Try the hogazas at this inspired wine bar — a French roll split open and filled with melted cheese and piled with pancetta or chorizo.
  • Try the hogazas at this inspired wine bar — a French roll split open and filled with melted cheese and piled with pancetta or chorizo.
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La Faraona

Avenida Puente México #8250, Colonia Zona Centro, Baja

One of the most visible symptoms of the cultural shift that has been taking place in Tijuana over the past several years is the reclamation of former tourist dumps by businesses that now highlight Baja’s abundance of homegrown art and locally sourced gastronomy. La Faraona is a perfect example. Having celebrated their grand opening just over a month ago, this inspired wine bar is located on the walk of shame from Revolucíon to the pedestrian bridge, across from the Wax Museum, in a plaza historically reserved for disposable-trinket hawkers and lackluster taco shops.

“A recent thing here in Tijuana is that people really take pride in local, artisanal food and drinks,” says David Leon, who owns the bar with Oscar, Jorge, and Danielle Campos.

Accordingly, the quartet established La Faraona as a tasting room for Sol de Media Noche (Midnight Sun), a two-year-young winery in Valle de Guadalupe run by the Campos’ aunt, Lupita Cortes.

Priced at a palate-whetting $2.50/glass, $3.75/flight, or $12/bottle, the wine selection includes a white (peachy with a smooth finish) 50/50 cabernet/tempranillo and 70/30 cab/tempranillo.

To accompany the vino, you can sample a local cheese spread for $5 or, better yet, a fresh-baked hogaza (~$6) — a French roll split open and filled with melted cheese, piled with pancetta or chorizo, and then topped with sun-dried tomato and cheeses marinated in olive oil.

“Oscar and I like to cook and experiment,” David says. “We wanted something like tapas, and we came up with the hogazas.”

Faraona’s walls are splattered with Tijuana artist Lizardo’s urban-surrealist murals depicting multicolored paints spewing from a Calle Sexta alleyway and a slice of hillside neighborhood Libertad tiptoeing on insectoid robot legs over the “Cardboardlandia” shacks that once populated the canal running through Zona Rio.

The bar shares its colorful space with Café Tiwan (coffee, Italian sodas, teas, sandwiches, etc.) and — get this — an upstairs micro-theater called “De Cuarto a Cuatro,” which puts on a series of five 15-minute performances Thursdays through Sundays from 8 to 11 p.m. ($12 for all five or $3 each). Each show accommodates 15 people in a standing-room-only theater.

To complete the experience, David says the bar is looking to round out their standard selection of Mexican beers with local craft suds and select batches of Oscar’s (a doctor by day) homebrews.

Imagine: a taste of Baja’s finest just a five-minute walk from the border.

  • Price: Beer $2+, wine $2.50
  • Hours: Tuesday–Wednesday and Sunday, 4–10 p.m.; Thursday–Saturday, 4–2 a.m.; closed mondays.
  • Happy: Always
  • Food: Until midnight Friday and Saturday; 9ish else
  • Capacity: Sits about 50
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