Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Tijuana's Sonoran Steakhouses:Asadero Baja Sonora,Asadero Kino, and Sonora Mia

Sonora is the carne asada capital of Mexico. Tijuana's second largest migrant group is from Sonora and thankfully they've brought their meat,Sonoran Angus,cooking traditions, and local flair.

Most of the Sonorans are from the capital, Hermosillo, the gastronomical center of the Sonoran carne asada restaurants scene where steakhouses Xochimilco, Mariachissimo, El Dorado,La Siesta, El Lenador,Sonora Steak, and the famous taqueria Tacos Jass are located.

Tijuana has at least a couple dozen steakhouses, roasters(asaderos), and taquerias either run by folks from Hermosillo, Sonora or inspired by Sonoran style service.Asadero Puro Sonora, Sonora Mia, Asadero Kino, Asadero Baja Sonora,Asadero Sonora,are the Sonoran true and true, then El Novillo, La Lena, Rodeo, and Rodeo Otay Mesa, among others.Many of the upscale restaurants in Tijuana also list Sonoran beef on their menus.

You can't go wrong at any of these restaurants, but these three favorites cover the range of Hermosillo style establishments, and Sonoran regional foods.

Asadero Baja Sonora is a small taqueria located in the Zona Rio i in walking distance of the hotel El Camino Real, with a taco menu modeled after the iconic taqueria from Hermosillo, Tacos Jass. And, they have full Sonoran style parrilladas that are amazing, out front in the evenings is a gourmet Sonoran hot dog stand.

The marinated arrachera taco is a good place to start, more tender and flavorful than a skirt or flank steak.The arrachera is the ultimate northern steak cut, its greatest expression from Sonoran Angus.

Sonora is known for its ample salsa bars with many roasted salsas and varities made with the chiltepin.Baja Sonora has excellent salsas to dress your tacos and have with your parrillada.

This humble taqueria serves full on parrilladas, usually a brazier is brought to your table with a variety of grilled meats, but here it's plated taqueria style.This combo was the parrillada Hermosillo with sirloin, and tripas de leche(milk ducts).Queso fundido, grilled onions, and frijoles charros(cowboy beans) are brought to your table.In Sonora the parrilladas are called paquetes(packets) that come with various meat combinations and all the sides.

There are several other parrilladas at Asadero Baja Sonora, the Nortena(sirloin and ribs),Sonora(chicken, sirloin, and chorizo),and the Arrachera(pure arrachera).

If that weren't enough in this small taqueria, they've added a gourmet Sonoran hotdog stand run by a CIA graduate,Chef Mariano Esparza.No relation.He also worked at Rincon San Roman under celebrity chef Martin San Roman.

Mariano is doing a haute cuisine version of the popular Sonoran dogs. He imports the buns from Sonora, made from local wheat.

The toppings are creative, a variety of local mushrooms including mushrooms in sour cream.The hot dogs are all beef. For lovers and devotees of the Sonoran Dog, an evening stop at Baja Sonora is Mecca.

Sonoran dogs are formidable, more like the heavily condimented hot dogs of South America than the typical dogs of Mexico.But the stars here are the bun, for which Mariano says there is no substitute, and the beef frank.

Modeled after Hermosillo's El Dorado, Asadero Kino is a specialist in cabreria(rib eye), Sonoran style.

The dining area resembles a convention center food court with a high ceiling, but this is a good family restaurant in a quiet corner of the Zona Rio, away from the bustle of the gastronomic zone.

What do you get at a house of rib eye? Well.....the rib eye. You get a nice entrance of delicious foods to start like this quesadilla witha made to order corn tortilla.

Salsas and rough cut carrots and jicama provide ample ruffage before this meat intensive meal.

A soup of chicharron(pork skin) and nopales(cactus)is an amusement park of crunchy and chewy textures.

Consome is a welcome addition containing chunks of steak to tease the palate.

The indoor mezquite grill gives Asadero Kino the familiarity of a family picnic. The steaks are all brought in from neighboring Sonora and cooked with northern tradition.

The resulting ribeye is something so simple yet unattainable for us in Southern California. A peferctly grilled quality cut of steak that is fork tender, with a charred rib on the side.The joys of a fine Mexican steak are innumerable. Grass fed beef packed with flavor.Grab some tortillas and salsas and make yourself some royal tacos of carne asada.

Of all the great Sonoran steak restaurants in Tijuana, Sonora Mia is the best, with a full menu of regional specialties in addition to fine parrilladas.

The decor and theme of this restaurant would be a real hit in LA.A quaint desert, gastro saloon for family get togethers.

The Munoz family, another Hermosillo transplant, has been in this spot for more than a decade.

The menu features several regional soups, while this might not pique the interest of the uninitiated, northern soups are divine.

The cazuela is made with the iconic Sonoran beef machaca(beef jerky)surrounded by peppers and potatoes. These are natural flavored soups, simple, yet profound in flavor.

Where the cazuela is done in many northern states, gallina pinta is a home grown invention.Despite the name, this a beef tail and rib soup given substance by pinto beans and hominy. The interplay of flavors make the gallina pinta a real crowd pleaser.

Regional tacos like you will find in the street stands of Hermosillo and Cd. Obregon are found here at Sonora Mia. The requisite nod to Tacos Jass with the Hass taco of roasted chile California, cheese, and steak is standard for all Tijuana Sonoran restaurants. You can have a campechano(mixed)taco like the taco of chorizo and steak.All the tacos and antojitos(little whims)are excellent here, and there are other Sonoran favorites like the Lorenza(tostada of corn, beans, cheese,and meat)and the caramelo(a quesadilla with meat).

