I'm going to start with the good one: Cenote Grill (1896 W. El Norte Pkwy, Escondido, CA 92026 / 760.740.9911). This is my new favorite Mexican restaurant north of Mission Valley. The Cream of Poblano soup is fantastic; cream based soups are often so heavy but this one is actually . . . refreshing. I don't get more than a cup because I like to order something else, but a bowl and the table chips could certainly be lunch. Their salads are unique and tasty, but be warned: twice I went with friends who ordered the chopped salad and were disappointed to find there was no lettuce in it. Their Tostada is huge - easily enough for two people to share, as are all of their entrees. I've gone several times this month and they have not had a problem giving me a half portion or splitting it for us. They got my husband as a new fan when they asked if he'd like a mtn. dew refill in a to-go cup (it was a particularly hot day)! And, lastly, the guacamole . . . soooooo good. I've yet to see one speck of brown or gooey anything - I'm pretty sure they make it to order, it has nice big chunks of avocado in it, and it is perfectly seasoned. Their hours are weird so call before you go, they close between lunch and dinner. Oh, and did I mention their prices are quite good - maybe comparable to Panera.
Now, for Big Ernies. This was terrible. I was really hoping to get a great BBQ place in Escondido (I work in Pt. Loma and just discovered Phil's - best BBQ in San Diego, especially now that Big Jim's closed), but Big Ernies was AWFUL. I ordered the beef ribs and the meat was NOT falling off the bone, in fact, I could barely rip it off with my teeth. What I could get off the top was dry and I didn't have anything to wet it with because the sauce on the table is way too vinegary to actually eat. The baked beans look like baby poo (though they weren't poo tasting - they just weren't especially good either). The potato salad had lots of different stuff in it (pickles, egg, ect) which I happen to like, but be warned if you don't (their menu doesn't warn you). I don't often give a mean review, and that isn't my intention here. In fact I've been trying to work up the will power to go back and see if maybe they were just having an off night, or if perhaps the pulled pork is better, but I haven't been able to. Not when I know I could spend less and go to Phil's. Did I mention the prices at Big Ernies are not great. They were pricey before we got the food and it was not worth it.