One of the best things about living in San Diego is the fantastic Mexican food. Some of S and my favorites include Las Cuatro Milpas, Lolita’s Taco Shop, and Tacos el Gordo – these three restaurants serve very different styles of Mexican food, ranging from homestyle cooking to California-influenced (e.g. carne asada fries), but we love them all. So when I was recently invited to check out Cafe Coyote in Old Town, I immediately accepted the offer and was quite excited to check out a new place.
I’ve only been to Old Town once, for sushi, and I had no idea that it was such a busy and bustlin’ place! There were several Mexican eateries on the same street as Cafe Coyote, but Cafe Coyote is definitely the biggest restaurant, and very lively.
We started off our meal with some drinks. I had a horchata (a huge cup!), and S tried out one of their famous margaritas.
Traditional Cadillac Margarita [$9.50]
The Cadillac was the recommendation given to S, so he decided to try it out. It’s a “no-frills” margarita, featuring Grand Marnier, El Jimador Blanco 100% Blue Agave Tequila, triple sec, fresh lime juice, and house-made sweet & sour. S really liked it; he’s never had this type of “doesn’t-come-from-a-mix” margarita (okay that’s not true, I’ve tried to make it once, but the lime juice was too sour, haha. Let’s just say that this drink redeemed margaritas for him).
Chips & Salsa
Every table receives some chips & salsa to start. The chips were warm (yay!) and the salsa was simple but pretty good. S really liked it – probably because it was a bit sweeter than most other salsa we’ve had.
We were invited to preview the February monthly specials – menu shown above. The manager actually came out to talk to us, and he suggested just letting us try out one of each of the specials – appetizer, two entrées, and dessert. He actually also said that we should try their famous ice cream, and so we were happy to oblige.
In addition to all that, we also got a quesadilla sample – I believe they gave out an order to everyone who was referred to the restaurant by someone else? I was a little confused about that, but never mind, I’ll take these! These are meant to showcase the tortillas – the green is made with cilantro, and the reddish-orange is made with red pepper. I couldn’t taste much of the cilantro, but the red pepper taste definitely came through. I love how crispy these were! I tried it plain, but S dipped it in some of the salsa that came with the chips, and he said it was even better that way.
Empanadas de Flor de Calabazas [$7.95]
The kitchen manager/head chef, Jorge, actually came out and explained the dishes to us. I’ve only had empanadas a couple of times, ever, but none of those were quite so memorable (I just thought of it as a fried, sealed taco). But this was quite different, in an amazing way.
The empanadas were super crispy, with simple but delicious fillings: zucchini blossoms, cheese, serrano chilis, cilantro, and onions – that’s it. And garnished on top with some salsa verde, tomatoes, and onions. I think what made it taste so good was how balanced the ingredients were; the zucchini blossoms’ light sweetness really brought everything else together. I at first thought that maybe S wouldn’t like these since they’re meatless, but it turns out he really enjoyed them too!
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Ropa Vieja [$11.95]