‘rita’s cantina @ harrah’s / valley center, ca

My Dad recently had a birthday (happy birthday, Dad!) and he and my mom spend his birthday weekend up at Harrah’s. He wanted us (Jake, S and I) to meet them for breakfast at Valley View Casino, but we found out that Valley View is a “NO KIDS!@#” zone so we ended up going back to Harrah’s for eats.

On the way over to Harrah’s (which is a short drive from Valley View Casino), we spotted a little furry dog running UP THE STREET on the two lane road between the casinos. There was a bus and three other cars behind him and he was just RUNNING up the way while the bus/cars slowly trailed after him. I gasped and said “Puppy!” and immediately my heart started thumping worrying over this little guy, so afraid he was going to get hit. Jake said, “We’re saving him” and pulled the car around (bless him). The little dog ran off to the side of the road and then sat down and we pulled right up. I felt like he was waiting for us as I got out of the car and gently coaxed him over. He came right up to me, panting his little heart out, and I picked him up and checked his tags. His tag said “SAM” on it but there was no phone number or anything. We gave him some water and he quietly and calmly sat in my lap as we took him over to the fire station. A fireman came out to greet us and we told him how we found him. I saw Sam on the Escondido Humane Society website that night. I hope his family finds him! I’ve been trying to check on him but there’s no much else I can do except look up and see if he becomes adoptable.

Okay, dog saving story over – onto the food!


This is not where we ate but I thought it looked rad. It’s designed to look like a food truck with half of the truck exterior sticking out. They serve mostly tacos and smaller bites here.


‘Rita’s Cantina is where we ended up going. We tried to go to another place with a long line and a gentleman suggested we come over here since there wasn’t a wait. Har har. Punchline to come.


The interior of this place was pretty cool. It’s situated right next to the pool area. Half of the pool area is “adults only” and the other half is open to families and has a cool lazy river running through it with waterfalls and lots of mist. Saturdays are ONLY for adults though since the open the pool area to the public for a fee.


Menu, front side.


Menu, back side.


They have a lot of tequila, yo.


And various pitchers (or glasses) of margaritas.

So we sat down and after a few minutes someone came by and dropped this off for us:


A basket of colorful chips (white, red and green) and a cool thing of salsas. The semi-white sauce was a warm cheese sauce that was actually really yummy. After this we waited for like… ten minutes or so before someone came by to say “We’ll be right with you!” and then she disappeared. I saw a lot of waitresses and staff running around doing I have no idea what because STILL no one came by. No water for you!

Finally a waitress came by and asked us if we had been helped and SHE finally took our order. We managed to get more chips and cheesy sauce and salsa from the lady who actually worked in the pool area who was helping out. My mother starting complaining about how we had no water and we ended up asking the pool lady to pretty pretty please give us some water.

We ended up getting water from her and then another runner came by with waters again after that. Sorry buddy. The nice pool lady is much more efficient than you!

Lots more waiting ensued at this point. Lots of staring off into space. Looking at the pool. Wondering if we would ever get our food.

When it was nearly an hour since we had sat down, our waitress came by to tell us they were just STARTING on our ticket and that the kitchen was very backed up that day. Don’t worry, we already figured that one out.

They offered us more chips but we refused since we were trying to wait for our actual food instead of just filling up on chips.

I think it was about 1 hr and 15 minutes after being seated we finally got our actual food… geez.


[combination plate #3 with marinated skirt steak, enchilada, tequila agave shrimp, rice and beans / $14.99]

I got a combination plate so I could try a few things at once. Where should I start… the skirt steak was dry and bland. It was a bit overcooked and had zero flavor and was really tough and chewy. The shrimp tasted a bit old and was also overcooked and dry. The enchilada (I choose cheese) was probably the best thing on the plate but it was still just okay. On my beans I pretty much just ate the parts that had cheese on them (but that is something I always do). I also got flour tortillas and I was surprised they didn’t include any fixings (like sour cream, guacamole, or salsa) on the side.


