Maybe you've heard of Javier Plascencia. He's among a group of chefs in Baja who have pioneered a new cuisine: Baja Med, which blends local ingredients with Mediterranean and Asian flavors and techniques.
Mision 19 is the flagship of the empire, specializing in elevated Baja Med cuisine with a focus on reinterpreting classic recipes with fresh, local ingredients. It's the restaurant that gets most of the press but Javier is also the executive chef at nearly a dozen properties including Romesco Baja Med Bistro, a short drive southeast of San Diego. He also saved Caesar's, a local landmark known for inventing the Caesar salad, from the dustbin of history, reopening it after extensive restorations in 2010.
Mision 19 is located on the second floor of Via Corporotivo, the first LEED-certified building in northwest Mexico. Windows overlook Tijuana's Zona Rio, the central business zone. It's about a mile from the border (or a $5 taxi ride).
I stopped in before lunch service to watch Javier working his magic with octopus and cow udder, root veggies, and tuna in the Mision 19 kitchen. See all the photos in the slideshow >>
Want to taste Baja Med cuisine for yourself? There's no better time than this weekend when chefs from all over Mexico, including Plascencia, will team up to create special multi-course dinners as part of the second annual Baja California Culinary Festival. Buy your tickets here..
About the author: Erin Jackson is a food writer and photographer who is obsessed with discovering the best eats in San Diego. You can find all of her discoveries on her food blog EJeats.com. On Twitter, she's @ErinJax