One thing everyone should know about San Diego is that there is no shortage of good Mexican food. Authentic cuisine, taco shops, California burritos, TexMex (limited, for good reason), American style- you name it. Anything you want, San Diego has got it! As you can imagine, locals all have their favorite spots that they frequent. Ian and I are no stranger to this game. The only downside of this is that when you stick to your favorites, you forget to branch out and try new places! Even if they are right under your nose! This is a foodie sin that Ian and I have committed, but last weekend we saw the error in our ways, and we made the first steps to righting our wrongs. How you ask? Why, by checking out a lowkey local sleeper hit spot called Cantina Mayahuel.
Cantina Mayahuel is a, well… cantina with a huge selection of tequilas and mezcals, and a small selection of legitimate Mexican cuisine! It is a tiny little hole in the wall joint located across the street from Soda & Swine on Adams Avenue. You have to know it’s there or be actively looking for it to find it. I don’t even think there is a sign out front. The name is on the screen door that leads you into this oasis. The main area is mainly taken up by the extensive bar with a few high top tables. Behind the bar is the flat top and assembly line for the tacos and tortas. We recommend you sit at the bar, drink a margarita, and watch the food being prepared while you wait. It’s a hell of a show.
Since Cantina Mayahuel is a tequila joint, don’t skip out on the drinks. Personally, I like the blood orange margarita. Perfect balance of the heat from the white tequila and sweetness from the blood orange. Ian also enjoyed the shot of mezcal and Stiegl Radler combination. (Just kidding! He choked down the mezcal, but cherished the Radler!) While you sip your delicious drinks, we recommend getting the chips and salsa to munch on while you enjoy the atmosphere! The chips are salty and crunchy. The salsa is cool and flavorful. Let’s talk food. The menu is mainly tacos, tortas, mole dishes, etc. We haven’t had the mole (yet), but the tacos and tortas are phenomenal! The sirloin beef torta is incredible. Marinated beef grilled on the seasoned flat top, sharp jack cheese, crisp cabbage-lettuce, salsa, crema mexicana, and a dash of hot sauce on a chewy roll. Everything just works. It’s fresh and fun and delicious. The tortas ahogadas is also delicious. A French roll with carnitas, pinto beans, pickled onions, and a spicy tomato dipping sauce. A little spicy, but chocked full of flavor. Either of those meats make excellent tacos as well! Speaking of the pinto beans, try the peruvian beans. They are kinda like Latin baked beans. They are pinto beans cooked with bacon, longanisa, and queso fresco. They make a nice accompaniment to the tacos or tortas.
Cantina Mayahuel is different than most taco spots in San Diego. It’s funky, fresh, and has a very personal/hometown vibe to it. It’s the perfect spot to hang out on a Friday or Saturday night! So pull up a stool, grab a tequila drink, and enjoy!