Thursday, August 30, 2007

Voodoo Doughnut - Portland Oregon

This is one place I had wanted to go to for a very longtime. Being a fan of independent thinkers, youth culture and motorcult stuff. The thought of an artsy donut place run by youthful entrepreneur's appealed to me. Visions of Bettie Page injecting Bavarian Creme into maple bars ran through my head. The moniker outside the place reads, "The magic is in the hole". Nope, The magic is not getting mugged or killed trying to get to this place. It is located in the skid row section of Portland. We knew were in for a treat when we stepped up to the entrance only to be very kindly welcomed by an older woman smoking a joint who had very obviously just soiled herself. There goes that olfactory sense for at least the next few hours.

This place is as big as your closet and dirty as heck. My partner in grime wouldn't even try one of the donuts. There were quite a bit of tourists in the place, so no elbow room. and they looked like deer that had been caught in the headlights of your car. that was very entertaining to see. People from the Midwest meet soiled stoned woman and try to buy panties in a donut shop. Yes woman's undergarments can be had here. Not a cute place and no Bettie Page's either.

The product, I mean the food product didn't look all that special either. Very old fashioned stuff and not much innovation for a place with a look and culture like this place touts. This is what happens when kids in Portland smoke to much weed and start giggling uncontrollably as they stick pretzels into dry and tasteless mashed together voodoo donuts. And then chase each other around grandpa's house spewing Oreo's out of there mouths as they laugh themselves silly. But then reality hits and the joke wears off pretty quickly. The product is definitely dry and tasteless as this place. As always, there is that very fine line between camp and comedy. this place misses by a long shot. These were the only donuts on display. We grabbed our stuff and tried to avoid eye contact with anyone and slipped out the door. The soiled lady doorman was still on dooty, literally. I love Portland. It is definitely the last vestige of hippydome left in the country. But the mojo has definitely left Voodoodoo donuts.

Voodoo Doughnut

22 SW 3rd Ave

Portland Oregon

unHoly chow


Leonardo's Italian Cafe - Battle Ground WA

The city of Battleground in Washington State is roughly a 30 minute drive from the Oregon Border. Odd name and odd history
And Leonardo's Italian cafe is in this tiny very nondescript 1970's looking strip mall. Although once inside the place becomes very spacious. We were sat in a booth by the open kitchen. I just love to sit in the kitchen in a working restaurant. This is usually reserved for the chef's guest. But lately it has even become fashionable at the McDonald's of Italian eateries. Buca de Beppo, where you can reserve this table. If by the way, you ever find yourself going to Buca de Beppo, this and the Pope room are the only places to sit. Otherwise, why bother going. OK, Back to Leonardo's. With such a low key exterior in a slightly rural location one wouldn't normally expect to find a great Italian eatery. Well this place dispels that myth. Family run and operated. This is a very high quality establishment. I love it when a place offers local wines, beers, produce and anything else. Like rolling through a small village in Europe, This place offered locally grown greens and local grown beef. The wine list had a very cool offering of similar wines from Italy and Washington State. Such as a Chianti from where else, Chianti and a Sangiovese from Washington State. Both made with the same grape. But like Champagne, you can't call American wine made from Sangiovese Chianti, cuz it doesn't come from Chianti.
A basket of very light and flaky foccacia bread came to the table. It was oh so slightly infused with herbs. Just light and airy. Not a fan of focaccia bread, But every now and then one pops up like this. Excellent. Usually places have this very dry and thick foccacia that would gag a horse. Nice surprise.
For a dinner salad we ordered up the house pear and candied pecan green salad with raspberry vinaigrette. This was an astounding salad. the pears had been poached in a cinnamon and nutmeg port wine concoction and all the flavors came through glowingly and the pear had a nice al dente feel to it and also retained the predominate taste. Light and not overpowering vinaigrette blended well with this offering. Light and refreshing.
A bowl of the Pasta di Fruita del Mare came next (13.25). Perfectly cooked Fetucini pasta was topped with fresh assorted seafood including mussels, clams and shrimp covered in a believe it or not a very light and tasty seafood cream sauce. With just the right amount of flavorings as not to over power the fresh seafood. And of course topped off with a large amount of Parmigiano-ReggianoAlso (13.25) was the Pasta Ala Romana. I have been on this kick to find a prosciutto that I like. Normally don't care for it. way to salty and overpowering. This dish had fresh cooked spaghetti tossed with olive oil, garlic, freshly diced tomatoes and chopped basil. A very simple dish. Most times the simple dishes are the hardest to make. As a host of flavors vie for your taste buds and not a lot of chefs do simple dishes right. This one was spot on. And did I forget to say it also had bits of a very tangy and not so salty prosciutto mixed in it as well. I liked this dish and the prosciutto that they had in it. another winner.

