The Bar that for two years has been key in the rebirth of Tijuana’s Downtown.
June 11, 2012 By Genaro Valladolid. Reprinted with permission from SanDiegoRed.com
Tijuana’s micro-brew scene is fast becoming one of the most important in Mexico and one of its epicenters is “La Tasca bar” with over 70 beers usually on hand and about 30 that rotate in and out. Recently La Tasca was celebrating its second anniversary with a weekend long bash that included beer tastings and Beatles and Guns N’ Roses tribute bands along with Tijuana’s party loving beautiful people.
The origin of La Tasca, which means tavern in Spanish, was born out of Omar Monroy and Enrique Mancillas’ idea to open a new bar in Tijuana’s Calle 6ta (Sixth street) that focused on beers from around the world. They were looking for spots in downtown Tijuana when the third owner, Alfonso Bustamante, decided to get in on the action. I spoke with Alfonso and Enrique about their bar, downtown Tijuana’s rebirth and the growing number of micro-breweries.
After two years they feel that La Tasca is here to stay, and the large and notably happy crowd gathered on a Friday seems to confirm this. When they started, Tijuana’s micro-brewery scene was beginning and it has exploded into a full-fledged movement with over 30 local labels and many more from the rest of Baja . Alfonso mentioned that Tijuana’s proximity to San Diego has helped in two ways. One is the access to better raw materials for producing beers than the rest of Mexico has and the other is the influence from San Diego which is considered to be among the top beer cities in the US. On this night Tijuana’s Ramuri and Kudos breweries were offering tastings and both of them mentioned that the access to raw materials is a huge difference maker for them. I asked Alfonso and Enrique to name the most peculiar beer that they serve and both of them mentioned “Papst Beer” that was created in Mainz, Germany to celebrate Pope Benedict’s return to his hometown and Duff Beer of The Simpsons fame. At first most patrons would order foreign beers but now they are more focused on local brews such as Ramuri’s Diablo Blanco, Zona Norte’s Adelas named after an infamous club and Insurgente’s Brown Ale.
Alfonso mentioned that the next step for the scene is to produce barley, hops and grains in northern Baja’s fertile valleys so that the ingredients can be sourced locally.
I asked the owners what they thought were the things that set La Tasca apart from other bars along Calle 6ta and they mentioned the relaxed atmosphere, music selection and great service.
I spoke to a couple of customers named Rosa and Victor and they mentioned that they go every Friday for the same reasons: Great music, delicious beers and quality service. In fact, Victor mentioned that if he doesn’t go on Friday he wakes up on Saturday in a bad mood. The music played at La Tasca focuses on classic to modern rock in English and Spanish with a dose of dance. On Wednesday’s they have a live karaoke where a guitarist who according to Enrique is like a human jukebox because of the many songs he knows plays the music and patrons sing along. There are no screens to tell you the words so you should better know them or suffer the embarrassment of messing up the lyrics in front of a crowd. They also have a band on Thursdays with a singer by the name of Samantha Rae who has appeared on Latin American Idol. Sometimes when Alfonso, who has an inner rock star, is in the mood he joins in on the singing like the previous night when he sang The Doors’ Roadhouse Blues with Samantha. In the back of the bar they have a nice outdoor terrace that allows customers to have a smoke , it is not allowed inside because of Tijuana’s new Anti-smoking ordinances. The terrace is also where many beer tastings take place especially during summer.
I asked Enrique what his favorite moments in La Tasca’s two years were and he mentioned a World Cup game between Mexico and France in June of 2010. Towards the end of the game with Mexico leading 1-0 the lights went out during the game and everybody started going crazy and had to improvise and follow the game on smart phones. Because Mexico won 2-0 nobody seemed to care and the fact that Enrique started to give away beer before it got warm seemed to keep everyone happy. I wonder why? I mentioned he should do that more often and let me know when it happens.
Tijuana’s Downtown is being reborn with new spaces for music, art, culture, education and entertainment. La Tasca is a fun, lively and friendly place that is helping this rebirth. Visit and enjoy the great vibe, music selection and micro-brews. Don’t forget to taste the locals that are hard to get in Tijuana and next to impossible to find in San Diego.
Would you like to visit La Tasca Bar? Call 01152 664 328 1949
Get directions here
By Genaro Valladolid
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