens – expect Tijuana to fulfill all of our desires like drugs, sex, and rock n’ roll (okay, more like modern mariachi), but also fear the waves of crime that came with those social and economic pressures.
Anthony Bourdain visits Tijuana as part of Season 8, Episode 7 (Baja) of No Reservations. It is the only time he visits the city during any of his shows. As part of his visit to Baja California, Bourdain spent a lot of time – especially screen time – exploring Tijuana.
Tony also discusses how the crime wave that washed over Tijuana has come under control, making it a great destination for those in the area – and a true sister city to northerly San Diego.
If you’re curious specifically about the places Anthony Bourdain ate in Tijuana, you’ve come to the right place. From white tablecloths to streetside tacos, here are the spots to follow in Tony’s footsteps in Tijuana.
In this post, I promote travel to a destination that is the traditional lands of the Kumeyaay/Kumiais people. With respect, I make a formal land acknowledgment, extending my appreciation and respect to the past and present people of these lands. To learn more about the peoples who call these lands home, I invite you to explore Native Land.
This post was originally published in June 2021, and was updated for accuracy in March 2023.
Where Anthony Bourdain Ate in Tijuana
This map is a helpful way to see two things: exactly where Tony ate in Tijuana, and also how darn close Tijuana is to the border. It’s literally right there! This makes me excited to visit San Diego and Tijuana both someday!
Also, if you’re curious about the other places he visited during this trip, I have an entire post about the places visited by Anthony Bourdain in Baja.
1. Mission 19
Bourdain starts at Mission 19, an upscale cocina making fresh interpretations of Mexican food – especially Baja food. There he tries sous vide lengua (beef tongue), with fresh chopped peppers, red wine, and extra virgin olive oil. It’s topped with Morcilla (Mexican blood sausage – a Bourdain fave), radishes, arugula, and garlic chips.
2. Dandy Del Sur Cantina
Next, Tony meets up with another Tony – Tony T – to leran a bit more about Tijuana’s food scene. They enjoy beers at Dandy Del Sur, a local watering hole, before moving on to a slightly hipper option across the street.
3. La Mezcalera
That spot is La Mezcalera, a small-batch mezcaleria (Mezcal bar) where Tony and Tony T tuck into a mezcal tasting flight and chapulines, seasoned with lime, chili, garlic and salt. This bar is decidedly hipster-friendly and almost all of the patrons are locals – at least that was the case before Bourdain put this place on the map.
4. Las Ahumaderas (Taco Alley)
Next, by way of a bright pink limo, the two Tonys make their way to Las Ahumaderas – Taco Alley. There they tuck into tacos campechanos made with different meats including chorizo (my fave!). It’s possible the place they eat is called Tacos El Paisano, but I’m not 100% sure on that.
Note: I am also not 100% sure of the map pin for this location. If you know better and want to correct me, please do in the comments and I’ll get it fixed!
5. Unknown Lunch Spot
After all that mezcal, tacos, and a late night, Bourdain starts his day dining with locals at an unknown lunch spot; literally we never learn where it is! There he enjoys a Michelada – a little ‘hair of the dog,’ which is the perfect hangover cure – plus pescado empapelado, bacon-wrapped shrimp skewers, and batter-fried and sweet shrimp (which Tony correctly identifies as influenced by Chinese cuisine).
6. Kentucky Fried Buches (CLOSED)
After another day spent exploring Tijuiana – and undoubtedly taking down some tequila – Bourdain is in need of more alcohol-absorbing food and heads to Kentucky Fried Buches. This place specializes in fried chicken necks – buches – on tortillas with fresh salsa, which Tony claims are great after a few drinks. I’ll take his word for it!
Unfortunately, as of March 2023, KFB has closed permanently and is no longer open for us Bourdain enthusiasts to visit.
Have any questions about these places visited by Anthony Bourdain in Tijuana? Let me know in the comments!
Want to explore the other places Bourdain ate in Baja? Click here for the guide.