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Tuesday, September 7, 2010

TACO TUESDAY: What do Bing, Bob, Desi, Lucy, and Wally have in common? Tony's Jacal!

621 Valley Avenue
Solana Beach, CA 92075-2428
(858) 755-2274
THE VIBE:  Old school Mexican restaurant
THE COST:  Not much more than a taco shop

Eden Gardens area in Solana Beach is best known for Fidel's, but its history began as an area to house the Mexican farm workers employed by the wealthy folks in Rancho Santa Fe.  Tony Gonzales and his family lived here, opening the restaurant right after World War II in 1946.  Hollywood soon discovered it, the place to go before the Del Mar races.  Yes, Bob Hope, Bing Crosby, Lucy and Desi, Jimmy Durante, this was their place.

The patio looks like someone's backyard.  It's friendly and inviting, the perfect spot on a sunny day.
Can you imagine running into Desi and Lucy here?  You might have back in the 50's.

The menu is large and varied, offering everything from turkey tacos (their specialty) to vegetarian items.  But let's do test #1 - the chips.

OMG, the chips were light and crispy, the salsa tangy and spicy, absolutely fantastic.  You could easily eat a giant bucket of these chips with a gallon of salsa it's that delicious.  Why yes, I would like more, thank you!

Test 2, the margarita.  I sometime get dragged into this terrible Mexican restaurant in Temecula where they have industrial sized gallon jugs of "margarita mix" in plain view at the bar.  I hate that.  A good margarita should have a certain freshness to it with a strong undercurrent of tequila, like a rip tide hiding under the waves in La Jolla.  The Cadillac Margarita at Tony's passed the margarita test, a shot of Grand Marnier on the side to toss in after a few sips.  It had the perfect kick, not sweet, not too sour, drink too many of these and it's bye-bye.  

Test 3, the food.  Here's the one item combo.  That's a turkey taco, believe it or not.  The story behind turkey is that it was easier to prepare one big turkey than a bunch of chickens, but will it pass the taste test?  Yes, with flying colors.  While not exactly the fattest taco, it was stuffed full of turkey meat and topped with Mexican cheese, really good.  The beans were authentic as well, the cabbage salad (included) has a terrific acidity to it, and the rice, which is cooked with some of the turkey juices (ie: fat) was delightfully delicious.  At $6.90, what a great deal. 

The carne asada street tacos ($8) came with a side of real guacamole, salsa fresca, each taco wrapped in two tortillas.  The meat had the perfect seasoning to it, the cilantro and onions adding a nice crunch and contrast, the guacamole the creaminess, and stuffed right to the top.  Fresh and tasty, this dish gets an A+. 

There's something so authentic about Tony's Jacal, something unique.  It feels like home, it tastes like home cooking, there's not a stitch of cheddar cheese or sour cream in sight, I think I love this place. 

Wally's on the go and watching your back!  Check out Local Wally's Guide to San Diego for more reviews!

1 comment:

beth said...

turkey tacos and enchiladas are awesome. i wish i were there right now! maybe i will have to make a thanksgiving road trip.