Cafe Francés, whose sidewalk tables are located only half a block up Seventh from those at Chiki Jai, could give a quick illusion that Tijuana is the sort of place where people sip coffee on the sidewalk. This is decidedly not true. This is about as "un-Tijuana" as it gets. It calls itself the French Cafe, even though the wood and glass doors still say "La Belle Claude" like they did twenty five years ago. There are tables under a tree on the sidewalk, a sort of entry vestibule to warn people they are leaving TJ and stepping into a tiny but gracious different world.
They have good coffee here in many different forms. Much rarer in Mexico, they have lots of good teas. But the big offering is baked goods straight out of a fine shop in Europe. Although the Tapatia and Ysidro bakeries are worthwhile, the and both have points worth pursuing, pastries here are in a class of their own for sheer excellence. Not just the best in town, but of regional significance.
The whole concept is different from Mexican bakeries, which almost never offer coffee. There are no trays; you just order at the counter like you would in Amsterdam or Vienna. Order, for instance, a napoleon or glazed fruit tart, a sumptuous eclair or multi-layered torte. In the words of the smack dealer portrayed by Quentin Tarantino in Pulp Fiction, "this stuff will take the taste test against any of that Amsterdam stuff."
And not just pastries. Oh non, non, non. They also have a selection of their own truffles and other chocolate fantasies that are capable of transporting you, if not to Europe, at least to somewhere nice and tasty. Beyond that, the counters and shelves are a minefield of different taste ticklers, you always find something new and different.
Visitors can use the Cafe Francés as a vacation from Mexico... sit there sipping and nibbling and feel home again in Euroville. Or as a welcome break from a day of hoofing through Revolucion's psychomotor zoo. Or, for true fans of a flaky crust with buttery frosting and delicate savor, as a destination. Open 7 to 10 daily.
8186A Seventh (Half block west of Revu)