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Menuderia Don Vicente SD

I have been healed. Don Vicente's cocineras do not mess around; their bowls of menudo are truly blessed.

This restaurant is a shining example of a theory I believe in regarding the ability to taste the feminine touch in food. For this I love them.

My favorite taqueria up in Fallbrook - Las Brisas serves up a 180 degree different tripe soup. Theirs is everything a masculine taqueria menudo should be - in its aggresive, hearty. ersatz-caffeine eye opening style.

In contrast, the menuderia's soup is delicate, nuanced, and gentle. There is not a hint of poorly cleaned tripe aroma - which I call out to be the reason for the gauchupine adversity. If you are willing to give Menudo a chance - I implore you that this is the place to do so and if you need a friend to provide support - I'm so there. :^)

Another reason why I love this place: when they bring out your accoutrements while you wait, in one of the mini molcajetes is a minimalmist sparerib swimming in a verdent tomatillo sauce. A mexicana amuse-bouche. They give you a handmade tortilla to address this. According to my friend EN, this would be following the tradition in Mexico of offering little bites - antojitos - such as a sope gratis [free] before meal, in place of the american tortilla chips we are used to.

Did I mention their handmade tortillas, that are fresh masa based? Yep, some of the best I have had in San Diego and certainly rival those had at Imperial ave. Farmers Market.

The menudo - I had their red version - comes with proper nixtamal - pozole corn. They do not cheat with the canned giant hominy. Their nixtamal is pleasantly mini and they have reconsituted it.

I sensed a slight tomato element in with the light chile broth - which lend a wonderful umami element to it all. You get a pata bone with marrow included to provide its quintessantal richness.

I think I found San Diego's best Menudo - but you will just have to go there your self to form your own opinion.

Menuderia Don Vicente
2637 Highland Ave.
National City
Daily 8am - 8pm.

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  1. The place is crazy on Sunday Morning. There is a line out the door and I suddenly felt like I was the original house of pancakes for the Sunday morning rush. Luckily, being a single diner - I was quickly sat at a two top.

    There was almost a constast rush of the waiters and waitresses out of the kitchen with bowls of soup, hot tortillas, cafe and drinks.

    I had the pozole verde and a coffee.

    As I waited I enjoyed seeing the familes all having breakfast together - some looking as if they had just come from Sunday Mass.

    The coffee and accoutrements arrived and I was once again impressed by the costillita - this does warrent a main dish ordering of.

    Following this, the steaming soup came in all of its rendolent meadow green color and herbal aroma.

    The tortillas were extremely warm - so good! I love the chew and thickness of proper tortillas that are hand made. Some of the people in the room were just salting them and eating them straight.

    Next up I am going to try the blanco menudo.

    This place is quickly becoming a favorite! ;^)

    6 Replies
    1. re: kare_raisu

      I think almost every place is quickly becoming your favorite ;-D

      Do they do red and white pozole too? And are there soups other than menudo and/or pozole? I like a good caldo de res every now and then.

      1. re: DiningDiva

        Don Pedro's at 3rd & Davidson in Chula Vista has the most delectable caldo AND menudo. Not everything they have is wonderful but their soups are. Also tacos de cabeza. Trust me, DD & Alex.

        1. re: P Macias

          tacos de cabeza....mmm!....I am so there!

        2. re: DiningDiva

          I know! :^) What can I say - I've got the snout of a xoloitzcuintle for good Mexican eats!

          1. re: DiningDiva

            No white or red pozole - only the green strangely! They do have a beef birria, amazing costillitas, flautas, & tostadas.

            We should Chowdown there if anyone is up for it. Totally chow-worthy.

            1. re: kare_raisu

              Absolutely, count me in.
              I am numero uno on this list! Just say when. I don't even have to wait for a crowd.

        3. Do any of these serve menudo during the week? I had posted once before in search of a weekday menudo destination...I'm headed to the kitchen to start a batch of my homemade until then...

