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 Sierra and hotel manager Alex Montes.

Chef Sussana Sierra and hotel manager Alex Montes.

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.

Quesadillas with Huitlacoche and zucchini flowers.

Quesadillas with Huitlacoche and zucchini flowers.

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!

Ravioli with poblano cheese and spinach.

Ravioli with poblano cheese and spinach.

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.

Swordfish with habanero pineapple sauce.

Swordfish with habanero pineapple sauce.

Chef Sussana was so kind to make me a gluten free version!

Gluten Free Swordfish with habanero-pineapple sauce

Gluten Free Swordfish with habanero and pineapple sauce

The restaurant opens onto a very nice pool area with outdoor seating for the restaurant.

Palacio Azteca pool.

Palacio Azteca pool.

A great experience. Superb food and wonderful company! I look forward to visiting again soon!

A very happy group after a very delicious lunch!

A very happy group after a very delicious lunch!

Palacio Azteca poolside art.

Palacio Azteca poolside art.

For more information about Palacio Azteca visit their website: www.palacioazteca.com/ or visit them on Facebook.

Click here for more Tijuana and Baja California travel ideas.

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.

Hotel: TripAdvisor is my favorite place to research hotels and find the best prices. You can find hotels in Tijuana for as little at $19 per night.

Read More About Baja California

South of the Border: Cuisine and Culture in Tijuana

Baja California Perfect Travel Gear List

15 Best Baja California Restaurants

Vino en Mexico? You Bet Your Grapes!

 


WHEN TO VISIT TIJUANA

The weather in Tijuana is the same as San Diego, which means any time is great to visit. More than weather, you want to plan your trip around the border and when lines will be shorter. High season is considered to be summer, all U.S. holidays and weekends year-round.

If you enjoyed this article about the Top Things to Do in Tijuana, you’ll also love South of the border: The best cuisine and culture when you visit Tijuana.


Traveling To Tijuana Soon? Here are a few tips:

How to get there: There are two borders you can cross to arrive into Tijuana – San Ysidro and Otay Mesa. Otay Mesa is closer to the airport and San Ysidro is closer to the tourist areas. You can cross by foot or car. If you are flying, you can fly into San Diego International Airport, or Tijuana Airport.

Where to stay: There are many places to stay in Tijuana. There is a wide range of hotels, from budget to luxury. For a luxury hotel that won’t break the bank, I recommend the K Tower Boutique Hotel By Lucerna which is currently the #1 hotel on Tripadvisor. For a mid-level hotel, I suggest the Tijuana Marriott Hotel.  Finally, for a budget hotel, try the Palacio Azteca Hotel. You can also check HotelsCombined for the best Tijuana Hotel Rates.

Hotels in Tijuana: Check Trip Advisor reviews for K Tower Boutique Hotel By Lucerna or Tijuana Marriott Hotel.

What to pack: Average temperatures in Tijuana vary somewhat. For women, shorts aren’t commonly worn in Mexico but are nice to have at the beach. I’d recommend bringing a skirt and a pair of athletic shorts (for outdoors activities or as a beach cover-up). A maxi skirt will do, since you can wear it in cool weather, you can also tie a knot in it to turn it into a midi or mini skirt in warm weather. For men, a couple of shorts and T-shirts should be enough. In addition to that, bring one pair of sneakers either trail runners for hikes or something like Toms for walking around cities.


Tijuana Trip Essentials


6 Indispensable Items to Pack for a Tijuana Vacation


Read More About Tijuana

3 Day Baja Mexico Cruise from Long Beach on Carnival Imagination
Is Juarez Safe to Visit? Exploring a Mexico Border Town
Vino En Mexico? You Bet Your Grapes!

 

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