An Evening at “The Park” in Tijuana


When I moved back to San Diego in 2012, I bought a house that’s 7.5 miles/12 km from the U.S.-Mexico border, and when I renewed my passport in 2015, I opted to get a passport card in addition to the passport book thinking that, living so close to the border, it may come in handy. Both sat in my drawer until last week.

Prior to that, the last time that I visited Tijuana was around 1988 when I was stationed here in the Navy. The only thing needed to get across the border then was your driver’s license. Let’s just say that things have changed from what I recall. (Yet I’m sure many things are still the same.)

Three of my coworkers (of Mexican ancestry) have been wanting me to join them for an evening of fun in Tijuana. The decided that we’d go to “The Park,” an upscale food court on steroids, just a mile or so across the border.

Unlike your typical mall food court, you have to check in with the hostess and wait for a table for your party. Once seated, a server will take care of ordering your food from the eight or so different restaurants for you, and he’ll bring it to your table once it’s ready. So if you’re in the mood for one type of food and your partner is in the mood for another, it’s very easy to make that happen.

The court is open air on one side and more enclosed on the other, and it’s very contemporary in design. The varied lighting gives the place a very contemporary night club feel to it. It can be a bit on the loud side, so if you think you’re going to be able to whisper sweet nothings into your partner’s ear between courses, think again. Probably not the place for that.

When we were there (about 8 p.m.-11 p.m. on a Friday), there was some live entertainment—a solo saxophonist—making her way through the restaurant serenading us with her musical talent. It was fun. In the middle of our visit, a dozen or so servers came running through the seating area with giant sparklers blazing. Not sure what that was about, but it was fun to watch.

On a note that borders on TMI, I have not had a good batting record when it comes to dining in Mexico without coming away with a wonderful case of Montezuma’s Revenge. The food was good, and I didn’t come away with anything more than a burp. That gives me confidence to do this again.

My friend who has a Sentri pass drove us to the location, and there was a pay parking lot about 100 m from the restaurant. I believe it cost $4 to park for the evening.

Crossing the border into Tijuana is usually pretty straightforward, but on the Friday evening, we got stuck in traffic for about 45 minutes. Returning to the U.S. was actually a little quicker at 11 p.m. My friend used her Sentri Pass to get through more quickly but because I didn’t have a Sentri Pass, I had to get out of the car and walk across the border. Another friend in the car came with me, and we actually walked across the border faster than my friend with the Sentri Pass drove across the border.

All in all, it was a great re-introduction to Tijuana for me, but I would argue that it was an “Americanized” introduction. This was not authentic Tijuana, and I’m ready to explore a little more with my friends as “training wheels.”

What You Need to Know

Location:Paseo del Centenario 4210-3, Zona Urbana Rio Tijuana, 22010 Tijuana, B.C., Mexico
Hours:Monday – Thursday, 8 a.m. – 12 a.m.
Friday & Saturday, 8 a.m. – 1 a.m.
Sunday, 8 a.m. – 8 p.m.
Phone:+52 664 567 1407
Date Visited:16 July 2021


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