Leonardo's Italian Cafe

15 E Main, Battleground, Washington (360) 687-4373 Monday thru Friday 11:30 am - 2:30 pm, Sunday thru Thursday 4:30 pm - 9:00 pm Friday thru Saturday 4:30 pm - 10:00 pm Italian cooking: soups, pasta, and gourmet pizza. Menu changes seasonally.
If you find yourself in the area and are looking for good Italian eats. Try this place out. I think you will like it. Funny name and not so funny history for a small town.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Peco's Pit BBQ - Seattle WA

We ran across this little consummate classic dive of all dives. Just a straight no nonsense take out BBQ joint in Seattle Washington. We arrived around 11:15am and there where a few people eating at the various wooden tables that scattered around. No indoor seating. No line as we rolled up to the window and checked out the menu. Just three items. and that is it. Choice of a pulled pork. Pulled beef, Beef brisket sandwich, Oh and the sides consisted of a link and beans. and that is it! All of the sandwiches were $6.40 each tax included. a link on the side was an additional $1.45. The aroma was out of this world. I stepped up to the plate and asked the woman behind the window what was the most popular and she very nicely asked if this was our first time here? To which of course we replied "yes". She then told us that it was basically a tie between the Pecos Beef and the Pecos Pork sandwiches and that they were both pulled and shredded. and the brisket came in slices. The sandwiches come wet and I mean very wet with your choice of medium. mild or blazing hot BBQ sauce that they make. I asked for the Pecos Beef with medium heat BBQ sauce with a side of a link sausage and beans. She wrote my order on a brown paper bag and called it out and then passed the bag back to the cooks who were behind her. this bag I thought was just ingenious as it not only served as the order pad but the actual vessel in which to put the order in. And in less than a minute I was handed my brown bag filled with this magical concoction of shredded beef and spice. we sat and opened our bags like kids opening a gift bag at a birthday party. And the sandwiches that we pulled from these humble little brown bags were truly astounding! I have not been a fan of BBQ for years. In San Diego you might have maybe 1 or 2 good BBQ places, Heck, even Huffman's BBQ just doesn't taste like Huffman's anymore.
This was one of those rare foody finds that you dream about encountering. Just phenomenal service and product and dare I say, The best dog gone BBQ I have ever had this side of the Mississippi! This sandwich was just bursting with moist and tender shredded beef. And although I ordered it with the medium heat sauce. it was still mild for me. Maybe I just have jaded or scorched taste buds now after eating at Ba Ren and Dao Son (Thanks Kirk). It had just a wonderful hickory smoke taste running through it. and you know when you have had good BBQ, when you can't wash the sticky sauce off of your hands no matter how much soap you use, and that hickory smoke lingers on your taste buds and clothes for hours after like a good cigar. No way you could pick these babies up with your hands and hold them to eat. They came with a plastic spork and 5 napkins. The plastic utensil was the only way you could eat these guys. the bun was merely there to stop the sauce from running all over the place. I just cannot say enough about the flavor and texture of the beef. it had an awesome mixture of slightly charred outer beef mixed with a moist and tender inner section, a great indication of that long and slow cooking process that great BBQ brings out. The sauce was very different in a great way. it had a slight Mexican style / Southwest jalapeno heat to it. It was a perfect combination.
Like a great Asian eatery this exhibited spice Nirvana. An incredible balance of spices. sweet with heat. The Link was a little horsdourve, A teaser of spice and texture. I don't know if they make these here but incredible as well. Nice pop to it and great spicy heat. You can definitely see the chili pepper seeds sprinkled throughout.
The beans were of the same quality. You can tell that someone here is passionate about what they make and serve. Nice and tender with chili peppers and onions and bacon bits. Oh My!Love it when there is a true culinary artist behind an eatery. We sat there an ate our miraculous lunch and started to notice that huge lines began to form. And as we looked around at the other tables there must have been 30 people now eating and at least 25 in line.
And they kept on coming. By the time we left it was a virtual feeding frenzy of the Washington State few and privileged who knew of this place.
So remember if you ever find yourself in the Seattle area, this place is tucked right behind Safeco Field in an industrial area. It looks like and old gas station but smells like heaven.
Only open from 11am to 4pm daily. and worth the plane ticket from anywhere is Pecos Pit BBQ!

