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

Hemingway Sat Here?

“Ernest Hemingway sat right in that corner,” says one of the managers of the Chiki Jai Basque Restaurant (corner of 7th and Revolución, Tijuana).

Image

The corner seat is supposedly where Hemingway used to sit and write

“Right there. When these were booths, he would sit in the first on the right or the third on the left.”

The Chiki Jai (“Little Party”) is one of the venerable restaurant survivors in Tijuana from its Golden Age.

Image

Image

Waiter Miguel welcomes customer to Chiki Jai

Hemingway admired the jai alai player Pedro Garate, and some say he helped him take over this place back in the 1940s.

Image

Statue of Jai Alai player in front of the Fronton Palace, next to Chiki Jai

Others say Ernest never came here but sent cards to his friend here.

The place has definitely seen plenty of other celebs though: Ava Gardner, Ronald Reagan, and Errol Flynn all caroused on vino tinto in here. Matadors would come in after their bullfights, and professional Spanish jai alai players would come in at one in the morning after finishing their games next door at the Fronton Palace. The place would stay open till dawn.

Ava probably flirted with all of them. Even Richard Nixon came down but stayed at the Coronet motel opposite.

Chiki Jai was started for and by the Basque country jai alai players -- and Basque, not Spanish or Mexican, is what most of its food is still.

“The paella? Good,” says Rafael Ramirez.

Image

Rafael Ramirez, paella champion

He should know. He won this year’s L. A. Cetto contest to cook the best paella at the festival of paella and wine last May. He shows me a picture of his winning paella.

Image

Cell phone photos of Rafael's winnning paella

The paella here costs $9. It’s worth it: you’ll hardly squeeze through the exit door by the time you finish.

But the dish I love most from this beautiful little eatery is camarones al ajillo. Garlic shrimp. Think it’s about $7. Worth every penny.

So did he or didn’t the great man come here? I really wanna know.

BTW: no extra charge to sit in “his” seat. Just the thought gives you a buzz.

Here's something you might be interested in.
Submit a free classified
or view all

Previous article

Roy Campbell: friends and supporters from George Orwell to Dylan Thomas to J.R.R. Tolkien

Critics such as Joseph Pearce, Roger Scruton and Jorge Luis Borges have sought to resuscitate his reputation
Next Article

In the thick of it with Edward Elgar

Mainly Mozart grants a musical wish

“Ernest Hemingway sat right in that corner,” says one of the managers of the Chiki Jai Basque Restaurant (corner of 7th and Revolución, Tijuana).

Image

The corner seat is supposedly where Hemingway used to sit and write

“Right there. When these were booths, he would sit in the first on the right or the third on the left.”

The Chiki Jai (“Little Party”) is one of the venerable restaurant survivors in Tijuana from its Golden Age.

Image

Image

Waiter Miguel welcomes customer to Chiki Jai

Hemingway admired the jai alai player Pedro Garate, and some say he helped him take over this place back in the 1940s.

Image

Statue of Jai Alai player in front of the Fronton Palace, next to Chiki Jai

Others say Ernest never came here but sent cards to his friend here.

The place has definitely seen plenty of other celebs though: Ava Gardner, Ronald Reagan, and Errol Flynn all caroused on vino tinto in here. Matadors would come in after their bullfights, and professional Spanish jai alai players would come in at one in the morning after finishing their games next door at the Fronton Palace. The place would stay open till dawn.

Ava probably flirted with all of them. Even Richard Nixon came down but stayed at the Coronet motel opposite.

Chiki Jai was started for and by the Basque country jai alai players -- and Basque, not Spanish or Mexican, is what most of its food is still.

“The paella? Good,” says Rafael Ramirez.

Image

Rafael Ramirez, paella champion

He should know. He won this year’s L. A. Cetto contest to cook the best paella at the festival of paella and wine last May. He shows me a picture of his winning paella.

Image

Cell phone photos of Rafael's winnning paella

The paella here costs $9. It’s worth it: you’ll hardly squeeze through the exit door by the time you finish.

But the dish I love most from this beautiful little eatery is camarones al ajillo. Garlic shrimp. Think it’s about $7. Worth every penny.

So did he or didn’t the great man come here? I really wanna know.

BTW: no extra charge to sit in “his” seat. Just the thought gives you a buzz.

Sponsored
Here's something you might be interested in.
Submit a free classified
or view all
Comments
1

Gordon Hall, a grad student in the English Department at UCSD, took me to a Tijuana dive called the Long Bar, one featuring those carnival-type mirrors that warped what your body really looked like. I was fat in one and skinny in the other. Gordon said the bar was one of Hemingway's haunts and that, in his honor, we would drink shots of mescal.I did. I have never had anything burn so badly going down, but returning to Revolución Boulevard after a few drinks sure made it exciting for this sophomore undergrad. Going to Hemingway's supposed bar made me want to be a writer.

Aug. 25, 2017

Sign in to comment

Sign in

Ask a Hipster — Advice you didn't know you needed Big Screen — Movie commentary Blurt — Music's inside track Booze News — San Diego spirits Classical Music — Immortal beauty Classifieds — Free and easy Cover Stories — Front-page features Drinks All Around — Bartenders' drink recipes Excerpts — Literary and spiritual excerpts Feast! — Food & drink reviews Feature Stories — Local news & stories From the Archives — Spotlight on the past Golden Dreams — Talk of the town Letters — Our inbox [email protected] — Local movie buffs share favorites Movie Reviews — Our critics' picks and pans Musician Interviews — Up close with local artists Neighborhood News from Stringers — Hyperlocal news News Ticker — News & politics Obermeyer — San Diego politics illustrated Outdoors — Weekly changes in flora and fauna Overheard in San Diego — Eavesdropping illustrated Poetry — The old and the new Reader Travel — Travel section built by travelers Reading — The hunt for intellectuals Roam-O-Rama — SoCal's best hiking/biking trails San Diego Beer — Inside San Diego suds SD on the QT — Almost factual news Sheep and Goats — Places of worship Special Issues — The best of Street Style — San Diego streets have style Surf Diego — Real stories from those braving the waves Tin Fork — Silver spoon alternative Under the Radar — Matt Potter's undercover work Unforgettable — Long-ago San Diego Unreal Estate — San Diego's priciest pads Your Week — Daily event picks
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
Close