gringo’s cantina / pacific beach – san diego, ca
Update: This restaurant is now closed.
A few weeks ago (yeah, I’m behind in my blogging!) Jake and I visited Gringo’s Cantina in Pacific Beach at the behest of my dad, who gave us his coupon for $50 worth of food. He had visited before us and told me all about it and gave me the coupon to “see how I would like it” and if “maybe the food will be better when you go”. Hmm.
We visited on a Sunday evening and got to benefit from their free and easy parking right outside the restaurant. It used to be a valet/pay service, but they have abandoned that in favor of free parking for patrons of the restaurant. We went inside and requested seats out on the patio next to their fire pit.
Ooo, looky. Fire!
Okay, here’s a shot with one of the appetizers we got. Still a little fire in the background up there.
We had $50 bucks to spend, so we decided to get a bunch of appetizers to try out more items. We were given the standard chips and salsa when we sat down and decided to amp it up by ordering the Gringo’s Classic Cheese Sauce ($4). Apparently this is a “5 cheese blend with chiles” but you could have fooled me. It was pasty, bland and not really all that cheesy for a cheese sauce. I’m pretty sure I could make this better at home. It didn’t taste very fresh – we suspected it was made awhile ago (or maybe even *gasp* from a can?!) – it just had that “I’ve been sitting around” taste. We didn’t eat a lot of this.
Next appetizer we ordered was the Queso Fundido con Chorizo ($7). This was sort of an inside-out quesadilla. You get a bunch of tortillas and in the sauce there is a bunch of melted cheese at the bottom of the cup with the chorizo in a weird tomato-y sauce on top of the cheese. The sauce was sour and weirdly spiced. We didn’t even get to see the cheese because the chorizo-sauce thing was distracting. Jake and I disliked this dish so much we told the water we didn’t like it, he took it away and took it off our bill, and we ordered sodas to replace the cost.
We also ordered this trio of Sopes Surtidos ($8) to try out. Each one was topped with something different: cochinita pibil, chili verde, and chili colorado. I did actually like the chili colorado of the three, the other two were less memorable but the chili colorado had a nice flavor on top of the sope. Maybe I should have ordered the chili colorado instead of what I got… oh well.
This is Jake’s Combination Plate ($10) – he got it with an enchilada and a bean & cheese burrito. He didn’t like it. He thought it was all kind of bland.
I got this fancy looking, expensive, “I’m pretty much a combo plate” Tampiquena ($17) for my meal. It came with a 7oz top sirloin steak, and manchego cheese enchilada and my choice of 2 sides. I choose the Pepper Jack Mac n Cheese and the Grilled Asparagus duo (green and white asparagus) for my sides.
The steak was pretty bland – very underseasoned, not well cooked and a tough piece of meat. I ordered it medium and it was closer to being well done which resulted in some dried out pieces of meat. The enchilada was unmemroable. The asparagus had a really weird aftertaste that lingered in my mouth and didn’t taste like it was cooked all the way through. The mac n cheese was the best thing on my plate because it was the most edible thing on my plate. Suffice it to say, neither of us enjoyed our meal.
Our waiter was fine for the most part. After we had our food boxed up to take to go (I have no idea why we did that), we were waiting for our check and Jake insisted we go up to the hostess stand to get our check so we could leave. Puzzled, I obliged and we paid up front. He went out to get the car while I paid for the tax and tip and met him outside after I took an outside shot of the restaurant.
“What’s with the sudden rush to leave?” I asked him as I got into the car.
“The food was so bad, I just wanted to get away from the restaurant,” he explained. I laughed.
What do you expect from a restaurant that calls itself “Gringo’s?” It’s like a shout out saying, “Hey, we serve fake Mexican food here! And since we’re located in a highly populated tourist area, we can sucker you in with our pretty fire rings and outdoor patio!”
Oh well, lesson learned. Thanks to my dad for the free, albeit not very good, dinner.
4474 Mission Blvd
(between Garnet Ave & Hornblend St – near the pier)
San Diego, CA 92109