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La Justina has grown up

Rootsy Baja cuisine on Revolución

Soft-as-a-cloud Pork Buns
Soft-as-a-cloud Pork Buns
Place

Justina

Avenida Revolución 926, (between 3rd and 4th), Tijuana, BC

A couple of years ago I stopped by the soft opening of La Justina to check out San Diego–based Bajaphile chef Chad White’s south-of-the-border debut. I was not disappointed. A creamy sea snail and almond dish and a selection of locally topped flatbreads hinted at the direction the joint was headed. Having plenty of time to grow into their huaraches, I returned to see how they’ve come along. This time, I was downright impressed.

Tempura Oysters
Mackerel
Beef Marrow
Pulpo

Co-owner Javier Caro and pairing advisor Juan Pablo Vazquez pontificated on bringing Baja cuisine back to its roots as several dishes arrived at the repurposed wood table. First, tempura oysters. Served in-shell with whole mustard and what tasted like a smattering of horseradish paste on the bottom, the bivalve was electrifying to the bite. Disclaimer: I love oysters and delight in them pretty much every way imaginable, but the zing of these mollusks is something I will not soon forget.

Primed for more, I was quick to devour pink cuts of mackerel topped with a medley of greens, seaweed, and peppers. The word fresh continually came to mind while I searched for a descriptor of the dish.

The pork buns brought a welcome saltiness and substance to the meal. Served on buns that were like oven-warmed summer clouds, the tender pork and fried onion offered a pleasant contradictory texture to the soft snap of pickled radishes. I would have been happy to sate myself on several orders of these, but I’m glad I didn’t because beef in-bone marrow was already glistening at me from a fresh dish.

What do you say about marrow? It’s so overtly savage and indulgent — sucking the very life from a bone! The halved bones were served with buttery, homemade biscuits, and a palate-cleansing selection of heirloom carrots.

The final dish of the evening was pulpo with baby greens. I’ll preface this by admitting that I normally don’t get much out of octopus. The fact that one has famously predicted the World Cup with unparalleled accuracy probably has something to do with it. But that was far from my mind when the generous plate of octo-arms arrived. Covered in a slightly gritty vegetable ash, the prevailing impression was a burnt taste that fused with the fatty pulpo meat, a unique preparation that I may go back for.

Near the turn of the year, Chad White moved back to his home state of Washington, but Javier says he’s still closely in contact with La Justina.

The restaurant’s new coffee cart, Faustine, makes a delicious café de olla with fired orange zest. Look for Faustine in Colonia Cacho soon.

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Soft-as-a-cloud Pork Buns
Soft-as-a-cloud Pork Buns
Place

Justina

Avenida Revolución 926, (between 3rd and 4th), Tijuana, BC

A couple of years ago I stopped by the soft opening of La Justina to check out San Diego–based Bajaphile chef Chad White’s south-of-the-border debut. I was not disappointed. A creamy sea snail and almond dish and a selection of locally topped flatbreads hinted at the direction the joint was headed. Having plenty of time to grow into their huaraches, I returned to see how they’ve come along. This time, I was downright impressed.

Tempura Oysters
Mackerel
Beef Marrow
Pulpo

Co-owner Javier Caro and pairing advisor Juan Pablo Vazquez pontificated on bringing Baja cuisine back to its roots as several dishes arrived at the repurposed wood table. First, tempura oysters. Served in-shell with whole mustard and what tasted like a smattering of horseradish paste on the bottom, the bivalve was electrifying to the bite. Disclaimer: I love oysters and delight in them pretty much every way imaginable, but the zing of these mollusks is something I will not soon forget.

Primed for more, I was quick to devour pink cuts of mackerel topped with a medley of greens, seaweed, and peppers. The word fresh continually came to mind while I searched for a descriptor of the dish.

The pork buns brought a welcome saltiness and substance to the meal. Served on buns that were like oven-warmed summer clouds, the tender pork and fried onion offered a pleasant contradictory texture to the soft snap of pickled radishes. I would have been happy to sate myself on several orders of these, but I’m glad I didn’t because beef in-bone marrow was already glistening at me from a fresh dish.

What do you say about marrow? It’s so overtly savage and indulgent — sucking the very life from a bone! The halved bones were served with buttery, homemade biscuits, and a palate-cleansing selection of heirloom carrots.

The final dish of the evening was pulpo with baby greens. I’ll preface this by admitting that I normally don’t get much out of octopus. The fact that one has famously predicted the World Cup with unparalleled accuracy probably has something to do with it. But that was far from my mind when the generous plate of octo-arms arrived. Covered in a slightly gritty vegetable ash, the prevailing impression was a burnt taste that fused with the fatty pulpo meat, a unique preparation that I may go back for.

Near the turn of the year, Chad White moved back to his home state of Washington, but Javier says he’s still closely in contact with La Justina.

The restaurant’s new coffee cart, Faustine, makes a delicious café de olla with fired orange zest. Look for Faustine in Colonia Cacho soon.

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Comments
2

Can confirm. Was there last week. It's fantastic.

March 4, 2016

I agree with you vecino !!!

March 16, 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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