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Stories by Matthew Suárez

Please, anything but sidewalk stars

Avenida Revolución goes Hollywood, restaurateur goes ballistic

"We’ve witnessed tourism making a slow comeback. But it’s not at all the type of tourism that wants to see star-studded sidewalks."

Several smells do the tango

Ocean views, vegan food, and hookah at Açai Café

I have walked by Açai Café on the beach boardwalk of Playas de Tijuana countless times and thought of it simply as the café with the Mario Bros. mural painted on the side. I had ...

Shocks for sale

Only the delicate go early

Clickety-clink-clack. Toques! Toques! A man wearing polished shoes, a zoot suit, and a fancy hat walks through a bar with a decorated electric box attached to his hip. Two metal tubes that he smashes together ...

The best camarón enchilado taco in all the land

Tijuana’s Los Compadres Taco Stand

My friend Danger Dave took me to Los Compadres for the first time a few years ago. He guaranteed that they had the best camarón enchilado taco (spicy shrimp), better than Tijuana favorite El Mazateño. ...

Fun things to do in San Diego

A million things under the sun — we offer a few (some indoors)

County Administration Center Waterfront Park In 2014, 12 acres of former parking lots were converted into a public park facing San Diego Bay. Running both north and south of the county government headquarters established in ...

The torta was truly drowned

The rare tortas ahogadas at Carnitas el Jerezano

The torta ahogada (“drowned sandwich”) is one of the many signature dishes brought to you by Jalisco, the state that is home to tequila and also my paternal family’s home. From what I know, there ...

Vote for me, or go f--- your mother

Rough talk and independent candidates punctuate Baja elections

“We are doing the first grassroots campaign in Tijuana,” Antonio Ley tells the Reader. “We are doing it Obama style.” Ley is the downtown canvass coordinator for one of the independent candidates running for Tijuana’s ...

Great Korean in a Tijuana mall

It’s called Chopstix Comida Coreana

In Tijuana, if you crave sushi you are limited to two things: bad but cheap sushi or decent sushi in a fancy sit-down restaurant. I knew that the Friki Plaza, the nerdy mall where Dorian’s ...

Sometimes gay-friendly Tijuana

LGBT rights parades contrast with restrictive legislation

“Governor Quiko [Kiko] Vega violates rights of trans.” “Religions: Stop promoting trans assassinations.” “Stop the abuse by policemen against trans in Tijuana.” “To be trans is not a sin nor a disease.” These were just ...

Enter a maze of beer and food

And then overindulge in greasy bar grub at the Lazy Pig

“We accomplished our primary task, which was to have as many tap rooms as we can in one place,” says Juan Carlos Bucio, the mastermind that turned Plaza del Balazo into Plaza Cerveza. “The second ...

Classic Tijuana taquerías

A few of the best known taquerias for local Tijuanenses

Tijuanenses will never agree what taquería has the best taco, but what they can agree on is that the very best in the world is found in Tijuana. Though Tacos El Gordo dominates the San ...

Borderland brews

Taste my beer

More than 20 tap rooms opened in Tijuana last year, many of them in the same Plaza, giving the area a feel of a daily beer fest. Partially thanks to San Diego, the Baja region ...

Plaza La Ocho opens in downtown Tijuana

Nice park, but city green space is still lacking (understatement)

“El Parque de la Ocho is more than just a space for activities, it is also an area to develop values like respect, harmony, and a sense of belonging,” Dr. Jorge Astiazarán, Tijuana’s mayor said ...

From Greengo to Grater

A cheesy family story

“We started in 2011 with a food truck named Greengo grilled cheese,” explained Gaston Corbalá, chef and creator of Grater Grilled Cheese Bistro. “We wanted a name that was a play on words and represented ...

Ghost buildings haunt Tijuana

No romantic approach toward saving old buildings.

Puerta Mexico, a.k.a. La Concha (“the shell”), a googie-esque immigration office on the Mexican side of the San Ysidro border crossing, was demolished in 2015 . Constructed in 1961, the structure also served as a ...

Tijuana taxistas in turmoil

Industry changes inspire mayor's comparison to Hitler

"I have no idea what is going on," Enrique Sanchez, a taxi coordinator, told me last week when I inquired about the plans for taxi drivers to strike in Tijuana. "The director instructed us to ...

