Truth be told, I’m not much of a fan of San Diego’s Gaslamp District. Considering that a vast number Gaslamp venues have their sights on the late-night “Gen-X” crowd (and vice versa), this lack of enthusiasm is probably due to my age more than anything else. It seems, however, that I’ve encountered a significant problem in my stubborn unwillingness to venture here. You see, there apparently are some damn-delicious restaurants in the Gaslamp that are getting some serious attention these days, and I’m a foodaholic to say the very least.
So, feeling a bit adventurous … and hungry for some spicy south-of-the-border fare one recent Friday afternoon, I decided to step foot into the Gaslamp and check out Don Chido, a new Mexican joint that’s been getting some rave reviews amongst the San Diego Restaurant scene. (Think top 10 list on San Diego Eater’s “HEATMAP”, along with enthusiastic reviews from Zagat and San Diego Food Finds,)
When yours truly is hungry for authentic Mexican food, it usually means a starter of “chips and guac” and an ice-cold cerveza. Thankfully, my awesome waiter obliged these cravings, and promptly delivered such items to the table. The aptly named guacamole “Entrada” was … ummm … swiftly devoured. What would one expect when presented with a piquant blend of avocado, cilantro, lime, red onion, fresno chiles, queso fresco, salsa rojo, and a bowl of fresh tortilla chips?
Because I’ve ordered the seafood chile relleno at countless Mexican restaurants throughout the country, I happen to consider myself somewhat of an expert on the dish. At Don Chido, they stuff a roasted poblano chile with shrimp, scallops, white fish, jack cheese, corn and garlic bagna crema, drizzle a chile avocado sauce atop the “obra maestra”, and serve it with a savory tomato sauce, arroz de la casa and beans. “Magnifico!”
Now for street tacos, a fixture at any authentic Mexican eatery that’s worth its salt. A fresh corn tortilla stuffed with rojo-braised carnitas, diced onion, cilantro and tomatillo salsa. Yet another filled with pollo asada grilled in the restaurant’s Santa Maria wood-fired oven, then topped with salsa rojo and served alongside beans with queso fresca and a fresh green salad. Yep, Don Chido is well worth their salt in street taco fare!
As tempting as it was to order Tommy’s Banana Split to wrap up my “delicioso almuerzo”, I reluctantly refrained. It just seemed as though a trio of ice creams, hot fudge, macerated strawberries, and pineapple compote would send me right into a paralyzing food coma. Perhaps on my next visit to Don Chido I’ll make a point of eating dessert first.