One more look for ya to drool over.
Pecos Pit BBQ
2260 1st Ave S
Seattle, WA 98134
(206) 623-0629

Mucho Chow

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

The Little Penguin - Cabernet Sauvignon

Five bucks a bottle at Ralph's Grocery Store. Run out and get some now! This is truly a little gem of a Cab. If you like that fat Aussie style of wine making then you will love this wine. It usually retails between $7.99 and $9.99 per bottle everywhere in town. The Australians have seemed to one up the California winemakers in really driving the fruit forward style. It was the California winemakers that pioneered this style. European wines tend to be all about the soil and the ability of the winemaker to bring out the subtleties of the fruit and earth mixed together. California came around and started to make that trademarked fruit forward in your face style of big bold reds that we all love and some love to hate. And over the last few years it has seemed that the Aussies have grabbed that California concept and kicked it up another notch. This wine is ready to drink now but could see a year or two of cellaring. All of the Grapes prowess has been extracted in this wine. It is jammy but with very soft tannins. An incredible color depth of ruby red and purple.
Open the bottle and let it breath and warm to almost room temperature and you will be rewarded. And at 5 bucks a bottle! You better buy a case. Great offerings from this Winery and all exhibit a very high level of quality for the price. If you like that big Aussie style red. than this little penguin packs a knockout.



Tamarind Thai Restaurant

It was yet another gorgeous night to be in San Diego, and I had all but given up hopes of finding a decent eatery to go to that was close to the home office. We had almost forgotten about this little place tucked in a very nondescript strip mall in East County. It has been awhile since we ate here. In East County you have tons of bad Asian restaurants, granted of course there are always the exceptions. It was on a Thursday night we entered Tamarind to find a packed house. This was nice to see as a busy place usually equals good food.

We ordered appetizers. First up Tod Mun ($5.95) This is deep fried fish paste mixed with curry paste and green beans served with sweet chili cucumber sauce with chopped peanuts. It had a very delicate fish flavor and not overpowering. the curry influence was light, but had a very deep flavor to it. The chili sauce that came with it I was surprised to see that it was more sweet than hot. But it all worked together. a nice balancing act of various tastes and textures. One of the reasons why I just love Asian cuisine is that time honored and learned spice balancing act that makes or breaks a good restaurant.

We also ordered up a batch of the Thai Spring Rolls ($5.45). Deep fried rice paper stuffed with shredded cabbage,glass noodles, wood ear mushrooms, Ground shrimp and chicken served with a plum sauce.These came out just scorching hot and we had to wait a few minutes for them to cool off a bit. And when they did they were excellent and again well balanced with the sweetness of the plum sauce.
Nice and crunchy on the outside and filled with ground shrimp and chicken. So far the evening was progressing culinarily awesome. Especially having gone to what seemed to be 100 bad places to eat. I was happy again. I really hate giving bad reviews and thought very hard on not doing them at all. But in the end I figured that I had paid good money at these places and had a fair expectation of receiving good product and experience in return. I am a passionate eater. And we as consumers should expect the same from an independent food establishment.

