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Old Town Mexican Cafe

This is our third trip to the San Diego area for the ESRI conference. We are staying in the Old Town area for the first time and had a chance to try the Old Town Mexican Cafe. This restaurant served the worse Mexican food i've ever had. We ordered 1/2 chicken mole (which was this roasted chicken that was practically dry) with this weird brown sauce slathered over it - ewwwww....with a iceberg lettuce side salad with what was supposed to be blue cheese dressing and a disgusting shrimp taco with a chewy corn torilla shell. They lure you in with what is supposed to be fresh tortillas but really are tortillas made in advanced, then heated up again. They were gooey and tasteless. I've had much better Mexican on the East Coast. I'm amazed that there is such a long line up outside.

Does anyone have any good restaurants suggestions in the area?

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  1. In Old Town try Casa Guadalajara, Bertha's, Zocalo Grill or El Agave. Better yet, hop on the Blue Line trolley and take it to the County Center/Little Italy stop (I think it's the 3rd stop). From the trolley stop walk up 2 blocks to India Street, it is almost entirely restaurants from Beech to Grape St.

    Try Songo di Vino for a glass of wine and appetizers. Most of the restaurants have their menus posted outside so you can just walk and look until you find something that strikes your fancy. Most of it is Italian, try Vincenzo's it's usually pretty reliable, but the Princess Pub is also in the neighborhood if you're more in the mood for a pint and darts.

    Bud's Lousiana Food Shoppe is in the neighborhood, as are Pete's Meats and The Waterfront, 3 places that usually get thumbs up on the board.

    Old Town has become only shadow of it's former self since the State Department of Parks decided to award the contract for concessions in Old Town to a BIG contract feeder from the East Coast (Delaware North, they can't do food right a Petco Park either). The food choices and quality have, unfortunately, deteriorated substantially over the year DN has had the contract and the Bazaar del Mundo restaurants have departed.

    1. eggplantree, no local San Diegan would ever eat at Old Town Mexican Cafe. At least, none with functioning taste buds. It's no surprise your meal was bad - that place is awful.

      Diva made some good recs above. Casa Guadalajara is pretty good for that style of Mexican food, and is owned by the woman who used to run the Bazaar Del Mundo concessions in Old Town. They make their own tortillas, and they are very fresh.

      Sorry you went there - that place should be out of business by now, but for some strange reason people keep going there.

      1. People keep going back to the Old Town Mexican Cafe simply because hope springs eternal. Many years ago, the cafe was an unpretentious place that served some of the best traditional Mexican food around. But that was a *long* time ago, and the trend over at least the last 15 years has been downward. On my last visit (arranged by loving but clueless friends), the wait was long, the food was less than mediocre, and the server was intrusive and patronizing. The place sort of reminds me of Washington DC: Lots of proud history, still looks the same, but not much good coming out of the kitchen these days.
        . . . jim strain in san diego.

        1. Thank you everyone for responding to my post! We will definitely check out the suggested restaurants in the area to wipe the memory of the OTMC away :D

          1. FYI, Berta's (not Bertha's) is not Mexican, but Central/South American. And if you're staying in a local hotel with the in-room tourist-oriented guides, the guide that's about the size of a Reader's Digest usually has a coupon for Berta's.

            1. In Old Town...go down the street from Old Town Mexican to Cafe Pacifica...BUT... if you're attending the ESRI conference downtown, why not go to Pokez restaurant, 974 E Street for Mexican food. It's off the beaten track but you get a taste of local color that way.

              1. is the tortilla lady still at casa de pico since the great sell-out?

                1 Reply
                1. re: kare_raisu

                  Casa de Pico is now in Grossmont Center in La Mesa. Not sure if the tortilla lady moved with the restaurant or not.

                2. Try Lenas at the south end of the main street about 3 blocks from Old Mexican Cafe. It's a casual restaurant that has excellent food. It's a favorite of locals, which is how I heard of it. I've been going there for about a year. The ingrediants are all very fresh. I particularly like the taco salad and carne asada burrito.

                  1. Yes, truly sad...OTMC was the first place I had Mexican food when I arrived from Switzerland. I loved the ladies making Tortillas, which is what brought me in. Sad.