Taste the World at Casa de Leo in Tijuana

Taste the World at Casa de Leo in Tijuana
Taste the World at Casa de Leo in Tijuana

Tijuana is a city whose gastronomy is built upon Mexican traditions as well as immigrant cuisines from Asia, Europe, the Mediterranean, and beyond. Upon entering new restaurant Casa de Leo at Paseo Chapultepec, one encounters a large global map as wall art, with several countries highlighted. These countries influence the menu at Casa de Leo, a new “Bistro sin Fronteras” (Bistro without Borders) concept in Tijuana by Sinaloa-based Grupo Los Arcos.
Casa de Leo is attractively decorated in a blue, aquamarine, and blonde wood nautical theme, with a spacious, light-filled dining room and bar area. The walls are lined with tasteful, contemporary artwork and niches are neatly set with statuary, books, and other found items. The space is just as inviting and tony as sister property Lorenza, located just upstairs from Casa de Leo.
Casa de Leo dining room. Photo: W. Scott Koenig
Given Grupo Los Arcos’ Mexican Pacific coastal heritage, Casa de Leo’s menu is swimming with oceanic delights. From tiraditos and ceviches of fresh, local fish, to a silky clam chowder or buttery lobster crème soup. We sampled the tiradito de atún azul (blue tuna) and a fleshy ceviche of line-caught, local robalo, or snook.
The snook is cubed and “cooked” in citrus, dressed with pickled red onion and microgreens, and served with sliced cucumber in a pool of ponzu. Both raw fish dishes were served with blue, yellow, and white corn tostadas. Casa de Leo makes their tostadas and tortillas in house, as well as their own bread. Their tortillas are from nixtamalized masa and some of the best in Tijuana.
Robalo/snook ceviche. Photo: W. Scott Koenig
It was a bit jarring to be served French onion soup after just having enjoyed two raw seafood dishes, but we were there to sample the menu, which shines brightest when it crosses the pond. The soup is gratinéed with a layer of melted, umami-rich Gruyere cheese. The broth with caramelized onions beneath is luscious, salty, and savory perfection.
French onion soup. Photo: W. Scott Koenig
The menu also features a selection of shared plates, such as borrego (roasted lamb), croquetas de jamón Serrano–cheese stuffed croquettes topped with a thin slice of fresh off the leg Serrano ham in a luxuriant saffron sauce–and lechón confitado, confit of roasted suckling pig, which the restaurant cooks whole animal. The lechon is served with five house made salsas, limes, and more of those sublime tortillas.
Lechón confitado. Photo: W. Scott Koenig
Casa de Leo also craft some exceptional gourmet tacos. These include a quesabirria taco of manta ray, the taco del chef with grilled octopus, a mixed grill taco, and their vampiro gober, a tortilla grilled until stiff then loaded with shrimp machaca. The entire affair is topped with two cremas of tomato and salsa verde. Other menu highlights include fresh salads, a variety of pastas and wood-fired pizzas, a selection of grilled-to-order steaks, seafood entrees, desserts, and a children’s menu.
The restaurant houses an elegant, glass-enclosed cellar stocked with wines from Baja California, Italy, and other international points of origin. We enjoyed a glass of La Herencia, a blend of sauvignon and chenin blancs from Valle de Guadalupe winery, Bodegas F. Rubio. There’s also a full bar with several luxury tequilas and mezcales, and the bartender makes a mean Cadillac margarita of top shelf tequila, Grand Marnier, and Damiana—an herbaceous liquor from Baja California Sur.
Casa de Leo wine cellar. Photo: W. Scott Koenig
With three Grupo Los Arcos restaurants now occupying the popular Paseo Chapultepec–Lorenza and Cabanna are also located here–it’s a tough decision about where to enjoy a casual lunch or fine-dining level dinner. To enjoy a bounteous menu of global cuisine in an elegant, yet comfortable setting, you can’t go wrong with Casa de Leo.
LOCATION: Blvd. Aguacaliente, Plaza Paseo Chapultepec 10387-D105, Neidhart, 22020 Tijuana, B.C., Mexico. Reservations are recommended and can be made at www.opentable.com.mx/r/casa-de-leo-tijuana. Phone: +52 664 912 0147.
HOURS: Mon-Thu 12-11 PM, Fri-Sat 12-11:30 PM, Sun 12-7 PM.
VIDEO: Baja Window to the South | Casa de Leo