The best of San Diego

    Best Asian Food: Jasmine Seafood Restaurant

    Tyler Huff
    Guardian

    By LISA MAK

    Staff Writer

    Making an Asian restaurant stand out among the multitude of shops and dining locations on Asian-dominated Convoy Street is not easy, but Jasmine Seafood Restaurant certainly lives up to the task.

    Tyler Huff
    Guardian

    Much of Jasmine’s success in establishing its reputation lies in the fresh Chinese food it serves. Compared to other Chinese restaurants in the San Diego area, Jasmine adheres much more to the traditional methods and flavors of the Canton region. Thus the taste is definitely better (and that’s always a plus).

    Some specialties to try include the sauteed scallop and shrimp with Szechuan sauce; shiitake mushrooms with oyster sauce; and the Peking duck, which is carved right at the table. The clay pots brimming with seafood, vegetables and meat will make your mouth water. A variety of soups are offered; the supreme seafood with bean curd soup is definitely worth a try.

    Fresh seafood can be ordered right out of the tanks, although some fish entrees are priced by the pound. If you love fish, simply try a whole steamed fish entree — you’re guaranteed to love the freshness and taste.

    Jasmine is also one of the best places in San Diego for dim sum (literally meaning “”touching the heart”” in Chinese): small, bite-size morsels of a variety of meats, dumplings, veggies and desserts served with your choice of a traditional Chinese tea. Treats to try include the steamed shrimp dumplings, turnip cake and egg custard tarts. Jasmine offers over 50 kinds of these delicacies, with an even greater selection on weekends. Dim sum is served daily from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

    In addition to great food, Jasmine offers excellent service and a comfortable, spacious seating arrangement. The waitresses, some dressed in traditional Chinese chi pao dresses, and waiters are friendly and helpful. Although there are many tables, most of them are filled during lunch and dinner hours. Jasmine also offers a bar for those 21 and over.

    Quite popular in the Asian community for business meetings, banquettes and gatherings of friends and family, Jasmine is the place to go for authentic Chinese food at fairly reasonable prices.

    The resturant is located at 4609 Convoy St. in Clairemont Mesa; for more information call (858) 268-0888.

    Best Concert Venue: The Casbah

    By RINALDO DORMAN

    Hiatus Editor

    San Diego’s rock scene has been trudging along for many a year, with many highs and lows along the way. A lengthy local history has been developing to accompany the plethora of bands that either form here or just decide to call America’s Finest City home. Since 1989, many of these acts and national groups have played at The Casbah, downtown San Diego’s premier spot to see alt rock, post grunge, rock ‘n’ roll, post punk or just about any other of rock’s sounds from there and back.

    Moving to its current location, 2051 Kettner Blvd. (near the airport), in 1994 and more than doubling its capacity, the club has become a San Diego hot spot. Boasting multiple rooms, including a game room and a music room with a 24-channel sound system, each with a bar and an enclosed smoking patio, the facility is equipped to meet the needs of concertgoers who seek a good time.

    The schedule is hectic and relentless; most weeks have music every night. In fact, for the entire month of March, the only day that doesn’t have an event listed is March 27. Rockin’ the house 29 days a month speaks volumes about its attitude, which focuses on listening to great music and having a good time.

    The Casbah is exclusively 21 and up with valid ID, of course, so you grommets (or booger-eaters, better known as the under-age crowd) better find another venue to call home for a few years; but if you are among the legally-able-to-drink crowd and love a solid rock show, then find your way down to The Casbah and find out why everyone from Jon Spencer Blues Explosion, to The Cult, to the Rugburns gets down there. Rock on man.

    Best Spring Break: Mexico

    By DEENA AL SHATTI

    Staff Writer

    So it’s ninth week. Spring break looms just around the corner, but where do you go? Since it’s just a few hours away, Mexico is the preferred place for UCSD students to go for spring break. Mexico offers a wide range of things to do, from clubbing to tanning on the beach, so it’s easy to see why it was voted No. 1. One of the best things Mexico has to offer is the nightlife. Discos, disco-bars and bars are offered throughout the country.

    Tijuana in particular is very popular among UCSD students. It’s a big party town, with many clubs and bars that aren’t as expensive as ones in the United States. The cheap places charge less than $1 for a beer or as little as $3 for a blended drink or a shot, although some of the more upscale places can charge more. Since the drinking age is only 18, as opposed to 21 in the United States, it is accessible to more of the UCSD population.

