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Feb 4, 2012 03:02 PM

Top 10 Mexican Spots in SD...

So this guy worked here for a year and then left for better fodder up north. Before leaving, however, he wrote a series of articles about local Mexican spots, mostly taco shops (what else). Here's his Top 10 Mexican restos in SD -

Agree or not? I do not.

And sorry, Mr. FN, nary a mention of the famed Super Sergios :-(

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  1. Why would I care?

    It keeps the line in the drive thru from backing out to Convoy.

    1. His list makes about as much sense as Ron Paul's post-primary speech in New Hampshire.

      1. I personally love the list because it's there. I'm always wanting all the info I have gleaned from CH over the years in one handy compendium. So, if you disagree with the list, tell me why. Add something, subtract something. ( Oh, and does anyone know, has La Fachada rebuilt its outdoor venue?)

        7 Replies
        1. re: pickypicky

          My biggest gripe with the list is the author's inexplicable preference for intangibles to devise his ranking vs. food quality. I fail to see how sentimental value or ambience could elevate a place like Las Cuatros Milpas over all of the other, better, places in his list.

          The entry for Señor Mango's is a great example of what I'm talking about: "This should not be on this list. It’s just bread, cheese, avocado, lettuce and tomato." Why is this ranked as superior to Mariscos El Pescador?

          1. re: Josh

            Hey Josh,
            A beautiful thing about a personal blog is that the blog's author has an absolute right (within limits of the law) to follow principles and values of his own choosing. Emotion is a normative part of the culinary experience. To judge food in terms of its sentimental evocativeness is not aberrant. Moreover, there is no institutional body or even cultural consensus that specifies just how sentimental one may, or ought to, be when judging food.

            Your inability to explain the author's preference for intangibles is an expression of your own imaginative and conceptual limitations, rather than of his aberrant behavior vis-a-vis food blogging.

            So, I would guess that the author ranks Señor Mango's veggie sandwich above Mariscos El Pescador because, even if the food was not as "good", he enjoyed it more. Damn that's just crazy talk: using emotion to judge an emotional experience.

            1. re: notjustastomach

              Indeed, and a beautiful thing about free speech and internet discussion forums is that the reader has a right to have whatever opinion they wish about the author's work.

              I haven't participated in food judging, but I can tell you that the biggest reason for using blind tasting when it comes to beer judging is to avoid precisely those emotional connections and their influence on opinion. Coming from that background, I tend to view emotional criteria like ambience and sentimental value as wholly irrelevant when judging "Top Ten Mexican Meals".

              But what do I know? I'm just some guy with imaginative and conceptual limitations. In the future I'll be sure to run my comments by you to ensure they pass muster.

              1. re: Josh

                "But what do I know? I'm just some guy with imaginative and conceptual limitations."

                And don't forget your bias towards grass fed single sourced meats, so there!!

                1. re: cstr

                  Obviously that's just another manifestation of those limitations. ;-)

          2. re: pickypicky

            Picky, it's not necessarily a bad list and I posted it exactly because of the reason you cited, it's nice to have a list - good, bad or indifferent - in one place.

            Since Mexican food in all it's iterations is the cuisine that turns my personal crank the most, I can tell you what I don't like about his choices.

            1) No way on God's Green Earth should Los Cuatros Milpas be #1, further down the list is okay, but not #1. Their chorizo and eggs is good, very good, as is their table salsa but the rest of the menu, not so much.

            2) Mayahuel (up on Adams) is missing. Their mezcal selection is exceptionally good and I think their house mole is probably one of the best ones in SD. His quibble with Mayahuel was that their mole was so good, but the protein over which it was served was so average. While there is definitely some merit to the criticism, Mayahuel isn't about the protein on the plate. (BTW, Mayahuel is one of the pantheon of Mayan gods and goddesses and is credited with bringing Mezcal to Earth and the people in the form of the agave plant. The whole myth is pretty cool)

            3) Romescos BajaMed, is also missing from the list. It is not a taco shop - not even close - but in order to really begin to understand the depth and breadth of Mexican cuisine it helps to understand just how the same ingredients can be transformed into something quite different, but also still be Mexican. Additionally, Romescos underscores pretty well the fact that, other than an artificially created international demarcation, there isn't a huge difference geographically between either side of the border in terms of what can be grown and produced. How a restaurant chooses to work with the ingredients determines what's on the plate and Romescos does a pretty good job of straddlling the border and blending both.

