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San Diego, Culinarily Speaking

AAA/Frank Swanson
By AAA Travel Editor Frank Swanson
March 04, 2022
Let’s face it. Some places in the United States don’t have a lot to offer when it comes to decent Mexican food. If you’ve ever bitten into a bad burrito or tasteless taco, don’t lose heart! Visit San Diego. It’s just a hop, skip and a jumping bean from the Mexican border, and the dishes served at local restaurants are authentic, flavorful and mouthwateringly delicious. What’s more is you’ll have a whole lot more to choose from than mere tacos and burritos.
AAA/Frank Swanson

Cafe Coyote y Cantina

2461 San Diego Ave.
(619) 291-4695
It’s hard to miss Café Coyote y Cantina, an Old Town landmark that seems to throw a party every evening. With its bright Mexican murals, outdoor courtyard, second-floor balconies and crowds spilling out onto the street, the place doesn’t exactly keep a low profile. Tortilla ladies make fresh tortillas by hand in outdoor kitchens up front right along the sidewalk, and mariachis drift among the tables entertaining guests. While the mood is light-hearted, Café Coyote takes its regional Mexican cuisine seriously and even hosts Tequila Ambassadors Thursday evenings to educate diners about the traditional liquor.
AAA/Frank Swanson

Casa Guadalajara

4105 Taylor St.
(619) 295-5111
San Diego’s Old Town is home to several excellent Mexican restaurants, but Casa Guadalajara stands out as one of the neighborhood’s best places to eat. The margaritas are served cold and tasty, and the freshly made tortillas arrive at your table warm and tender. Decorated with folk art, vibrant tiles and multicolored papel picado banners, the dining room creates a delightful setting for such savory dishes as carne asada tampiqueña (beef strips seasoned with roasted green chile) or pollo en mole pipian verde (chicken in a pumpkin seed sauce).
AAA/Frank Swanson

Cocina 35

1435 6th Ave.
(858) 309-5461
A quick-serve restaurant offering authentic Mexican food in downtown’s Cortez Hill neighborhood, Cocina 35 is a great spot for lunch if you’re wondering where to eat. They are also open for breakfast and claim to serve the “best chilaquiles in town”—no idle boast considering they prepare several versions of the dish, which consists of crispy tortilla strips sautéed in salsa. Build your meal by selecting dishes displayed buffet-style, which include tacos, burritos and tortas (sandwiches), and order one of their refreshing aguas frescas (water mixed with fruit and sugar) made daily.
AAA/Frank Swanson

Miguel's Cocina

2444 San Diego Ave.
(619) 298-9840
Another one of the best restaurants in Old Town, AAA Three Diamond Miguel’s Cocina has a reputation for outstanding traditional Mexican cuisine. Among the highpoints: handmade tortillas, spicy chicken mole and fresh salsa and guacamole. Fajita lovers have eight options to choose from including chicken, lobster, shrimp, portobello mushroom and skirt stake. The pollo asada burrito comes topped with Miguel’s popular jalapeño white sauce, which is delicious and decadent.
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