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From the name to the food, this place defies expectations in a most delicious way.

When I first heard of a hidden gem named La Chinesca, I immediately thought it was just another Chinese food joint. To my surprise, I learned that it is actually a Mexican taqueria owned by Chef Bruce Ricketts. Odd name for a taqueria, I thought. But it seems that La Chinesca is a real neighborhood in the Mexican city of Mexicali and is historically the home of the largest Chinese community in Mexico. I’m not sure how Chef Bruce Ricketts chose La Chinesca as the name for his eatery, but it is said that it is in Mexican food he is at his happiest and his training in Japanese cuisine helps make his Mexican concoctions extra-special.

Yes, there are tacos and tostadas BUT DO NOT expect the usual Mexican fare. Chef Bruce wields his amazing creativity and culinary finesse in all that he puts out. From the best guacamole I’ve ever tasted (the sprinkle of sichimi togarashi gives it that unexpected and addictive punch on the palate), served on a traditional Mexican molcajete (volcanic rock mortar)… To each and every taco and tostada! Of course you’ll find the familiar Carne Asada and Carnitas — done perfectly, which goes without saying — but he has come up with other exciting and toe-curling delicious combinations as well. You simply have to try the other extraordinary toppings and fillings, such as: Tripitas Taco — beef intestines, watermelon, chile de arbol, onions, and cilantro; Chivo Taco — Barbacoa-style goat a la plancha, jicama, sesame, salsa verde, and feta; Guisada de Res Taco — stewed beef shoulder, tongue, bell pepper, rice, and pinipig; Pulpo Taco — octopus, garlic and cilantro purée, potatoes, and salsa burracha; Tuna Tostada — Fresh raw tuna, doubanjiang mayonnaise, lime and orange, Maggi, onions, and peanuts.

And many many more, depending on the availability and freshness of the ingredients they procure. It isn’t an absolutely fixed menu, so expect a delicious surprise with every visit. And don’t forget to ask about the off-the-menu menu. You just might luck out and get Lamb Barbacoa, served with eggplant and aguacate (i.e. avocado) purée that day!

La Chinesca is so coy, so secret that there is no sign that indicates that this is it! I have attached a map to sort-of guide you where to go in BF Homes. It’s right along Aguirre Avenue, the restaurant strip of the South — coming from the BF main gate from President’s Avenue, just go straight on. After Elizalde St., be on the look-out for Amalia’s on your right side. That will be where you’ll find La Chinesca. It’s a tiny place — with just 5 or 6 tables plus stools at the counter — that serves BIG flavors! Andale, andale!