Caesar Salad: Discover the Untold Story Behind the Most Famous Salad that Originated in Tijuana, Mexico

Tijuana, Mexico – A century ago, in Tijuana, Mexico, the Caesar salad was born, not in America or Italy. As the most famous salad in the world, the caesar salad celebrates its 100th anniversary this week in Tijuana, drawing in renowned chefs from around the globe for a four-day festival. The salad, created in the glitzy Prohibition-era Tijuana of the 1920s, has become a staple in restaurants worldwide, from Sweden to Spain to Japan.

At Caesar’s restaurant in Tijuana, visitors can still order the original caesar salad, prepared tableside by a formally dressed waiter. The salad consists of romaine lettuce with a dressing made from raw egg, olive oil, lime, garlic, Parmesan, and other seasonings. Javier Plascencia, a Mexican chef and restaurateur, has revived Caesar’s restaurant, serving over 2,500 salads a month in a dining room steeped in history and tradition.

This milestone for the caesar salad in Tijuana highlights the city’s dedication to cultural preservation amidst its more common portrayal in headlines focused on border tensions. Claudio Poblete, a Mexican food critic and writer, emphasizes the significance of recognizing Tijuana for its culinary contributions and traditions, showcasing a positive narrative beyond its political controversies.

The creation of the Caesar salad is a tale of multicultural innovation and historical debate. While Caesar Cardini, an Italian immigrant widely credited with inventing the salad, founded Caesar’s restaurant, some versions of the story suggest his brother or another chef may have played a role. Despite the conflicting accounts, the Caesar salad’s enduring popularity and evolution into various fusion dishes worldwide underscore its status as a culinary classic.

Several chefs, including Klementine Song in Los Angeles and Diego Argoti in Echo Park, have put their own spin on the Caesar salad, incorporating unique ingredients and flavors. Song’s Japanese caesar at Tsubaki features fish sauce, ponzu, and panko crumbs, while Argoti’s Thai caesar at Poltergeist includes lemongrass, lime leaf, and rice paper “croutons.” These modern interpretations breathe new life into the traditional salad, offering diners a fresh experience while honoring its rich heritage.

As the caesar salad continues to thrive and adapt in the culinary world, its 100th anniversary serves as a reminder of the enduring appeal and versatility of this iconic dish. Whether enjoyed as a classic tableside preparation or reimagined with innovative ingredients, the Caesar salad’s legacy as a timeless favorite remains unwavering.