The Pineapple Fried Rice ($8.50) looked just picture perfect on the plate. I apologize for the photo. We are still working an that.It had loads of crunchy extra large cashews and chunks of fresh pineapple. All stir fried together with Thai Jasmine rice, onions both green and white, curry powder, peas and carrots. This had such a wonderful smoky curry mild heat to it and once again the balancing came through with the Sweetness of the slightly caramelized pineapple melding with the heat of the yellow curry.

The Lettuce Wraps ($7.95) were next. The filling consisted of chopped chicken, potatoes, carrots,onions and green onions in a slightly sweet Thai soy base. With plenty of pieces of fresh lettuce. Not a lot of heat but then again that was exactly what Taylor was looking for.
A small bowl of a tamarind infused soy sauce came with this dish and made the dish complete.

The Nam Tog ($9.95) from the Yum side of the menu (Spicy salads Thai style) Was done very well and again looked picture perfect like the rest of the dishes. It had loads of fresh mint and grilled beef mixed with a slightly below medium heat from the spicy chili sauce and a large dash of fresh lime juice. also with ground toasted rice, sliced green onion and cilantro. My nose is starting to run just writing about this dish.
You can see all of the little pieces of spice and ground rice and herbs in this close up.
The one that really had the flavor balancing act together was the Peanut Sauce with Steamed Veggies ($8.50) We added the grilled chicken to this dish as you have a choice of Beef, Chicken, Pork, Calamari, Shrimp or Duck as addons. The peanut sauce was very well done. Not to sweet and not to thick. It went together so well with this dish. It covered the veggies and chicken perfectly. had a slight kick of heat to it that just made it a little mysterious in a foody kind of way. Very nice. We had finally found a decent meal in East County! The sauce melded nicely with the crispness of the broccoli and carrots, Green beans and onions.
The meal was a great success. The quality of the food and service here is very good. The only thing is, I believe that the place is a bit on the pricey side. Better can be had for less. But not in the East County. Overall We will return again and again. The only dish we had that seemed to be not on a par with the rest of the meal was dessert. we ordered the Fried Banana ($4.95)
It didn't work to well. Although it was covered in a orange spiced honey, it just was a mushy and tasteless slab of fried stuff. The menu said it was rolled in coconut and then fried. Definitely not coconut but what seemed to be some sort of thick tempura batter.

Tamarind Thai Restaurant
7970 University Ave
La Mesa

Open 7 days a week.



Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Sabor Latino - San Diego

I came across this new restaurant a few weeks ago that had just opened. I didn't want to go in during the first week or so, So I waited a few awhile to let them work those new restaurant glitches out. I had been drooling over going here and thinking about the various possibilities an eatery would have with a sign out front stating "Sabor Latino" and "Latin cuisine". Sabor in Spanish means flavor. Could this place be a little gem? Possibly modeled after a Rick Bayless style of cooking? The sign out front hinted that it was possibly a cut above the standard "Berto" Brothers fare. You know the ones. Filiberto's, Jilliberto's Sillyberto's. I have said that before, But after awhile you get sick of most of them. Although quite a few offer excellent food for the buck. After being open for six weeks I thought it time to go check it out.

I went in for lunch around noonish. Just one other table was eating. The place was decorated in South American Bistro charm. Flowers on the table with nice Mexican themed place settings.

I sat down and the obligatory basket of chips and salsa came out. Chips, Hard and greasy like "Dog the Bounty Hunter"chewy on the outside, but mushy on the inside, with a side of flavorless salsa that tasted watered down and right out of a number 10 SYSCO food can. The salsa looked good. it had some green in it, pieces of what looked like jalapenos? But no flavor at all. Strike one on the "Sabor" thing.

I searched through the menu for little nuggets of a hint at greatness and imagination, Only to find Egg rolls!, Buffalo wings? and Blue Cheese burger's!? Not very Mucho Latino. This lunch menu best represents the reason why I really don't care to go to lunch at a place that purportedly specializes in dinner. The lunch menu is never any good, cast offs and throwaways abound usually. This menu was no exception. Just all over the place. Definitely put together with the help of Sally Field playing the roll of Sybil in that classic old film about a schizophrenic with 16 personalities, and in this case none of them seem to be Latino. This place used to be a Peruvian restaurant and the new owners have left a few Peruvian dishes on the menu as well. Let's see we have Lomo Saltado, Cuban style fries and fried plantains as well as Creamy Jalapeno Tilapia. Tilapia, that goldfish of non threatening tasteless and mushy equivalent to a Petco Park hot dog. Oh Boy do I need to get to a good restaurant fast as I feel I am quickly becoming the Michael Savage of the review world. OK, I just took my Nitroglycerin. Calm again.