    However, clubbing and pub-hopping isn’t the only thing to do in Mexico. Many go to Mexico to relax and see the sights. Cancun is a very popular location. It has the nightlife as well as day cruises, night cruises and shows to see. Cabo San Lucas is another favorite. Although Cabo has a thriving nightlife, it is also well-known as a relaxation spot.

    “”Cabo is very relaxing and very beautiful — I would go there again in a heartbeat,”” said John Muir College junior Daniel Ciecek.

    So for a fun spring break, head on over to Mexico for dancing, relaxing and just enjoying not sitting in a stuffy classroom.

    Best coffee house: cafe 976

    By NEHA SINGH

    Staff Writer

    Great food, delicious coffee and cheap refills — they’re all a given when you go to Cafe 976 in Pacific Beach. A nice place to hang out, do some work or simply get off campus, this cafe is as gorgeous as it is good. It is a real, old-fashioned house (not a strip-mall cafe), with a wraparound porch that has been around for nearly a decade. The cafe is also surrounded by a garden, with seating available in every possible location.

    “”976,”” as it is affectionately referred to, serves up light fare for breakfast and lunch (the kitchen closes in the afternoon), as well as a bakery and prepared snacks through the evening. Coffee is hot, strong and fresh. The walls are filled with artwork by locals — some quite good and often for sale — and the cozy atmosphere makes it pleasant to sit indoors. But if it’s nice outside, be sure to plant yourself at the garden tables, the most pleasant spot for a latte.

    The coffee house’s popularity might also have something to do with its European feel. The customers don’t just go in to get a cup of coffee — chatting and hanging out are also part of the experience. The cafe offers ports to connect your laptop to, along with an Internet connection for those without computers for a mere dollar per 10 minutes.

    Vines and other foliage covering the house lend a sense of privacy to the cafe. The employees are very friendly and will remember you if you come in a second time. It is obvious why this cafe has such a following.

    Next time you have to get away from that nagging roommate or simply need to get some work done without interruptions, head on over to Cafe 976. Students with the busiest schedules can also find time to go there, since it is open every day from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. Only 10 minutes away, it is the perfect place to study at or to take a break from your hectic life.

    Best Pizza: pizza port

    By CLAYTON WORFOLK

    Associate Hiatus Editor

    Nothing says “”college”” like pizza and beer, so it’s only fitting that our readers’ choice for best pizza this year is Solana Beach’s Pizza Port, a joint that prides itself on “”tasty grub and grog.””

    Established in its present location in 1987, Pizza Port has been serving the greater San Diego area for over 15 years and brewing handcrafted beer for over 10 years. In 1997, the Port expanded into a second location in Carlsbad.

    Pizza Port serves around 10 unique pizzas, including the distinctive Pizza Solana with shrimp, clams, onions, olives, bell peppers and mushrooms, and a great BBQ Chicken Pizza with mesquite grilled chicken and fresh cilantro. All pizzas are available on either traditional crust or the Port’s signature wholegrain beer crust.

    In addition, the Port offers an array of appetizers such as spicy chicken wing baskets and the Portzel, made with wholegrain beer crust and sun-dried tomatoes.

    As far as grog goes, the Port showcases about 10 award-winning, brewed-on-location beers at a time. Beers include the Pizza Port trademark Sharkbite Red Ale, as well as California Honey Ale and sundry Belgian Ales. Pizza Port is also known to offer unique seasonal brews such as Santa’s Little Helper Imperial Stout and the aptly named Brown Bag Malt Liquor. Also of note for those interested in creating Port-worthy beer of their own, Pizza Port’s website, http://www.pizzaport.com, features recipes for each Port brew.

    The Port draws an equally unique mix of locals, college and high school kids, and, reportedly, the occasional celebrity, including ’70s rocker Steve Miller and former Buffalo Bills wide receiver Andre Reed. Dining is available indoors on large, communal picnic-style tables, and out on scenic Highway 101.

    “”We have a fun atmosphere with laid back people,”” said UCSD sophomore and Pizza Port manager Noah Regnery. “”Not to mention the amazing food and beer.””

    Prices are moderate, ranging from $11.95 for a large cheese to $20.25 for the grilled chicken, pesto and artichoke-covered Pizza Carlsbad, but needless to say, the pizza is well worth the price.

    Watch for daily specials on appetizers, pints and pitchers, as well as annual beer parties and festivals. The Port is open from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Sunday through Thursday and 11 a.m. to midnight on Fridays and Saturdays.

