The food truck phenomenon has been sweeping the U.S. for some time, and northern Baja California was quick to catch on and then take the movement one step further. Colectivos (collectives) are groups of small food stands or food trucks gathered together, allowing customers to try a selection of food from multiple independent eateries under one “roof.” If you’re just getting to know the northern Baja food scene, colectivos are an easy and affordable way to ease into the arena and to try various cuisines in one shot. For those who know the northern Baja food scene and just can’t get enough, this is a convenient way to get your fix. Here are five colectivos in Tijuana and Ensenada that are worth checking out.
The pioneer in the colectivo movement in northern Baja (before there even WAS a colectivo movement) was Foodgarden. The original location, on Ave. Rodolfo Sanchez Taboada has been a hit for a number of years. It features food stands from some of Tijuana’s best restaurants centered around a courtyard with tables and seating for customers. Don’t miss the Chilaquiles stand—their creative and savory twists on traditional chilaquiles (think creamy avocado and white cream sauces) are addictive. There’s now a second location of Foodgarden in the Rio Plaza mall. This is anything but your average mall food court. They’ve brought together another grouping of Tijuana’s best restaurants—different than the ones in the original Foodgarden, which gives you the excuse to check out both locations. They also have a mercado market area with a cheese shop, tamales, paletas, and a wine shop (a great place to get some of Baja’s exclusive wines that you can’t get on the other side of the border).
Blvd Rodolfo Sanchez Taboada 10650
HOURS: Mon.-Thur: 9am-9pm, Fri.-Sat: 9am-11pm, Sun: 9am-7pm
Foodgarden, Plaza Rio
Plaza Rio Mall
HOURS: Sun-Thur: 10am-10pm, Fri.-Sat: 10am-11pm
Telefónica Gastro Park
This is a collection of food trucks permanently parked in a lot in Tijuana. The Humo truck is one of the favorites of the group and serves up sausages and pulled pork sandwiches. Javier Plascencia has of course joined the food truck movement and his Don Ramen truck serves up bowls of ramen. The Creta truck serves up risotto with vegetables or a fresh catch of the day and has become a favorite of many Tijuanenses. They have a beer bar so you can enjoy your food with local craft Baja beers. There’s soon to be a location of Telefónica Gastro Park in the Valle de Guadalupe as well.
Telefónica Gastro Park
Av. Ocampo #2036, between Blvd. Agua Caliente Tijuana and Calle 11
HOURS: 12pm-9pm every day of the week
Located just off of Avenida Revolucion in the heart of Tijuana, this intimate colectivo opens up like a secret surprise at the end of a small pasaje. There are—yes, you guessed it—nine food and beverage stands that are centered around a small courtyard with a fountain and table and chairs. You can find everything from empanadas, burgers, ceviche, Japanese food, craft beer, and local wine. The selection is wide in scope and everything is wellcrafted, keeping in line with the concept.
Ave Revolucion between Calle 6 and 7
HOURS: Tues.-Thurs: 1pm-8pm, Fri.-Sat: 1pm-12am, Sun: 1-8pm, Closed Monday
As the first colectivo in Ensenada, El Callejón (The Alley) is a little row of food stands next to a lovely outdoor seating area. Stands offer pizza, salads, wraps, Japanese food, Argentinian food and more. The selection of fresh food here is incredible and there’s something for every taste. This bright and inviting colectivo is the perfect spot to enjoy a lovely day in Ensenada (or for lunch on beach day as the location is just a few blocks up from one of the most popular beaches in Ensenada). Bring the whole family, there’s a small playground where the kids can play.
HOURS: Wed.-Thur: 1-11pm, Fri.-Sat: 1pm-12am, Sun: 1-9pm, Closed Monday and Tuesday
Right across the street from El Callejón, is a smaller and more intimate collection of food stalls called Región Gastronómica. The eclectic selection here includes burgers, Italian, seafood, desserts, coffees, and a bar with craft beers and cocktails. Don’t miss the incredibly unique Baja/Asian fusion ceviches and seafood at Península Cocina del Mar by chef Daniel Llerenas. In true Baja culinary style, the food at Región Gastronómica is carefully crafted and the atmosphere is authentically bohemian.
On the cornder of Floresta and Calle Veracruz
HOURS: Mon.-Tues: 1-10pm, Thur: 1-10pm, Fri.-Sat: 1-11pm, Sun: 1-10pm, Closed Wednesday