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Monday, March 19, 2012

The Best Mexican Food in North San Diego County


I’m leaving shortly for a wine tour to Australia and I have to get my “fix” of Mexican before departing.  Tonight I’m dining at El Callejon in downtown Vista.   I grew up on Mexican food in California’s agricultural central valley, an area replete with Mexican immigrants.  Forget mashed potatoes and pot roast—my comfort food was (and is still) chile rellenos, guacamole and home-made chips with pico di gallo. 

El Callejon has the best chile relleno I may have ever tasted, which is saying something as I base all restaurants on this classical standard.  (Note:  there are two chile rellenos on their menu---one of meat and one of cheese---the cheese one is ethereal!)  Freshly fried tortillas, guacamole and home-made salsa of fresh tomoatoes, onion and cilantro (pico di gallo) are also criteria on which I judge a Mexican restaurant.  This place gets a definite thumbs up for all of these items---and that’s something considering this is the worse time of the year for tomatoes.  Their pico di gallo still rocks.

Another benchmark for measurement at Mexican eating establishments is a margarita. ( I actually was sent to El Callejon by a local when I asked where was the best place for a margarita.)  You can probably imagine that being in the wine business I am a hard one to please on margaritas.  If a restaurant tells me their’s is not made from freshly squeezed limes I’m immediately out the door.  El Callejon's margaritas are sublime, but that’s a no-brainer as the restaurant has a tequila bar featuring >200 tequilas.

Another thing I love about El Callejon is the outside dining.  Unless it’s raining, dining year around on their outside terrace is possible (heaters take the edge off during Vista’s mild winters.)

Time your visit on Monday-Friday during happy hour when margaritas are half price in the bar area, or on the terrace immediately outside the bar.  If you decide to come on a weekend, there’s an authentic Mexican combo that plays mariachi-style classics.    (BTW…there is a second El Callejon in Encinitas).

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