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Tacos are art too: The High & Low's Tijuana food diary

Tacos are art too: The High & Low's Tijuana food diary
The grillmasters at the Taquería Franc in Tijuana serve up fresh-roasted tacos de adobada -- spit-grilled pork tacos marinated with red chili. The sort of divine dish a coupla of arts journalists need to survive. (Marcus Yam / Los Angeles Times)

A roadside Christ. A new architecture school. And singer called "The Dead One."

For the better part of five days, I criss-crossed Tijuana to report on the city's wave of cultural institution building. For a good portion of it, I was in the company of my Times colleague, photographer Marcus Yam, and together we met with an array of curators, architects, students, painters, photographers and, of course, the flamboyantly goth street performer "El Muertho." (Best. Show. Ever.)

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Naturally, we had to eat. And this being Tijuana, did we ever. There was carne asada. There was the spit-roasted pork marinated in red chile called adobada. There was a whole lot of pulpo (octopus). And a lot of it was as stimulating and aesthetically pleasing as the art we were encountering.

Because we were on assignment, we didn't have time to run off to the mythical truck that parks in an alley on the first full-moon Thursday before Holy Friday, which only a small subset of 20 locals and three bloggers know about. (I don't have time to be that kind of food hipster.)

But we did eat. And we can show you a few of the wondrous things Marcus and I put in our gullets in the course of our work.

Herewith, the Great Tijuana Taco and Tostada Tour of 2015. Better than anything you can get at a Biennial...

A patron proudly displays his adobada tacos from <a href="https://www.google.com/maps/place/Taqueria+Franc/@32.528727,-117.0298661,17z/data=!3m1!4b1!4m2!3m1!1s0x80d94853cb565b91:0x55120f98dba7b0bf" target="_blank">Taqueria Franc</a>, in Tijuana. This no-frills joint on the northern end of the city attracts a cross-section of Tijuanenses with fine carne asada and adobada tacos. We know, because we ate there repeatedly.
A patron proudly displays his adobada tacos from Taqueria Franc, in Tijuana. This no-frills joint on the northern end of the city attracts a cross-section of Tijuanenses with fine carne asada and adobada tacos. We know, because we ate there repeatedly. (Marcus Yam / Los Angeles Times)
Conveniently situated between two of our interviews was the outdoor food court, <a href="https://www.facebook.com/foodgardentj/" target="_blank">Food Garden</a>. (Think: Design conscious re-do of a Latin American mercado.) There, we dove into some spectacularly tender octopus tacos from Walter. Truly sculptural.
Conveniently situated between two of our interviews was the outdoor food court, Food Garden. (Think: Design conscious re-do of a Latin American mercado.) There, we dove into some spectacularly tender octopus tacos from Walter. Truly sculptural. (Carolina A. Miranda / Los Angeles Times)
Because too much pulpo is never enough: Arturo Rodriguez of La Caja Galería introduced me to the wonders that are the octopus tostadas at Jair Tellez's <a href="http://verdeycrema.com/" target="_blank">Verde y Crema</a>, one of the city's Bajamed hot spots. These are better than any abstract process art I've ever seen.
Because too much pulpo is never enough: Arturo Rodriguez of La Caja Galería introduced me to the wonders that are the octopus tostadas at Jair Tellez's Verde y Crema, one of the city's Bajamed hot spots. These are better than any abstract process art I've ever seen. (Carolina A. Miranda / Los Angeles Times)
Mely Barragán and Daniel Ruanova of TJ in China ProjectSpace introduced us to a miniscule food court off Revolución called <a href="http://www.colectivo9.com/" target="_blank">Colectivo</a>, where we dove into the fresh ceviche tostadas prepared by the good folks at <a href="https://www.facebook.com/LaMartinaCevicheria" target="_blank">La Martina Cevichería</a>.
Mely Barragán and Daniel Ruanova of TJ in China ProjectSpace introduced us to a miniscule food court off Revolución called Colectivo, where we dove into the fresh ceviche tostadas prepared by the good folks at La Martina Cevichería. (Carolina A. Miranda / Los Angeles Times)
After eating the city's many tacos, we needed something to wash them down with: a shot of Don Julio Reposado at the legendery <a href="http://blogs.ocweekly.com/stickaforkinit/2012/10/el_dandy_del_sur_tijuana.php" target="_blank">Dandy Del Sur</a> bar, off Avenida Revolución. This counts as work because we were 'investigating' Tijuana nightlife. I'm happy to report that we were up for the job.
After eating the city's many tacos, we needed something to wash them down with: a shot of Don Julio Reposado at the legendery Dandy Del Sur bar, off Avenida Revolución. This counts as work because we were 'investigating' Tijuana nightlife. I'm happy to report that we were up for the job. (Carolina A. Miranda / Los Angeles Times)

Find me on Twitter @cmonstah. And be sure to follow Marcus Yam @yamphoto on Instagram.

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