Old Town Mexican Cafe, San Diego (California)

Old Town Mexican Café on 2489 San Diego Ave, located a short walk from Old Town San Diego (it is considered the ‘birthplace’ of California, Spaniards first permanent settlements). Old Town is a popular tourist attraction when visiting San Diego, California and the place to go for some Mexican spirit, live entertainment, shops and award winning restaurants. After visiting Legoland and eating Granny`s Apple Fries, Sea World and and eating at Georges At The Cove at La Jolla , it was time for some mean Mexican food.
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Old Town Mexican Cafe on Urbanspoon

Opens Daily 7am to 2am


Cuisine: Mexican,
Price/Entrée: $10-20

Out of 5… (1: Don’t bother —> 5: Excellent)
Food: 3
Service: 3.5
Ambiance: 2.5
Overall: 3

Initially we were a bit lost for food until we came upon this bustling restaurant with line ups out the door. On the window there were stickers and awards stating that they were San Diego Restaurant Gold Medal Award 5 years in a row. Although somewhat weary that we may fall into the ‘tourist trap’ we decided to give it a shot. The decor is a bit rustic and bit of a dive but nothing short of authentic Mexico.

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From the window you can see several lovely senoritas making fresh tortillas – a thin disk of unleavened bread made from wheat flour, masa, or corn and baked on a hot surface. This was both entertaining and a guarantee that we were served freshly made hot tortillas and not store-bought inventory. Always a bonus!

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To start, we were served freshly fried corn tortilla chips – hot, crispy and lightly salted; They didn’t look much more than regular out of the bag chips, but wow, they were pretty tasty! And what better to accompany them than some Guac!

Guacamole Dip $6.95
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Avocados are truly one of my favorites. Served with more chips and salsa. Make sure you load the darn thing and smother it with some yummy guac / salsa!


Mango and Strawberry Margaritas
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Made with Margaritaville Tequila and their own margarita mix. Strawberry was slightly sweet. But the Mangoes… delish

While waiting for the entries to arrive devoured the picture-less

  • Mariscada $17.50 – marinated shrimp & halibut with lime juice
  • Fire Shrimp $15.50 – large shrimp tosses in spicy fire sauce served with crisp cucumber, avocadoes, and tomatoes; pretty spicy! proceed with caution.
  • Ceviche $8.95 – chopped pieces of fresh halibut marinated and cooked in a mixture of onions, chiles, cilantro and citrus juices. Served with sliced avocado. Unfortunately I found the citrus slightly too acidic and fresh halibut pieces less than firm.

Throughout the meal there were mariachi band that plays in each section of the restaurant. What a great added to the experience of Mexico.

Finally food with some substance! Comes our entries.


1/2 Chicken Mole Dinner $12.50
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A normal roasted chicken served with beans and rice. The menu says it’s a spicy sauce with a hint of chocolate – but it was neither spicy nor chocolaty. The chicken was juicy and tender however.


Mexican Style Ribs – Full Rack: $19.95 / Half Rack: $11.95
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Pull of the bone softness prepared in Mexican-style rotisserie pork ribs served with rice, beans and tortillas. Again nothing special and something available everywhere; say Vancouver?



Old Town Famous Carnitas – $12.75/serves 1; $24.50/serves 2
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Delicious braised pork served in Mexico’s traditional style served with a side plate full of cilantro, onion, avocado, tomato, peppers, beans and tortillas (chose from flour or corn and served regular or crispy style. We had ½ and ½ and the crispy version is much better. Gives everything more texture!

Tostatas $3.75 to $8.95
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Deep fried tortilla as the base of this dish. On top choose from Bean Beef Combo (Bean/Beef), Guacamole Combo Chicken (Bean/Chicken) or Chicken Suprema. Served with a plate full of beans, beef, pork, lettuce, tomato, olives, guacamole, sour cream and cheese. Definitely a sharing plate.

There’s always room for dessert.

Deep fried ice-cream.
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Whipped cream, chocolate syrup. Need I say more?
To finish everything off, choose form a wide selection of tequilas readily available… Excuse me while I savor my Don Julio


Also notable:

  •  Enchiladas
  •  Fajita
  •  Grilled Basa Fillet
  •  Fresh tortillas
  •  generous portions
  •  long line ups
  •  friendly service
  •  Old Town Tourist Attraction
  •  Reasonable Prices
  •  Late Night
  •  Drinks Menu


  • Old Town Mexican Café has been the proud recipient of many awards and recognitions over the past 21 years:
  • Silver Fork Award (1984)
  • San Diego Home and Garden Magazine
  • Silver Award of Merit (1990)
  • Southern California Restaurant Writers Access Award
  • Accessible San Diego (1996)
  • Gold Medallion Award (1995, 1996, 1998)
  • San Diego Restaurant Association
  • Best Mexican Restaurant (1997, 1998, 1999)
  • San Diego Union-Tribune Readers Poll
  • Reader’s Choice Award Ten Consecutive Years (1990 to 2000)
  • San Diego Magazine
  • Voted Best Margaritas
  • Sunset Magazine
  • Various other awards over the past 20 years.


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