Restaurant Review: Old Town Staple for authentic Mexican Fare
2461 San Diego Avenue
Old Town, CA
Four of us from my support group had tickets to see “Man of La Mancha” Sunday, August 19, 2012 at the Cygnet Theatre. (Thanks to Ro who ushers at the theater and is paid in “vouchers” for performances.) We decided to go early to find a parking place and then have lunch before the play. We arrived at 12:30pm and had no trouble parking in the little lot attached to the Cygnet. Everyday in Old Town is a parking/eating nightmare, but Sunday has to be the worst.
We parked the cars and then began walking to find a restaurant that could seat the 4 of us in plenty of time to eat our meal and arrive back at the theater by 2:00pm. Because it was so hot – 88 degrees – we wanted to eat indoors where air conditioning was available. We stopped at 3 different places before we settled at the Coyote because there was only a 5 minute wait, compared to the others that offered a 20-25 minute wait. Trouble was that even though it was “in-doors” and the A/C was on, all the windows and doors were open. That doesn’t make much sense to me since I was trying to cut back on my own usage of electricity this past week.
None the less, when we were to be seated the hostess told us that there were only “high” stools available – what? She didn’t think that 4 old ladies could get up on the stools and even though it was “inside” it was right next to the open window. We passed and said we would wait, but lo and behold a table with “regular size” chairs opened up, right underneath a fan. Later on the hostess came up to us to apologize for the problem. She said they were very busy and she was harried. We appreciated her apology. (It is funny though, that when we came up to the desk to give our names and number in the party, the young man spoke into a microphone attached to his lapel to alert the dining rooms (yes, there is more than one) how people were waiting for tables. He said “there are quatro, 2 and four. Reminded me of when I was a Principal in San Ysidro and everyone spoke “Tijuanese.” )
There were 6 televisions in use; 3 with the Padre game; and 3 with the Little League World Series game. Although quite noisy, I think sitting in the middle of the room dinned the noise level somewhat. The capacity of that particular dining room was 79, and it was filled to capacity.
Two of the women ordered tortilla soup ($3.50 each) and split a regular quesadilla – $5.95; one of the ladies had a “Coyote Caesar salad” ($6.95) and I ordered a Shrimp Quesadilla ($9.95) upon the recommendation of our waiter, Paul. The three ladies were very happy with their order and said they would order it again.
Not so with me. The Shrimp Quesadilla was cut into 6 pieces. One piece had no shrimp on it and a zillion jalapenos. The waiter came over just as I was beginning to eat my meal and asked how the food was. I took the piece apart and asked him if he saw any shrimp. He said, “well, they are bay shrimp.” Funny, I didn’t know that “bay shrimp” was invisible. I think that the Shrimp Quesadilla was misnamed – it should have been called a “Jalapeno Quesadilla with bay shrimp.” I like Jalapeno’s, but there was no way I could have eaten the entire meal without breathing fire. Was it good? I honestly cannot answer that question, because after the first bite I couldn’t taste anything. I will say, however, that the shrimp were horribly overcooked; dry to the point that I just gave up.
They have an extensive menu, consisting of Appetizers, Soups, Salads, Taco Platters, Sandwiches, Combinations, Fish – Pescado – Favorites, Traditional Mexican Plates, Breakfast and many, many kinds of Tequila and Margarita’s. Their menu states that they have been voted the “best Mexican Restaurant in 2005, 2006, 2008, 2009 and 2010. Even though our meal for the 4 of us came to $36 with the tip, I doubt that they will win the best Mexican Restaurant award for 2012.
Ernie McCray says
My tongue is burning just reflecting on what I just read. I think I’ve eaten there (looking for a quick meal before a play like you) and was satisfied with everything. Maybe different cooks or something. They better get it together.
The other 3 ladies were very happy with their meals. I can only eat so many jalapenos! Reached my limit very, very quickly.
I’ve eaten there from time to time and always thought it was decent, not the best. I like O.T.M.C. next door much better.
Without question OTMC is the best. Unfortunately, EVERYONE knows that also. The wait for a table was almost 2 hours! Would have missed the play.
Brittany Bailey says
Oh no, Judi! Your meal certainly looks disappointing! I actually ate here for the first time a few weeks ago and I thought it was middle to above par for casual mexican food. I also had their flan for dessert, and I have to say that hands down, it’s the best flan I have ever had in my life. Better luck next time!
I’ll have to try the flan next time – if there is a next time. Thanks for letting me know.