    Best community: Pacific Beach

    By JESSICA KRUSKAMP

    Senior Staff Writer

    To spend a day in Pacific Beach, a community of 40,000, minutes down I-5 (take the Grand/Garnet exit off the freeway) from UCSD, is to embark on a day of possibilities. Encased by the Pacific Ocean, Mission Bay and southern La Jolla, PB is the place to be.

    PB offers rollerblading along the Pacific Beach boardwalk, restaurants, nightclubs, popular beaches, and is a destination and lifestyle for many students. This isn’t UCSD/UTC. This is a combination of UCSD, San Diego State, USD and the San Diego Community College District students tossed with locals who are pushing many years in the area.

    Incredibly enough, PB’s real estate was first marketed in 1887 for as low as $25 per lot. Now, monthly rents can run from $500 for a quaint studio, to $900 for a one-bedroom, to $1,250 and up for the larger homes in this bustling, try-to-find-parking-if-you-dare place.

    Start your day off right with breakfast at a local bagel shop, Zanzibar’s Cafe or the Broken Yolk, all found along Garnet Avenue. It’s guaranteed that you will leave with a full gullet, content and satisfied.

    So opt to walk it off. Wander up and down the Garnet Avenue Shopping District, a drag with tiny alcoves full of videos and comic books, larger nooks of used clothing stores, and a buffet for the senses. Buy secondhand in PB, whether it be a sweet pair of corduroy bell bottoms from Buffalo Exchange on Garnet, or a lovingly worn couch from the Salvation Army on Mission Bay Drive.

    Or, if shopping isn’t the top priority on your list, go to the water. Either don a wetsuit and surf the waves on the Pacific by Crystal Pier or hit Mission Bay in a rented boat. Or set up camp in Campland on the Bay, a rent-a-space camping ground for those who want to sleep in a tent while listening to gentle waves.

    Visit the first Rubio’s establishment along Mission Bay Drive, grab a cup o’ joe at one of the dozens of coffee houses that double as galleries for local artists, make a friend on the beach, buy ridiculously fresh food at Henry’s Marketplace, and read the Beach and Bay Press. It’s all within reach, and it’s why Pacific Beach is the best community in San Diego.

    Best sushi: sushi ota

    By LISA MAK

    Staff Writer

    Tucked away in a corner of a small plaza in Pacific Beach, between a 7-11 and a hair salon, is a treasure trove for sushi lovers. Sushi Ota, owned by master sushi chef Yukito Ota, is undoubtedly one of the best sushi bars in San Diego.

    Walking into Sushi Ota, don’t expect flashy decorations and waitresses dressed in kimonos. The decor can be described as minimalist, with simple but comfortable chairs and tables, and ceiling lamps that give the relatively small restaurant a soft glow. The overall atmosphere is very casual and laid back, unlike most traditional Japanese restaurants. Rather than focusing on restaurant appearance, Sushi Ota focuses simply on the sushi.

    You should definitely try sitting at the sushi bar, where the friendly and polite sushi chefs expertly craft their creations as you order. A wide variety of sushi is offered, from the common salmon and yellowtail to the more exotic sea urchin and abalone. Full rolls, such as the caterpillar and the rainbow rolls, as well as delicate hand rolls, are also served. The fish and seafood are always fresh, with rich textures and flavors, and the skills of the sushi chefs are impeccable.

    If you’re feeling adventurous (and don’t mind spending extra money), try asking for omakase, meaning “”chef’s choice.”” You may be in for some unique delectable creations. If you are fortunate enough to get a seat in Mr. Ota’s section of the bar, expect to get the best sushi in the entire restaurant.

    Although the focus is mainly on the sushi, Sushi Ota also offers many other dishes for those searching for some authentic Japanese tastes. As an appetizer, try a calamari or sashimi salad, a tempura dish or some tempting agedashi tofu. A few teriyaki dishes are offered, as well as the delightful chawanmushi — steamed egg in a cup. Sushi Ota also offers several kinds of chilled and warm sake.

    Sushi Ota has exceptional service; the waitresses are prompt and the chefs chat with customers as if they’re old friends. The place is definitely busy and the wait can be long, so reservations are probably a good idea. Call (858) 270-5670 for reservations.

    Whether you are a sushi novice or veteran, Sushi Ota will satisfy your craving for traditional and sophisticated sushi at reasonable prices (especially considering the quality). You’re guaranteed to leave the restaurant chanting “”oishii”” — simply “”delicious.””

