The first hour guide to Tijuana, Mexico

Tijuana is best known for nightlife, so where should I go?

Mexico’s state drinking age of 18 and Tijuana’s proximity to Los Angeles and San Diegomeans it’s a mecca for young American boozers. But although this vibe certainly remains – there are enough free-pouring dive bars to satisfy the most demanding frat-squad – Tijuana’s bar scene is evolving to include gorgeous watering holes and stylish cocktail bars.

Head to La Justina for Tijuana’s top cocktails, run by San Diego’s fabulous Snake Oil Cocktail Company — the Labios Rios cocktail comes strong and garnished with fiery red chillies. Eating here is an equally exciting experience — try the octopus tostaditos as a dreamy bar snack.

Plaza Fiesta, an old (and slightly dated) outdoor mall is without doubt the best place for local brews. El Depa is small and kitsch, but the beer selection is vast and well-worth sampling. When you get hungry head downstairs to El Tigre for sophisticated cocktails and sriracha fries.

For beer with a super local soul, head to Mamut Cerveza on the newly spruced-up Passaje Rodriguez. This venue sells brews for $1.18 a bottle with the aim to making craft beer accessible to all.

Baja California is also known for its blossoming wine scene, and luckily the Valle de Guadalupe is just an hour from Tijuana.

And what should I eat?

Tacos tacos tacos. Why eat anything else in Tijuana? Visitors to the city should hunker down on one of the bright red stools at a street side taqueria at least once.The Mazateno is regularly voted the number one taqueria in the city – locals swear by the chilli shrimp taco and the super cheesy enchiladas.

Tio Pepe Tacos is also a residents’ favourite – the tasty potato tacos come with a heaped serving of fresh cabbage carnitas and the meat options are sumptuous too. For something a little different, head to Kokopelli which serves up octopus pesto tacos and squid ink ceviche – it’s one of the rising stars of Tijuana’s foodie scene.

The city is also the place to come for super-fresh mariscos (seafood). Run from popular food hall Food Garden, Erizo is the brainchild of the city’s most famous chef, Javier Plascencia. In 2013 the Food Garden grew out of the Distrito Gastronomico and became a new home for some of Tijuana’s busiest street vendors.

There’s fine dining on offer too. Mision 19 is Plascencia’s flagship restaurant and elevates border food to next-level luxury. The design here is sleek, and typical Baja Californian ingredients are crafted into dishes such as roast suckling pig, beef tablitas and grilled octopus.