WRITTEN BY JACKIE BRYANT
Known to Tijuanenses as “La Revu,” Avenida Revolución is a thoroughfare with one of the most colorful histories in the world. It’s best known for its days of yore, when it served as a type of grown up Disneyland for border-skipping Americans looking to indulge in the more unsavory aspects of having fun. Tijuana is a young city; founded in 1889, it hit its stride in the 1920s when, not coincidentally, the United States was embroiled in a Prohibition experiment. Before Prohibition’s reversal, Tijuana was able to cement its reputation as the capital of vice, offering booze, prostitution and — as the story goes — Caesar salads, which were invented at Restaurante Caesar’s.
Enthusiasm for Tijuana’s seedy side continued unabated through the rest of the century, ending rather abruptly just after September 11th. Not only were Americans less enthusiastic to travel, but the border became significantly less permeable, and this meant an near-instant evaporation of the tourist dollars being spent in Tijuana. Increased narco violence didn’t help the city’s reputation and kept even the most brave adventurers away. However, over the last five years, Tijuana’s reputation has gone through something of a makeover, and travelers have started to return. It was during that low tourism period that Tijuanenses seized on opportunity and reintroduced Tijuana on their own terms, ushering in a golden age of food, drink, design and art to sustain the city. That effort has paid off; Tijuana has been rediscovered.
Much of Tijuana’s shiny, new buzz has centered on or near La Revu. At its epicenter is OneBunk Tijuana, the city’s first boutique hotel, which opens its doors to guests beginning in March, 2017. This cross-border hospitality concept books through AirBnB and only features nine rooms, some with bunk beds, others with queen-sized beds. There’s a rooftop space, which offers stunning views of the city, Tijuana’s iconic arch and the United States. Concept store Object MX, showcasing solely Mexican designers, has a pop up in the lobby. There’s also a self-serve bar, featuring local Tijuana microbrews and mezcal. The design is minimalist, masculine and tasteful, fitting right into the city’s industrial-chic setting.
Jackie is a freelance writer and editor. Her work has appeared in Roads & Kingdoms, Harper’s BAZAAR, AFAR, Thrillist, and San Diego Magazine, among others. She can usually be found hanging out in her current homes of San Diego and Baja California, visiting family in Barcelona, or in her hometown of New York.