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Veggiejuana: innovative urban Baja on wheels

Telefónica Gastro Park doesn't phone in the veggies

The family-friendly Telefónica Gastro Park.
The family-friendly Telefónica Gastro Park.

https://www.faceb...">Telefónica Gastro Park

Avenida Ocampo between Boulevard Agua Caliente and Calle 11, Tijuana, Baja California.

You won't find Carmelita's roasted cauliflower and mole taco at street corner Tacos Various vendors.

Telefónica Gastro Park, one of the city’s more recent groovy grub hubs, puts innovative urban chow on wheels. The downtown food truck alcove, named for its location behind a Telnor office, is home to the street-side culinary outposts of several noted Baja chefs, a few cafés, and a beer hut. And while the place is an undeniable paradise for carnivores — especially those fond of octopus burgers (Maquina 65), Turkish pizza (Creta), or pork anything (Humo) — the veggie appetite is readily satisfied.

Take, for example, the taco de coliflor rostizada con mole (20 pesos) at La Carmelita. Blackened cauliflower lounges on a chaise of beans, rice, and fragrant mole, casting glances at the olfactory in chocolate-y, smoke-filled wisps. On top, raw cross-sections of the albino vegetable woo the beholder, glamorous and aloof in white onion necklaces. For all her airs, the taco comes off earthy and substantial in the mouth, subtler than appearances suggest. A splash of lime and Carmelita’s house habanero salsa strike an accord with the savory cauliflower and, like Veggie Smalls’ taco de coliflor, is made whole by spice.

The zucchini and panela sope is exemplary of Carmelita's simple home-cooking ethos.

The sope vegetariano (25 pesos) continues in the cocina de hogar (home-cooking) tradition of Carmelita’s Chef Jose Rodrigo Figueroa Sanchez, formerly of La Cazaclub. Fried masa discs are stacked high with diced zucchini, smattered with globs of panela cheese, and crowned in radish slices and cilantro leaves. The resulting dish is simple and hearty. Season to taste.

Don Ramen's marinated carrot soup is a collaboration of Chefs Javier Plascencia and veggie-centric Adria Montaño.

No more than twelve zonkey paces away, Don Ramen is a project of Chefs Javier Plascencia (Misión 19, Romesco) and Adria Montaño of the 100% vegetarian Dandelión. If you’re lucky, the zanahoria adobada (marinated carrot) ramen will be on special, but the house vegetariano will not disappoint. At 85 pesos, the hulking bowl of soft-boiled egg, Enoki mushrooms, grilled green onions, kimchi, sliced serranos, and rich broth proves that ramen can stand on its own without boiled bones.

Creta's creamy tomato soup.

Best o’ the rest?

Sobre Ruedas Kitchen Co.’s portobello burger with salted bell pepper, cilantro pesto, white cheese, and fries.

Creta’s tomato soup and portobello pita.

And beer!

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The family-friendly Telefónica Gastro Park.
The family-friendly Telefónica Gastro Park.

https://www.faceb...">Telefónica Gastro Park

Avenida Ocampo between Boulevard Agua Caliente and Calle 11, Tijuana, Baja California.

You won't find Carmelita's roasted cauliflower and mole taco at street corner Tacos Various vendors.

Telefónica Gastro Park, one of the city’s more recent groovy grub hubs, puts innovative urban chow on wheels. The downtown food truck alcove, named for its location behind a Telnor office, is home to the street-side culinary outposts of several noted Baja chefs, a few cafés, and a beer hut. And while the place is an undeniable paradise for carnivores — especially those fond of octopus burgers (Maquina 65), Turkish pizza (Creta), or pork anything (Humo) — the veggie appetite is readily satisfied.

Take, for example, the taco de coliflor rostizada con mole (20 pesos) at La Carmelita. Blackened cauliflower lounges on a chaise of beans, rice, and fragrant mole, casting glances at the olfactory in chocolate-y, smoke-filled wisps. On top, raw cross-sections of the albino vegetable woo the beholder, glamorous and aloof in white onion necklaces. For all her airs, the taco comes off earthy and substantial in the mouth, subtler than appearances suggest. A splash of lime and Carmelita’s house habanero salsa strike an accord with the savory cauliflower and, like Veggie Smalls’ taco de coliflor, is made whole by spice.

The zucchini and panela sope is exemplary of Carmelita's simple home-cooking ethos.

The sope vegetariano (25 pesos) continues in the cocina de hogar (home-cooking) tradition of Carmelita’s Chef Jose Rodrigo Figueroa Sanchez, formerly of La Cazaclub. Fried masa discs are stacked high with diced zucchini, smattered with globs of panela cheese, and crowned in radish slices and cilantro leaves. The resulting dish is simple and hearty. Season to taste.

Don Ramen's marinated carrot soup is a collaboration of Chefs Javier Plascencia and veggie-centric Adria Montaño.

No more than twelve zonkey paces away, Don Ramen is a project of Chefs Javier Plascencia (Misión 19, Romesco) and Adria Montaño of the 100% vegetarian Dandelión. If you’re lucky, the zanahoria adobada (marinated carrot) ramen will be on special, but the house vegetariano will not disappoint. At 85 pesos, the hulking bowl of soft-boiled egg, Enoki mushrooms, grilled green onions, kimchi, sliced serranos, and rich broth proves that ramen can stand on its own without boiled bones.

Creta's creamy tomato soup.

Best o’ the rest?

Sobre Ruedas Kitchen Co.’s portobello burger with salted bell pepper, cilantro pesto, white cheese, and fries.

Creta’s tomato soup and portobello pita.

And beer!

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