Las Americas Premium Outlets (courtesy photo)
Las Americas Premium Outlets (courtesy photo)

Ahhhh, it’s the week of Christmas and I still have shopping to do! I’m typically the type of person who has everything planned and purchased in advance. But the last month has been especially busy and, well, excuses. I don’t have that many people to buy for, but I’m particularly picky about buying gifts that are personal and thoughtful—not just something I bought in a last-minute rush to fill a need.

One of my favorite shopping destinations is Las Americas Premium Outlets in San Ysidro, located off of the last USA exist before driving into Tijuana, Mexico (about 20 miles south of downtown San Diego). It’s always busy there and parking can be tricky, but I always find some great deals. In their 125+ stores, you’ll often find amazing sales in addition to their already discounted outlet prices. Las Americas is a closer drive for me than the Carlsbad Premium Outlets, which is about 40 miles north of downtown San Diego, but they have many of the same stores. It’s a rare day when I can leave the Banana Republic outlet without spending at least $100.

Being that close to the border always makes me want Mexican food. Also, shopping is a sport… it’s exhausting. My go-to Mexican restaurant in the South Bay is Aqui es Texcoco in Chula Vista. Owner Francisco “Paco” Perez is known for his tender, flavorful lamb barbacoa. Don’t worry if you’re not really into lamb or gamey meats, because you haven’t tried HIS lamb barbacoa. Trust me, I didn’t think I would like it, either. But he made me a lambeliever. Even Andrew Zimmern is a fan. Do NOT leave without ordering the flan at Texcoco, or the quesataco (grilled cheese outer shell in lieu of a tortilla – holy $%*!). It’s a super casual restaurant and the prices are very reasonable. You can also find Texcoco locations in Tijuana and southeast LA.

Quesataco at Aqui es Texcoco
Quesataco at Aqui es Texcoco
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