Search This Blog

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

TACO TUESDAY: Casa de Bandini and Why Gov Gray Davis was Recalled

I have to give a shout out to Diane Powers, the owner of Casa de Bandini in South Carlsbad.  She got her booty unfairly kicked out of Old Town by our not too smart Gov Gray Davis in 2005.  He decided that Old Town with it's festive umbrellas was politically incorrect and turned it into a drab sepia toned disaster.  Well, he got recalled and we sent him on his way but Old Town has yet to recover.

Diane lost Old Town but she ain't no fool.  She bought up the rights to the names of the two popular Old Town restaurants, Casa de Bandini and Casa de Pico, and has recreated the fiesta atmosphere outside the park.  Bandini is constantly packed, just like the Old Town restaurant was, and if the food isn't very authentic no one seems to care.

In fact, the food isn't the point at all if you dine at Casa de Bandini.  Girlfriends gossiping at lunch, families at dinner, the focus is on the scene.  The restaurant is lively and the food is exactly as I remember it from Old Town, meaning good but not great.  The salsa was tasty but a bit too salty, the rice had peas and carrots in it, the taco stuffed with cheddar and jack cheese and a generic "Mexican style" shredded beef, heck, the beans were even served in a molded tortilla cup.  The chicken enchilada was sliced pieces of breast meat rolled in a tortilla and topped with sauce.  Is El Torito down the street scared?  Maybe.  Juanita's Taco Shop on 101?  No way, they're probably laughing at the gullible gringos paying good money for this stuff!

If you get roped into coming here by friends who want to get together and have a watered down margarita, go ahead and go.  You'll have a good time and won't even care that the food isn't authentic.  But if you want real Mexican food, if you crave the complex flavors of the real deal, get back into the car and head down the coast to any number of way better options.  Fidel's Little Mexico, Tony's Jacal, La Especial Norte and El Callejon all come to mind.  Or just go local and hit the taco shops like Karina's, El Torito Market (an authentic Mexican market with take out food, not to be confused with horrible El Torito chain restaurant), Roberto's, or Juanita's.  All better.  Way better.

You think maybe Gray Davis was right and just wanted a decent taco in Old Town?  Hmmm.

No comments: