Saturday, July 21, 2007

El Callejon Restaurant - Encinitas CA

In the words of the immortal Barry White. "Your the first, the last, my everything" He must have been singing about this restaurant. because it definitely is "the first" meaning best Mexican restaurant in San Diego and "the last" meaning it defines the last word in excellence. and it most assuredly is "my everything" everything that a quality Establishment should be.Oh and let's not forget the size of that guy either. He could have eaten here a lot.

There just is no comparison in San Diego county and most parts of the fronteria zone of Mexico that can come close to the consistent quality of fine cuisine, service and let's not forget the over 750 different bottles of Tequila in the bar! Yup, El Callejon, Meaning small alley or street in Spanish, in Encinitas is all of the above and more.

It is also the winner of our last years Quest for the best Margarita in San Diego. No overly sweet prebottled syrupy stuff that most Mexican restaurant's make they're margaritas with. this place uses only fresh squeezed lime and if you sit in the bar for any length of time you can see just how many limes they squeeze a night. The margaritas are a lesson in mixology. perfect amounts of quality tequila. none of that dark cheap well tequila headache inducing stuff. Nope, these are made with 100% agave, Lime, Triple sec and poured over a highball glass that the rim has been dipped in kosher salt. Ahhhhh, heaven on a hot summer day. One will get you wobbly legged. but worth the shot. Literally.

Have Oscar at the bar mix you one up. This is a very busy mostly locals only kind of place. Has indoor and outdoor seating. the bar gets really packed at night. So be patient, your wait will be worth it. Although a locals kinda place and everyone seems to know everyone there. it is still friendly and unpretentious. Unlike some of the local surf haunts that are up and down the coast. the surfers who surf and turf here are an OK bunch. Check out the 5 page tequila menu from the bar. Nice.

OK, on to the food. When you are first seated they bring to your table a basket of freshly fried chips that are light and crispy. watch out for these of course. They are very addicting and it's a bottomless bowl. The chips come with two kinds of salsa. the traditional Pico de Gallo and a salsa Verde. Both of these are house made and you will be hard pressed to find anywhere any better. The Pico De Gallo sauce has a very nice smoky kinda of back of the mouth heat going on with just a hint of Chippotle chili. just enough for the taste but not enough to overpower it. Fresh and endless little buckets as well. The other is an outstanding Salsa Verde made with Tomatillos and fresh limes. this one has a very interesting sweetness to it. To this day I can' figure where that sweetness comes from. similar to a sweet bbq'd ear of corn. Spectacular!

This is not the place to come and get your fill of dollar tacos at happy hour. this is on a par with some of the excellent European bistro's around town. Plenty of "Berto Brother" places for the low priced stuff. you know the ones. Filibertos, Robertos, Jilibertos, and on and on. that is not to say that El Callejon is expensive. To be sure the prices range from $5.95 to $29.95 per entree.

The owner Bernard Jourdain from Mexico, by way of Belgium. Is a man who has carved out an excellent family run establishment. With one in Encinitas, Vista and El Paso Texas. All family owned and operated.

On this night I had the Tampiquena. Carne Asada served with Enchilada de pueblo, Rajas, rice and re fried beans.

Let's start with the Rajas. Many of you might not be familiar with this exquisite concoction of charred then skinned Anahiem chilis that are sliced and simmered in a creme sauce. Oh my. I used to just order these alone with a couple of corn tortillas. Nice and soft with that mild chili taste and smothered in a light creme sauce. Not on the wheel a meal diet plan that is for sure.

The plate had what was billed as an Enchilda de Peubla on it. basically a big name for a folded corn tortilla that was dipped in enchilada sauce. it went very well though with the rest of the dish. The rice and beans are very very good. nice and fresh and nice flavoring throughout. the rice had a light chicken stock back bone to it. Now on to the best part. The Carne Asada on my plate I at home have never been able to duplicate here at the foodopolis test kitchen. it was nicely charred and marinated to perfection. slight hints of lime and chili. just tender and perfect. Very tender. $17.85 on the menu.

Sue had the Camarones Al Mojo De Ajo. $18.75 on the menu. Nice giant fresh juicy and plump shrimp that were lightly marinated in limes and garlic. and then grilled. Served with a Mexican style ratatouille of a variety of sauteed squash. nice and light and very tasty. the veggies were crisp and not over cooked.

A large portion of shrimp on a bed of the light chicken stock and saffron Spanish rice.

Great place for that first date or anniversary. strolling mariachis at night. a walk on the beach and then maybe a night cap of creme brule and a glass of sherry at the the other best restaurant in San Diego. Calypso. Stay tuned for that review.

El Callejon

345 S. Coast Hwy. 101

Encinitas, CA 92024




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