Taste of Old Town 2015

I forgot how much fun Old Town can be. It seems like such a touristy place to go, but it was a treat walking around soaking in the sites and sounds. We hadn’t been to a Taste of event in a while so it was nice to put on our loose pants and get out to conquer as many plates as we could. There were a total of 13 participating restaurants with food and beverage(mostly tequila) samples.

It’s not everyday a food blogger can snap pictures while listening to “Oye Como Va” being played live. It kind of made me forget for a second how blistering hot it was that day.

Right off the bat we knew that the outliers Casa Guadalajara or Old Town Tequila Factory might not happen due to time, stomach space, or sheer lack of energy if we waited until the end to visit them. Oh well, as long as we recognized that might be a potential outcome we wouldn’t be surprised in the end.

Where do we start?

Will call was right in the middle of the map. We sort of just turned one way and followed our noses which led us to Fred’s Mexican Cafe.

Chicken Chingadera: chicken, beans, rice, cheese, and Fred’s signature seasonings rolled into a jumbo flour tortilla, sliced, panko bread-crumbed and fried. Topped with Acapulco sauce

Our first bite was a little dry and could have used more sauce. It had more rice and beans than anything else and I could have used more chicken.

The tequila might have helped with adding some liquid to the equation, but a picture will have to suffice. I wonder how many people asked if they could have a bottle to go.

Old Town Mexican Cafe provided us with our first taste of meat!

Carnitas Street taco: topped with onions, cilantro, and guacamole salsa. Served with chili toreados and homemade flan

They also served flan with the carnitas taco. Again, the taco was a little dry. But the flan was nice and light. Most of what was ahead of us would be savory so the little bit of sweetness was certainly welcomed.

The event took place on a Thursday and I had no idea Old Town would be so busy. It looked like a mix of locals and tourists enjoying the day at the many outdoor patios scattered throughout Old Town.

Carnitas taco: slow cooked pork shoulder with guacamole, onions, cilantro, and salsa

At Cafe Coyote you got to choose between four different tacos. We went with another carnitas taco since the last one didn’t fully satisfy me. This one was much more moist and had the signature porky goodness associated with carnitas.

Carne Asada taco: guacamole, onions, cilantro, and salsa

The carne asada was good too but the carnitas was better.

You kind of forget people live in Old Town, or at least I do. I wonder what life would be if I lived in a walk-able area of San Diego…

Cazadores Tequila with guava

So at this point I was getting thirsty and the heat was winning the battle of attrition. This guava flavored drink from Miguel’s Cocina really hit the spot. Drinks that go down easily can be quite dangerous.

Camarones Jalisco: bacon-wrapped shrimp stuffed with poblano pepper and jack cheese, served with jalapeno cream sauce

Bacon + shrimp. Yes sir! This sample was piping hot and really juicy. It probably was my favorite of the event. Maybe because it was wrapped in bacon.

The sun was starting to set and it was still really hot. But when we came outside we had to stop and enjoy the sunset. It is times like these I realize how lucky we are!

Tastes of the Soutwest: chicken and beef rolled tacos, southwest salad and nachos with southwest cheese

These rolled tacos were hard and tough to chew. A bowl of sauce on the side would have been nice to soften them up a bit.

I don’t know if this is considered “off the beaten path” but I’ve never been to or even seen Rockin’ Baja Lobster. It’s almost like walking into a different amusement park portion of Old Town.

Mar y Tierra: tequila-lime shrimp with angus skirt steak. Ceviche made with citrus-marinated tilapia and shrimp served with chips

Ceviche is something I latch onto whenever I see it on a menu. This one was quite tasty and refreshing. I wish I had more of it!

Churro and cinnamon chip with whipped cream and caramel sauce

Cinnamon anything gets automatic points in my book and it was nice and warm!

Molcajete Trio: grilled steak, chicken, shrimp, queso fresco and nopal over a fresh molcajete salsa, served with guacamole

The sun disappeared very quickly and we were running out of time. El Patio de Old Town served one of the larger samples of the evening. They kind of gave you a little bit of everything. It was really dark so we were eating blindly at that point. Michael and I put something in our mouths and looked at each other with a “I’m not sure what that is” face. We realized it was the queso fresco. It didn’t have too much taste but the texture kind of threw us off. I liked the chicken and steak the most out of everything on the plate. The sauce gave it a nice little kick too.

