HOME > Chowhound > San Diego >


Best Mexican in Hillcrest or Anywhere

There was a thread discussing best Mexican food and I remember a spot in Hillcrest mentioned many times. I have searched but can't find it. I'm not set on Hillcrest, willing to travel but would love a great dinner. Now, how hard can that be in San Diego? I'm not interest in taco shops-- looking for a restaurant experience.

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. Probably, Super Cocina on 3627 University.


    1 Reply
    1. re: cstr

      Ah, that does sound familiar! Thanks!

    2. How are you defining restaurant experience?

      Super Cocina is, indeed, quite good but it's in City Heights and service is from a steamtable. The place is very informal and bare bones.

      El Comal is a sit down Mexican restaurant in North Park (Illionois off Uni)

      Ranchos at 30th and Uni does vegetarian Mexican and is a sit down (rather funky) restaurant. I , personally, don't care for the food at Ranchos but many do.

      El Take It EZ on 30th just north of University puts a Baja/D.F. spin on most of their menu, but it's more of a bar/loung with a good menu than a restaurant

      Mama Testa is actually in Hillcrest and they offer both counter and table service, but it's an all tacos menu.

      Ortega's is also in Hillcrest on University between 2nd and 1st and is a sit down restaurant with table service, a bar and pretty decent margaritas. Puerto Nuevo style lobster is the specialty.

      1. Agree with previous rec on Super Cocina for excellent steam table food (downscale ambience). Cafteria style serving offset by generous samples of day's dishes. Ortega's is a good sit-down Mexican restaurant. Gordon Ramsay was said to have eaten here recently while visiting San Diego.

        2 Replies
        1. re: sandiegomike

          How else can you keep slow cooked braised food warm? A steamtable! so what, it has nothing to do with the quality of the food or the love that goes into it..

          1. re: sandiegomike

            "Gordon Ramsay was said to have eaten here recently while visiting San Diego."

            Ortegas or Super Cocina?

          2. I love Super Cocina but "informal" and "downscale" are vastly overstating the so-called ambience. I think "dumpy taco stand" every time I go there....but damn the food (and the service) is fantastic.

            15 Replies
            1. re: MrKrispy

              There's also El Cuervo over on Washington, around 1st I think. It's only a semi-dumpy taco stand, but with really good carnitas.

              1. re: DiningDiva

                You know, I used to dig El Cuervo, but I went a few weeks ago and it seemed to have gone way downhill. I swore I wouldn't go again...it was that bad.

                I got the Carnitas also.

                Have you been recently?

                1. re: stevewag23

                  No, I have to admit, I haven't been to El Cuervo for a while.

                  1. re: stevewag23

                    Really? What did you have? I was there a couple months ago and liked it.

                    1. re: keena

                      "I got the Carnitas also."

                      And a quesadilla con guac.

                      Carnitas were dry and burnt.

                      quesadilla con guac was off too.

                      Not sure what happened.

                      1. re: stevewag23

                        El Cuervo's bean, rice and cheese burritos and El Cuervo burritos have stayed pretty consistent over the years.

                        1. re: daantaat

                          I got the carnitas burrito. That is what sucked the most.

                          Have you been there recently?

                          1. re: stevewag23

                            We go all the time, but we get bean/rice burritos.

                            1. re: Josh

                              Please say it isn't so.

                              Rice in a burrito?

                              Josh, Josh, ....... Josh.

                              1. re: Fake Name

                                If you don't eat commodity meat your options are few.

                                I actually made my own carne asada burritos recently w/ grass-fed beef and proper burrito-sized tortillas from Northgate. You'll be pleased to note that all they had in them was meat, guacamole, and salsa fresca.

                                It was my first CAB in probably 3 years.

                                  1. re: Josh

                                    You should start slinging those out of a food truck.

                                    1. re: stevewag23

                                      Miho already does that, actually.

                                    2. re: Josh

                                      Josh, what do you suppose your burritos cost to make? I'm betting a CAB from Sergio's and the like probably costs about $2.00, all in- ingredients, fixed costs, everything.

                                      To sling them off a truck as Steve suggested (I'll have them park in front of our house and make the kitchen a moto shop) I'll bet one would have to sell tham for over $10?

                                      I'd pay.

                                1. re: stevewag23

                                  I'm there once a week b/c it's on my way back to the office. Because I'm eating in the car, my options are limited to something I can hold in one hand and not drip all over myself. Hence, I rotate between the machacha burrito, El Cuervo burrito and bean/cheese/rice (yes, rice!) burritos. I tried the grilled chicken burrito once and got sour cream all over myself.

                    2. If you want ambiance, then El Agave, Candelas, or El Vitral might fit the bill. But if food is your primary destination, then go for Super Cocina, which is fairly close to Hillcrest. Or, if you want to taste the absolute best carne asada ever, then go to Tacos El Gordo in National City.