Vegan tacos via bike

Veggies Are Us is off to a good start

Young couple David García and Ariss Mercado started delivering vegan food via bicycle around Tijuana over a year ago. After biking around the city, they garnered enough fans via Facebook and Instagram to open a ...

Little Japan in Tijuana

Otaku Anime Café has all your favorites

I found myself in a bizarre, nerdy dreamland called Otaku Anime Café. Similar to Plaza Friki, this is where nerds congregate in downtown. Welcome to Nippon in Tijuana. As I enter, a video of Kyary ...

Vanessa up in flames

Tijuana punk band DFMK loses van and gear in roadside burn

Tijuana punk band DFMK were on their way through California for their RnR Spring West Coast tour, when they had to pull over to the side of the road to attend Vanessa’s wounds. Vanessa was ...

Drunk diving in Tijuana

Mariscos el Buzo, 46 years on the same corner

“My dad started this stand in March of 1970, the year I was born,” says Israel Carrillo, who runs Mariscos el Buzo, a small seafood stand in the corner of Calle Segunda and Gonzalez Ortega ...

Goat is so much better than beef

Birrieria los Primos has the elusive birria taco

I remember the first time I had birria in the city of Guadalajara. I was only seven and wasn’t much of a meat eater. Without asking for it, a bowl of spicy greasy red soup ...

Tijuana movie theater reopens

Family-friendly and porn under one roof

“As soon as you sit down, a guy will come over and offer you sexual favors,” a gay friend told me a couple of years ago. “You pay around two dollars and you can stay ...

Ghosts on the patio

How Música en el Patio (MEEP) was born

“It all started in my backyard in the summer of 2014,” Andrés Corella recalls. “We did it to share music with friends. We had no intention of making it a big public thing. They were ...

Whatever you do, stay south of Calle Primera

Buda Burgers, in the bad part of town

The first time I tried a Buda Burger was two years ago. My roommate had left a half-eaten burger in the fridge, and I was hungry. He later gave me directions on how to find ...

Bland food, fantastic view

Tijuana’s Cafe Aquamarino

Waves crashing, rooftop dogs barking, seagulls squawking, the banter between people (mostly in English), music playing in the background, improvised couches, random pillows and cushions, a long wooden table, a bookshelf with a sign that ...

Zonked out

Love for the Tijuana zebra from both sides

The zonkey business seems to be dying of natural causes, not because of animal rights activism.

Kitty and tea

An hour at Tijuana's cat café

“The Persian one, that’s Zed,” says Elizabeth Barajas, the founder of Bastet Cat Café, pointing at a napping kitty. “Zed is the house cat. He is always here and welcomes all the newcomers. More than ...

Peso falls at the same time as Chapo

The Chinese box method

“We need to find another news story for people to get distracted; we call it la caja China (Chinese box).” That’s a translated line from a Mexican movie that came out in 2014 named La ...

Bread's got Baby Jesus

No "baby kisses" in roscas de reyes — sweetened dried fruit and other stuff

My parents woke me and my brothers up in the middle of the night when I was six years old in my hometown of Querétaro (1992). Three men dressed in robes, crowns, and white gloves ...

Stuck in 1975

...at Observatory North Park

Droning sounds start to build before The 1975 came onstage at 9 p.m. Shrieks from fans filled my ears as the frontman, Matthew Healy, came out with his bandmates. It felt as if I was ...

In praise of a seafood Tijuana favorite

Go for the red snapper tostada and stay for the Pulp Friction

The first time I went to La Corriente Cevicheria Nais was around five years ago, one of the first restaurants I visited in Tijuana. Back then, the sign that says how many red snapper tostadas ...

A Christmas Facebook story

"Give me a like or I will beat your ass," he yelled at the homeless man.

A 17-year-old identified as Adal Mundo Rodríguez was videoed abusing a homeless man, making him repeat different humiliating phrases in the Otay region of Tijuana, on December 20th. The teenager holds what seems to be ...

McDonald's commercial fooled me

I am not lovin' it.

The last time I went to McD's was in 2010 at LAX, one of the worst airports at which to eat. That day, I strayed from the burgers and got nuggets and a McFlurry. I ...

