By Stella Monde
This month found me craving Mexican food more so than usual. Mexican food has to be one of my all-time favorite types of cuisine. If it were not for the ill-effects to my waistline, I could eat some form of Mexican food every day. Whether it is the juicy tender cuts of beef called carne asada or the crisp, tasty morsels of pork called carnitas, I am a big fan. What’s not to love about good food cradled in a tortilla in the form of a burrito, a taco or a taquito? I’ll take it any which way it can be served.
On a typical sunny San Diego day, my friends and I lunched at Los Palmitos on Clairemont Mesa Blvd. After staring at the extensive menu posted overhead and placing our order at the counter, we opted to sit on the front patio as seating inside is limited and a bit cramped. Nothing spectacular about the storefront or interior, but we weren’t interested in home decor or architecture. We were looking to indulge our Mexican food hankering. We sampled guacamole and chips, a carne asada burrito, rolled chicken tacos, a shrimp ceviche tostada and a giant carnitas plate. Of course, I had to wash all this down with some horchata, too. For me, horchata is dessert in liquid form. It’s a sweet drink made from cinnamon, vanilla, milk and rice. Ok, so some of you might be thinking that rice in a drink does not interest you, but the ingredients are all blended and liquefied, so what you get is a drink that looks like soy milk and is filled with sweet-tasting goodness. A nice cold cerveza also goes very well and Los Palmitos does offer this option, but I had a busy afternoon ahead of me, so decided to abstain.
But, I digress…Let me tell you about the other highlights from that lunchtime feast. The carne asada burrito ($5.45) was a healthy-sized portion dominated by tasty pieces of beef covered in salsa fresca and guacamole. Three simple and tasty ingredients wrapped up in a tortilla equals deliciousness.
The ceviche tostada ($3.99) arrived with shrimp tossed in lime juice and red onions piled high on a crispy tostada. The tanginess from the lime juice combined with the tender shrimp and the crunch of the tostada melded many textures in each bite.
There is something incredibly easy about eating a taquito/rolled chicken taco (5 rolled chicken tacos with guacamole: $4.90). The chicken is rolled in a corn tortilla, deep-fried, then topped with lettuce, cheese, sour cream, salsa fresca and guacamole. All I have to do is grab a chicken rolled taco from the plate with all the toppings on it and proceed to feeding my face with all this goodness. However, I have to say that my one critique of the ones I had here was that they were a bit dry. No worries, I saved the best dish for last.
If I have any regrets in life, it’s that I discovered carnitas only 11 years ago when I moved to San Diego. Slow-cooked pork that remains tender, juicy AND has pockets of crispness is an amazing creation. When done well, I absolutely love it. Los Palmitos’ carnitas plate served with rice, beans, guacamole and corn/flour tortillas ($8.60) has to be one of the best deals out there. It’s a huge portion of food AND it is oh-so-good. The carnitas has the right mix of tenderness, saltiness and crispness. Nestle that in a corn tortilla and top it with salsa from the salsa bar and guacamole, and you have a combination made in heaven. Delicious! I have to admit that I was thinking and dreaming about that plate the next day as if it were a new boyfriend, I couldn’t wait to see again.
As far as Mexican eateries goes, Los Palmitos fits the bill. Service is quick and efficient. The decor and environs are spartan, but functional. But, let’s not kid ourselves, we were there to eat well and that’s what we did. The food is well-prepared, piled high and tasty. The menu is very extensive with all sorts of combination plates: enchiladas, tacos, burritos, chile rellenos, fajitas, chimichangas and more. The list goes on. There’s bound to be something that strikes your fancy, so I hope you’ll consider stopping by and testing it out yourself. Yum!
Mini Taco Tuesdays: Your choice of mini taco – only $1.25 each; $2 Dos Equis
Accepts credit cards
Los Palmitos Taco Shop
5145 Clairemont Mesa Blvd
San Diego, CA 92117
Hours: Mon – Sun: 8:00 am – 12:00 am