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Lunch at Casa de Pico, La Mesa

Jim Strain | Aug 31, 200512:22 PM

This will just be a quick comment.

Yesterday, after I was dismissed early from jury duty, I picked up Di and we went to the new Casa de Pico for lunch (the erstwhile Chevy's at Grossmont Center).

We got there about 12:45, and the place, huge as it is, was packed to the rafters. The promised 15-minute wait turned out to be closer to 30, but it was mitigated by the marimba players and the pleasant buzz in the shaded patio where we waited.

As you might expect, Diane Powers and her team did a beautiful job of redecorating the place. The walls, the upholstery on the dining room chairs, the uniforms of the wait staff -- even the paper napkins are all simply gorgeous. The general layout is still more or less as I recall when it was Chevy's, but for such a short construction period, the designers wreaked an impressive change. Downside was that there are hard surfaces everywhere and conversation in the dining room was difficult due to the noise. If you have a choice, ask for a patio table.

The menu is pretty much as I recall from the old Casa de Pico -- not all that imaginative, but very good quality and very well executed. We had the Seafood Enchilada (shrimp and fish and potatoes) and something called Pollo Fundido which seemed to be a chicken chimi covered with a sauce made from one of the Mexican cheeses). Both were very tasty, but both struck me as more the result of focus groups than of culinary adventure. The chips were hot and fresh, and the salsa was both tasty and (surprisingly) muy picante. Also surprising was my impression (and please don't hold me to it) that the prices were somewhat lower than the old Bazaar del Mundo incarnation. A "medium" margarita (seemed like a Big Gulp to me) was $6, and our food bill (one appetizer and two mammoth entrees) was $29.00. We took enough home for a lunch later in the week.

The staff is all brand new, but it was apparent they had been through some training. Some of them almost looked like they'd come from central casting -- very beautiful and very Mexican. Everyone seemed proud of the place and eager to please. Alas -- I did have one huge problem (and I realize it's a personal quirk): Please, please, PLEASE don't call me Señor. It doesn't make me feel like I'm in Mexico; it makes me feel like I'm in Akron.

Even so, I'm sure we'll be back. They're open for brunch on Sunday, and margaritas and chilaquiles on the sun-splashed patio sounds like a great warmup for a Charger game.
. . jim strain in san diego (la mesa, actually)

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