The “danger dog” was born in the streets of Tijuana, then spread to Los Angeles (and beyond). Usually sold by unlicensed street vendors on improvised dirty grills, the weiner is typically a bacon-wrapped and deep-fried sausage topped with grilled onions, bell peppers, and jalapeños, among other toppings. Danger dogs usually sell for around $1 (or less) and it is well known that they use ingredients of the cheapest quality, hence the danger aspect. But the danger dog has a brother that is not as popular, the basic burger. Spread throughout the city at all hours of the night, many Tijuana street vendors sell the sibling foods.
Hamburguesas “El Winni Poo”
Calle Coahuila corner with Arias Bernal, Downtown Tijuana
This is a classic street danger dog and basic burger stand on the edge of Zona Norte (next to Jersey milk factory). Armando Bañuelos Rodriguez, also known as “el Winni Poo” for having a round belly, started selling burgers and hot dogs on Calle Segunda in 1967. In 1970 he switched locations to the corner of Calle Primera and Arias Bernal, where he stayed for 46 years. Due to a parking-lot expansion, el Winni Poo had to switch corners again. For the past six months he has been on Calle Coahuila. Internet trends do not affect this modest stand, his clientele continues to be faithful.
Buda Burgers + Mutualismo Brewery
Avenida Mutualismo 751, Downtown Tijuana
When I first arrived in Tijuana (five years ago), specialty burgers were a rare sight. Arturo “El Buda” Arzate likes to claim that he introduced craft burgers to Tijuana a couple years ago. He has his own line of named burgers: the A1, Blue Cheese, Chili-Pastrami, the 1994, but my favorite one is his all-American classic cheeseburger. Buda partnered with brewer Josue Dávila, previously with Mamut Brewery. Beers go for $2.50 while his burgers go for $5. The only downside is that it is located in a sketchy area of downtown Tijuana.
El Tigre Bar + Lúdica Artesenal
Paseo de los Heróes #10001, Plaza Fiesta Tijuana
El Tigre Bar has gone through many changes over the years, most noticeably when it stopped being a punk-rock bar and switched its focus to beer and burgers (though ’90s punk still blasts through the speakers). They went through several kitchens, like the aforementioned Buda Burgers, until finally settling for Sinful Eats more than a year ago. Now it’s time for Sinful Eats to sail away to another location, but El Tigre will continue with the burgers and beers. The combo of a classic burger and a pint from Lúdica Artesanal is $6 on Wednesdays.
Maquína 65 inside Teléfonica
Avenida Ocampo Between Agua Caliente Boulevard and 11th Street, Downtown Tijuana
This food truck was the first one to appear more than a year ago in what is now Teléfonica Gastro Park, a food court with more than ten places to choose from. Chef Bernardo Gónzalez runs the truck named Máquina 65; his octopus, bacon, pesto burger is one of his best-selling items. The majority of burgers go for $5.50 each, among them the Bacon Gorgonzola, Tuna Medallion, and (my favorite) the Panela Cheeseburger. Panela is a Mexican basket cheese that absorbs other flavors easily. The burger includes tomato pesto, chipotle aioli, lettuce, tomato, and a slab of panela.
Indie Burgers inside Colectivo 9
Avenida Revolución between 6th and 7th streets, Downtown Tijuana
Indie Burgers has been around since the inception of Colectivo 9 a bit over a year ago. The collective of more than nine restaurants has seen some establishments come and go, but Indie Burgers has remained popular. You’ll find the collective hidden in a hallway on Avenida Revolución (between 6th and 7th streets). They grill several kinds of burgers, including a vegetarian portobello and a meat lovers’ burger they call cochi, which is Spanish slang for “piggy.” For $5 you get a burger, fries, and a soda. And for dessert, deep-fried Twinkies.