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Tuesday, September 14, 2010

TACO TUESDAYS: I Should Have Waited for the Burger

THE PLACE:  Ortega's Cocina in OB
4888 Newport Avenue, San Diego, CA‎ - (619) 222-4205
THE VIBE:  Locals and loyal customers inside, crazy and possibly escaped mental patients outside
THE COST:  Average, $10 per person

I'm sorry, Joe.  Ortega's in OB is his favorite place and years ago he took me there and it was pretty good. I went to OB specifically for Hodad's but the line was wrapped around the block and I was super hungry so decided to go back to an old favorite.  Can you blame me?  I mean, look at those street tacos!

The setting inside is cool, like a cleaned up joint you might go to in Tijuana - in all the best ways.  I really liked the atmosphere. Let the tests begin!

Test 1:  Oh no, the margarita looked like it was going to be a good one but I think.... I'm pretty sure.... it was a wine margarita.  What?  Yes, it was weak and watered down and tasted all wrong, like there was no tequila in it and no kick whatsoever.  I'm sure the waitress told us (well, maybe not) but the lack of a full bar should have tipped me off.  This was a rookie mistake so I'll take half the blame, but trust me, you do not want this "margarita"!  And if someone tells me I'm wrong and that this was an actual tequila margarita, then that makes this one of the worst margaritas I've ever had.  El Torito bad.

Test 2:  You can tell a lot about the meal to come by the chips and salsa.  The chips were good enough but the salsa "fresca" tasted like it came out of a jar.  Sort of like Pace.  Sweet, no zing, no zang, no heat at all.  I was starting to get a little nervous.

Test 4:  I ordered a carnitas taco ($3.50), a shrimp taco ($3.50), and a side of rice and beans ($3.00).  Good looking beans with Mexican cheese, a tad salty but good flavor.  The rice, however, was way salty.  And come on, the quantity was ridiculous, basically an ice cream scoop.

Carnitas is one of my favorites, rich and succulent, moist on the inside, crispy on the outside.  Unfortunately, this carnitas was none of these things.  In a word, dry.  Really dry.  Jerky dry.  Let's move on to the shrimp taco.

This is the shrimp taco, but where's the shrimp?  Do you see any shrimp?  Did I order a vegetarian taco by accident?  Overall better than the carnitas, but basically not enough shrimp and too much filler like that iceberg lettuce.  I had to open it up to make sure there were actually shrimp in there and there were a few, but way too few.

My wife got the carnitas burrito.  On the plus side, it was filled with meat and lots of it.  On the negative side, well, it was the same dry carnitas that was in the taco so you actually wished they would have mixed in some beans to add some moisture.  So like the taco, pretty hard to get down when the meat is this dried out.

Around the bar someone was talking to the chef and said that this was the best Mexican food in all of North America.  Go on Yelp and people rave about how authentic this place is.  So I'm willing to say that maybe, just maybe, we hit the perfect storm and caught them at a time when the carnitas was overcooked and they were running low on shrimp and the person making the margaritas just made it through their AA program. Maybe I just ordered the wrong things and the other items on the menu really rocked.  Maybe...probably not, but maybe.

I'll tell you what, next time I'm waiting in line at Hodad's.

Wally eats San Diego so you don't have to!  Read more Wally at Local Wally's Guide to San Diego!

1 comment:

Dennis Mag said...

OMG...I missed this place so bad,,,Had great time in it. Mr. Ortegas, Thanks a lot forthe service.