Marlin and gobernador tacos on the charcoal grill
Boulevard José de San Martín #7490, Colonia la Cienega, Tijuana, BC
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 are done, those who are not busy eat breakfast together. Just like the field, the restaurant changes weekly.
Dirt path to the shack with address painted on the wall
Outside view of the taco shack
A sub-par gobernador taco
Two marlin tacos and a coke with kitchen view
On this Saturday we played in a field in an Unidad Deportiva in a part of Tijuana with which I am not familiar. After the game, a midfielder we call “Chamis” suggested that we eat at a fish taco at a place nearby.
I hopped in the car with my friend Ciro, who drives all the way from La Jolla every Saturday to partake in soccer and breakfast. We followed Chamis through neighborhoods and industrial zones, passing more than ten street taco stands on the way. This particular taco shack was close to where Chamis resides.
We finally arrived at a major intersection, Benitez Boulevard at San José de San Martín. A dirt path winded between the intersection and a junkyard to a small restaurant. The open space had a bar in front of the kitchen with five chairs, and a room to the side had plastic tables and chairs for no more than 15 people. There was a charcoal grill in the tiny back space.
Three doñas ran the whole operation, which made the service slow. There wasn’t much cleanliness. Dirty plates were scattered everywhere, and a stray dog came by my side asking for a bite.
“Get the marlin tacos; that’s the best thing here,” Chamis informed the group. My love for shrimp made me disregard his advice, and I got a gobernador taco instead (a shrimp quesadilla with spices). With only a couple of shrimp inside, the taco was barely adequate.
However, the doña got the group’s order wrong and served us extra marlin tacos, and I helped myself to two. Chamis was right, marlin tacos are definitely the way to go. For $1.50 I got one more, despite being full.
Unlike other marlin tacos I’ve had, these were slightly bigger and not oily. The charred tortilla provided a hard crunch revealing the tender inside of marlin and melted cheese, giving it a texture almost like an empanada.
With my stomach full and my body tired from playing soccer under the sun, I was ready to go home for a nap. I hitched a ride with Ciro, who was headed back to San Diego.