As a New Yorker expose details, chef Javier Plascencia believes in the transformative power of food. The piece describes how in Tijuana, he strove to redefine the city's culinary paradigm with his gourmet food, made exclusively with, as he says, materia prima, or ingredients sourced strictly within 120 miles of the restaurant. He did it, too. In the process, he gained the respect and business of famed chef Anthony Bourdain. After moving to the U.S., he opened Romesco using the same cooking philosophies he prescribed to south of the border, and was recently hailed by Zagat for his skill and innovation and named Chef of the Year by San Diego Eater.
Named Best Mexican restaurant and one of the Top 10 best restaurants by San Diego Magazine Romesco's culinary slate is solidly grounded in Mexican cuisine, but Chef Plascencia has accented his dishes with Mediterranean flavors and cooking techniques. The cuisine is derived from all corners of the globe, from traditional tapas to fettuccini alfredo and baja California lobster ravioli. The carefully selected vintages on the wine list pair with the menu's diverse flavors, especially on Wednesdays when the restaurant also serves Italian dishes with half off wine bottles. On Friday and Saturday, the restaurant stays open late to accommodate night owls, serving tapas until 11:30 and, on every last Saturday of the month, hosting live flamenco music. From 3-7, there are also happy hours?named after what a round trip to the moon will be like in 2060.
Across the street from the rolling greens of the Chula Vista Municipal Golf Course, chefs artfully prepare grilled seafood, charred ribs, hearty steaks, and decadent Mexican dishes. The flavors of the menu reflect its vast variety, offering everything from Mexican-style french toast and breakfast burritos to salmon topped with guayaba sauce, chicken smothered in mole sauce, and steak stuffed with shrimp. Keeping the mood festive, servers pour tasty libations such as frosty margaritas, bubbly brews, fine wines, and tasty spirits into tall glasses or even taller top hats.
The founders of La Casa Blanca Mexican Restaurant understand that grandmothers know best, so they've stocked their menu with recipes straight from their abuelita. These recipes call for hand-made tortillas, which chefs cook right in the dining room so visitors can see and to send a stern message to delinquent ears of corn. The shareable asaderos special invites twosomes to a tabletop grill to assemble their own tacos with sizzling meats, rice, beans, guacamole, and tortillas. As diners conquer generous servings of carnitas and chicken quesadillas, they can admire the dining room's bright pottery, flourishing plants, and stucco walls with hand-painted details that give the space an authentic air.
It’s called La Torta Cafe for a reason. Tortas are the specialty here, dominating the menu in 39 different incarnations. There’s #13T on the menu, the Carne Asada Torta, filled with seasoned steak, cheddar cheese, avocado, and "The Works." The traditional thick torta rolls here might brim with more expected fillings, such as stuffed pasilla peppers, carne asada, marinated pork and pineapple, or breaded steak. They might also conceal less traditional deli fare, from tuna and melted cheddar to roast beef. Either way, there are also the quesadillas, tacos, and burritos that fill the best Mexican menus and the worst time capsules.
Beginning as a plucky, family-run eatery in 1993, Los Reyes Mexican Food has blossomed into a multilocation Mexican-fare fiefdom, enticing appetites with an impressive spread of pillowy burritos, fresh seafood, and savory marinated meats. Within the casual family-style eatery, chefs forge authentic Latin-inspired meals, such as mole-soused lengua and crispy carnitas and buche. Guests pair feasts of flaky fish, seasoned carne asada, and hearty sopes with freshly squeezed juice, rich smoothies, or cold glasses of creamy horchata.
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.