Not enough bacon for a place with bacon in the title

TJ's Sweet Bacon not quite ready to attract Millennial crowd

A tad late with the trend of cooking everything with bacon, Sweet Bacon opened its doors a couple of months ago in downtown Tijuana. They are located on the main road (Revolución) between 6th and ...

Tijuana brewer's van swiped

"I had to bring three kegs in my car. It looked like I was doing wheelies."

Last week, the van that Border Psycho brewery uses to transport kegs to their tap room and other bars was stolen with beer inside. The reward offered by the brewery for information that leads to ...

Tijuana loves delivery

But how did a Hornero pizza get in my house?

Tijuana is a city that loves its delivery food. Hundreds of motorcycles with all sorts of food zoom down the streets day and night. One morning I woke up to find out my roommate had ...

Comic-Con it every dang day

Tijuana's Friki Zone, where nerds can say they're nervous

“Whoa, they have the Link Amiibo. I can’t find them anywhere in L.A. I’m getting one for my lil’ brother.” I was touring my friend Gabe through Tijuana when he got excited and we stopped ...

El Tigre leaves the punks behind

Provocative meats from Sinful Eats

One year ago, El Tigre had punk shows on a regular basis. They served cheap beer on tap, caguama (bottled beer), and mixed drinks intended to get you drunk for the least amount of money. ...

Baby delivered at border

Woman goes into labor while waiting to cross in San Ysidro

Of the many ways to find out what is happening on the San Ysidro or Otay border lines, the best source of current information (and misinformation) is the Facebook group “Como esta la Línea.” The ...

An easy gathering spot in downtown Tijuana

Praga does not offer much more

“Why don’t you try Praga? They have really good chai.” My friend Claudia suggested this after I told her that I did not feel like eating vegan at her Happy Vegan locale. I was looking ...

¡Rape Trump!

Border mural depicts presidential contender with ball gag

A mile west of the Tijuana airport, where the road ends and dirt road begins, a mural that reads “¡Rape Trump!” has been painted on the old border wall. The presidential candidate's face is depicted ...

Halloween in Tijuana

Celebrations don't match those on Día de los Muertos

Thousands of locals and tourists flocked to Avenida Revolución to party and celebrate Halloween, also known in Mexico as “Día de las Brujas.” I arrived at the scene around 9 p.m. and police had already ...

Tijuana facelift

Replaced pavement and gentrification alter city's appearance

Last year, Calle Segunda in downtown Tijuana was destroyed in order to be redesigned. For a couple of months, it looked like the end of the world. Businesses and residents suffered difficult access and water ...

Which part of the pig do you prefer?

Hipster carnitas in Telefónica

The carnivore paradise that is the Telefónica food-truck park had one stall that served vegan food when I last visited in July. That place is gone and has been replaced with a food truck named ...

Fate of Tijuana dive bar hits rumor circuit

Bar Zacazonapan, where anything goes, might be going away soon

“Si güey, el Zacas va a cerrar” (“Yeah man, Zacas is closing”), a musician named Osvaldo “el Teme” said, confirming the rumor. “Someone told me it will happen before the end of the year. We ...

A fairy tale land of beer

Plaza Fiesta’s Fauna Tap Room and Suculenta

Follow the stairs with the gnomes painted on the side to the second floor of one of the many locales that is the maze of Plaza Fiesta and you will find a kitchen with a ...

An awkward ménage à trois

Sage lemonade, pasta, and panini at Aether

When I first met Oliver Castañeda a couple years ago, he was running a small coffee shop named El Gnomo (The Gnome) in downtown Tijuana in the alley known as Pasaje Gomez. When Pasaje Gomez ...

Loving and loathing the peso in Tijuana

Depends on where you make your taco money

“The dollar keeps getting more expensive! Isn't it awesome?” Jimmy told me excitedly one payday a couple months ago. At age 20, Jimmy was my youngest coworker while I was working in retail. He had ...

Searching for marlin in Tijuana

Going out of the way for Tacos de Marlin

Every Saturday morning I play a pick-up game of soccer with friends from San Diego and Tijuana. The field we play on varies each week, but it is always south of the border. When we ...

An overwhelming array of toppings south of the border

On the boardwalk at Horno 320°

My mom loves this pizzeria situated almost at the end of the boardwalk on Playas de Tijuana (half a mile south from the border wall). We went there as a family for Mother’s day and ...

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