I ordered up the Mexican Ceviche Tostada ($3.95). It looked very good when it came out. It had a nice presentation with a nice Quesso mayonase sauce. Nice size shrimp and crisp tomatoes. Very mild citrus hint of lime and lemon. On a bed of lettuce, Which I don't care for in any Mexican food and a store bought packaged Tostada round. Just very mild though. Not much "Sabor" here either. Worth it for $3.95 if you are a first time ceviche eater. Just not very authentic.
For the main course I had asked about the Chicken Mole ($8.95). Now Mole can and usually is a complex conglomeration of various spices mixed with chocolate, and just about every region in Mexico has there own style of it, usually family recipes handed down through the years from Grandma to Mom to Daughter and so on. I would compare it to a Mexican Curry type sauce. Like curry, Mole is most times an acquired taste. The waiter told me it was actually his mothers recipe. Great! I thought. Only Mexican mothers can truly make a good mole. So I quickly ordered up a plate.
The chicken was grilled and then the mole poured over the top. I like it when the chicken is actually simmered in Mole for a while to let the flavors and textures mingle. The Mole was thick and looked really nice. But like everything else at Sabor Latino it really lacked any depth of flavors and that is what you look for in a good curry or mole, is the depth of flavors usually brought together in the case of Mole with the heat of Ancho and other hotter type peppers, mixed with cinnamon and Allspice and of course Mexican Chocolate. Done right it can be heaven as the velvety sweetness en robes the inside of your mouth and then the slow heat builds. Oh my! Sounds like a Harold Robbins novel. Nope, just good Mole. This one had a little heat going on but not enough. it was great in balancing the sweet chocolate and other spices. All in all, It did work together with the grilled chicken. Just not rich enough.
the Chicken Mole came with Spanish rice and Beans. The rice had a nice flavor to them. OK, The rice had Sabor! Light and fluffy with a nice tomatoee creamy texture. A hint of garlic and possibly some Saffron going on here. Each grain of rice was an individual grain and not mushed together.
To sum it up. the owner / Chef wore an Applebees baseball cap. It all made sense to me now.
That is what this place reminds me of, An Applebees menu. Just all over the place.
A liitle more "Sabor" Por Favor.
Sabor Latino
8680 Navajo Road
San Diego
Open 7 days a week 8:30am to 10pm

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Lefty's Chicago Pizza - North Park

