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Some San Diego Mexican Notes

1. In the place of Birrias: Chivos & Cheves Imperial Ave. Locale there will be a new restaurant called: "Gorditas El Refugio: Sabor a Guadalajara Jalisco" 2709 Imperial Ave. Yes! We will have are own Gorditas specialist restaurant to rank among a Menuderia, Pozoleria, 2 Birrierias, Carniteria, 2 Cenadurias, 3 Borrego outfits.

They will be open starting Monday from 12 -9 daily with gorditas frita, and a la plancha as well as reknowned Jaliciense Flautas.

2. Rompope is back at El Paisa, MA

3. Guerreran BBq chicken can be had weekends next to Tamales Chiapeneco on Market st. and 25th

4, There is a Tijuana Hot Dog stand In between the MG truck and Super cocina evenings. Times unknown,

5. Aqui es texcoco will soon be offering Lamb enchiladas, and sopes with barbacoa.

6. Just had another Licuado de Mamey at Fruitlandia. Go get one

7. I attended the Baja Event at the Mingei Museum last night and found out that another Alta cocina restaurant will be crossing the border from TJ to Eastlake called Baja Kuche.
The chef is only 23 years old and everything I tried was excellent. www.bajakuche.com

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  1. When I lived in San Diego County (Leucadia actually) I used to eat fried fish tacos and burritos all over the place. The best ones were in Encinitas at a place I'd have to research to remember .but...YUM!!!!

    1. Great news all around what a great report! Thank You

      Perhaps El Paisa got tired of me complaining about no more Rompope! Did you try it yet KR?

      Gorditas El Refugio sounds like a winner lets go this week

      A TJ Hotdog cart are you kidding me?

      Also FYI Their was an article in in the Tribune Friday the Escondidos Swap Meets future is in question, the owners of the parcel have asked the city to change its land-use designation so it could be used for commercial development. We need to keep an eye on that perhaps Fiesta Oaxaquena will be relocating?

      3 Replies
      1. re: Masa Assassin

        Hey there - Just wondering if either of you have eaten at Oaxaca in LA (Santa Monica Blvd. near Butler)? I was mixing an album near there and ended up going every day. Pretty darn good....I wish we had it here in NYC. I'd be there today eating pozole rojo. Take care..EJ

        1. re: EmoryJ

          Ive ate at Antequera de Oaxaca and guelaguetza

        2. re: Masa Assassin

          I did try the Rompope! I loved the spicy finish. Good thing its available only once in a while - its a rich unique treat! Liquid Flan!!!! The owner Cesar is fantastic - we where a few dollars short - he spotted us and even brang over a horchata. What a great guy...

          You let me know and I will be there with you at El Refugio!

          Re. Swap meet - I remember the same thing happening a few years back. I think it will be ok. For the Mexican commmunity in Escondido - its a pillar of their society there. Fiesta was just in El Latino weekly

        3. We'll be seeing many more places like Baja Kuche, as the chef's school in TJ is really investing in the Baja Med, and Alta Cocina movement in Northern Baja.

          Masa and KR, Tijuana style hot dogs?You nacos.

          Great report on the scene north of the border.

          1. What makes a Tijuana hot dog different than any other?

            10 Replies
            1. re: mimosa

              What we call the TJ style dog is the bacon wrapped hotdog with chopped tomatoes, grilled chopped onions, ketchup,mayo,and a chile toreado on the side.This hot dog is found all over Mexico, and wasn't necessarily invented in TJ, but we call it the TJ hot dog here in SoCal because its a fixture on La Revo, every corner practically.It's the most encountered street food of San Diego club kids, college students, and tourists by day.

              1. re: streetgourmetla

                Add... It pisses EatNopal off when they are referred to as Tijuana Dogs because their birthplace is well established... a nameless Hot Dog car in Mexico City's Parque de la Alameda began serving Bacon Wrapped Dogs with all the trimmings in 1956 for employees of the newly christened Torre Latinoamericana (Mexico's first real skyscraper)... sort of a Chilango flip-off to Manhattan. =)

                Incidentally, the Hot Dog was first introduced to Mexico in the mid 40's by an American entrepreneur who purchased a concession stand at the Plaza Mexico bull ring (at the time the biggest spectacle in Mexican entertainment).

              2. re: mimosa

                Its par-boiled in the TJ river :^)

                1. re: kare_raisu

                  Thanks for the explanation! When we're down in Mexico, we generally gravitate toward street tacos so I've never tried a hot dog there. We'll have to check out the cart on University.

                2. re: mimosa

                  What makes it different is that the flavor comes from the condiments. It is as bland a dog as an unspiced chicken dog. Boring without the add ons.

                  1. re: ensenadajim

                    That's a "Swanky Franky" in Texas and Oklahoma. Bet it was a Texan who took it South of the Border. Some reverse revenge.

                    1. re: pickypicky

                      University Ave between 35th & 38th (from west to east) is becoming a Mexican food hotbed. Besides the aforementioned Hot Dog and Churros carts you'll also find:

                      1) German Tacos de Mariscos (well known on these boards)- Excellent marlin tacos, decent fish tacos.