                      4 Replies
                      1. re: jmtreg

                        Speaking of Mexican food, I keep passing this Mariscos truck on Texas Street on the way to Mission Valley - so its either on the corner of Texas and Mission or Texas and Monroe - has anyone tried this mariscos truck? Is it any good?

                        1. re: jmtreg

                          What time is it there. I'm past those intersections a lot & haven't noticed a truck. Then again, I wasn't really looking either

                          1. re: DiningDiva

                            I'm not sure of the hours, but I seem to pass it every time I drive to Mission Valley, so weekend days.

                            1. re: jmtreg

                              Ah, that could explain it. My travel on Texas St. is more frequntly on the week days.Thanks.

                      2. I had to get some car work done up in Kearny Mesa recently and the shop was next to Super Sergios. Cabeza tacos off the charts good and for only 4.50 I think for 4 grandes. Maybe not the best in town but they're pretty damn good.

                        Las Cuatro Milpas is another good spot. I don't know if it is so good though to warrant the line down the street but I've found the rolled tacos to significantly help with hangovers.

                        1. The OP may have been thinking of Chilangos? If so, Chilangos is, regrettably, no more.

                          1. In Hillcrest there is Ortega's that is Puerto Nuevo style Mexican, El Agave in Old Town for upscale Mexican and if I was going to go to Candelas, I'd choose the Coronado location.

                            Super Cocina is great, but it is a counter serve restaurant, not a waiter service place. Not a "dumpy taco stand" since those don't have indoor seating generally, but there is no ambiance, just good food.

                            1. In Bonita section of Chula Vista, can't go wrong with Los Arcos or Romesco's.

                              1. Other Hillcrest/Bankers Hill/North Park spots not yet mentioned:
                                Barrio Star: 2706 5th Ave San Diego, CA 92103
                                Which is hipster sit down spot that I would try for Happy Hour first.
                                Jimmy Carter's Mexican Cafe: 3172 Fifth Ave. (5th & Spruce) San Diego, California 92103
                                This spot is often over looked. Good for breakfast (Huevos Rancheros "Jalisco Style" adds chorizo). They also have a full bar and do a Happy Hour but the place is decidedly more restaurant than bar.
                                Carnitas Snack Shack: 2632 University Ave San Diego, CA 92104
                                A walk up spot with cool patio dining in the back. No booze, but a sustainable take on torta fare

                                In the immediate area Mama Testa, Jimmy's, Carnitas Snack Shack, & El Comal are the only places worth eating at. In Kearny Mesa: Super Sergios (drive through goodness), City Heights: Super Cocina, Logan Heights: Las Cuartro Milpas (Chorizo con Huevo there is no substitute). After that you may as well head to Chula Vista, but that is a different thread.

                                8 Replies
                                1. re: Charlie SanDiego

                                  Sorry Charlie, but Jimmy Carter's was absolutely dreadful the last time I was there, which was about a year ago. Unless they've had a chef change, I don't foresee going back there ever...it was that bad

                                  1. re: DiningDiva

                                    Wow!I would have agreed with you years ago when they first took the menu over to the old Panchitas location on Washington. However since they brought in the current chef, it has been more than adequate to keep me from driving south more than once a week :-). While I would say you have to cherry pick the menu (certain stews, pork & cheese relleno for example),I haven't had a plate THAT bad. How about I take you there for lunch. If it sucks, I pay.

                                    1. re: DiningDiva

                                      The owner told me they have "the best carne asada in all of san diego".

                                      1. re: stevewag23

                                        Jimmy is a funny guy. He grew up in the neighborhood and was a friend of my father's in highschool. That being said, I don't think he gets out enough to back that statement up. Apart from the Diva's near death experience, I stand by my statement the restaurant holds its own in the neighborhood, but not in a city wide comparison by any stretch.

                                        1. re: stevewag23

                                          The best carne asada in all of San Diego is found at Tacos El Gordo. But, of course, we're not talking about taco shops in this thread.

                                          1. re: jmtreg

                                            I've had the carne asada at Tacos El Gordo in National City and didn't think it was anything special. The Adobada however is outstanding.

                                            1. re: mliew

                                              Went to the one on Palm Ave yesterday and agree that the Adobada was much better than the Carne, which I found a little too salty. The Lengua was very good, too.

                                    2. Finally made it to Super Cocina. I wish someone had told me to take a real fork because 'working through' the chile relleno was a joke with the plastic. The Chile Colorado on the other hand was so damn good I practically forgot about my rellano adventure.

                                      1 Reply
                                      1. re: ian langdon

                                        Good point, you're allowed to take more than one fork... glad you liked the chow, it's awesome and a deal.