Cafe Coyote (Old Town)
Best news I got all Tuesday- it’s National Tequila Day (July 24th – sorry a little late!). Yes, someone finally made it an official day-I’m still waiting for the government to recognize it so I can get my rightfully earned day off, but until then I will go to a tequila pairing and tasting at Cafe Coyote because I’m a workaholic.
Those of you locals and most likely tourists too, have probably been to Old Town and been a victim of the tortilla ladies taunting you with the freshly warmed goodness that is known as a the flour tortilla, while you are strolling down the street or waiting in line for a table. If you haven’t I congratulate you on your stanch willpower, for the rest of us we know this walk of food temptation as the sprawling Cafe Coyote.
Cafe Coyote is centrally located in Old Town and spans two very large spaces. If you didn’t know any better you would think it was two separate restaurants, however, the spacious seating area makes the long line to get a table go by very quickly.
After we ran the tortilla gauntlet, we were seated at a table and greeted by the manager/ tequila master. We started with the chip platter, which included a nacho type situation (chips covered in melted cheese) and 4 different dips/salsas. There was the standard guac, avocado that’s still a little chunky with a little heat-just the way I like it, the chipotle salsa, dense and smoky, jalapeno queso, not my favorite queso ever, a little dense and lacking heat and the salsa of the month, salsa gringa, very similar to a tomatilla salsa, but made with peppers from a mountainous region in Mexico- so very refreshing and tangy.
The nacho platter was paired with a Silver tequila called Fortalaze Blanco. It is distilled in metal vats, as opposed to wooden barrels, to maintain its’ clear color. It is very similar to a vodka in that it is crisp and nearly flavorless. This is usually the type of tequila that is in most mixed drinks, like margaritas or for some of you out there, the type used in shots since it is the closest to being flavorless and can be chased with salt and lime to add flavor. Personally, one of my favorite types of tequila because it has that signature tequila taste without being too oaky.
Next up was Cafe Coyotes’ tortilla soup covered in crunchy and patriotic colored tortilla strips. A little spicy for some, according to the manager, but a pleasant little interim between courses. A light soup with a tomato based broth, pieces of chicken and some avocado for creaminess.
The soup was served with a Repasado tequila from Correlejo. As you can see in the picture, the tequila has more of an amber color because it is aged in oak barrels. You definitely taste the light oakiness the aging process gives it, as well as a little more depth compared to the Silver.
For the main course I had the Carne Asada platter. A thin slice of beef marinated and served with beans, rice and most importantly, warm, delicious, fresh flour tortillas. The beef marinade was a little salty for my taste, but throw it in the magical fresh tortilla blanket with lime and guac and it is pretty darn good.
The entree was paired with Anejo tequila from Jose Cuervo La Familia Reserva. Don’t be fooled by the well-known name, this is the high-end tequila that isn’t usually offered in just any bar. This tequila is aged longer, has a darker shade of amber and a stronger oakiness. It is a tequila meant for tequila aficionado to sip and enjoy, like a fine whiskey. It is served in the rounder glass (see below in top left corner) that is meant to evoke all senses, smell, taste and smell, thus creating the optimal drinking experience.
A very educational and filling meal. But, wait! It’s not over yet. When most people see the expansive Cafe Coyote they might guess that it is a chain of well-to do Mexican restaurants, I know I did. Turns out it is still completely family owned and operated. It was built from the ground up and expanded over time. I instantly gained respect for this establishment knowing that information, plus who doesn’t love local businesses? Also a fun fact, the chefs are typically natives of different regions of Mexico and collaborate on new, regional menu items that are often based off of their favorite dishes from back home.
I gained an appreciation for tequila craftsmanship and for San Diego’s Cafe Coyote. So readers, I will leave you with a map of Mexico that highlights the region of where tequila is produced from agave plants from Cafe Coyotes’ hand painted tequila room (it’s the red outlined section).
Thanks again to the fabulous and knowledgable staff at Cafe Coyote for the education and hearty meal.
You can learn more about Cafe Coyote on their website at http://cafecoyoteoldtown.com.
2461 San Diego Ave.
San Diego, CA 92110