2836 Juan Street
Old Town, San Diego, 92110
Last night I had a fun evening with my daughter and her two grandchildren. Yes, they are my great grandchildren, and it is always a joy to be with them. My great-granddaughter is 3, going on 15; my great-grandson just turned two.
When asked if they wanted to go to dinner with me, they were excited and asked if we could go to the “Treasure Chest” restaurant. (Can you imagine that at their ages they already have a favorite place to go?) My daughter agreed, because she has the best motivator for making sure that the kids behave themselves. La Piñata has a “treasure chest” filled with all kinds of goodies for the “good boys and girls.” My daughter and granddaughter have set the rules for the family: IF they eat their meal AND if they behave, stay in their chairs; speak with “restaurant voices” at the end of lunch/dinner, etc. they can pick one gift each from the treasure chest. It works like a charm. And they are consistent with the rules. (For example, last night my great-grandson did not eat all his dinner. He did not get to choose something from the treasure chest. His sister did everything she was supposed to do and she did get a trinket from the chest. He was not unhappy about not getting anything. Even at two he knows the rules.)
And the restaurant is not all that bad, either. To begin with you can either have your choice of salsa and chips or 1 crisp quesadilla. They have a very extensive menu, starting with a variety of appetizers ranging in price from $5.25-$9.75. There are 5 soups offered; 6 salads starting with a small dinner salad for $3.75; a variety of six Huevo’s (egg) dishes; a large A La Carte menu; Healthy Dining Selections; twenty “Especiales De La Casa”; six combinaciones as well as 8 Pescado offerings. All of this plus 6 items on a “Para Los Ninos” menu; sides; drinks – both alcoholic and non-alcoholic; and 5 Postres.
I had one of the specials – a “Piñata Tosdada” that was tasty after I added the spicy salsa over it; my daughter had the “Carnitas Tosdada” that was also good; and the children shared a soft quesadilla with rice and beans plate. (Actually, my great granddaughter told the waitress that she and her brother didn’t like beans, so she wanted only rice.) The waitress listened to her, and she – at the age of 3 – ordered just what she wanted.
In the background a roving musician played the guitar and sang for those patrons that wished him to do so; piñatas hang from the rafters and many of them are different shapes; there is an outside patio and an indoors seating area, and even though it was very crowded, the wait was less than 10 minutes.
I would not rank the food as 5* but it was tasty, satisfying, and a lot of it. My great-granddaughter asked me why I wasn’t finishing my meal and I told her I was full. She said I should take it home and finish it there. (How did she get to be so worldly?)
She was so excited when her Grandmother told her she could go to the treasure chest. (She has been there so often she goes alone to the corner where the chest is located.) It took her almost 10 minutes to pick out her “treasure.” It was a relaxing time for my daughter and I to sit back and relax for a few moments, while my great-grandson just looked at his sister selecting her gift. I am sure that next time he, too, will be able to participate in the treasure selections.
I reserved a table in the back patio room for my dad’s birthday. Unfortunately I think they forgot about our party of 11 because they never came back to ask for a second round of drinks, never offered any water (we were eating the salsa and chips for pete’s sake-which they never came back to offer to refill), forgot my dinner and I had to get up and go find a server to have it brought to the table, and worst was not bringing forks/spoons so that we could eat the cake (that they did very graciously let us bring in for the special occasion). It was a good thing I brought plates with us b/c we would probably have had to eat out of our hands:)
After 5 minutes of waiting for silverware (AFTER my dad had cut the cake and served it to 11 people) I got up and wandered to find a server. I told her the again and went to the kitchen door to ask again for utensils to eat the birthday cake. 10 minutes of waiting to eat the cake in front of the ‘birthday boy’. So embarrassing.
I’ve not mentioned the food yet…the quesadillas and enchiladas came with non- melted cheese– just piles of grated cheese inside and the tortillas could have been from Vons. SO disappointing and embarrassing, considering I’d booked the reservation and even met the owner while doing so. I’d eaten here in the past 6 or 7 years and it was very good. It has gone down to sub-par Mexican on my list.
Please, please, if you want any semblance of attentive service, choose another restaurant.