San Diego and Tijuana have always defined and strengthened one another. Mexican culture is woven into the very fabric of San Diego, seen, heard, and tasted everywhere from art galleries and taco shops to breweries, bars, and boutiques. There are infinite ways to experience and understand it, but these are among the richest, most delicious places to start.
Where: 2001 Logan Ave, San Diego, CA 92113
A national landmark, Chicano Park’s 7-acres under the San Diego side of the Coronado Bridge serve as a massive outdoor art gallery. The vibrant murals adorning the walls reflect the history of this chunk of real estate as an important home to Mexican-American culture and identity.
Where: Boulevard Agua Caliente 8860, Centro, 22000 Tijuana, B.C., Mexico
SouthNorte’s made-in-San-Diego craft beers draw their every inspiration from the flavors and experiences of TJ and Baja California. When South of the border, you can visit them at Tijuana’s Telefonica Gastro Park, or in San Diego look for their beers on tap, brewed with distinctly Mexican flavors like agave, epazote, cilantro, cajeta, cinnamon, and Mexican chocolate.
Where: 2196 Logan Ave, San Diego, CA 92113
Low-riders, skateboards, and tricked-out bicycles adorn this hip taco shop’s original location in Barrio Logan (with other outposts in National City and the Midway District). But what’s made it a perennial favorite are tacos al pastor and other solid classics. Stick around for the churros and ice cream.
Where: 2292 National Ave, San Diego, CA 92113
The art here spans modern genres but often reflects the Chicano heritage and culture of its Barrio Logan location, such as with its annual “Dia De Los Muertos Skull Art Show” and “Frida Kahlo Art Show & Friducha Market.”
Where: 2185 Logan Ave, Unit 11, San Diego, CA 92113
This tiny Barrio Logan boutique packs every inch with wares from makers both Mexican and American, including stationery, soap, fabrics, planters, trinkets, and teeny treasures galore.
Where: 569 S Coast Hwy 101, Encinitas CA, 92024
Surely there are worse ways to go than with farm-to-table Baja-style eats at this Encinitas newcomer. The pineapple chipotle guacamole, Duroc pork carnitas, ahi crudo, and agave spirit cocktails are to die for.
Where: 3803 Ray St, San Diego, CA 92104
You could call this shop full of Mexican jewelry, clothing, party décor, specialty foods, and art a boutique. But with so many crafts workshops and other art-focused events, and nonprofit fundraisers it’s clearly something more. At the shop in the heart of North Park’s artsy Ray Street district, find anything from jars of mole to enamel pins, baby clothes with luchador designs, pencils with motivational phrases, and that’s just the start.
Where: 2934 Adams Ave, San Diego, CA 92116
The authentic moles, street tacos, and mariscos more than hold their own at this stylish yet unpretentious resto. But as the name (for the goddess of the agave plant) might suggest, the main event is the dizzying selection of tequila, mezcal, and other Mexican spirits. Order any of them straight or mixed into a delicious margarita, preferably in the chic wood-and-leather patio.
Where: 1857 Logan Ave, San Diego, CA 92113
Any taco aficionado will fall in love this legendary, 86-year-old institution. Run by the matriarchs of the Estudillo clan, this no frills (and cash only!) joint never fails to draw huge lines for its satisfying tamales, cheese-dusted deep-fried tacos, handmade tortillas, and nothing-fancy rice and beans.
Where: 1435 Sixth Ave, San Diego, CA 92101
Build your own plate of from-scratch chilaquiles and other comfort foods based on recipes gleaned from the owners’ grandparents in Mexico. Save room for the simple and decadent churros that go so well with Mexican hot chocolate or cinnamon and clove-spiced café de olla.