I follow a lot of food related stuff on Instagram and once in awhile I’ll see something droolworthy. Usually it’s from some place in New York or San Francisco but recently I saw a mini tableside spit with al pastor on it. A little bit of research led me to find out it’s from a place in Chula Vista called Cocina 277 Artesanal. I knew we had to make it down there just to try it out!
Cocina 277 Artesanal is located in the heart of Downtown Chula Vista. We visited on a Saturday night and it was fairly quiet. I guess Downtown Chula Vista isn’t the happeningest place haha.
It’s a pretty cozy space with about 10 indoor tables. There’s a really cool bar area, too. No outdoor seating here.
Cocina 277 Artesanal has got kind of a hipster-industrial kind of vibe with the unfinished backing on the seats, the corrugated metal sheeting and the broken up wine barrels for decoration. I noticed when the waitress was setting up new tables, she got out a rubber stamp and stamped the name of the restaurant into the paper sheets. Hipster.
I like how spring water costs more than a martini.
When we arrived at Cocina 277 Artesanal, the waitress told us to sit wherever we wanted. She dropped off this board with two tacos on it and then left. I wish she told us what was on these tacos. I believe it was some kind of vegetarian taco with crema and cotija on top of a crunchy shell. Flavor was a little odd but not bad for a complimentary starter dish.
[empanada / $2.50]
Jake and I started off with an empanada for our appetizer.
It was a tad on the small size. The empanada was fried (yay) and had a wonderfully crunchy shell. It was filled to the brim on the inside! I’ll be honest though I don’t remember what kind it was, but I believe it wa a choice between two different kinds of meaty empanadas. The filling was nice and thick and complimented the crunchy shell nicely.
[refried beans and rice of the day / $2.50 each]
Beans and rice are extra here and they have a bunch of different “pots” you can choose from. We got the refried beans and the “rice of the day” which was a cilantro lime rice.
I really liked the refried beans here! They were smooth beans with no crazy bean chunks in it (which I dislike). The flavor was really nice and the cheese on top was a tasty touch.
I loved the cilantro lime rice! It was really packed with flavor and I was surprised by how much I enjoyed it. Jake told me he thought the rice was spicy and was surprised I even liked it. I honestly didn’t think it was spicy at all so I secretly though he spilled hot sauce into his rice or something. The cilantro gave the rice a wonderful fresh and bright taste that I adored. Yum!
Pipin’ hot corn tortillas. Yessssssss!
[mini pastor trompo / $19.99]
And here’s what we came for: the Al Pastor on a mini spit! A “trompo” is a spinning top toy, hence the name (thanks, Google). The trompo comes on a little mini spit. There is a fire behind it but it does NOT spin when it’s at your table. The fire is supposed to keep your meat warm but I felt it was really just for show more than anything else.
You get corn tortillas and a little basket of condiments that includes onions and cilantro, lime wedges, and hot sauce.
The al pastor (which is marinated pork) is nestled in between a pineapple and an onion. The meat’s already cooked and ready to go.
Here’s a video of Jake trying to get the meat off the mini spit. Heh.
We each at least three tacos (I think Jake managed a few more than that). The al pastor was really flavorful. There were sweet and sour notes and the flavor seemed to change and transform as we chewed and ate it. There was a nice char to the meat as well which just added extra flavor and goodness. I made tacos with beans and rice sometimes to make my meat and tacos spread a little further. It was awesome and a nice meal to share for the two of us.
[chocolate dipped churros / $12.50]
I can’t ignore dessert, now can I? Our waitress recommended the churros which were served PIPING HOT! We couldn’t really even eat them at first, they were so hot! The churros also have a creamy filling in them. The chocolate is only on the top edge.
The churros are served with two dippings sauces – one was a guava sauce and the other was a blueberry sauce.
I preferred the blueberry sauce between the two! The churros were tasty and fresh. The sauces are quite creative though I don’t think this really warrants a $12.50 price tag for basically three churros. I’d rather go down to the border and get the fresh churros made at Churros el Tigre at the outlet mall.
Service was okay here. There were only a few other patrons that evening. When our bill was due, we had to wait for quite a while to get it even though there was only one other table at the time. I didn’t think we had to ask for it, but I guess we did.
Cocina 277 Artesanal
277 3rd Ave.
Chula Vista, CA 91910