Playas de Tijuana is a mostly residential neighborhood in the extreme north-west corner of Tijuana; it's pushed right up against the fence that divides Mexico and the United States. A bit out of the main commercial part of it though is Laihoo's. When you drive into Playas, the main street is Paseo Ensenada. You follow it to the first traffic light which is Paseo Pedregal. You turn left and continue on passing the city government buildings, fire station and sports field. A couple of blocks beyond the sports field and just before you reach the Oxxo Laihoo's will be on your right. You can spot it thanks to the string of red Chinese paper lanterns hanging outside.
One of this place's claims to fame (but by no means its only one) is the home-baked biscuits. These are served with a variety of fillings both savory and sweet. But many other delicious baked goods are available too. There is a tempting display right in the front window that's impossible to pass up. Looking in at it makes your mouth water with anticipation.
The menu consists primarily of very fresh healthy things (like fruit smoothies, fresh fruit salads, etc.) and traditional Mexican diner food (enchiladas, sopes, Milanesa, etc.) Everything is fresh and well prepared and service is stellar. The place is tiny but charming and the staff is pleasant, caring and there to serve. They are delightful.
When you first sit down they bring a plate with a selection of pastries. You consume what you want and leave the rest and are charged accordingly. I have to confess that it took all my will power to resist the pastries and concentrate on lunch. (I did buy a bag of pastries to take home, though, to be enjoyed later this evening.)
I started with a chicken sope (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sope). The order normally comes with three of them but I wanted my main dish to be the Milanesa (breaded beef steak) so I asked if I could have just one sope to taste and they were more than willing to satisfy my request.
The sope was delicious because the fried dough itself was just crispy enough where needed to be and soft and fluffy elsewhere. The chicken too was home-baked and hand-shredded. Very tasty.
The Milanesa was super. Mega-thin steak, perfectly breaded and fried with spectacular fried potatoes, beans and green salad as sides.
This is definitely a place worthy of repeat visits. I intend to return and bring friends with me. It's a hidden gem tucked into a residential section of a off-the-beaten-track residential neighborhood in Tijuana that's well worth a visit. If you are headed to Rosarito/Ensenada on the scenic highway, detour into Playas before you hit the highway and try out this place. You won't regret it.
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