On a recent trip to Baja California I was fortunate to be invited to lunch with a friend Juan Arturo Saldana Angulo who works with Discover Tijuana. I had visited Ensenada and the Valle de Guadalupe wine region with Penny Williams, my mom and editor for 52Perfectdays.com and on our way back to San Diego we met up with Juan who took us on a tour of Tijuana; up into the hills to see some beautiful residential areas, drove us through the famous gastronomic area of town and then to lunch at Palacio Azteca’s Restaurante Ixchel.
Chef Sussana Sierra was the first graduate of the Tijuana Culinary Art School and has been head chef at Palacio Azteca for the past five years. We were lucky enough to enjoy the dishes of chef Sussana, honored to have both her and hotel manager Alex Montes join us for lunch.
Chef Sussana’s first course was quesadillas with Huitlacoche and zucchini flowers. I was excited to try this because I had never tasted Huitlacoche. I had just seen a cooking challenge on Top Chef San Miguel de Allende, that highlighted this Mexican delicacy.
The next course was ravioli with poblano cheese and spinach. I only got to taste the sauce, because I’m gluten free and it could have easily been served as a soup. Delicious!
Our last course was swordfish with a habanero and pineapple sauce. She has a great way of offering Mexican food with a twist. She uses many traditional Mexican flavors combined with her cooking techniques to create elevated recipes.
Chef Sussana was so kind to make me a gluten free version!
The restaurant opens onto a very nice pool area with outdoor seating for the restaurant.
A great experience. Superb food and wonderful company! I look forward to visiting again soon!
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Tijuana Travel Tips:
These are great tips for not only Tijuana, but Baja California Travel.
Money: American dollars are excepted everywhere in Tijuana. There’s no need to convert money unless you plan on taking local busses. Credit cards are widely accepted. The conversion rate is around 10 Mexican pesos for 1 American dollar.
Water: Tap water in Mexico is not potable. Most restaurants serve bottled water. Ask for agua mineral (mineral water) or agua natural (purified flat water) to be sure.
Getting Around: Walking in Tijuana is safe by day. Like any city anywhere, be alert and watch where you’re going. The sidewalks are full of cracks and there is no standard height for the curbs, so keep an eye out. At night, driving or taxis are recommended. General nighttime traffic is light and the streets in the Zona Río are well-marked. Taxis are safe and reasonably priced. Rather than find a taxi on the street, ask the restaurant or hotel to call a cab for you.
Car Insurance: Most American insurance policies do not cover your car once you leave the United States. Be sure to check your policy. Mexican Insurance can be purchased by the day from AAA, on-line or vendors a few miles north of the border off Interstate 5.
Passport: Passports are mandatory for crossing the border in and out of Mexico. Make sure that you have yours with you, even if you’re just going for the day.
Crossing the Border: With the proper documentation and insurance, traveling from the United States into Mexico is simple. Rarely is anyone ever stopped. Returning is a different story. Due to the enormous influx of people the delay can be as long as 4 hours. On weekends, if possible, try to leave Tijuana before 9 am or after 9 pm.
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