Pollo Mole Verde: bone-in-chicken smothered in Barra Barra’s homemade mole verde sauce. Served on cilatro white rice and topped with chopped red onion, peanuts, and cilantro

Food is food, but when it is assembled in front of you it makes it that much more appealing. Barra Barra’s Pollo Mole Verde was another favorite of the night. The chicken was hot and fell off the bone so easily, I forgot there were even bones on the plate. The mole wasn’t too sweet and it was right after this plate that I was starting to get “normal full.” Normal full is how my body feels after a regular meal out at a restaurant. But this was a Taste of event! We were only about halfway through…time to step it up.

Mariscada de Naranja: cored 1/2 orange filled with green-lip mussels, camarones, pescado, tossed in an orange chipotle enchilada sauce and topped with grilled queso panela

Casa de Reyes wins for presentation of the day but it wasn’t our favorite sample of the day. Still, it was fun eating out of an orange.

Meatball with cole slaw

It took us a little while to find the RUST General Store & Bistro. Well, really we had already passed it a few times and just didn’t know it. After circling the building about to skip over it a final time we stumbled upon it at the back of the store.

This was a cool little display of treats. All of them were unique and fun to try. I could have drank a gallon of their prickly pear mocktail.

Mini Short Rib Slider Skewer: caramelized onions, espresso-braised short ribs and beer-battered onions with a homemade strawberry churro

The second to last stop we made was the Cosmopolitan Hotel and Restaurant. We only had about 20 minutes until the end of the event so we had to rush a bit. I’ve never had a strawberry or churro stuck to a slider before! This sample had promise but I think ours was sitting there for a while because it just was room temperature and the churro was pretty hard. The sample was huge and I wish we had come earlier in the day for this one.

Carnita Fabuloso Street Taco: carnitas with grilled onions, cilantro and serrano chilies in a mini tortilla topped with homemade salsa quemada and avocado salsa

Having only 10 minutes left we had to choose either Casa Guadalajara or Old Town Tequila Factory. Both were roughly the same distance but we ended up at Casa Guadalajara. This would mark my third carnitas taco for the day. It was assembled in front of us as part of the last tray of carnitas for the day. We enjoyed it and the two tacos definitely filled whatever space we had left in our bellies.

It was only 13 stops (I guess we only got to 12 :/) but it felt like we traveled for miles in that unforgiving heat. 

Who am I to complain? When you have a payoff with sunsets like this everyday, I guess I can deal with the occasional heat wave. I enjoyed walking around Old Town and visiting all the restaurants. The lines were really quick to get through and everyone seemed happy! 13 samples may or may not seem like a lot to you. I can assure you with their portions, you will not leave hungry!

A few fellow bloggers attended the event as well. Check out what Oh-So Yummy and Faye’s Fork had to say!

Taste of Old Town



*Disclaimer: We were given passes for this event, but our opinions remain our own.


About Darren

Fooood! I love it if you can't tell already. I love everything about it. The taste, the smell, the look, the feel, the satisfaction, the gratification, and ultimately: the fun! I've been in San Diego for about 10 years now and it amazes me that there are still places to uncover. Traveling, eating, and taking pictures of food has always been a hobby of mine. So naturally Michael and I thought it made sense to share what we found with all of you. I tend to side with the savory but never shy away from a knock out dessert. If you have a place you think we haven't tried let us know! We're always on the lookout...

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2 Comments on “Taste of Old Town 2015”

  1. Love the scenic pics as part of your adventure! Dennis focuses on food so any extra pictures usually are taken on my camera! It seems like the heat is still here, a month later, as I am sweating in my office with no A/C. I’ve been to several of these now and I loved the drink options this year. I wish I had some prickly pear mocktail right now!

    1. I love how you give yourself credit in your posts for pictures you take. I think you guys make a great tag team. It was 109 degrees when I was driving up past Orange County on Friday. I thought my thermostat was broken! Prickly pear would be nice yes it would.

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