643 Avenida Constitución, Zona Centro, Baja
The corner of 6th and Constitución is near the epicenter of Tijuana’s active nightlife. Eight years ago this corner hosted La Chupiteria, an after-hours bar frequented by foreigners and extreme partiers. The bar got shut down by the government in 2012, leaving the building abandoned. Early this year the building came to life again as “café bistro” Bresca.
“You came to La Chupiteria? Oh, man! I was the bartender back then.” I sat down with chef Victor “Brown” Rangel as I ordered a Grand Slam breakfast. “In fact the owner, the architect, the designers — we all had a part to play in La Chupiteria. It’s like the spirit of that place still lives today.”
As soon as you walk in, it doesn’t feel like a place in downtown Tijuana. It feels like walking into a coffee shop in North Park. On this April Monday before noon, it was empty except for one table with four people who appeared to be American.
The building looks nothing like its past. Everything was destroyed, including the psychedelic paintings by Tijuana artist Panca. Now the outside is of solid concrete, with large metal doors and windows with a black hexagon pattern. A wood sign with the logo of the restaurant is on the corner, where the door to the old bar used to be.
The concrete, wood, and hexagon pattern theme repeats inside. A painting of geese flying over a full-moon landscape is overhead behind the concrete counter. The barstools, tables, and lampshades seem from an Ikea catalog but are designed and made by Built Around Me furniture and designer store.
“We have to ship the BBQ sauce for the brisket from Texas,” says Victor. “The manager’s aunt sends us a crate every month. I use a whole bottle of that sauce for the brisket and mix it with other spices. Have you tried the brisket?” I have gone to Bresca several times since they opened on the first day of this year, but I hadn’t tried the brisket. “Not that many Mexicans know what brisket is. I tell them it’s like a birria gringa,” he adds.
As for the breakfast, the waffles topped with strawberries were light and fluffy. The sunny-side-up egg and potatoes were standard fare. The bacon and porchetta were by far my favorite part of the meal.
“I cure the bacon with brown sugar, maple syrup, and coffee for a week, then it’s smoked for six hours and aired out overnight” explains Victor. “We only use the fat skin end of the porchetta, not the skin. That’s why it’s crispy. It is cooked slow to obtain the chicharrón-like skin.”
The main reason I keep going back is for the mac and cheese topped with bacon and that porchetta. When my veggie friends visited, they said the vegan mac was one of the best they have ever had.