By Judi Curry
EL CUERVO TACO SHOP
110 West Washington St.
San Diego, CA 92103
Several weeks ago I did a restaurant review of “Ortiz’s” in Pt. Loma. Michael, one of the readers of the review wrote that he thought that “El Cuervo” was one of the best Mexican restaurants in town. In fact, he said, “ . . . El Cuervo Taco Shop in Hillcrest. Everything cooked to order and prepared as if grandmother was in the kitchen. The Veggie Burrito ROCKS!!! The Carnitas Burrito and the Pibil Burrito are both excellent too. Have fun.”
“Go. Now. Eat!”
I called my friend Jim and asked him if he would like to join me for dinner at El Cuervo since he has done several reviews with me. He and I set up a date to go the week of the Ortiz’s review, but something came up and we did not go until tonight.
El Cuervo is located on Washington and First Street at the beginning of Hillcrest. The restaurant boasts its own parking lot and it is easy to get into. It is of a similar feel of Ortiz’s in that you place your order at the counter and it is delivered to you when it is finished. It is made to order for you.
They have a very extensive menu, beginning with breakfast, and offers enchiladas, tostadas, quesadillas, sopes, tacos, combinations, burritos, tortas, hamburgers, seafood, fries and chips, sides, extra’s , soups, menudo and a wide variety of drinks. In addition they have daily specials. All of the items on the menu are reasonably priced, with the most expensive combinations listed at $7.95.
Jim ordered a combination plate that he designed himself. ($7.50) He had a shredded beef taco, a cheese enchilada and a chili relleno, and the order came with rice or beans. (He chose rice.)
Since Michael had recommended the vegetarian burrito, I decided that was what I would have, and it was made with whole or black beans, cheese, guacamole, lettuce and tomato. It cost $3.95.
In addition to the two entrée’s, we ordered a large guacamole and chip appetizer ($3.75); Jim had a domestic beer – $2.75 – and I ordered a medium pina colada – no alcohol – for $1.79.
The chips and guacamole dip were some of the best I have had in a long time. It was not watered down; the guacamole was bright green in color, and the chips tasted as if they were freshly made. I added a little more salsa from the salsa bar to my portion, but Jim said his taste buds were happy with what was served to him.
The shredded taco was filled with meat and very tasty, as was the cheese enchilada. The chili relleno was “not the best but far from the worst.” The cheese was not melted thoroughly and Jim found he was eating chunks of cheese rather than a smooth, creamy filling. Towards the top of the chili relleno he encountered some pretty spicy bites, but that was because the seeds were not totally removed from the chili. He said that the rice was cooked well, and he really enjoyed it and his meal.
The veggie burrito was also very good. Once again I needed to add some salsa from the salsa bar for a little more spice, but that was why the salsa bar was there. The pico de gallo was wonderful; just a little spice added to it and it gave the burrito an added flavor.
As Jim and I discussed what the “draw” was to bring people into the restaurant, he said he felt that it was “authentic”; the flavors were good; the value was excellent; and the place was very clean. The “waiter” – Ismael–was delightful and very helpful in making our decisions.
There were approximately 12 tables; all but one was round and each sat at least 4 people. There was one television playing – basketball – but it was not over-whelming in its noise. There were a constant stream of people coming in for take-out service; and a goodly number of people eating at the restaurant itself. Overall, both of us were very pleased with our dinner, and when you figure that the total of our bill was only $21.32 it was a bargain all the way around.
So, Michael, what’s the next place you recommend?