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Follow the Breadcrumbs

The San Diego Border Report


El Mejor Pan de TecateEl Mejor Pan de Tecate

San Diego suffers no shortage of Mexican panaderias, or bakeries (try Hilda’s in City Heights or Panchitas in Barrio Logan). But an international pilgrimage in the name of Baja’s best bread? It’s worth it.

Run by two sisters who arrived from Guadalajara in the 1940s, Panaderia La Mejor is a small shop in the southern corner of Tijuana’s urban core. It requires a slight veer off the beaten path but its stacks of fresh empanadas, conchitas, and galletas have had locals lining up outside the door since since 1962. Plan an early arrival—often only breadcrumbs are left by late afternoon. Avenida Constitucion and Calle 10, downtown Tijuana 

Ask any bajacaliforniano about Tecate, and they’ll tell you it’s not the cowboyish mountain town’s namesake beer they crave, but the bread. The stock at El Mejor Pan De Tecate,
founded in 1969—just four blocks south of the border crossing—bakes 180 different varieties, everything from “ox’s eyes” to “elephant ears.” Their secret? A brick vault oven and a 24-hour schedule, enough reason for National Geographic to brand it a must among Tecate to-dos. Avenida Juarez 331, downtown Tecate, elmejorpandetecate.com

Panaderia La Montaña lies just east of Tecate on the free road to Mexicali. Smack dab in Mexico’s version of the middle of nowhere sits this lonesome roadhouse bakery, whose only neighbors are a gas station, a tamale stand, and the occasional horse in the middle of the road. It’s a haul, but folks come from kilometers around for its bolillos and birotes. Carretera Libre Mexicali–Tecate Km. 71, La Rumorosa

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