Restaurants & Bars

San Diego

La Especial del Norte Review (SD) [incl. notes, & q's of encinitas, leucadia]

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La Especial del Norte Review (SD) [incl. notes, & q's of encinitas, leucadia]

kare_raisu | Oct 25, 2006 03:07 AM

I finally made it to this old Encinitas roadhouse for an early lunch warming caldo.

When you enter you grab a menu and seat yourself. There are some booths up front and a larger dining room in the back. As you pass the hallway you can see for yourself the huge stockpots and steam rising there from.

They have a pretty extensive menu with quite a few rarely seen authentic dishes but I stuck with the caldo page. A chowhound, rworange I belive recommended the eggplant soup -- which stuck out in my mind because of the inclusion of chile relleno 'puffs' which I love and seemed intriguing. So I ordered this with corn tortillas.

Chips and a nice salsa were brought promptly out. The waitresses were really pleasant kind people. While I was waiting I stood up to read the media posted on the wall praising the restaurant.

It is truly a unique place, I have never heard of a Mexican restaurant specializing in caldos.

I took note especially of the Saveur write up, pretty impressive.

WHile I was reading I overheard the lady up front talking to some potential customers about the restaurant. She mentioned how one of the cooks has been there for 29 years. Talk about dedication.

I used this tidbit of information to begin a conversation with her. I found out she is the Salazar's (owner's) daughter Lorena. Really nice and I could tell she enjoyed to talk - which was good for me as I had a ton of questions.

After a brief conversation, my waitress motioned me to my table as my soup was ready.

By this time the place was filling up at a rapid pace, along with a steady stream of to go orders.

The caldo was a deep red from a chile-tomato base, speckled with bits of cilantro and onion. Huge chunks of soft eggplant bobbed to the top as well as the heavenly eggy relleno pieces. Alongside were yellow stone ground tortillas- excellent.

The soup was steaming hot and I loved the contrasting textures, spongy relleno pieces, tender yet al dente eggplant pieces, and crisp mince onion. This soup is a winner.

What also struck me as noteworthy about this place is the prices. My huge bowl of soup cost only $6.50 and I left stuffed.

All of ths soups are in the $5-6 range except the seafood ($9)/

I wish I lived closer to this place as I would be in here at least once a week. I love me the soups.

Notes:

cgfan: As I walked by El Torito Market the unmistakable scent of Mexican cuisine's highest revered dish nearly tempted me from my destination. Man do their carnitas smell good! And birria de chivo everday! I'd OD on the stuff.

Living in Berlin for a year as an exchange student left me with quite an affinity to the popular ethnic cuisine of that country - not Mexican as in America- but Turkish. The Beach grass cafe may be SD's only turkish restaurant besides the farmer markets kebap guy.
Has anyone dined here?

I also walked into Kelani's which was jammin. I never really have tried or have been allured by Hawaiian plate lunches but the stuff here looked really good.
Any comments?

Does the Hare Krishna Temple have a vegetarian restaurant? I once ate at one in DC and thought it was delicious.

Anyone try Ogata or Sakura Bana?

I foolishly walked all the way up Encintas Blvd trying to reach Bety's but I gave up about 3/4 mi away at the garden place. Next time I guess.

Pannikin has mexican hot chocolate and I like the egg steamers.

Non-food note -- check out Lou's record store.

PS Where Amici was, now is a Peruvian restaurant that looks popular and pretty chic, I want to try it out.

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