Are you an adventurous eater, with a passion for cultural immersion? Then “Club Tengo Hambre” is exactly what you need. While some of us may find it hard to take a few weeks off to go on vacation, “Club Tengo Hambre” encapsulates the essence of one in just a few hours. As usual, CaliBaja decided to embark on this journey, and provide you with insider scoop.
As a native “Tijuanense”, hearing about “Club Tengo Hambre” was a breath of fresh air. Locals know that food options in the area are endless, so I was beyond curious to know what the tour offered. Without much thought, I signed up for the Tijuana Street Food + Craft Beer + Market Daycation, an $80 investment that includes:
- 3 street food stops
- 2 craft breweries
- 1 market visit
- Round trip transportation to the border
- A tour guide
Our small group met somewhere close to the pedestrian border crossing, where our gracious tour guide, lead us into Mexico by foot. I was delighted to notice that the group was comprised by mostly Americans, seeking to enjoy a day in my beloved Tijuana. I can only imagine what it must have been for some of them, being in Mexico for the first time. The contrast between the U.S. city we just left behind and Tijuana is obvious, and the quote “We are not in Kansas anymore”, begins to materialize. New colors and street vendors emerge everywhere. Lively music, the smell of street food, and the vibrant sound of Spanish decorate the initial part of our day. We’re all ready for this adventure!
1st STOP – Mariscos “El Conchal” (“El COnchal” Seafood)
ON THE MENU: Shrimp and octopus tostada + “Tecate” beer + “La Fiera” mezcal.
The shrimp and octopus tostada from “El Conchal” was simply heavenly. Each bite was fresh and tasty, particularly perfect for the sunny day we experienced that day. The meal was paired with refreshing Tecate beer, and a taste of fierce mezcal, appropriately named “La Fiera” (which translates to “Wild Beast”). I could tell by the smile on everyone’s faces… This is exactly what we all needed.
2nd STOP – Mercado Hidalgo (Hidalgo Market)
ON THE MENU: Agua Fresca.
Mercado Hidalgo is, without a doubt, a multisensory experience. As you walk down the aisles of this market, you’ll be able to experience an explosion of colors, smells, sounds, tastes and textures, at an exhilarating rate. We stopped by an “Agua Fresca” stand (translates to “Fresh Water”), where an array of different flavors was waiting for us to take a pick. Hibiscus, Pineapple, Horchata, and Cebada (Barley), among others, comprised the wide selection we all had to choose from. “Agua Fresca” can be very sweet, which is why pairing it with a splash of mezcal didn’t seem like a bad idea. Other things you can find at the market include: herbs, cheese, carnitas, tamales, candy, kitchen utensils, artesanias, and much more.
3rd STOP – Kokopelli – Seafood Tacos on the Grill
ON THE MENU: Kraken taco + 1 pint of crafted beer
After walking around the market, I was feeling the need to recharge with more great food, and tasty beer electrolytes. Lucky for us, this is exactly what we got! The first taco we all tasted was the “Kraken”, which is made with grilled octopus, marinated in pesto sauce. This mouthwatering, tender octopus taco was absolutely delicious. The tour also included a pint of locally crafted beer. Unfortunately, my initial choice, “Grapefruit” wasn’t available, but luckily the “Tropical”, my second choice, was crisp and delicious.
The tacos were so good that I couldn’t leave without trying more! The “Pibil”, made with smoked marlin, and the “Gringo en Vacaciones” (translates to “American on Vacation”), made with grilled shrimp in adobo, were to die for. Kokopelli, I’m warning you… I will come back for more!
Other items in the menu, that are not part of the tour, include a grasshopper side dish, vegetarian options, as well as tasty and racy named cocktails, like “Tu Nalguita”, which translates to “Your little butt cheek”. As you can imagine, hearing tour members ask for the drink out loud, was one of the highlights of the day.
4th STOP – Insurgente Tap Room
ON THE MENU: 1 pint of locally crafted beer
Our second craft beer stop was made at Insurgente Tap Room, located within the corridors of the legendary “La Plaza”, which houses dozens of bars, breweries, and eateries to hop around.
A pint of beer was waiting for us at Insurgente Tap Room, our second and last craft beer stop of the day. I decided to go for the “Tiniebla” wheat beer, which was light and refreshing; the ideal beer for a perfect summer day. In contrast, the “Churro” stout was bold and smooth, with a hint of that delicious Mexican dessert we all know, and love.
5th STOP – Tacos “El Franc”
ON THE MENU: 1 asada taco + 1 adobada taco + “Tecate” beer.
A trip to Tijuana cannot be completed without traditional street tacos. Tacos “El Franc” is practically an institution in Tijuana, which made it the perfect place to end our tour. As usual, both adobada and carne asada tacos were fantastic, as our last Tecate beer of the evening was served.
By that time, we were all best friends, exchanged Instagram usernames and phone numbers. We bonded over a unique experience, where first comers, and even locals like myself, were able to enjoy equally. I couldn’t have asked for a better group than the one I got. Everyone was so willing to enjoy, relax, and let go of their comfort zones.
As the evening ended, our wonderful host guided us back to the border, where we said our final goodbyes, and thanked her one last time for this amazing experience. Eating is believing!
Are you looking forward to a “Club Tengo Hambre” experience? Then please, do yourself a favor and check some of the tours they’ve made available on their website: https://clubtengohambre.com/
Have you experiences “Club Tengo Hambre” before? We would love to hear about it in the comment section below.