          3 Replies
          1. re: LisaSD

            Everyday you can get blanco or rojo at Vicente! Yes, finally someone who like menudo.... ;)

            1. re: kare_raisu

              Heck, I like EVERYTHING you post about Alex! You da man!

              1. re: LisaSD

                That makes me so happy to hear, Lisa! :)
                You will like Vicentes! I promise. It may not be as good as your homemade menudo but its the best version I have had. Truly Trancendent!

          2. I finally had the Menudo Blanco - the white brothed version of the caldo para crudos popular in the states of Sinaloa and Sonora.

            I posted some pictures here:

            4 Replies
            1. re: kare_raisu

              Alex, I noted that someone had recommended you to try Dona Maria's Pozoleria at 1660 Broadway in Chula Vista. I tried it today. Fairly new. Yet another Tiajuana restauranteur opens in Chula Vista. Very clean place too. I was the only gavacha in the place and the waiter spoke to me in Spanish and gave me the Spanish menu version. . There were 3 couples, 2 BIG young guys with a huge bowl of steaming something, and two families with small babies. After the waiter took my order he brought out 3 molcajetes, two with separate red sauces and one with chopped onion and lime wedges, along with a basket of crisp fried tortillas. Sort of a make your own tostado. I tried a bite just to taste the salsas which were not too spicy but very tasty. I had a taste for menudo con patas but they're only served on weekends. The sign says "Pancita, Estillo del Guerrero", Alex, check it out. Of course pozole , in three sizes, is served every day but I saw Number #14 was three enchiladas with mole sauce, quote "not sweet,not hot".That piqued my interest and I wanted to taste Guerrero style mole. YUM, honey! It WAS not hot nor sweet but rather just hot enough and just sweet enough, black and thick and the meat that wasn't specified on the menu turned out to be very tender shredded beef, almost as good as pork. The dish was topped with lettuce, tomato slices, avocado slices and fresh cheese. Very filling.
              Written on a blackboard in the corner was Hoy Sesos. I had noticed one of the pozole dishes was served with "meats". Whatever, I'm up for it.
              The appetizer list included chicharonnes and pickled pigs feet. I saw some on another table as I was leaving. Alright! I will be back. Most likely on the weekend for menudo. We don't have to go down to TJ to eat anymore, CV has the goods.

              1. re: P Macias

                Hey Pat - great write up!
                The Guerrerean Mole sounds divine.

                I think this post may have been buried too soon: http://www.chowhound.com/topics/499454

                1. re: kare_raisu

                  I haven't been current with the posts. How did I ever miss this one? Buried, is right. I really like the place and go often. As far as Don Vicente's goes, I go there pretty often too. As you say, it is addictive. Costillas amuse bouche? Nothing doing, I order the whole plate, the grande. Oink. And you are right about the staff, they're darling. I'm so glad half of TJ is now cooking in the south bay and I don't have to drive 10 miles for a great meal.
                  Still haven't heard if you have tried El Negro Durazo. If not, why not? I'd like your assessment.

                  1. re: P Macias

                    What have you had at DV so far Pat? I have seen negro durazno - what should i get there?

            2. Alex, I finally got a chance to head down to Nat City and have the menudo you recommended. I had the Blanco and it was everything you said it would be! (I took my own Chile Tepin in a baggie to spice it up Just Right!). I loved, loved, loved the hand made tortillas...it's been years since I had any like that. Thank you so much for the rec...I am a fan.

              I imagine it is a zoo on the weekends there!

              4 Replies
              1. re: LisaSD

                Awesomeness! You are the first chowhound to visit and you even brought the tepin! Don Vicentes is truly my favorite restaurant at the moment. The servers are super sweet - especially Lidia from Oaxaca and the young guy.

                What did you think of the costillita amuse bouche? I think the arbol-tomato salsa is killer. Horchata is rustic and house made as is the Jamaica.

