CENTER CUT Parrilla Mexicana's founder and owner Javier Lugo has always enjoyed steakhouses, whether in his native Southern California or throughout Mexico. He wanted to create his own flavors inspired by south-of-the-border steakhouses, so he opened his own restaurant alongside his chef Adrian De Leon. Now CENTER CUT prepares prime cuts of beef with the spices and flavors found in authentic Mexican cooking, even using a special house salt to season the meat, paired with sides such as beans and roasted corn. The restaurant offers superior cuts throughout the week, but has specials on certain steaks on certain days, such as porterhouse steaks on Monday and tri-tip on Tuesday.
Though traditional recipes form over centuries, the chefs at El Toro Grill Taqueria have managed to perfectly replicate the juicy tacos of Mexico in less than the 20 years they've been in business. They start with two corn tortillas, fill them with seasoned meats cut from a spit, and then sprinkle toppings of traditional cilantro and onions. Customers, however, are the ones who get to decide how spicy to make their dish. They can add as much of the house's biting salsas from the bowls located on every table in the dining room and on the sunny, colorful patio. The chefs also create everything from burritos and chimichangas to mexican hot dogs and carne asada fries.
At Casa Don Diego Restaurant, it's not uncommon to overhear grandparents reminiscing about their favorite moments at the restaurant. Grandchildren lean in closer for a better listen to stories that, undoubtedly, find their way back to the food. Called an "old-school Mexican gathering spot" by the San Diego Reader, Casa Don Diego has been filling empty Chula Vista bellies since 1969. Today, the restaurant introduces new generations to its fresh chicken and beef fajitas, and arrachera steak served on a hot skillet with charro, or cowboy-style beans. When hints of spices begin to sneak up, of-age patrons can douse the flames by belly-flopping into 72-ounce margarita pitchers.