Instead of bailiffs and judges, Jose’s Courtroom brims with surfers and sunbathers from nearby beaches, their hair still damp with saltwater and their flip-flops dusted in a thin layer of sand. The decades-old La Jolla institution draws beach bums, businesspeople, and tourists alike with its colorful cocktails and menu of Mexican favorites. Chef Jose Rodriguez puts almost 20 years of experience to work as he folds meats and seafood into tacos, burritos, and enchiladas. He stuffs burritos with tender chicken, juicy steak, and plump shrimp along with generous scoops of fresh salsa and guacamole.
At ceramic-tile tabletops out in the boisterous dining room, diners nibble on chips and salsa and clink glasses of margaritas and bottles of Mexican beer. On the covered front patio, meanwhile, others enjoy the warm summer air, watching the sun set over the Cove. On the weekends, this festive eatery hosts dance parties, when DJs play popular music videos on the flat-screen televisions. The same flat-screen televisions also broadcast live sports, from action-packed football games to football games where they just kind of stand there and watch the clock wind down.
The guacamole at Cozymel's Mexican Grill is made tableside, combining fresh ingredients such as Hass avocados, tomatoes, onions, garlic, and Serrano peppers. That's why it's so good.?It's an artfully-executed dish, just like many of the options found at the Mexican eatery, like the slow-roasted pork in verde salsa, or the seared burrito. Fresh seafood dishes also abound, ranging from chili-rubbed shrimp skewers to a platter of fish tacos, and the bartenders mix margaritas in myriad flavors, such as habanero and pomegranate.
Commercial pilots certified by the Federal Aviation Administration welcome guests to tours of Southern California aboard hot air balloons. As guests enter into sheared baskets, the pilots offer them complimentary champagne and non-alcoholic beverages before taking off. Sightseeing trips include flights over Temecula Wine Country at sunrise as well as romantic rides along the Pacific coast at sunset.
Sure, diners could make tacos at home, by ripping open a packet of premixed spices and heating up some factory-made tortillas. Or they could take a drive to Las Olas Mexican Restaurant, where nothing is ever pre-made, where everything on the menu is crafted the traditional way: from scratch and with local and organic ingredients whenever possible. In 1981, owners Dave Murphey and Pete Johnson opened the first location of Las Olas Mexican Restaurant, an homage to the eateries they enjoyed as they grew up, surfing on Mexican beaches. They claim to have brought the first fish taco stateside, and strive to serve similarly tasty and healthful fare. Whether enjoying a traditional Mexican dish such as tostadas or crisp chimichangas, or one of the specialties, such as shrimp tacos or seafood enchiladas, diners rest easy knowing that as they eat, their carbon footprint is shrinking without subjecting their foot to laser liposuction. The seafood served is sustainable, and all paper products are recycled.
For Barrio Star's owner and chef, Isabel Cruz, her Latino family's large, frequent gatherings have always revolved around food. She taught herself how to cook with help of friends and family from Puerto Rico, Cuba, and Mexico—and growing up in Los Angeles, she was also influenced by Japanese, Korean, and Thai flavors. Today, she infuses her global, modern recipes into five eateries spanning two states. Within the vibrantly painted, chandelier-lit confines of Barrio Star, she incorporates unexpected influences into the menu of Mexican soul food; wild blackened-salmon tacos are adorned with thai slaw, pineapple, jicama slaw, and chipotle aioli, as well as cilantro and lime. Coconut permeates her Brazil bowl, loaded with rice, black beans, mango salsa, steamed greens, and a choice of meat. Isabel chooses local, organic ingredients whenever possible to forge her modern, healthier versions of traditional dishes. Her chefs make all the salsas from scratch, rather than rehydrating astronaut salsa, and hand press tortillas from just-ground corn.
Twenty-four hours a day, Sagauro’s Mexican Food loads plates with heaping portions of authentic Mexican street fare, including rolled taquitos, chicken tacos, and chili rellenos. Diners choose from a lengthy menu above the ordering counter that details burritos stuffed 15 different ways, six types of tacos, and house-made menudo—a traditional Mexican soup—on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays. The eatery also serves breakfast burritos and entrees such as huevos rancheros every hour of every day, every minute of every hour, and every second of every minute for a total of 86,400,000,000,000 nanoseconds.