Fred’s Mexican Cafe
Old Town Location
2470 San Diego Ave
San Diego, CA 92110
By Judi Curry
Frequently we get into a rut by going to the same restaurant time and time again because we like the food, the atmosphere, the price, etc. Every few months or so members of my support group attend the play at the Cygnet Theater in Old Town – thanks to one of our members ushering there often – and we always go to lunch (or dinner) before – or after – the play.
Sunday we saw the 3pm performance of Maple and Vine and decided to have lunch before the play. (BTW – the play was an interesting one; the plot different than most plays put on by the Cygnet, and quite enjoyable.)
Ro, one of our members who just happens to be the reason for our theater outings, had a discount ticket at “Fred’s Mexican Café” and we decided to go there instead of the regular places we usually eat. We all like Mexican food and the coupon was for a free appetizer or dessert. The Old Town location is one of six operated by the company in Southern California.
We looked at the appetizer list, deciding what we wanted as a “freebie”, only to be told by our waiter that the restaurant gives the Queso Dip (Oaxaca cheese with serranos and garlic) as the free appetizer. It was surprising to us that we were also served a plate of chips and salsa.
Besides the Appetizers,($.95-$7.95) Fred’s offers a selection of tacos, ($9.95-$10.95); burritos, ($9.95-$10.95); combinations, ($10.45-$12.45); fajitas, ($12.95-$14.95); “Fred’s Favorites”, ($11.95-$14.95); enchilada’s, ($9.95-$11.95). Torta’s, tortilla soup, desserts, salads, etc. are also available.
There was an extensive menu featuring margaritas, as well as other beverages. There was no ala carte menu, but I asked the waiter if I could order items without the rice and beans, and he said on some of the items it was possible.
Because of the two dips we were served, Ro elected to have tortilla soup ($4.75) and a side order of tortillas. The soup was tasty; a little bit too spicy; but each person reacts differently to the spice element.
Candy ordered the Quesadilla veggie that consisted of grilled portobello mushrooms, avocado, roasted corn and oaxaca cheese. Sour cream was served on the side. The portion was large, and she was able to take half of her order home. It, too, was a little too spicy for her, but she enjoyed it.
Irene and I both ordered the same thing – chicken “Chingaderas” off of the appetizer menu. It was billed as “Fred’s original Mexican egg roll” but it was nothing like any egg roll I have ever had. There were 5 of them on a plate, and, for all the world could have been called “chicken croquettes” and I would have believed it. The chicken was rolled into a ball – like a croquette – and deep fried, topped with an avocado sauce. It was also tasteless – and spicy. (I know – they contradict each other but the “hotness” remained even without any flavor.) I left 3 of them on my plate. (Ro ate one of them; I ate the other.) Irene enjoyed the “crunchiness” of the chingaderas, but she too said there was no flavor. She took 4 of them home.
When the original bill was presented to us, the total was $39.15. As I looked it over more carefully, I discovered that we had been charged for the free appetizer. I brought this to the attention of the waiter who apologized by saying that the “other waitperson” had taken the discount card and he would make a change. He did and the total of our lunch was $32.00. We left a $5 tip – even though the service was not good – no one came to our table to ask if we liked our meal or if we wanted something else. There was no refill of the chips, nor were we asked if we wanted more. Although quite pleasant, our waiter was lacking in service skills.
Would we go again to “Fred’s?” I don’t think so.
Nothing stood out as special; everything was quite spicy; it seemed more of a “gringo tourist” spot than a favorite neighborhood restaurant. For those of you that like Fred’s – everyone’s taste is different. This review is merely the consensus of four women that eat out together frequently and enjoy good tasting food.