                They are going to start serving Chilaquiles for breakfast soon.
                I turned my friends from my History of Mexico class onto the place and we've been back at least twice a week. We crave it...its become an addiction...

                It made my day to hear you enjoyed yourself! Ay, you are making me hungry for DVs!

                1. re: kare_raisu

                  I've been so busy that I haven't had a chance to catch up on the boards. So much going on!

                  To answer your question, I was not expecting to love the costillitas like I did and poured out the sauce on my little plate so I could dip every bite of tortilla into it - so delicious. (I really wanted to just put the little dish up to my lips and drink the sauce...it was THAT good! ha ha!)

                  I had the Jamaica and thought it was the perfect accompaniment to my meal. If they make Chilaquiles, then I will be there even more often. Have you ever tried the Chilaquiles at Jimmy Carter's on 5th Avenue? I think you'd like them. I also like them at Whole Foods food bar...those are made with chicken.

                  1. re: LisaSD

                    That costillita sauce is very tasty!

                    They make the aguas frescas in house - I need to check out the Jamaica - I always get the horchata.

                    No, I havent had chilaquiles outside of Cocina or my home in SD. I'll try these out.

                    The menuderia is seving their breakfasts as of last week. It worth noting that I found out the cooks are from Sinaloa - so you may want to check out the machaca too!

                    1. re: kare_raisu

                      I tried the chilaquiles rojos for breakfast - really good. Their red sauce is tomato based with a pleasant chile de arbol backround. I asked for a huevo estrellado for my egg topping and it was awesome with the refritos.

              2. Btw - you can ask for 'puro pancita' option here if you dont want nixtamal in the soup.

                1. I finally had the opportunity to meet with the owner this morning at breakfast. Incredible individual!

                  Some things I learned:
                  -- They tested 13 different recipes for Menudo before perfecting a final.
                  -- They tried masa from 6 different tortillerias and did a taste test to see which one had the best flavor. (Top handmade tortillas in SD imho)
                  -- The family is from Uruapan, Michoacan where carnitas and avocado is king. Get this - the Pozole Verde - Green Pozole is not tomatillo or pepita based but Avocado! Family recipe.

                  I had the "living" wok-hei spirited Machaca - strips of Jalapeno, onion, crisp shredded beef mixed with egg. Being one of the specialties from the state of the sister cooks, Sinaloa- they composed the dish masterfully. Great with their excellent cotija topped refritos

                  8 Replies
                  1. re: kare_raisu

                    Menudo is one of the Mexican dishes for which I have never been able to acquire much of a taste. Might be a textural thing, or it might be because I had to clean a boat load of chittlins early in my career and just can't get past that.

                    So, since I couldn't entertain thoughts of menudo, I ordered the pozole verde instead...a large pozole verde. It's an ENORMOUS bowl of soup and it was hugely delicious. They were really generous with the amount of meat they put in. It comes with a choice of chicken or pork, and with Mexican food, I'll choose pork almost every time. I think there was a good half pound of pork in my bowl of pozole and it was super tender and very flavorful and there was just the right amount of pozole corn. I made a pretty big dent in this pretty big bowl of soup. I think I probably managed to eat about 85% of it. Of course, I didn't eat for the rest of the day, but ni modo, it was terrific. I thought about ordering the machaca but the menu said it's only available Mon - Fri. Too bad those are the days I have to work.

                    KR, next time you're cruising around the South Bay and talking to these restaurants, ask them if they've found a source for axoxoco anywhere in SD. This is the herb used in the pozole verde de Guerrero which is a Thursday market day staple. Diana Kennedy says you can substitute sorrel for it, but finding sorrel in SD isn't that easy either. Axoxoco (I think I've spelled that right) is a sour grass. And the Thursday market pozole is hauntingly good, better than what I had at Don Vincente and that was PDG.