We ventured over to Lefty's Chicago Pizza place today in our ongoing Quest to find the best pizza in San Diego. This place is located in an area in San Diego called North Park, Which has some of the best restaurants in town and all walking distance from the neighborhoods it surrounds. Very lucky North Park residents. Lefty's is no exception. This is such a great little find. A great Chicago style eatery that serves up some tasty stuff. No bigger than a standard size living room, it can be tough to stand in line and order, as this is as busy a place as Bronx Pizza. But this place goes way beyond your just a pizza serving restaurant. Lefty's serves up some of the finest and most beautiful looking old school Midwest style of food in San Diego. And cheap!
We walked in to find no one in line and we seemed to have caught the place in a not so busy time, a rarity on a Saturday. They have a very East Coasty type attitude here. But if you have ever been or have friends from the East Coast, you know that it can be taken for being rude. But in reality it's really not. They are a brash group. I for one think it humorous. Anyway, we stepped up and ordered a Chicago style thick crust with pepperoni ($18.00), as usual, just what the Quest specified. We did think, but just for a second, to order the thin crust instead. But nope, You can't go into Bronx Pizza and ask for a Chicago style pizza and you shouldn't go into a Chicago style pizza place and order thin crust. So thick it was. They told us it takes at least 35 minutes to cook it. No problem, we wanted to soak up the place anyways. They have beer on tap and one of the handles is for PBR! Ya gotta love that. They have pizza by the slice and have a gorgeous assembly of the offerings in a glass case.
We walked outside and sat at one of the open tables. Remember this is such a small kitschy little cozy dive. They have a small group of plastic tables and chairs for the customers. As we sat and talked, we began to notice the food that was being brought out to the other diners around us. Chicago style hot dogs and Polish dogs and something called "loaded fries" that we should feed to condemned men as they're last meal. because after eating it , it would be! It looked gorgeous though. Mounds of fries covered with sour cream and huge chunks of crispy fried bacon bits. The Chicago style hot dogs looked picture perfect. They had a nice wedge of pickle on them and two little yellow sport peppers. Just like a real Chicago dog. Big plates of pasta came out to the table next to us. Amazing looking food. And all very reasonably priced. Hot dog with fries ($4.50)
OK, There is a reason, as usual I had to go on about the other food on the menu. This place, just for the other offerings alone and the fact that it carries pizza. And as you know, the place that holds the number one spot currently on the list only serves pizza. Based on that. Lefty's would win hands down, no questions asked. But if we are just ranking on Pizza alone. Well then. Bronx wins hands down. The pizza here looks amazing and came out to our table literally piping hot and still sizzling.
It had a huge amount of Wisconsin Mozzarella on it and in traditional style. cheese on the bottom and sauce on top. The tomato sauce was chunky with large pieces of tomato and fresh Basil sprinkled all around. The pepperoni was put on in abundance and was everywhere you looked.
It just looked spectacular. The crust looked nice and think, with large amounts of corn meal evident. Which I think adds a nice texture and taste to the pie crust. Too hot to handle this pie was, So we nabbed a few pieces of pepperoni off of it. WOW! The best pepperoni in town. really nice and flavorful, had a nice spicy bite to it, and greasy as all get out. Just dripped everywhere. Every pizza house in town should get the name of this brand and trash the pepperoni they use now. I thought it quite amusing though looking around I noticed that the adjacent eatery next door was a Vegan restaurant. I just chuckled out loud as I watched the Vegans having to walk past and see Lefty's, that pit of voracious carnivores, eating every ground up farm animal on the planet on they're way for a slice of falafel pie.
This pie is a thing of beauty to look at. But beauty as usual is only skin deep. The crust had no taste other than corn meal and actually was quite mushy and chewy. It was more of a foundation that was utilitarian in it's quest to hold up to the mounds of cheese and sauce. The sauce had a nice fresh taste to it. Mild though, very mild. Too much so for my taste, nice tomato taste and chunky texture and I loved the addition of the fresh herbs in it.
To sum it up. Lefty's over all has become one of my favotite hole in the wall classic dive eateries. This place has it all. The food, the kitsch, The Vespa scooters parked out front. The pizza? Eh, it ain't so bad. Definatley not the best in town, but like the Chicago cubs, this pizza will always be in the race.

Lefty's Chicago Pizza
3448 30th St.
San Diego
Mondays - - - Closed
Tuesday - Saturday - - - 12 PM - 10 PM
Sunday - - - 12 PM - 9 PM


Pizza Quest Top 10 List

Here is the top 10 list so far in our Quest for the Best Pizza in San Diego. We are off and running tasting the majors now. we have a heck of lot more to go. Do you have a suggestion? drop us a line. And a very sincere thank you to all who have submitted places for the team to check out.
But for now here is how the race looks.

1. Bronx Pizza 111 Washington St. San Diego
2. Lefty's Chicago Pizza 3448 30th St. North Park
3. Sanfilippo's Pizza 8141 La Mesa Blvd, La Mesa
4. Bottle Shop 2447 Fletcher Parkway, El Cajon
5. Etna Pizza & Ristorante 4427 El Cajon Blvd, San Diego

Check back periodically as this list changes as we review other Pizza places. This list will be like a horse race and all participants will be constantly changing in rank.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

El Gaupo's Mexican Food - La Mesa Village

Do you remember the movie Three Amigos! with Steve Martin, Chevy Chase and Martin Short? The main bad guys name was "El Guapo. Meaning handsome one. The owner of this Mexican food place thought it would be a good idea to name his restaurant after that character.
I think that is funny and shows some originality and a sense of humor. Unfortunately we didn't have much fun on this visit to El Guapo's.
This place used to be La Torta. That incredible Mexican Deli. When we arrived for what we thought was going to be a quick lunch, we Popped 45 minutes worth of coins into the parking meter. Thinking that should be ample time for a quick bite and than back to the office. We stepped up to the cashier around noon time. Not a lot of customers, There were maybe 3 tables inside and no one outside.