            4) I'm not sure I'd rate Aqui es Texcoco higher than Super Cocina, and I'm not sure I'd rate SC as low as #4. SC is unique in SD and fills a niche not otherwise represented. He's right in his criticism that not everything works all the time there, but most of the time it does. The Mexican friends I've taken (or sent) there have all said it reminds them of what some family member cooks. And the author is right, the carnitas there are very good.

            5) El Señor Mango? Really?

            Josh is right when he says lists are nothing but someone subjective choices. But, I think very few people are really all that objective about food. Almost everyone from a very early age learns pretty quickly what they like, what they don't and develop preferences and biases towards food. After all, we all have to eat in order to survive, so we all have a very personal stake in what we eat to one extent or another.

            And that's what this list of Mexican places really guys' personal take on Mexican food in SD after living here for only a year. Some of it he got right, some of it he didn't, it really just represents what tasted good to him. The best Mexican food critic I've read in SD is Ed Bedford in the SD Reader. He's made some interesting finds in neighborhoods most of us don't frequent and given them exposure. He's right more times than not. I'd trust a list from him more than a guy who was only in town for a year or so ;-)

            1. re: DiningDiva

              Thanks, DD. I know you are very knowledgeable about Mexican cuisine-- and I value your amendments to the list. Thank you. That is exactly what I wanted! I must say I have to agree with Josh just a little and the arbitrariness of the choices. I'm trying very hard not to be a curmudgeon when it comes to bumptious young buckeroos who think they can be an expert on something just because they want to be. (ie because they write a blog) The older I get the more I realize how little I know about everything, including Mexican food, even though I've been cooking from Diana Kennedy since the 1980s and eating Mexican food since then all over the US and Mexico. BUT I'm a sucker for a list, especially ones with photos. Thanks for making this thread truly useful! (And I hadn't even noticed that his list was rated. Thanks for pointing that out.)

          3. The guy's blog post dates to 2010. He himself said in his second sentence that writing it was ludicrous. Hasn't anything changed in the SD Mexican food scene since he wrote? Just curious.


            2 Replies
            1. re: cristina

              Not really. Still pretty much a fish taco and carne asada burrito mentality in town. Still taco shops on 3 corners our of 4. And anyone trying to do something other than that struggles because the perception is that what they're serving isn't "real" Mexican food.

              Puesto is about to open in La Jolla, upscale street food. That's about as adventurous as it gets around here.

              1. re: DiningDiva

                Puesto was recently covered in the Reader.
                It is supposed to open this Friday.

            2. Any top ten list is just opinion as is Chow.

              The blogger seems to have a preference towards taco stands, I don't think one was a waiter serve restaurant so how do you compare it to Romesco or even El Comal, Ortega's, etc.? Was there not one "Mexican" meal worth the top ten where you can sit down and be served?

              So like all such lists all it serves to do is stimulate a conversation about food and not much else.

              3 Replies
              1. re: scottca075

                Good point. It's not only arbitrarily ranked, but it also caters to an extremely narrow vision of Mexican food - though technically Aqui Es Texcoco does have table service.

                1. re: Josh

                  Well, hold on now- let's not get all Chow-ish on this. I think reviews and lists like these are great, and serve a lot more than just conversation.

                  I'll grant you, my taste standard is well below those of the average 'hound- but I learn from lists and opinions like these. I also appreciate the time and effort it took to share the information- it does not demand that I agree, nor does it demand that I consider it an authority. It's just one person's observation.

                  And I appreciate it.

                2. re: scottca075

                  La Playita will hand you the food over the counter if you are sitting at one of the seven barstools and they will bring your food to the three tables. You may or may not have to stand to order.