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May 19, 2008 09:10 AM

Taking On Imperial Ave with Masa Assassin SD

MA has damn fine taste. I honestly could not think of a better partner in crime in exploring San Diego's Mexican street food scene. Have to thank him immensely[!] for the invitation to lunch yesterday that turned into a crawl of amazing proportions.

>>La Fachada<<
We met up at the 'facade' to dine in the open air, next to the restaurant's outside dining set up. There was Abuelita was grilling up a storm of cebollitas, chiles, tomatillos and tomates. Also on her grill were good frijoles de la olla complimentary for the taking for a little side dish to your antojitos.

On the recomendation of Masa Assassin, I got a gordita and decided on a filling of tripas as well as a carnitas taco.

Man oh man, was that gordita executed with precision. Lighter than air, crisp masa encasing, light application of melted cheese with the delicious tripas. Topped off with crema, lettuce and the first grated queso enchilado I have seen at a SD mex restaurant. So nice! Add to this a balanced, extremely sabroso tomato-arbol sauce and thus further affirmation of my love for Mexican cuisine.

Hand made tortillas here set the facades tacos apart from your run of the mill taqueria. That they understand this alone and are willing to elevate the simple taco in the face of the powerful yet insuperior industrial machine is hard not to smile at and respect. The edges of the carnitas took on almost a chinese pork sung texture and flavor, so wispy was this filling. My only criticism would be that I wished for a portion of moist braised meat along with the crunchy part. But hey - its usually the other way around.

This Place will enter my rotation and you guys need to check this place out

>>Panaderia Lily's<<
I had been meaning to check out this 31st St bakery's Cemitas Poblanas - MA was up for it so it was a perfect opportunity to do so. This area is definitely sketch so be careful. The mother and daughter team running the bakery are extremely nice and offer different tortas on their menu.

We took the sandwich to the smoky Pollos al Carbon to eat. The bread was indeed the cemita in true form of Puebla. The milanesa left a lot to be desired. Absent was Papalo - the green traditional to these sandwiches and the quesillo [shredded oax cheese] and instead of pickled chipotles we got more of a chipotle based salsa. Not so good.

>>Tejuino La Dona<<
This little Palapa set up next to the Pollos al Carbon puts out a Tejuino that rivals that of Honey Bananas in National. Not one overpowering flavor, fresh key lime juice - very, very refreshing.

>>Dulceria Raspados<<
MA treated me to my first raspado - in this interesting Dulceria/Tiendita. I had the ciruehla con coco. The combination of a fresh plum based syrup and creamy grated coconut over shaved ice is unbelievable in 90 degree weather. I foresee many of these in my future.

>> Mariscos Acapulco<<
I was pretty KOed by this point but the unstoppable MA pressed on and I followed suit. Here MA had an artfully presented ceviche tostada. I started talking to the wife of the owner at a neighboring table about the menu. They have some really intriguing camarones dishes, like shrimp with a pineapple, cream sauce, & camarones culichi in a poblano cream. Even pescado Veracruzana. Then she mentioned they are famous for their oysters - they brought out 2. You will not believe how gigante these oysters from the Sol Azul in Baja are! Amazing. MA ordered a half dozen and I helped him with 2. Sweet, meaty, and a salty finish. Seriously some of the best oysters I have had - and this is coming from someone who works at a fish market. MA even took the largest shell home - seriously almost as long as the plate. This place must be looked into further.

Again, thank you MA for one of the best days of Mexican eating in SD ever.

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  1. OH YEAH! I need to meet this MA(N). This outing feels just like you KR. The oysters are the show stoppers from the sound of it. You can't make it through the summer without raspados, kid.
    What/where was your favorite salsa?
    Thanks for another cool post.

    1 Reply
    1. Wow, sounds awesome. Sorry I couldn't be there, but not *that* sorry. ;-)

      1. I was pretty amazed by the deep red color of the salsa served at Acapulco. The salsas at La fachada are def. worth tasting. The grandma was grill tomatillos and tomatoes for them infront of us. Lot of veg at Facada too - cukes, escabeche, radishes, cebollitas etc.

        MA documented the whole trip with his killer photography - he is going to contribute soon. He sent me some info on Sol Azul oysters - really cool!

        La Fachada
        20 25th St, San Diego, CA 92102

        2851 Imperial Ave, San Diego, CA 92102

        31 31ST ST, SAN DIEGO, CA 92102

        1 Reply
        1. re: kare_raisu

          Great stuff KR. I can't wait to see The Assasin's photos.

        2. Sounds like you met your match! :-) Sorry I couldn't make it - just another reminder of how much stuff is out there waiting to be discovered!

          1. Yes Indeed KR it’s always a pleasure to dine with someone who shares the passion for Mexican Cusine. I’m amazed how well you capture your experiences.

            I love La Fachada this is my favorite spot for Gorditas and Mulitas.

            What’s not to love?
            Ample covered outdoor seating
            Family owned and operated
            They take credit cards
            Adobada off the spit
            Handmade tortillas
            Agua frescas
            Outdoor grill with complimentary frijoles de la olla, and much more

            Alex your awesome description of the Gordita makes me crave more. I just love the whole vibe of the place. La Fachada Truck will always be in heavy in rotation for me.

            The La Fachada Truck

            Abuelas Grill. The grill had way more in effect in the afternoon
            (This picture was taken at an earlier date in the morning)

            KR’s Gordita de Tripa before he tore it up :

            Inside Gordita de Adobada

            Carnitas Taco

            It’s always exciting to try something new and when KR suggested Cemitas Poblanes I was very interested. Although we both agreed the sandwich at Lucy’s was not the best, I’m still very interested in finding another spot that makes these.


            Lucy’s Menu

            Cemitas Poblanes

            Cemitas Poblanes Inside

            I’ve been meaning to try Tejuino, and on a hot day like Sunday it was a perfect choice. Defiantly refreshing. It was also cool to watch the vendor at Tejuino La Dona mix these up.


            We were pretty stuffed by the time we hit Mariscos Acapulco but we didn’t want to miss the opportunity to sample some goods so we pressed on.

            Most notable here is definitely the Sol Azul Oysters; in fact whenever I roll down Imperial I must try these again.
            The size is deceiving in the picture; they look so much bigger in person. I have one of the shells sitting on my desk and it dwarfs my stapler.

            I did some research on these oysters. The seeding and infancy stage take place in Manuela Lagoon, county of Ensenada. The oysters are then moved to a second 400 acre farm located in San Ignacio Lagoon, county of Mulegé, in the intertidal zone of El Cardón estuary, for the maturation process.

            If it wasn’t for KR being so outgoing with the proprietors I would have totally missed these oysters. I was busy stuffing dollars into the jukebox.

            Here is the deep red salsa, it was very tasty

            Sorry I didn’t get any good pics of the raspados, I’m still learning things on this new camera. I love Imperial Ave. There is so much more to discover here. Thanks again KR can’t wait for the next crawl.

            4 Replies
            1. re: Masa Assassin

              Oh man, those are some fantastic pictures. I'm salivating here looking at them and am so jealous.

              1. re: Masa Assassin

                Great photos - I think between KR's descriptions and your photo's you should publish a guide book to authentic mexican eating in SD! Your are Chowdown beasts. Thanks for all the great info so we can bravely venture out ourselves.

                  1. re: Masa Assassin

                    Great photos. Great reports. Damn that stuff looks good!