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Whatever you do, stay south of Calle Primera

Buda Burgers, in the bad part of town

Barbecue Burger
Barbecue Burger
Place

Buda Burgers

Ave. Mutualismo 751, Tijuana, BC

The first time I tried a Buda Burger was two years ago. My roommate had left a half-eaten burger in the fridge, and I was hungry. He later gave me directions on how to find the place.

It was is in a sketchy area of Tijuana, on Mutualismo Street between 1st and 2nd. It took me a while to find it, mostly because I wasn’t familiar with the area, plus I was petrified about entering Zona Norte. What I found was a convenience store with an old Buda Burgers sign on it, the grill abandoned in a corner. “The restaurant switched locations, but I don’t know to where,” the store clerk told me.

Buda Burgers

It wasn’t until a year after that I saw Buda Burgers again, this time as a temporary stand for a Sunday event in CECUT called Mercado de Diseño. I had their Blue Cheese burger and walked around the designers’ market Sunday event. It was a great burger with chunky pieces of blue cheese. I didn’t see Buda Burgers again...until recently.

Burger on the grill

I found Buda Burgers in their original location in Zona Norte. The place still operates as a convenience store and now doubles as a burger and craft beer joint. The items for sale are pushed to the side. The bar dominates half the space and the grill is close to the front door.

“We left this spot and took on other projects,” Arturo “Buda” Arzate (chef and co-owner) told me. “We were at the designer’s market, at El Tigre, at 1994, others. In fact, the 1994 burger was invented for that bar. And the pastrami burger they have at Tigre is similar to mine.” El Buda likes to boast that before him, no one was cooking specialty burgers in Tijuana.

A1 Burger and beer

I wanted the Chili-Pastrami Burger, but due to popular demand they were out of pastrami. Instead I had the A1 Burger with fries for $4.75 with the house’s stout beer ($2.75 a pint). The messy burger came on a sesame bun with caramelized onions, one thick tomato slice, bacon, melted American cheese, plus a sauce similar to In-N-Out’s on the side. The fries were good and peppery. The stout tasted smooth and nutty but was lacking carbonation.

“We are crafting our beer, and soon we will expand to a two-story tap room,” says Buda. “My brewer is Josue Dávila. He used to be the brewer at Mamut, and now he is brewing with me and Baja Brew Labs. All the equipment is upstairs, but we will move it to make space for a bar with a balcony.

Buda at the grill

“All the businesses have been around forever, we have been here for more than ten years [as a store]. We take care of each other.” Buda says he is not concerned with the safety of the area but that if you go north past Calle Primera, you’re in drug-dealing territory.

Chili-Pastrami Burger

Buda takes out a sesame bun four times the regular size. “Soon I will add to the menu the giant burger!” If someone can eat the whole thing and drink a beer in under 30 minutes, he will put their picture on the wall.

I have been to Buda Burgers on two prior occasions to get a burger to go. The Barbecue Burger with caramelized onions and plenty of BBQ sauce was a bit too sweet for my liking. The Chili-Pastrami Burger is extra meaty and a bit salty but my favorite burger here so far.

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Barbecue Burger
Barbecue Burger
Place

Buda Burgers

Ave. Mutualismo 751, Tijuana, BC

The first time I tried a Buda Burger was two years ago. My roommate had left a half-eaten burger in the fridge, and I was hungry. He later gave me directions on how to find the place.

It was is in a sketchy area of Tijuana, on Mutualismo Street between 1st and 2nd. It took me a while to find it, mostly because I wasn’t familiar with the area, plus I was petrified about entering Zona Norte. What I found was a convenience store with an old Buda Burgers sign on it, the grill abandoned in a corner. “The restaurant switched locations, but I don’t know to where,” the store clerk told me.

Buda Burgers

It wasn’t until a year after that I saw Buda Burgers again, this time as a temporary stand for a Sunday event in CECUT called Mercado de Diseño. I had their Blue Cheese burger and walked around the designers’ market Sunday event. It was a great burger with chunky pieces of blue cheese. I didn’t see Buda Burgers again...until recently.

Burger on the grill

I found Buda Burgers in their original location in Zona Norte. The place still operates as a convenience store and now doubles as a burger and craft beer joint. The items for sale are pushed to the side. The bar dominates half the space and the grill is close to the front door.