We scanned the menu and decided on a Carne Asada Burrito ($5.50) A California Burrito ($5.50) and a Mahi Mahi taco ($2.95). By the way they do carry one of my favorite beers, Modello Especial, They also carry the darker version, Negra Modello as well. Oh, and they also have Coke from Mexico! Another plus as the Mexican made Coke is the original Coke recipe made with cane sugar. The Coke we get up here in the states is made with that lovely Diabetes inflicting High Fructose Corn syrup. So we were happy to grab our drinks and go outside and grab a table. You order at the counter and then they bring you the food. We waited and waited and waited. The place was not very busy at all. After 25 minutes we, along with two other tables started to get very antsy, The guy with the WAMU shirt on started to sweat and look at his watch. You could tell everyone was on they're lunch break and needed to get back to work. Minute 27, we finally received one Burrito. Minute 30 the rest of the order came out.

We dug in. First up the Mahi Mahi taco.
It was covered in Jack cheese, Not a good sign for authentic Mexican fare. Could not pick the taco up, it was way to wet and top heavy with cheese and very very runny. The sauce did have a nice chipotle smoke to it though, but it covered everything. It could have been a fish stick stuffed in this taco and you wouldn't be able to tell the difference.
I had the Carne Asada burrito. That Southern California invention of perfection. The stuff that legends are made of. Put the original Roberto's on the map. And single handily started the Mexican Fast food drivethru craze. No such animal exists in Mexico. If you order a burrito in Mexico. You are going to get a desert dish. Looked nice from the outside. A nice stuffed 14 inch flour tortilla. I grabbed my plastic knife and cut it in half. Inside I was amazed to see more Jack cheese! and the burrito was ice cold, So cold it wasn't even able to melt the Jack cheese that was stuffed in it!
It did have plenty of real guacamole and a nice amount of Carne Asada. The meat was tasty, even though cold. It seemed to have all the right spices, A little citrusy back flavor with a rather nice texture. But after 30 minutes of waiting there was just no way I was going back up to the cashier and ask for a hot one. This burrito would have been passable if not for the Jack cheese and being a cold burrito-sicle. We cut into the California Burrito. Let me tell you what is in this artery clogger. Sour cream, Carne Asada, French fries and Jack and Cheddar cheese! As usual we had 911 on our cell phones pre programmed, just in case. We cut into this one and what a concoction. This one I can't get into. I guess I'm too old school Mex food kinda guy. This is the equivalent of that sandwich made with peanut butter and marshmallow sauce. I know, I know. I just never grew up with that either.And once again. Cold as a stone. No melted cheese. The house sauce on the other hand was quite good though. It had a nice smoky Chipotle creamy feel to it, with just a little pepper heat. that one was a hit.

Ok. Our 45 minutes where about up in the parking meter and we weren't quite finished yet. After all it took 30 minutes to get our food. So I wandered back up to the register, which was now manned by what seemed to be the owner. To get some more change, And he was conversing with a gentleman in front of me. I stood there like a child doing the potty dance, glancing over at my car and then the meter and then the owner and back and forth again and again. Knowing that the Jawslike meter person for the La Mesa Village has about 4 blocks to patrol and is very quick with a ticket. After 3 minutes of no eye contact and no"hey I'll be with you in a minute pal" or nothing. I decided it wasn't worth the $21.00 parking ticket any longer.

So, Adios El Guapo and like the film. The Village should rise up to the El Guapo's and let them in on a secret. yup, believe it or not. the customer is still king.

El Guapo's
8350 La Mesa Blvd



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