    Best Restaurant: forever fondue

    By JESSICA LONG

    Senior Staff Writer

    Once again, Forever Fondue was voted UCSD students’ favorite restaurant. Not surprising, considering that this unique restaurant offers a fun evening for a romantic dinner or a few good laughs with some friends.

    Located on Prospect Street in La Jolla, just a few minutes from campus, Forever Fondue offers a beautiful view of the sea along with a bird’s-eye view of downtown La Jolla. The restaurant is small, which gives it a very cozy feel.

    This is definitely a good place to go for a slow evening, since a complete meal can take about two hours to get through. Also, you do have to cook all of the food yourself at the table. However, it is more than worth the time it takes to prepare and eat the food.

    Meals begin with a cheese fondue of American Cheddar, Queso Baja or European Swiss with french, pumpernickel and rye bead, Granny Smith apples, celery, carrots, and cauliflower. This is followed by either a house or caesar salad (the only part of the meal you don’t have to cook). Next is the main course, consisting of a variety of vegetables (stuffed mushroom caps, zucchini, carrots, broccoli and red potatoes), meat (filet mignon, marinated teriyaki sirloin and boneless chicken breast) and/or seafood (shrimp and salmon), which is cooked in either a beef or vegetable broth and served with a variety of sauces. Finally, the meal is finished off with a dessert of strawberries, bananas, pineapple, marshmallows, pound cake and cheesecake dipped in either melted white chocolate, milk chocolate or dark chocolate.

    However, if you don’t want that much food or you just don’t have the time, you can always just stop in for some cheese appetizers or chocolate dessert.

    This is a wonderfully romantic place to spend a date because it is quiet enough to allow for some good conversation, but things can’t get too deep while playing with melted cheese and chocolate. Plus, as a bonus, it is tradition that you have to kiss your date if your bread falls off your fork and into the cheese.

    Forever Fondue is located at 1295 Prospect St., Suite 201 (upstairs). The phone number is (858) 551-4509 and it is highly recommended that you call for reservations because seating is rather limited and they are usually rather busy.

    Best Club: on broadway event center

    By JENNIFER SPOSITO

    Senior Staff Writer

    Where do grown-ups go out to play in San Diego after dark? To On Broadway Event Center, of course.

    On Broadway has become synonymous with posh nightclub fun for San Diego partygoers of the 21-and-up persuasion. Less than two years ago, the former Home Federal Bank at 615 Broadway in the Gaslamp Quarter underwent a multimillion-dollar renovation, turning it into the place to be for everyone who’s anyone — at any rate, the gorgeous and moneyed crowd certainly seems to feel that way. On Broadway quickly assumed for itself the title of one of San Diego’s leading clubs, boasting a spectacular 90,000-watt sound system and an eye-popping light show to boot.

    Resident DJs include San Diego’s Mark Thrasher and Miss Lisa, with a host of world-renowned guest DJs. In the last year, Paul Oakenfold, Christopher Lawrence, Donald Glaude and Josh Wink have visited, to name but a few. Those names accurately convey the sort of fare you’ll find on the spacious main dance floor, flanked with enormous columns and trimmed with marble once trod by bankers: a mishmash of progressive house and trance, with plenty of hands-in-the-air anthems and hedonistic favorites thrown in.

    Downstairs, things get a little funkier. Broadway’s seminal Friday night event, Glo, changes the hip, padded confines of the Ultra Lounge into a haven for favorite tunes from the ’70s and ’80s. By contrast, the Gallery Lounge on Fridays is host to all the booty-shaking hip-hop a person could ever desire. VIPs schmooze in the newly completed Karma Lounge, complete with velvet ropes separating the pretty people from the hopefuls. The eye of the storm is the crimson-decked billiards lounge, positioned smartly in the center of the basement area within the confines of the former bank vault.

    The main floor back upstairs is not to be outdone, however. Throw in Glo’s hot go-go dancers and the sounds of Antonio Sacca’s live percussion, and you’ve got Friday night fun waiting at the corner of 6th and Broadway. The liquor and eye candy flow copiously from all corners, beckoning with temptation. And the in-house restaurant, Zen Cafe, serves sushi and Asian fusion cuisine for those who hunger for yet more swank.