“We left this spot and took on other projects,” Arturo “Buda” Arzate (chef and co-owner) told me. “We were at the designer’s market, at El Tigre, at 1994, others. In fact, the 1994 burger was invented for that bar. And the pastrami burger they have at Tigre is similar to mine.” El Buda likes to boast that before him, no one was cooking specialty burgers in Tijuana.

A1 Burger and beer

I wanted the Chili-Pastrami Burger, but due to popular demand they were out of pastrami. Instead I had the A1 Burger with fries for $4.75 with the house’s stout beer ($2.75 a pint). The messy burger came on a sesame bun with caramelized onions, one thick tomato slice, bacon, melted American cheese, plus a sauce similar to In-N-Out’s on the side. The fries were good and peppery. The stout tasted smooth and nutty but was lacking carbonation.

“We are crafting our beer, and soon we will expand to a two-story tap room,” says Buda. “My brewer is Josue Dávila. He used to be the brewer at Mamut, and now he is brewing with me and Baja Brew Labs. All the equipment is upstairs, but we will move it to make space for a bar with a balcony.

Buda at the grill

“All the businesses have been around forever, we have been here for more than ten years [as a store]. We take care of each other.” Buda says he is not concerned with the safety of the area but that if you go north past Calle Primera, you’re in drug-dealing territory.

Chili-Pastrami Burger

Buda takes out a sesame bun four times the regular size. “Soon I will add to the menu the giant burger!” If someone can eat the whole thing and drink a beer in under 30 minutes, he will put their picture on the wall.

I have been to Buda Burgers on two prior occasions to get a burger to go. The Barbecue Burger with caramelized onions and plenty of BBQ sauce was a bit too sweet for my liking. The Chili-Pastrami Burger is extra meaty and a bit salty but my favorite burger here so far.

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Comments
3

I would not eat in Korea either.

Feb. 12, 2016

Nice article Sr Suarez. When I first moved to Tijuana over twelve years ago the first thing I realized was that it was difficult to find a good burger around here. Times have changed for the better. Now if we can just find a decent fried chicken joint my tummy would be tickled silly. As for Ms Park, I'm sorry she has such a negative opinion of this city which I've come to love.

Feb. 13, 2016

Voodoo Stu's has the best fried chicken ever!!! (only on Fridays)

Feb. 13, 2016

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4S Ranch Allied Gardens Alpine Baja Balboa Park Bankers Hill Barrio Logan Bay Ho Bay Park Black Mountain Ranch Blossom Valley Bonita Bonsall Borrego Springs Boulevard Campo Cardiff-by-the-Sea Carlsbad Carmel Mountain Carmel Valley Chollas View Chula Vista City College City Heights Clairemont College Area Coronado CSU San Marcos Cuyamaca College Del Cerro Del Mar Descanso Downtown San Diego Eastlake East Village El Cajon Emerald Hills Encanto Encinitas Escondido Fallbrook Fletcher Hills Golden Hill Grant Hill Grantville Grossmont College Guatay Harbor Island Hillcrest Imperial Beach Imperial Valley Jacumba Jamacha-Lomita Jamul Julian Kearny Mesa Kensington La Jolla Lakeside La Mesa Lemon Grove Leucadia Liberty Station Lincoln Acres Lincoln Park Linda Vista Little Italy Logan Heights Mesa College Midway District MiraCosta College Miramar Miramar College Mira Mesa Mission Beach Mission Hills Mission Valley Mountain View Mount Hope Mount Laguna National City Nestor Normal Heights North Park Oak Park Ocean Beach Oceanside Old Town Otay Mesa Pacific Beach Pala Palomar College Palomar Mountain Paradise Hills Pauma Valley Pine Valley Point Loma Point Loma Nazarene Potrero Poway Rainbow Ramona Rancho Bernardo Rancho Penasquitos Rancho San Diego Rancho Santa Fe Rolando San Carlos San Marcos San Onofre Santa Ysabel Santee San Ysidro Scripps Ranch SDSU Serra Mesa Shelltown Shelter Island Sherman Heights Skyline Solana Beach Sorrento Valley Southcrest South Park Southwestern College Spring Valley Stockton Talmadge Temecula Tierrasanta Tijuana UCSD University City University Heights USD Valencia Park Valley Center Vista Warner Springs
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