Tijuana’s: A Different Mexican Restaurant Comes to Elizabethton | Life
As a Mystery Diner, it has always been my policy not to review a recently opened local restaurant for about 60 days. This gives the restaurateur and the team a chance to correct any issues associated with the opening.
Rarely do I violate my policy and review a recently opened local restaurant that is only three days old.
It is one of those instances.
Tijuana Mexican Restaurant is the newest tenant of West Towne Square Mall in Elizabethton, occupying the storefront once occupied by Italian Restaurant Primo’s. Owners Moe and Kinsey Farrouki moved the operation of their Primo to larger premises just four doors away, and renamed it The Black Olive in the process.
What about the old location, you ask? After some renovations, they opened Tijuana’s there.
Tijuana has seating in two dining rooms for around 50 diners at tables lined with sturdy benches and chairs. The outdoor dining area contains the cash register and the take-out counter. The remodel also created a bar as part of the interior dining area, with the restrooms further down the back hallway.
On a recent trip to Elizabethton my catering partner noticed the new Tijuana sign in West Towne Square and suggested we drive. We stopped, eager to see the progress Moe and Kinsey had made, and were surprised to find that Tijuana had opened three days before. We saw several familiar faces of Primo in the servers in Tijuana, including the calmly professional and friendly Ms. Carrie.
During a brief conversation with Kinsey and Carrie about Tijuana cuisine, my restaurant partner and I learned that it is a synthesis of several regional Mexican cuisines, adding a good old American fusion for the to assemble. Chef Canuto de Tijuana favors cuisine from the Oaxaca region of Mexico. With a culinary history stretching back a few thousand years, the cuisine of the Central Oaxaca Valley is quite varied and interesting.
In response to my catering partner’s request for a dish that both showcased Chef Canuto’s talents and was also delicious, our server Carrie recommended Tijuana’s Mexican Pizza ($ 12). Resembling an unfolded quesadilla in shape and content, Tijuana’s version of Mexican pizza begins with two dinner-sized flour tortillas, toasted until barely crisp but still flexible. . One is topped with a mixture of diced tomatoes, sliced ââmushrooms, onions, black beans, corn, queso, and slices of marinated white meat chicken. Adding the other tortilla as a cover, my partner’s Mexican pizza was cooked until bubbly, topped with a few squirts of sour cream, then served with very fresh guacamole and delicious toasted jalapeÃ±o pepper curls. as side dishes.
Cancun Picante with a Mexican Street Corn Card While my dining partner was enjoying her Mexican pizza, I was savoring a signature platter from Tijuana a little further than Oaxaca, namely Cancun Picante con Pollo ($ 12). It was a specialty of the coastal region of the Yucatan Peninsula. Offered with a steak or chicken as a source of protein, (I opted for chicken) Cancun Picante takes sliced ââmarinated chicken meat and grills it with onion slices, mushrooms and black beans, then sautÃ© the in queso mixture before plating it with refried beans and spicy rice. I had also spotted Mexican Street Corn as an appetizer ($ 4) and ordered some, thinking it would add to the dish’s bouquet of flavor and texture. That’s what he did, with the street corn served on the cob, mixed with a spicy mayonnaise, cilantro and ground black pepper and just enough to serve over the Cancun Picante. Overall, Cancun Picante at Mexican Street Corn was really lovely.
The bottom line
It’s not often that I can tell if a restaurant is going to be successful after just one visit.
Here, however, I can say that Tijuana’s Mexican restaurant is indeed destined for success.
During your visit, you will find the decor of the restaurant more than adequate. You will be well taken care of by the staff and will be both satisfied and charmed by what Chef Canuto’s know-how in Oaxaca creates for your viewing pleasure.
With their Mexican restaurant ownership in Tijuana, Moe and Kinsey Farrouki have created real competition for the Tri-Cities restaurant scene as a whole.
Go on, and see for yourself.
You will not be disappointed.