Machaca is another great Sonoran gift to Mexico, and a burro of machaca is the most known rendition. It's even served at the airport restaurants in Hermosillo.Machaca is difficult to cook properly but Sonora Mia has it down.A perfect northern burrito of pure machaca.

Anyone who ever discounted flour tortillas has not experienced the tortillas de agua(water tortillas) from Sonora. Ultra thin for your pleasure,these tortillas made from Sonoran wheat possess stand alone flavor, but are born to be paired with steak.

Sonora Mia's salsa bar has all the right stuff, as you frantically snatch up salsas like an Iron Chef running for the theme ingredient in anticipation your steak's arrival.

Truly, as much food as you will be eating, no steak experience is complete without queso fundido, melted cheese fprtified by chorizo, chile strips, or mushrooms.

Frijoles charros(cowboy beans), soupy and accented by bacon and vegetables are one way to go.This would be the time to have beans, in a Sonoran restaurant.

Frijoles maneados are the exponentially flavored refried beans of Mexico. Refried beans infused with pork chorizo, two types of cheeses, and a spicy element make for an undeniable dish.These are the beans you will long for from here on.

The arrachera cut can be ordered by weight as a singular cut.This is a Mexican butchered steak that is superior to flank or ranchera.It is tender, succulent, and arguably the truest Mexican steak expression.All steaks at Sonora Mia come from Ranch 17 in Hermosillo, a purveyor of fine grass fed Angus, supplier to many a restaurant in Baja.

With fellow Baja bloggers in tow, we ordered a customized parrillada, which is the way to go when in a group.Ours consisted of chicken, arrachera, tripas de leche(milk ducts), charred ribs and cabreria(rib eye).Don't pass judgement on the inclusion of chicken as it is no afterthought. Sonorans demand and are accustomed to world class grilling.We all made sure to get our share of all the cuts packing them inot the Sonoran tortillas with various salsas and a bit of melted cheese or refried beans.

Whether it be parrilladas, regional appetizers and soups, or tacos, Sonora Mia is the place for Sonoran cuisine.

Thes places will introduce you to the true northern steak traditions from the carne asada capital of Mexico, Sonora.We have no known equivalents in the US, so Tijuana is the nearest taste of Sonora.

Asadero Baja Sonora
Bl. Paseo de Los Heroes,10027
Tijuana, BC

Asadero Kino
Av. Padre Kino,4307
Tijuana, BC

Sonora Mia
Cuahtemoc Sur Poniente, 2133
Tijuana, BC


MyLastBite said...

absolute MEAT PORN. Love it!

streetgourmetla said...

For Unlawful carne knowledge, Mylastbite!

Scotty said...

Do you foresee any Sonoran grilling coming into the US? Many regional cuisines become diffused in adopted lands as much due to extenuating circumstances as to deliberate plans. I've only experienced excellent grilled carne in Tecate right off the SW corner of the main plaza, Los Amigos I think. The timing, the thickness of meat, the flour tortillas, the billowing smoke, the urgency, the deftness of Eduardo Manostijeras dicing the meat. I can only imagine what nuanced adroitness lies in wait on the grills of Sonora.

streetgourmetla said...

Scotty, man, I can feel your Tecate memories. I don't see it happening anytime soon:need the Sonoran beef and cuts, proper cooks, and a clientele that would pay for a true Mexican steak experience. Latino and non-Latino Americans are accustomed to the cheap carne asada tacos and combo plates. Well, Tijuana and Tecate are close enough, but get yourself to Hermosillo!!!

BooZeR619 said...

I think you forgot a long time favorite, La Leña, back in the day there was one on Revolucion, but shut down a bit before 9/11. In my opinion the best steakhouse in Tijuana is La Lena on Blvd Agua Caliente, just a short distance from Gran Hotel. I'm speaking of consistency. There's tons of good steakhouses in TJ, but sometimes they change cooks, suppliers, recipes, etc. In the 18 years I've been dining there, it's always been good and nothing has been changed, except maybe new waiters or managers. With a beautiful view of Club Campestre golf course and prime cuts, you can't go wrong. The porter house and rib eye are the best. Asadero Kino is my second option, just don't tell Julian Tiscareno, the manager and long time friend of my family. Arrachera or molcajete with meat variety is good. When I'm in a hurry or got my kids with me, I stop at Los Troncos on Paseo De Los Heroes in Zona Rio, by La Roca (Baby Rock) and La Cantina (Cantina De Los Remedios), a tipical taqueria with an old west theme. Tacos are on the pricey side but I usually fill up with 2 or 3 tacos. Don't forget to ask for complimentary Jugito de Carne. I believe this place is owned by the same family that owns the El Rodeo restaurants.

streetgourmetla said...

Hey Boozer619, thanks for posting.I know La Lena and Rodeo, both are excellent steak houses. I focused here on specifically Sonoran steak houses that had menus lik I see in Hermosillo. La Lena is great, but not specifically Sonoran. They have the arrachera, etc., but...

I've never been to Los Troncos. Tijuana is loaded with delicious carne asada.Glad you stopped by.

CarlosKGR said...

I been to many steak restarurants here in Tijuana and Sonora Mia is the best!(I agree with you) I haven't tasted something so good since the know extinct "Las Carnes" that used to be in Zona Rio next to Hospital Excell. That was also a superb Sonoran Steak House that unfortunately closed.

Unknown said...

Soy de Hermosillo y vivo en Los Angeles. Este articulo me salvo la vida! :D
I'm from Hermosillo and live in L.A. This article saved my life!