                    1. re: DiningDiva

                      DD -
                      If you make it down again - there's a couple of things I'd suggest if you do if you are willing to try the menudo without commiting to a whole bowl.

                      >If texture is indeed the issue, my friend from work I take there - I order him the menudo 'sin pancita, solo grano' because he does not like the tripe but grew up on the broth and hominy.

                      > Or, ask for a molcajete chico of menudo in place of the costillitas. They were quite willing to let us try the birria this way.

                      Your mention of cleaning chittlens reminded me something the owner told me this morning. He just got back from a trip from GDL and Mich. - he had Menudo several times and said that most were pretty terrible. He saw one place bring in the tripe straight from the slaughtering, others tasted of chlorine cleansing.

                      I will tried to upload the pic of the machaca - not working yet. Its beautiful!

                      I will look for axcoco - I have been seeing more and more pepicha and papalo - so the possiblity is there. Though we dont have much of a Guerrean presence in SD. A thursday free - please go to El Sabor. I hate to see such an awesome restaurant go away.

                      1. re: kare_raisu

                        Dear Alex....I stopped by El Sabor last night on the way home. How did you ever find that little hole in the wall? I spoke with Antonio and Neomi and told them you had recommended their place. Antonio had nothing but praise for you, said he'd only met you twice but felt he had known you forever. They had listed chuletas in chipotle on the menu but had sold them all that day, ditto the soup. I asked Neomi to FEED ME, she asked what and I answered...whatever you do well. First of all they set out chips with a small dish of frijoles with a killer sauce. I almost licked the dish. I don't know all of the ingredients like you, DDiva and El Nopal, but I do know what is delicious and what isn't.This stuff was superb. She prepared chile relleno..a good sized pasilla with a rosy sauce...I think tomato and crema, served with the ubiquitous rice and beans. The relleno was good but not extraordinary. I asked for an order of the other beans I had tasted and ate them instead (also!). The aquas frescas, I had tamarindo, were excellent. While I was there an Anglo guy came in for take out and said, "We're back again". Yes, I'd go back again too but I would ask for mas picante as dinner was pretty tame and I'm a chile head.
                        Tomorrow, I'm going to try the lamb down the street, IF I can find it! ;-)Just keep on exploring and doing all that foot work. I love DV and Dona Maria's polozeria as well. I've been to both, several times.

                        1. re: P Macias

                          Antonio is a super cool guy. I wish more restaurant owners had the same passion and personality of him.

                          The guaje-guajillo-pepita salsa I was served caused me to tear - no joke. Antonio said the batch of chiles he got this time were esp. hot.

                          I think the crema based tomato sauce or caldillo for the chile is an Acapulco touch.

                          A/e/texcoco is just south on your left side - huge yellow sign with a lamb. I made awesome enchiladas with their heavenly black pasilla salsa this morning - So good!

                          1. re: P Macias

                            Wow - that sounds awesome! I'm thinking about taking a week off at the end of this month, and if I do - this place is on my list. It's a long list!

                            1. re: Alice Q

                              I need to get you to the Menuderia too.

                        2. re: kare_raisu

                          Great to hear KR! I always love talking to owners who take pride in their work. I cant wait to try those tortillas. If you say the are better than El Chentin and El Borrego they must be damn good.

                        3. Also -
                          Menuderia Don Vicente is putting Flautas de Papas on their menu for vegetarians out there.

                          1. Just to keep my favorite standby Don Vicente's on the radar - an unintiated menudo friend from work came down to sample some of their antojito offerings. He had the sopes made from Fresh Masa and I opted for Beef tostadas. Both were exceptional - I really liked my tostadas with cool lettuce and crema sparked with their sunset salsa on such a hot day.

                            But what is really cool to note is that both came with a side of excellent beef consomme with toasted oregano. This was a great pair with the masa based foods.