[combination plate #1 – any two enchiladas with rice and beans / $11.99]

Dad noticed that they serve crab enchiladas here for $12.99, but if you order the combination plate you can order it with crab and save yourself a buck. When he asked for combo #1 with crab, our waitress said, “Did you see we have crab enchiladas on the other side?” to which my dad replied, “Yes, we’ve been here for quite awhile.” Why order the crab one when you can get the same thing with the combination for cheaper??

I don’t remember what Dad thought of this, I don’t remember him being super impressed but also not hating on it.


[carne asada burrito /$10.99]

My mom and S both got the same thing – a carne asada burrito. S asked for his without guacamole and salsa but instead he got a burrito with everything in it. My mom got it like this – with only meat instead and all of the fixings on the side. Jake tried to get S to stop eating the burrito and send it back to the kitchen, but he was too hungry and continued eating the burrito. Jake complained to our waitress about that and she left to see “what she could do” and asked the manager. They ended up removing one of the burritos from our bill.

When I asked my mom about what she thought about this place and her food she said, “The food was okay, but the service was so poor!”


[nachos “palapas” with cheese, ranchero beans, guacamole, pico de gallo and sour cream with added beef / $9.99 + $3 for the meat]

Jake asked for the guacamole on the side (for me) and no pico de gallo but he got guacamole on it anyway. Jake thought the carne asada was seasoned fairly well. It’s kind of hard to mess up nachos (unless, I guess, you put something the customer didn’t want on it, ho hum). I had a bite or two of it, but wasn’t impressed especially since it cost so much. At least the chips were colorful.

Suffice it to say I was clearly unimpressed with the food and the service we received that day. They had a Horchata Cheesecake that sounded so interesting to me but I was over it at that point and just wanted to leave.

‘Rita’s Cantina
Harrah’s Resort Southern California
777 Harrah’s Rincon Way
Valley Center, CA 92082
(760) 751-3100

We ended up going up to my parent’s room and Jake and S changed into swim clothes for the lazy river. I scoped out a shady spot under an umbrella and read The Maze Runner* on my Kindle app for my phone while they played around.

After pool time, we headed back up to the room to say happy birthday and goodbye to my dad before we headed out (with a stop at Peterson’s Donuts, of course).

I leave you with donut photos:


Oh, hello there cream filled cruller.


Mmm. Donuts.

* Amazon affiliate link!

6 thoughts on “‘rita’s cantina @ harrah’s / valley center, ca

  1. I was just there last night! I love getting a bite off the Taco truck and man there food is so good! Great review! You got me wanting to go back again! Next week!

  2. Awww, too bad you guys had to wait so long for mediocre food! I wonder what it would have been like (food and wait) at the first place! The food truck thing is pretty cool looking though. It fits a casino but would be weird elsewhere! We don’t travel to casinos that often but usually sick with their buffets when we eat there.

    1. Hi Lynn – Yeah, it was a bummer. I think the food truck might have been a better choice, haha! I try to shy away from buffets, I never feel like I get my money’s worth and it doesn’t always taste that fresh. They are still remodeling and putting more restaurants back in, I’m curious and want to try Pink’s sometime.

  3. Awwww I’m so glad to hear that you and Jake saved that puppy’s life. I tried to click on the link but it didn’t show anything so maybe the owners found him 🙂

    That’s awful the service was that bad. I don’t know much about this casino. Pala is also kid friendly and has the AYCE lobster on Tues/Thurs.

    Poor S. I hate seeing kids scarf down food they don’t want to eat 🙁 Poor guy.

    At the the cream puff donut was amazing. Happy bday Mr Mary’s Dad !

    1. Hi Faye – OMG you’re right they took Sam down! I double checked the “Adoption” page too but he’s not there so I hope hope hope he is back with his family, why else would they take it down! Yay! Thanks for the tip about Pala being kid friendly, that is good to know! The cream filled crueller was a nice treat to have after all of that!

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