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Mt. Signal Cafe - "puffy" quesadillas

This was/is on the old highway into Calexico, stopped there frequently as a kid (ok, a long time ago); they made a "puffy" quesadilla, the likes of which I have never seen elsewhere. Anyone have experience with such things and if so, where?

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  1. if by 'puffy' you just mean thick and made with fresh masa (not from a tortilla) they are fairly common and sometimes called 'estilo DF' (Mexico City style).

    but I am guessing that you really mean puffy, with lots of air, in which case the only thing I can think of that sounds at all similar are the puffy sopes at La Fogata in Salinas, that I first read about in this post by Melanie Wong:

    http://www.chowhound.com/topics/89248

    They are good, and unique in my experience....I could see someone calling them a quesadilla if they had cheese instead of meat....

    1 Reply
    1. re: susancinsf

      no to the first and yes to the second in terms of the description your provided. The "quesadilla" name was applied to the dish by the restaurant and the only filling was cheese.

    2. I am very familiar with those quesadillas because I grew up in Imperial Valley and they are a staple out there. They are called "Special Quesadillas" and are made with a raw flour tortilla that has quesadilla cheese inside and the edges are crimped up like an empanada and they are quickly deep-fried. I make my own and there are still some places in El Centro that you can get them.

      You can find them at Celia's where you can get them with Chili Relleno sauce poured over them - they are soooo light and crispy there (located at the intersection of Imperial Avenue and Adams Ave) and La Salsa (4th street and Adams Avenue). There used to be a little drive through type shack on 4th street that you could grab one and get for the ride back to San Diego but it changed hands...don't know if the new place has it.

      A lot of the restaurants in the area carry them but those are two of the best places to get them.

      5 Replies
        1. re: LisaSD

          LisaSD ~ I too grew up in El Centro and now live in Idaho. I am CRAVING a Special Quesadilla! Would you mind sharing your recipe for making them yourself? Also, I'm not familiar with quesadilla cheese. I always thought they just used jack cheese. I would be forever grateful!!

          1. re: LisaSD

            Lisa - are you sure about that location for Celia's? I don't think that Adams and Imperial intersect. Thanks again, may head up to La Salsa today...

            1. re: ibstatguy

              ibstatguy - Lisa is right about the site for Celia's. The intersection used to be called 4 Corners, by the locals. I ate at Celia's when I visited the Valley a couple of years ago. I think it's run by some of the people that used to work at LaHacienda, now that it's closed. Celia's is excellent.

            2. re: LisaSD

              Holy cow! I grew up in ElCentro as well and haven't thought of the "special quesadilla" in years. I used to get mine at a place next to the Crest of Fox & Crest theaters on main St. Has anyone had one here in SD?

            3. None here in San Diego that I know of...but I'd like to teach them ALL how to make it so I don't have to!

              Bystander, you're right. Celia was a waitress for a lonnngggg time at the Hacienda Imperial airport location and started the restaurant when the Hacienda was torn down. The Hacienda was revived in the meantime and is open on the corner near the courthouse. I heard they were building a new location back in Imperial though.

              As for your request for a recipe for Special Quesadillas, get a bag of La Pina flour if you can find it and make the tortilla recipe on the back of the bag. Put some cheese strips in the middle, fold it over, put water around the edge and crimp the edges and deep fry. No biggie!

              The Queso Quesadilla is made by FUD or Cacique but you can use Monterey Jack if you can't find them. The Queso Quesadilla cheese is more like a mozarella.

              1 Reply
              1. re: LisaSD

                Thanks so much for the info, Lisa. I'll check around for that brand of flour; we have a large hispanic population here so several stores carry specialty things for their culture. I'll keep my fingers crossed but I'll still try to make them regardless. Really appreciate the help. It's also nice to hear from others that are from the Valley.

              2. ibstatguy, Adams becomes Evan Hewes Hwy after you cross Imperial going west...that's probably why you thought that. Celia's in on the north side of the street.

                1. We used to get these at a taco stand "Acapulco" on 3rd St. in L.A. (not the chain). The recipe we use to make them is 1/2 jack cheese 1/2 cheddar cheese in chunks. Spread flour tortilla with cream cheese (yes I really mean cream cheese) and add cheese and ortega green chiles. Roll up tortilla and secure with toothpick and deep fry in pan of oil that covers 1/2 of the rolled tortilla. Fry to golden brown and turn over to fry the other side. Fantastic!! but probably not heart healthy.