Sugar Rush: Cajeta Crepes at Caesar's in Tijuana, Mexico


[Photographs: Erin Jackson]

If you're crossing the border from San Diego into Tijuana in search of top-notch eats, Caesar's is a solid choice. Javier Plascencia (and family) renovated and restored the circa 1927 space two years ago, keeping key elements like the original bar, and expanding into the space next door that was once a pharmacy.

Caesar's is most famous for being the birthplace of the caesar salad, but it's also a great spot for dessert. I went straight for the cajeta crepes: two thin crepes accented with brandy, orange zest, and vanilla, topped with smooth Mexican caramel, toasted nuts, a scattering of berries, and a mini scoop of vanilla ice cream. They'll only set you back 70 pesos, or approximately $5.60 US.


The star of the dish is the cajeta, which is sourced from the nearby Mercado Hildalgo, a sprawling market where the locals go for everything from mole paste to piñatas. It's made from raw goat's milk, which gives the caramel complex flavors with a subtle tang. It's darker than traditional cow's milk dulche de leche, and tastes vaguely alcoholic, like there could be a nip of bourbon in the mix. The thin, slightly chewy crepes do a good job of soaking up most of the caramel, but be sure to swipe each bite along your plate to make sure you don't miss a drop.


No passport? Good news: Romesco Baja Med Bistro, the Plascencia family's only restaurant on the US side of the border, also serves cajeta crepes ($8). The presentation is similar, but instead of goat's milk caramel, the cajeta crepes here are made with cow's milk caramel. It's thicker, glossier, and quite a bit sweeter—different, but equally good in its own way. Another bonus: the drive to Bonita takes about 15 minutes from downtown San Diego, and you can also order some of Plascencia's other "greatest hits," like a tamarind martini (served at Caesar's and Mision 19), or the same TJ-style caesar salad that Caesar's is so famous for—all without the hassle of crossing the border.


Revolución Ave, between Calle Salvador Diaz Mirón and Emiliano Zapata, Zona Centro, Tijuana, listed as "Hotel Caesar's" on Google Maps;

Romesco Baja Med Bistro

4346 Bonita Road Bonita, CA 91902 (map);