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Chilango (San Diego)

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Chilango (San Diego)

Gayla | Jun 30, 2002 03:46 PM

What you *won't* find at Chilango - Tacos, burritos, tamales, tortas and other street food.

What you *will* find a Chilango - Moles, huaraches, memelas, enchiladas.

What is Chilango? A chilango is a person from Mexico City. It is also a restaurant in the Hillcrest area of San Diego (on University between 1st & 2nd) serving Mexican food in the style of D.F. (Mexico City, District Federal). Chilango is small and tastefully decorated with high-end folk art and Talavera pottery. Seating is available both inside and out.

The menu is small and well done. Pork and chicken are the primary offerings and can be had several ways. All menu items are offered with a choice of mole poblano, mole verde, or a mole rojo. There is one fish dish (halibut) with a caper sauce. The sauces are excellent with a complex depth to their flavor. I've had the mole poblano sauce, a chili pasilla sauce and a taste of the chipotle cream sauce and all were consistently good. These are not sauces out of a can or jar. And speaking of sauces, the table sauce was pretty good too. It's a tomato based salsa with gentle undertones of chipotle chili and a healthy dose of minced cilantro. The salsa has a pleasant bite to it without being over powering or killing your taste buds.

The memela and enchiladas are well done (have had those in a past visit). One of my dining companions at lunch on Friday had a chicken breast in the chipotle cream sauce. The chicken was still moist and the sauce a perfect foil for it. The other 2 of us had the pork in chili pasilla sauce. The sauce was deep, earhty and nearly black. It paired exceptionally well with the pork. Here is the only quibble so far, the menu listed the pork as pork loin, I'm pretty sure the pork served was pork butt, since it shredded in a way that pork loin usually doesn't. Whether it was pork loin or pork butt really doesn't matter, the pork was soft and moist, and the sauce very, very good. All plates come with refried beans, a marvelous, fluffy Mexican rice and hot corn tortillas.

One of my dining companions had the horchata and I had the jamaica. Other agua de frescas are available, all you have to do is ask. But the horchata was a revelation. Probably made from scratch and topped with a generous grating of canela. And the jamaica wasn't bad either, also probably fresh and not from a mix.

Chilango is owned by two brothers from Mexico City. One brother cooks their mother's recipes, the other runs the front of the house. Service is efficient and very friendly. They want you to like their food, and can talk knowledgeably about their menu. Mom also helps out when needed.

Menu prices are from $8.95 - $14.95 for entrees. Salads are in the $8.95 -$9.95 range. The horchata and jamaica were $1.99 for a large glass (probably around 20 oz). Chilango is open for lunch and dinner and serves brunch on weekends. They will deliver in the local Hillcrest area if it's within a reasonable walking distance from the restaurant.

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