                      2) A street tacos cart (red/white canopy) on Wilson off University, open on weekends at night, behind the laundry mat where they serve carne asada and adobada tacos ($2 each served on a "regular" size tortilla).

                      3) El Paisano Market sometimes has their taco truck there also (though I'm not exactly sure what kind of tacos they sell).

                      4) Izcalli Taco Shop - decent carne asada burritos (though my personal favorite is Rudy's in Solana Beach where they use "arracherra" steak, more of what I am used to for their carne asada).

                      5) A Chowhound and San Diego staple – Super Cocina.

                      6) Las Morelianas Carnitas (I respectfully prefer Super Cocina's carnitas).

                      7) Frutilandia – Love their "escamoches" and fruit salads.

                      8) La Costa de Nayarit (Mariscos, not my personal favorite but nonetheless decent)

                      9) Cenaduria inside La Costa de Nayarit (if you are facing the restaurant its on the right-hand side of the building) haven't tried it yet but they have the usual Mexican dishes such as tostadas, tacos, enchiladas, etc. and they set up a grill just outside the door and grill carne asada tacos. They also have a tacos cart inside where they serve birria tacos.

                      10) There is a small Mexican bakery with the usual fare.

                      11) Tortillas El Trigal - In my opinion, the best flour tortillas in San Diego.

                      12) A small tamale cart outside of a Mexican gift store.

                      Just pointing out that although these are not all the best places in town (though, Super Cocina is in my personal "Top Five" places in town) you do get a chance to experience Mexico in a unique way.

                      1. re: avagax

                        Avagax, I noticed in your profile that you listed a roadside stand in Michoacan as one of your favorite places for carnitas. It wouldn't happen to be Carnitas Aeropuerto in Zamora would it?

                        1. re: DiningDiva

                          I don't remember, it was maybe 10-12 years ago on a car trip from Mexico City to Guadalajara, close to Morelia.

                        2. re: avagax

                          Totally agree I’ve probably been spending more time on University Ave then Imperial and Highland Ave combined. If you extended your radius east you can add Panchitas bakery, and La Barbacoa (off Fairmount Ave) too the list.

                          The Top notch of this area Super Cocina, MG, and La Barbacoa. I have not checked out the Cenaduria inside La Costa de Nayarit yet. I have tried Mariscos at La Costa de Nayarit and I was disappointed. It’s not a bad place to have a bucket of beers and watch Live Banda on Sunday nights.

                          I tried Izcalli based on recommendation of the churrero at Churros El Tigre. I was pretty much stuffed when I went in so I just ordered a few tacos. Perhaps next time I will try one of their specialties
                          Mole Pablano
                          Pozole
                          Menudo
                          Pescado Frito
                          The tacos were lacking

                          Like you said not all the best but a great variety of regional choices. I can’t get enough of Churros El Tigre I keep going back nothing beats hot dough right out of the fryer. Here is the churrero in action http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IUMI6p...

                  2. More Notes:

                    1. El Rodeo - a Sinaloan Steakhouse and cantina with live banda sinaloense and nortenho music will be opening shortly in downtown Chula Vista

                    2. Talavera Azul just down the street has been opened for 3 months - its affliated with La Espadana in Tijuana. I looked at the menu for breakfast and lunch. A lot is dissapointing with the overwhelming sandwiches and salads - but they do offer some specialities - red, green or mole chilaquiles, machaca, sopes, enchiladas, huevos rancheros,

                    3. I had a fantastic cup of coffee from D'volada - the baja based coffee chain which has locations in dwntwn and palomar in CV. Best I've had in a long time outside of my house - even better than what Ive been getting lately at Peets.

                    1. So I checked out the hot dog cart on University that place is out of control. I rolled up around 700pm looking to check out the Bacon wrapped hotdogs by the time I left I had………

                      2 Bacon Wrapped Hotdogs $2.00 Each
                      1 Large Elote $1.50
                      Fried Bananas-Platanos Machos topped with lechera $1.00
                      1 bag of churros $1.00

                      Yes I know guilty pleasures …..

                      Basically they have 2 carts setup side by side one cranks out hot dogs and Elote the other churros and platanos. The churros and platanos cart is their 7 days a week from 6-9pm The Elote and Hot Dogs available on weekends only.

                      The Churros are wonderful and made to order. The platanos are also on the mark and you have your choice of topping sugar or lechera. The Elote is prepared offsite and is kept warm. When you place your order the elote is topped with mayonnaise, butter, cotija, lime and chile.

                      The Hot Dogs were my least favorite of the Four. The problem with the Hot Dogs is they are not grilled on site. They are kept warm and upon ordering they add all the essentials. This also means the onions are not grilled. The buns are ok but not like the Bimbo Buns down south (get your mind out of the gutter).

                      I imagine because of regulations they cannot grill outside. They are also not allowed on the sidewalk therefore they actually rent a tiny piece of real estate from the tire shop.

                      This spot is definitely worth checking out especially for your churro fix.

