Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Tijuana Seafood - Tacos Kokopelli, El Mazateno, Erizo

Grilled Octopus at Tacos Kokopelli in Tijuana

We were back in Tijuana this past Saturday for our second weekend in a row. This time we went on a progressive seafood meal organized by Turista Libre and Life&Food.

When we ate at the Tacos Kokopelli stand at last weekend's Baja Beer Fest, I thought their name seemed familiar. It turns out that they were our first stop on this trip.

Tacos Kokopelli in Tijuana

Tacos Kokopelli is a little stand in front of a print shop a few blocks south and east of the tourist stretch on Revolución.

We had two of the same tacos we had last weekend - the "Kraken" (grilled octopus) and the Marlin Pibil. They were even better this time around.

Kraken octopus taco at Tacos Kokopelli in Tijuana

We got the octopus served inside a green chile before being wrapped in the corn tortilla. The chile not only adds great flavor, but it also acts as a barrier to help keep your taco from falling apart. We may have to steal this technique when making tacos at home.

Our second stop was El Mazateño - a Sinaloan seafood restaurant. The place was surprisingly large inside and was bustling with activity.

Mariscos El Mazateno in Tijuana

We first tried a cup of their shrimp broth - rich, quite spicy and a great way to whet your appetite:

Shrimp broth at Mariscos El Mazateno in Tijuana

Then the main event - their famous camarón enchilado (spicy shrimp) taco:

Camaron enchilado taco at Mariscos El Mazateno in Tijuana

Not overly hot, but very flavorful and a generous portion. We piled them up with the provided pico de gallo, shredded cabbage and sauces and got down to the serious business of trying to eat the tacos before they self destructed.

Our last seafood stop was Erizo Baja Fish House and Market - one of the places run by Baja Med restaurateur Javier Plascencia.

Erizo Baja Fish House and Market in Tijuana

We relaxed in the comfortable, modern space and enjoyed fish and mango tostadas:

Fish and mango tostada at Erizo Baja Fish House and Market in Tijuana

I'm not always a fan of fruit and seafood mixed together, but this tostada was fantastic. Everything was perfectly seasoned and the brightness of the mango went very well with the fish (a ceviche of Cabichuco - a type of white sea bass).

That was the end of the seafood portion of the program - now it was time for dessert!

Tepoznieves in Tijuana

Tepoznieves is an ice cream chain originating in Tepoztlán - a small town outside of Mexico city. They carry a ridiculous number of flavors - ranging from the standard favorites to the bizarre.

Tepoznieves in Tijuana

I went relatively conservative - pistachio, coconut with gin, and mangolin (mango with red chile):

Tepoznieves in Tijuana

My favorite of the flavors I tried was the mangolin (hidden at the bottom of the cup pictured above). It reminded me of an ice cream version of the fresh mango with chile you can get from street vendors all over Mexico.

We highly recommend all of the places we stopped on this trip, and more importantly, we recommend that you get yourself down to Tijuana.

Tacos Kokopelli
Avenida Ocampo near the corner of Bulevar Agua Caliente

Mariscos El Mazateño
Calzada Tecnologico, No. 473
Tomas Aquino

Erizo Baja Fish House and Market
Ave. Sonora 3808

Sánchez Taboada 10737

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Baja Beer Fest - Craft Beer in Tijuana and Tacos Kokopelli

Baja Beer Fest in Tijuana

We hopped down to Tijuana last Friday to attend the Baja Beer Fest. Over the past few years, the craft beer scene has really been taking off with our neighbors to the South, and this was very much in evidence with the collection of great Baja beers available at the festival.

Old Mission Brewery at the Baja Beer Fest

We started out with Old Mission Brewery from Ensenada. We tried their two IPAs - Dos Pablos IPA and Red Agave IPA. The Red Agave was interesting - it is an amber colored IPA incorporating agave nectar, but I preferred the Dos Pablos - light and hoppy.

Cerveceria Inurgente at the Baja Beer Fest

Next up, we stopped at Cerveceria Insurgente. These guys were one of the first in Tijuana's emerging craft beer scene. We tasted their beers last year on Turista Libre's Tijuana craft beer tour, and they are still going strong. They had a number of beers at the fest, including a very nice Saison.

Cerveceria Kudos at the Baja Beer Fest

My favorite beers of the fest were the IPAs from Cerveceria Kudos. Their IPA, double IPA and extra dry hopped IPA were all fantastic, and would not be at all out of place here in San Diego.

Big Bad Brewing at the Baja Beer Fest

Cucapa from Mexicali was a no-show, but we did get to try some Mexicali beer. Big Bad Brewing was on hand with with stout and a strong ale, both of which we enjoyed.

Muñeca Prieta at the Baja Beer Fest

We also tasted some beers from another Tijuana brewery - Muñeca Prieta - who had a a very nice Tripel.

Tacos Kkopelli at the Baja Beer Fest

As the afternoon turned to evening, the fest started to get more and more active, and we started to get hungry. Fortunately, there were plenty of food options. We sat down at Tacos Kokopelli and grabbed something to eat.

Tacos Kokopelli Grilling Octopus

The "Kraken" taco is octopus that they were grilling up. Some of the pieces were a bit large and chewy, but overall the flavor was fantastic.

Kraken Octopus Taco from Tacos Kokopelli

We also had their portobello mushroom taco, which was very good, but our favorite was the marlin pibil:

Marlin Pibil Taco from Tacos Kokopelli

Super tasty. Doing a pibil with smoked marlin is a great idea.

Baja Beer Fest in Tijuana

Overall, the fest was a very nice way to spend the day. The quality of craft beer in Baja right now is really good, and seems to be getting better all the time. We look forward to returning to the festival next year!