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Where to Eat and Drink in Mexicali

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Baja capital city offers a surprising array of dining options, street food, craft beers 

MEXICALI. – Mexicali – a border town 90 minutes east of San Diego – is known outside of Baja California primarily for its agriculture, its maquiladoras, its Chinatown (la Chinesca), and that Grateful Dead song (is there anything a man don’t stand to lose?). And though most are aware that the metropolis of 700,000 has more Chinese restaurants per capita than any other Mexican city, Mexicali isn’t typically mentioned in the same breath as Ensenada or Tijuana during serious discussions of Baja California cuisine.

But a trip last fall revealed that Baja California’s state capital has more to offer than I’d previously imagined — including a nationally awarded craft beer scene, artisanal kitchens, and a plethora of Chinese restaurants that infuse Cantonese style dishes with classic Mexican ingredients. And of course, when in Mexico, one has to have a taco or two, right?

The best way to get to know any city’s culinary scene is to roll with locals well versed in hometown traditions. Mexicali natives – culinary professional Ana Laura Holguin and chef Esteban Luis – guided Good Food Mexico City's Nicholas Gilman and A Gringo in Mexico through Mexicali’s gastronomic history and discussed its potential as a culinary destination. Here are the spots we visited during our Mexicali food and beer tour.

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