By: Christopher Davis | Category: Restaurants | Issue: June 2013
Luis Vergana (head cook) and Francisco Barbosa (owner) invite you to explore authentic Mexican cuisine close to home.
Tijuana’s Grill & Cantina is owned by Francisco Barbosa. Mr. Barbosa has been running Tijuana’s for about nine years, when he and his brother opened up their original location in Tulsa. After establishing a successful run in Tulsa, Francisco opened the current Bixby location almost three years ago, where he has focused on building upon Tijuana’s reputation for authentic Mexican cuisine. Barbosa’s restaurant is everything that is great about a family-run business. The food is unique, fresh and delicious; the service is fast and friendly.
Upon entering the restaurant, customers see a collection of pictures displaying family members and close friends, establishing an intimate and relaxing atmosphere. Though the dining area is not large, the design is well thought out. Vaulted ceilings and comfortable seating arrangements encourage diners to linger and enjoy their meal and conversations. Often, restaurants cram as many seats as possible into a dining area; Tijuana’s is a refreshing exception to this cliché. Reinforcing the family dynamic, the cantina is somewhat separated from the dining area, tucked within an indoor gazebo of sorts. A patio encourages diners to enjoy the summer breeze. It is obvious that Tijuana’s is keen to welcome everyone, no matter the dining occasion.
The menu reflects this, as well, and expands beyond the expected staples of burritos, tacos and enchiladas to offer a wide range of options and a few surprises for those who seek a new flavor experience. The Del Mar menu features plenty of seafood entrees, including Camarones ala Diabla – shrimp cooked with a special hot, red sauce and served with vegetables, steamed rice, guacamole and pico de gallo. Vegetarians will love the avocado enchilada, topped with tomatillo sauce, tomatoes and cilantro. The children’s menu includes traditional entrees and options for chicken fingers, a corn dog or cheeseburger. This should relieve parents who are wary of their young, picky eaters! And, if a full meal is too much (or too little) for your appetite, there are plenty of appetizers and salads to choose from.
In addition to the vast menu, Tijuana’s offers a nice selection of desserts. Apple sopapillas, fried ice cream, flan and choco chimis will encourage you to indulge. A full bar and creative margarita menu will ensure that your afternoon or evening out will be filled with laughter and conversation, and not merely great food!
When asked about what sets Tijuana’s apart from other restaurants, Mr. Barbosa is enthusiastic. “Luis Vergana is the best cook I know,” he boasts. All the food at Tijuana’s is made fresh and from scratch. Luis and Francisco have worked together for 16 years. It is clear that they are good friends who are doing what they love. This passion for family and great food is expressed throughout the restaurant.
As for the future, Mr. Barbosa says he is considering adding some new items to the menu, but does not plan to expand the restaurant or open another location. “I’d like to focus on family, right now,” he says. Francisco has three school-aged children who keep him and his wife busy.
No matter the occasion, Tijuana’s will take care of you. Every day, they have all-you-can-eat lunch specials. Located at the intersection of 146th and Memorial, there is ample parking (even if you have a work truck or trailer). Bentley Park and Baseball Complex and the Bixby Business District are within walking distance, so sports teams, families and offices will all find a welcoming meal at Tijuana’s.
Christopher Davis is an educator and musician, as well as a writer. A California native, he resides in Tulsa with his wife, two sons and a modest menagerie of pets. When he isn't inspiring young minds, you will most likely find him spending time with his family or playing drums and percussion with Project Huckleberry or the Movetet. In addition to Value News, Davis also writes for Currentland. You can view his work at https://seedavis.wordpress.com.