A CHEF'S LIFE

Binge Street Eating Tijuana with Nate Appleman

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As you can tell, I spend quite a bit of my time in Baja; mostly in Tijuana checking on my gastrobar, La Justina, and stuffing my face with street tacos as much as I can.

Nate Appleman, a close friend and all around Bad Ass Chef, had been asking me for some time now to give him a proper tour of Tijuana.

If you don’t know who Nate is, you probably should. Chef Appleman’s soulful cooking style has garnered local and national praise. As a 2009 James Beard Foundation Award Rising Star Chef winner, Food & Wine 2009 Best New Chef and San Francisco Chronicle Rising Star Chef, his cooking has been recognized by publications such as The New York Times, Bon Appétit, Martha Stewart Show and Gourmet.

Read more about Nate by clicking here!

As you can imagine with how busy both of our schedules are, it took over a year to make this actually happen.


I just happened to be at La Justina shooting a dish for the Eat Drink Read cook book by Chefs Press and Nate was free to explore.


We 1st met up at La Justina to have a snack, as I already know whats about to happen and saving it for last never quite works out when your waistline is pushed past its limit.

Nate and I had the opportunity to try a NEW creation from my recently appointed Chef de Cuisine Marco Rodriguez of Nayarit, Mexico, who hails from amazing kitchens such as Corazon de Tierra – Valle de Guadalupe – Lula Bistro – Guadalajara and Le Chique – Riviera Maya.

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cured pork belly – hand-made steam bun – onion ring – cucumber slaw

After one bite, Nate and I looked up at each other, with the priceless look of “what the fuck!!” Simply put that might be the BEST steamed bun he or I have ever had. * Note… both Chef Nate and I have had the incredible opportunity of traveling and eating in many Asian countries. Not saying we are the government of steam bun making… just saying we haven’t had better.


Next stop… Telefonica Gastro Park


Food Trucks Tijuana, Gastronomia Urbana. Av. Ocampo, entre Blvd. Agua Caliente y Calle 11. Atrás de Telnor. De 12:00 PM – 8:00 PM

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This is a fun & exciting! Think Portland, Oregon meets Baja – meets Cheer’s.


Nate and I walk in and we are welcomed by everyone, past friends I made on a trip down Baja with Miguel-Angel Guerrero for “Expedition Baja” in Punta Chivato, new gastro truck chefs, old gastro truck chefs; all bringing us their specials of the day. No order necessary. We wanted to ask for them to stop, we had a HOT date with some TACOS we had to get to, but we stayed and ate anyway.

They only had 5 trucks on my last visit to Telefonica last October. Now there are 12 trucks, trailers, and vans pumping out Baja eats from coffee to ramen, sausages, ceviches, tortas, risottos and fresh catch. Come with expandable waist bands, cause its getting stretched. Don’t try and fight it. Dig in. Get a cold beer or agua fresca and forget about time.

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CRETA: a Med gastro truck – serves us fresh catch grilled with risotto and local vegetables.


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TA’COSTEÑO: oyster – sea urchin – green onion – dragon fruit


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DON RAMEN: bao buns – marinated pork – peanuts – cucumber – radish – cabbage


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HUMO: Bacon sausage – candied bacon – amaze sauce (not sure what it is) – corn


Stuffed & fatigue setting in, we decided to get some coffee. You can get great coffee at Telefonica Gastro Park but I wanted to show Nate one of the cool Pop-Up corner coffee shops, Daz Cortes. The staff is always friendly and if your not a coffee drinker they have a tea that I get over ice with dried apples, and hibiscus; super fresh and not caffeinated.

We sat outside on a bench and chatted about the culinary landscape in San Diego vs. the rest of the United States and food driven cities, as well as the exciting dining culture here in Tijuana and Baja. We shared stories about our careers, where we have been and where we plan to be.

Tacos?

With the food all settled, we set back out to continue shoveling tacos into our mouths. Next stop Taco Nazo. There are 4 locations to my knowledge: Playas, Centro, La Cacho and Hipodromo. Each person has their go to place. I have many however, “Binge Street Eating Tijuana with Nate Appleman” will have to wait till next time as we only had space for a few more bites.


Avenida Hipódromo 126 Int. B, Hipodromo, 22020 Tijuana, B.C., Mexico


A few years back Chef Javier Plascencia took me to the Taco Nazo Hipodromo location where we had tripas, suadero, cabeza, al pastor, carne asada and more. In case you didnt know, the Hipodromo is the stadium where the Local Tijuana Football Club Xolos play!

Since then, I bring everyone here for my two favorite tacos. Tripas (chicharron style – extra crispy) and saudero – like brisket. Now there are others that I love around TJ but on this trip we’re here… for now!

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TACO NAZO: crispy tripas (intestines) and suadero tacos are the business here!


Watching this taquero work makes me feel self-conscious of how sensitive my hands are compared to this dude. I’m not sure how hot this caldron-ish, sombrero looking, fat, hot-tub cooking equipment is cranked up to but he seems to have asbestos hands to be dipping the tortillas and splashing around in the fat, cooking the braided intestines and suadero.

Shortly after, we made our final stop at Los Tronco’s for a Pollo Asado taco, located at


Paseo de Los Heroes 10356, Zona Río, 22416 Tijuana, B.C., Mexico.


 

The chicken tacos and queso tacos there are A+. Too full to photograph and sensing a need of getting horizontal we waive or white flag and head for the border.

It was Wednesday Night 8pm and driving to the border through the regular lane was no more than a 15 minute wait. 


Oh and guess what! Theres an app for telling you what the border wait times are.

Here is the link to “BORDER WAIT”


Check back often… Chef Nate Appleman and I will be heading south again soon, next time we will visit more taco spots, ice creams and pizza places. We might even camp, hunt, fish and cook.

-Chef Chad White

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