Adhering to the balanced energies of Feng Shui, the dining room at Iron Wok Asian Bistro is captivating in its blend of romance, whimsy, and chic décor. A giant fish tank and strings of hanging lights illuminate the dining room, casting a warm glow over the full-sized trees and brick walls that surround the dining room’s booths.
Chefs mirror this balanced approach with their cooking, blending together the artistry of presentation with the classic recipes culled from numerous Southeast Asian cuisines. They use only spices imported from Asia, adding a subtle zing to dishes such as their honey-glazed shrimp tossed with walnuts. Chefs even roll together a selection of sushi, and specially prepare a full menu of vegetarian dishes for those who abstain from meat. Their dessert menu incorporates traditional Asian flavors to create dishes such as their mochi or green tea ice cream and fried bananas with coconut pineapple ice cream.
The kitchen at Taqueria Revolucion wants to overturn expectations of those who only devour typical Americanized tacos. So they serve authentic Mexican street tacos, which start with tortillas crafted by hand. In the open kitchen, a spit laden with spicy al pastor turns as the cooks sear meat and nopales on the grill. To wash it all down, diners sip bottles of Mexican Coca-Cola or ice-cold horchata.
Churros are best straight from the fryer—the outside hot and crisp, and the inside so fluffy that it practically melts upon first bite. From their stand in the midst of Plaza Las Americas, the staff at Churros El Tigre has perfected this choux-based delight. They whip them up from scratch, and top the still-warm treats with an array of housemade sauces, including chocolate, strawberry preserves, bavarian cream.
They also sling a variety of other desserts to give shoppers a midday boost of energy. They transform bananas into a decadent treat, served sliced, hot, caramelized, and topped in sweet lechera. Flurries of shaved ice make up their raspados, which are sweetened with peach, coconut, pineapple and other fruit flavors for a drink as refreshing as a mouthful of baby tears.
When they aren't making the rounds to entertain the community or dropping in at local TV and radio stations, the outgoing chefs at Opa y Ole are in the kitchen crafting their own twists on traditional Greek fare. Hearty gyro platters heaped with lamb and skewers of chicken and seafood are served fresh from the grill. Other house specialties include stuffed tomatoes and spanakopita that's baked until golden-brown and flaky. And yet not every dish is traditional: the menu also features pita pizzas and beef burgers drenched in a secret house sauce. The pastel-colored dining room is eclectic too, with pictures of iconic Greek buildings juxtaposed with colorful mod-style furniture and holograms of popular Greek emperors asking for spare change.
Delighting patrons for more than 50 years, Jalisco's serves up a menu sporting savory selections of soups, burritos, tacos, tostadas, and more. Quiet wagging tongues with sips from a small bowl of pozole ($4.99) or red or white menudo ($4.99), made fresh daily and served with hominy and corn or flour tortillas. Next, move on to house specialties such as enchiladas suizas with chicken and tomatillo sauce ($8.99), or toothsome and tender pork tips ($9.49) with a posse of green peppers, onions, and tomatoes that tickle tongues with the feather-light flavors of a mild sauce.
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.