                            1. Some new items on the menu:
                              >> Tamales Fritos
                              >> Flautas de Papa
                              >> Tacos dorados de Papa

                              Last visits menudo was so super good - first thing I had after a sickness fast. Perfection

                              1. Are they still only serving the machaca during the week? I'd love to come down for a weekend breakfast, but I'm not the biggest fan of menudo (maybe I need to try DV's before I decide that), so I was hoping to try the machaca which looks great. Anywhere else to get great machaca and chilaquilas for breakfast?

                                2 Replies
                                1. re: tanzbodeli

                                  I think so. Please go to Super Cocina for the Chilaquiles Verdes for breakfast - likely one of the top 3 dishes I love there.

                                  I really love the menudo at Super Cocina - but last time it kind of pissed me off that the tripe pieces were gargantuan. Kind of hard to cut tripe in soup.

                                  1. re: tanzbodeli

                                    Going tommorow for breakfast - So I will ask. If anyone wants birria, pozole or menudo come by!

                                    1. I've tried Menuderia Don Vicente a few times now and I can't wait to go back. My first trip was on a Sunday for lunch and the place was pretty packed. We had to wait for 5 or 10 minutes. I've always been afraid to try menudo, yet intrigued by how excited people get about it. After reading the reviews on here I decided this was as good a place as any to try it since it's their specialty. I ordered a large menudo and was asked "con todo". I said si without any idea what that might mean. The costillitas brought out after we ordered were amazing with the fresh tortillas. The tortillas alone are enough to make me want to go back. I was a little nervous about trying menudo for the first time, but I was pleasantly surprised. The broth had a rich flavor and the nixtamal was my favorite part of the bowl. I thought the meats would be really chewy, but I was impressed at how tender they were. I would definitely order this again. I noticed other people were crushing up an herb and adding it to their bowl, but I'm not sure what it was. I'm sure somebody can fill me in. I haven't tried Super Cocina's yet, how does it compare?

                                      I made it back a week or so later and tried the pozole verde. Again the costillitas were so good. The pozole verde was really flavorful and full of tender pork and nixtamal. It was great eaten with the tortillas. I think I like this more than the menudo even.
                                      I'll definitely be back at this place. I have a copy of their menu in my car and every morning when I see it I'm tempted to go on the way to work. Too bad its actually in the opposite direction.

                                      2 Replies
                                      1. re: jasont

                                        Perfect place to have your first bowl of Menudo.
                                        Did you tell them to put pata (hoof) in it?
                                        The crushed herb is oregano .
                                        Yeah this place can be addicting, I live very far but find myself driving down here on urges.
                                        Funny I also have the Menu in my car.

                                        1. re: jasont

                                          Alright another menudo fanatic in the hood! The costillitas are spectacular with the tortillas! I like that they are more carnitasesque rather than stewed.

                                          Fantastic post jasont and agreed on the morning jonesing for their healing soups!

                                        2. With this cold, cold weather - all I've been thinking about is menudo. I can't believe it's been since April that I've been there. Whoa! Where'd the time go? Love all the additions to the menu. Maybe now I can take my huz who doesn't like "stomach stew"! LOL!

                                          Thanks for all the info Alex!

                                          2 Replies
                                          1. re: LisaSD

                                            Tell him to have the posole instead, it's good too.

                                            1. re: LisaSD

                                              Absolutely Lisa!

                                              I've been going to Cuatro Milpas on Saturday Mornings for their Menudo Blanco that runs out by 9:30. I really enjoy their version especially when they give me extra librillo book tripe. They just have their excellent mantecified salsa to spike it so bring your chiltepins/ pequin chiles if you go too. And get there before 9:30 - I came to late the saturday before last and missed out so I went back this past saturday!

                                              Too bad we dont have anymore menudo hounds - I would love to hear some intel on trusty places outside my menudo-rotation of DV, Super Cocina, Las Brisas and Las 4.

                                              PS Menuderia DV has a new location in Chula Vista now.