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Cataviña – World Class Cuisine in Baja

A delicious combination of flavors from all around the world

June 26, 2012  By Kristin Díaz de Sandi of Life & Food. Reprinted with permission from SanDiegoRed.com 

Cataviña – World Class Cuisine in Baja

Catavina, Cocina del Mundo it's one of the new spots in Tijuana's gastronomic scene. Kristin Díaz de Sandi

A newer addition to the ever changing gastronomic scene in Tijuana is Cataviña restaurant. Zaira and her staff opened up their doors just nine months ago in the Zona Rio area. Cataviña restaurant has a beautiful facade, with both brick and modern accents. You have the option to dine inside, or on their outdoor patio area. The patio area has fresh herbs growing on the outer perimeter, which is not only great to look at, but there are wonderful aromas as well. It is ideal for the upcoming warm days and nights, but it is also equipped with heat lamps, for when it begins to cool down. The interiors of this quaint restaurant are warm and inviting, and the ambiance is just lovely. There are jazzy tunes playing in the background, that are still at a low enough volume to enjoy conversation with friends or family.

Mixed ceviche of octopus, sea snail, both cooked and raw shrimp, and scallops that is presented in a green crunchy tortilla cup

Zaira presented us with a little taste of what their menu has to offer. This was a wonderful way to get a little preview of the various options. The meal started off with the ideal refreshing course. A mixed ceviche of octopus, sea snail, both cooked and raw shrimp, and scallops that is presented in a green crunchy tortilla cup. This was one of my favorites of the day. Each bite is full of acidity, fresh seafood, and a bit of heat from the Chiltepin chile. I love the idea of the tortilla cup, the bottom is full of the remaining juices, so you won’t miss a drop.

Carpaccio of scallops on thin slices of persian cucumber

The next course was a delicate carpaccio of scallops on thin slices of persian cucumber. The simplicity of this dish is what really caught my eye. There was so much flavor in each bite, I could have easily had a plate of this to myself.

Tacos de Pargo (Red Snapper)

The third course were Tacos de Pargo (Red Snapper). The nuggets of Pargo were coated in delicious asian flavors. It was served with their own house made fresh corn tortillas, and creamy avocado. This was the first time that I have experienced a taco with this flair of flavors, and I will be going back for more. The fish is absolutely divine on its own, but then creating your own taco with it, is just an added bonus.

salad made up of spinach leaves, mandarin slices, almonds, dried fruit, cheese, and tossed with a mouthwatering balsamic dressing.

Following the tacos was a salad made up of spinach leaves, mandarin slices, almonds, dried fruit, cheese, and tossed with a mouthwatering balsamic dressing. The dressing was on the sweeter side, but the hearty spinach leaves, and salty cheese balanced it out very nicely.

Pan seared chicken nestled on top of grilled mango, melted brie, and potatoes.

Just listening to the ingredients of the next dish got me excited. Pan seared chicken nestled on top of grilled mango, melted brie, and potatoes. Drizzled over that beauty was a Tempranillo reduction. There were steamed baby vegetables sharing the plate as well. Let me tell you, if you have never had the pleasure of enjoying juicy chicken, grilled mango, and brie all in one bite, you are missing out. Oh, and the Tempranilo reduction could have easily been eaten alone with a spoon, it was that delicious.

Sole wrapped in a zucchini carpaccio with a lime sauce, tomatoes and black olives.

The courses continued on the hearty path, and now is the time to wipe your mouth if you have started to drool a bit. The next plate to come out was Sole wrapped in a zucchini carpaccio with a lime sauce, tomatoes and black olives. At first I didn’t want to ruin the presentation, but there was no way around it. Creating that sought out bite of zucchini, flaky sole, tomato, and olives was easier than it looked. The dish is on the lighter side, for those of you watching your figure, and is full of bright flavors.

A piece of filet cooked to perfection, and smothered in a mushroom sauce and caldo de res reduction.

The following course literally melted in my mouth, and no there wasn’t any chocolate involved. A piece of filet cooked to perfection, and smothered in a mushroom sauce and caldo de res reduction. You barely even had to use a knife to cut through the meat, it was that gorgeous. I think I saw my husband close his eyes for a slight second to enjoy every morsel. This is a dish that will very well have you hear yourself saying “yum”, even if your mouth is full of food. This was the end of the savory courses, it was now time for a palate cleanser, and some dessert.

dragon fruit sorbet

Raise your hand if you have had dragon fruit sorbet before. If you aren’t one of those with your arm in the air, you need to put that on your “to eat” list. The color itself is magnificent, but the flavor is truly something special. Zaira informed us that these dragon fruit hailed from Sonora, and that there is a very short season for them, so get them while they are hot. It has this bouquet of floral notes, with a little bit of sweetness lingering in the background. This was an excellent way to prepare us for the next dish ahead.

crepas de cajeta

We ended this delightful lunch with crepas de cajeta. I am not a huge fan of sweets, but anything with Cajeta you can count me in. The crepes were so thin and buttery. Did I say that I wasn’t a fan of sweets? Oh well, then that wasn’t me swirling my piece of crepe in the cajeta to pick up every last bit.

We will be making a trip back to Cataviña to try out some of the other items on the menu, as well as their breakfast. On the weekends they also offer Menudo and Caguamanta.

A special thank you to Jorge D’Garay and Zaira Echave for inviting us to dine at Cataviña restaurant. It was an absolute pleasure, and the food was delicious!

Follow this map to Cataviña Restaurant

Want to find out more about cuisine in Baja California?  Read about it here!

Kristin and Antonio blog at Life & Food and you can follow them on Twitter at @lifefoodblog and Facebook.

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