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“A True Hidden Gem”

Laihoo's Cafe de China
Ranked #145 of 572 Restaurants in Tijuana
More restaurant details
Restaurant details
Good for: Child-friendly, Cheap Eats
Dining options: Lunch
Tijuana, Mexico
Level Contributor
184 reviews
154 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 100 helpful votes
“A True Hidden Gem”
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 12 June 2014

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.

  • Visited June 2014
    • Value
    • Atmosphere
    • Service
    • Food
Helpful?
1 Thank Michael B
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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22 reviews from our community

Visitor rating
    11
    6
    4
    0
    1
Rating summary
    Food
    Service
    Value
    Atmosphere
Date | Rating
  • English first
  • Spanish first
  • Any
English first
Here, There & Everywhere
Level Contributor
85 reviews
83 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 70 helpful votes
“Great (mexican) comfort food, just don't get confused about the chinese part!”
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 5 February 2013

First of all, for those of you who don't know this... there are a lot of cafes in Mexico city that were originally owned and tended by chinese immigrants and their families, there are still some left, but they almost always served traditional mexican fare, and what people remember most from them is their biscuits and cafe con leche (cafe au lait), and since you rarely find this sort of comfort food outside mexico city it's not unusual for this place smack in the middle of Playas de Tijuana to be packed for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

Oh, and did I mention the very reasonable prices?

Have some cafe con leche and watch as they pour it in a tall glass just like in mexico city and veracruz!! Feel like a local from mexico city, feel chilango!!

  • Visited January 2013
    • Value
    • Atmosphere
    • Service
    • Food
Helpful?
2 Thank Cris B
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Franklin, Tennessee
Level Contributor
42 reviews
20 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 14 helpful votes
“China only if china has rocking cafe con leche and pasteries”
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 25 November 2012

I recently took my daughters back to Laihoo's for the second time in a few months. The first time a dear friend from TJ took us. Unfortunately for the second visit, we didn't have the restaurant name, nor address, nor anything other than gut instinct. We drove and pieced together the turns and found it again. We almost gave up but the cafe con leche was just too good to give up on.

The name has China in it. I've only been there for breakfast so maybe something changes later but there is nothing Chinese about the menu. It is all wonderful pasteries (that are delivered to your table for you to select from - eat what you want, leave what you don't), hearty plates of traditional breakfast foods and a few Mexican, spicy specialties thrown in. My favorite is the molletes. I prefer the one with chorizo and jalepenos but even the locals looked at me a little oddly. One couple even ventured to ask about it. Then proceeded to order it.

It is a quant location, smack in the middle of a residential street as is so common in Mexico but could make someone think they'd taken a wrong turn.

We highly recommend Laihoo's. The servers usually don't speak English but all have been happy to put up with our butchered attempts to order and have keen hand signals to get you by. They take cards and American currency if needed.

Buen provecho!

  • Visited November 2012
    • Value
    • Atmosphere
    • Service
    • Food
Helpful?
1 Thank RebWhi9
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC

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