Jeff Smith 2 p.m., Dec. 18
At Aunty Jane’s
Last on our Tour of Revolución…
They’ve been open for six decades and in this location for three of those, and Pedro Rodríguez Peña, standing across the counter from me, has been working here for four decades.
We’re at Tia Juana Tilly’s (8208 Revolución Avenue, Tijuana) outside the Jai Alai Fronton Palace between 7th and 8th Street.
Near to the Jai Alai pelota player...
...is the outside seating area of Tilly's
I’m in eating a milanesa lunch special: breaded beef with frijoles, rice, and a couple of slices of tomato, plus corn tortillas, chips, salsas, and a glass of horchata, the sweet rice-and-cinnamon drink. All for $4.40. The tortillas and the horchata cost an incredible 1 centavo each. Deals? This is a deal.
Pedro Rodriguez and my lunch
My milanesa lunch special, basic but filling
They have lunch specials like this going every day.
Tilly’s is about the nearest thing to a full sidewalk café on this avenue. It’s still too enclosed for my taste, but what do I know?
Basically I’ve always loved coming in and grabbing a beer, listen to mariachis, and seeing how middle-class TJ-ites enjoy themselves.
Above all, this is a kind of time warp of old Tijuana. And talking to Pedro and others, it seems the name goes right back to 1829, when this spot was part of Santiago Arguello’s Rancho Tia Juana. The Don was famous for his fiestas and for his chef Antillinez’s cooking. Soon Antillinez became known simply as Tilly, a symbol of great Mexican hospitality.
Then this place turned from cattle ranch to town, and in 1947 they started Tia Juana Tilly’s.
Jai Alai Fronton palace-style arches...
...form back wall of Tilly's
That’s what it feels like in here now, 1947. Even though the posters for the bands they’ve got playing this weekend (123 Plus and America Nova) tell you we’re in 2011, and even if sometimes turistas drift in, it's time-warp Tijuana.
New Tilly's: not that different
Think I’ll get Carla down here, Friday night. After all, didn’t she tell me she had Arguello blood in her?
Hey, maybe we can get half off the horchata.