Chile Today’s Savoring Santiago series highlights the city’s top restaurants, cafés, and bars. Discover farm-to-fork eateries, underground resto-bars, luxury dining experiences, and hidden culinary gems. Each article offers the owner’s insight, along with their recommendations for must-try menu items.
Patronato is filled with hidden culinary gems, and Tijuana Tacos is one of the most delightful. Foodies are hard-pressed to find well-done Mexican food in Santiago, especially authentic dishes such as birria and tacos de lengua.
Enter Tijuana Tacos, the creation of María Natalia Landeros Pérez. Patrons have been flocking to this restaurant since 2019, lured by a flooding of photos and videos from guests’ Instagram and TikTok accounts.
The taquería offers outdoor seating if you’re lucky enough to snag a table. Otherwise, you can enjoy nachos, tacos, burros, mulas, and a variety of signature sauces to-go.
Landeros reveals the inspiration and vision for Tijuana Tacos and the challenges that she and her team have overcome while introducing northern Mexican food to a Chilean audience.
What was the inspiration for Tijuana Tacos?
When I came back to Santiago after living in Tijuana for a couple of years, I had two options: either return to Tijuana or bring some Tijuana to Chile. So I decided to bring what I most enjoyed over there: its gastronomic and human beauty. Mainly its beers, tacos, people, and the attitude of the everlasting party lifestyle.
How did you begin your gastronomic journey?
TACOS – it started with me missing tacos, but not the ones from Mexico City or Mérida or Oaxaca; I wanted Norteño tacos, from Tijuana, with avocado, meat, and with a corn or wheat tortilla. So I rented a little place with six chairs in the most traditional fish shop in Santiago, El Mercado Central, because if we are going to do something weird, we have to start at home. We were out of place but not out of time, people quickly became curious about trying a taquito.
What is the concept behind your menu items?
We work as a taquería al paso; you can eat one or ten tacos with different meats, each one has its own recipe or its own sauce. If you didn’t like any one of them, nothing happens, you lived the experience, and you barely spent any money. This isn’t fancy cuisine, but we do make sure to make the best kind of tacos from different places and deliver them to you. It would be easier for us to offer only one or two types of tacos, but we offer all of the Tijuana varieties.
Can you tell us about your experience bringing Mexican food to Santiago?
The people of the gastronomic world have kept us alive thanks in part to recommendations, word of mouth, articles, and TikTok videos. Strangely, no one from our team is Mexican; even so, we understand what we do, which we do without “Chileanizing” anything. We make a northern taco as real as possible with the Chilean ingredients we find. There are certain myths about “Mexican food” where Tijuana does not fit in because they eat white tortillas and Totopos and Guacamole, which certain people here see as gringo, but that is the north [of Mexico], that is Baja California.
Which challenges have you overcome? What was your experience during the pandemic?
The challenge of humility; many people give you tips on how to make an authentic Mexican taco: the ingredients, how they are, what flavor, how to eat, how much it is worth, and how long it takes to make. Also, some consider us to be the worst option without considering that Santiago does not have options in taquerías like ours. Sure, there are restaurants, some better than ours, but no taquerías.
What dishes do you recommend for first-time guests?
Tacos in the first place, then the burros and nachos – but if it is your first time then you have to try the TACOS. This is my favorite order: taco de birria, taco de adobada, taco de lengua and taco de asada – and a camarón to finish.
Connect with Tijuana Tacos on Instagram
Visit the taquería at Dardignac 577, Recoleta, Región Metropolitana