                      5 Replies
                      1. re: Masa Assassin

                        I know part of the allure of these dogs is the context in which it is purchased and consumed and they always seem a little better SOB ;-). Did you know you can easily make your own at home with a flat bottom skillet? Bimbo Bread is widely available around these parts, you don't even have to cross the border to get it.

                        1. re: DiningDiva

                          I just may have to make these at home. I wonder if Rosarito brand hotdogs and bacon are also available here?

                          1. re: sacotz

                            Mariscos truck on East side feeder road of 54th at Redwood (92105) South of University has the hot dogs.
                            {I have not tried any, I get cocteles whenever I am there}

                        2. re: Masa Assassin

                          Awesome! Thanks for the logisitics of the cart too! Great to know Elotes are served here - I wonder why they are not more common in SD? The fact they offer plantains is super cool.

                          I wonder if they have a name? :^)

                          1. re: kare_raisu

                            Yeah its not easy finding Elote vendors. The cart does have a name "Churros El Tigre". I took some pictures but they did not come out that great. Im craving those churros again :P

                        3. I checked out El Refugio with Josh and a friend the other night. Everything was tasty that I had - the gorditas are exceptionally delicate and similar to those that I have had in Guadalajara.

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: kare_raisu

                            Great to hear I would love to here more detail when you have time.

                          2. Churros El Tigre on University is no longer available. I went by a few times the last few weeks and no one in site. The guy that runs the auto shop El Tigre was located, is baffled. He said so many people are stopping by wondering what happened. Even the auto shop guy misses the churros.

                            Perhaps with all the coverage on boards and youtube he made enough to retire ha-ha. I asked him if it was ok to give him coverage and he said yes he was licensed so I doubt he was shut down.

                            Oh well I hope he makes it back.

                            1. Three words (especially for those in North County)-- Escondido Swap Meet. Not to mention great produce there, too.

                              1. Agua de Alfalfa is available at Fruitlandia currently - I had some today and its my favorite of their aguas.

                                When you go to Aqui es Texcoco dont forget to ask for sesos with fresh epazote from their little garden - its one of their secret menu items. As is their "carne en su jugo"

                                El Trigal just down the street from Super Cocina continues to make the best flour tortllas I have had in San Diego in the Sinaloan tradition.

                                Northgate is offering now Argentine cuts of beef. I bought some outer skirt steak and morcilla argentina blood sausage this morning. Check it out - they also have the famous 'rose meat' aka suadero in the case.

                                10 Replies
                                1. re: kare_raisu

                                  Can you describe the agua de alfalfa?

                                  I had agua de chilacayote at El Tejate, and that is the most interesting flavor I've tasted in an agua fresca. It tasted a little like pumpkin spice, but also fruity.

                                  1. re: jasont

                                    It has a pleasant grassy mildly sweet flavor - super refreshing. You can buy the chilacoyote squash at Northgate along with the piloncillo for the agua. What did you get at El Tejate?

                                    1. re: kare_raisu

                                      We tried the tlayuda, mole enchiladas, mole empanada and squash flower empanada. We really liked the mole enchiladas, their mole is one of the better ones I've tasted. There's something about the tlayuda, it has a smoky flavor to me that I crave. The empanadas were good too, they were much lighter than the deep fried empanadas I've had (Super Cocina: but I like those too). They were more like quesadillas and they are huge.

                                      I tried googling for an aqua de chilacayote recipe and came up empty. Do you know how to make it?

                                      1. re: jasont

                                        "The empanadas were good too, they were much lighter than the deep fried empanadas I've had"

                                        What they call Empanadas in Oaxaca is pretty much exactly to what is called a Quesadilla in Mexico State. Both terms are sloppy Spanish names (These Quesdillas often don't have any cheese... an these emPANadas almost never contain wheat flour)... these bizarre naming conventions are the result of forcing Spanish names on dishes that as recent as 100 years ago were exlusively referred to by their indigenous names.

                                        1. re: jasont

                                          BTW, it looked like they are now serving tejate at El Tejate. The last time we were there a family came in just for massive chocolatey-looking drinks. I was going to ask (and order one) but first my kids distracted me and then I was so full (mole, tlayuda, molotes, horchata w/ tuna and an empanada will do that) I decided to wait.

                                    2. re: kare_raisu

                                      Any Agua de Chia seeds show up in The SD yet?

                                      http://chia.typepad.com/photos/uncate...

                                      1. re: Eat_Nopal

                                        I bought the seeds last year at Northgate Gonzalez, along with a lemonade-chia beverage. But it was not in April. I want to say more like October or November.

                                        1. re: Eat_Nopal

                                          seeds are at Northgate. Last time I had the drink was at San Juan Dios/

                                        2. re: kare_raisu

                                          Is it beef from Argentina? Or simply Argentine-style cuts?

                                          1. re: Josh

                                            Its argentine cuts though the sausage is from Argentina - morcilla and chorizo. There are some interesting cuts for sure.

                                        3. Asada Express has just opened in the strip mall just to the South of Texcoco in Chula Vista.

                                          It has the feel of the Sonoran beef specialists in the Zona Rio of TIjuana but in a much more expedited way.