    Fun comes with a price tag, however. Weekend cover for On Broadway typically runs about $20. Don’t expect to get in wearing jeans, sneakers or T-shirts. And unless you arrive before 10 p.m., get ready for what can be a rather long wait in line. Rest assured, though, that your wait will be worth it.

    On Broadway Event Center is located at 615 Broadway, downtown San Diego. For more information, call (619) 231-0011 or visit http://www.obec.tv.

    Best beer: KARL STRAUSS BREWERIES

    By LEORAH AVIDOR

    Contributing Writer

    The beer tour is a mandatory part of training to work at Karl Strauss Brewery Restaurant. Each branch brews one beer recipe, so trainees tour the vats and taste the beer they will be peddling. The vat at the downtown La Jolla location of Karl Strauss Breweries holds 15 barrels of beer.

    Karl Strauss, now 90, tasted his first beer at age 10 in his father’s brewery in Germany. Eighty years later, his liver works fine. He owns six brewery restaurants in San Diego and Southern California, but for some reason, he lives in Milwaukee, Wisc. Gotta stay close to the competition, even if they brew pissy beer.

    Karl Strauss’ beer is not pissy. Even after splitting the Taster’s Ten sampler three ways, you will be tipping in your boots. Try the Belgian Abbey Red, just out on Saturday; America’s Finest Pilsner; and the Extra Bitters. The Belgian Abbey Red will leave a lasting impression.

    Karl Strauss Brewery sells beer by the gallon in refillable glass jugs. More beer, less waste. The bartender fills up the beer gallon from the tap and not from the vat, unfortunately. The beer gets kegged on location and sent to other restaurants. Karl Strauss is also available in stores around San Diego.

    Karl Strauss Brewery in downtown La Jolla brews La Jolla Hefeweisen. Wouldn’t want to leave the words “”La Jolla”” off of anything created there. Almost all of the brews have catchy names reminiscent of San Diego familiars: Red Trolley Ale, named after the marginally useful public transportation system; Black’s Beach Extra Dark, for the after-dark notoriety of Black’s Beach; and Padre Porter, obviously named after the team. A tourist can take a tour of San Diego without leaving the bar.

    Civilians can take the beer tour and taste Karl Strauss’s beer — just make a reservation. Wednesday night is late-night happy hour at Karl Strauss Brewery on Wall St., down the hill from UCSD. Check out $2 pints from 10 p.m. to 1 a.m. with nine Karl Strauss beers on tap.

    Best fast food: in-n-out

    By RINALDO DORMAN

    Hiatus Editor

    When it comes to fast-food, the burger joint is the reigning champion, and In-N-Out sits at the top of that heap in the eyes of UCSD students. Known for the simplicity of its menu, In-N-Out focuses on the mainstay of fast food: the holy trinity of burgers, fries and shakes.

    With only a few menu deviations, you are left with minimalist approach to ordering: hamburger, cheeseburger, double cheeseburger (Double-Double); fries; chocolate, vanilla or strawberry milkshake; or soda.

    There are also a few non-menu items that have become notorious, and are variances to meet people’s dietary requirements and taste preferences. Most are familiar with “”animal style,”” which is grilled onions and pickles cooked up with the meat.

    Strangest of these is the “”protein-style”” burger. For those who adhere to the Atkins diet, they will wrap the burger in lettuce instead of putting it in a bun. For vegetarians who still enjoy the ambiance or are simply dragged there by roommates, lovers or drunks, there is the grilled cheese.

    Meataterians will enjoy the 3-by-3 and 4-by-4; why have a simple Double-Double when you can have three or four meat patties and as many cheese slices? Why even stop there? You can go as big as you want to — think you could tackle a 6-by-6? They’ll serve it up.

    Of course, the fact that In-N-Out is open until 1 a.m. Sundays through Thursdays, and 1:30 a.m. Fridays and Saturdays, always helps meet the needs of a late-night craving; and let’s be honest, after midnight is the best time for fast-food. With well over 200 locations in three states, and 12 of those in San Diego County alone, you are sure to find one nearby, even near campus. For more information on location, directions and menu, check out http://www.in-n-out.com.

    BEST radio station: fm 94.9

    By GAELLE FAURE

    Senior Staff Writer

    91X used to be the coolest radio station in town. But no longer — new kid 94.9 may be small, with no big brother named Clear Channel to back it up on the playground, but it’s got that bring-it-on rebellious attitude that turned out to be exactly what UCSD students were looking for to spice up the airwaves.

    So maybe it’s not as indie as, say, KSDT. This 4-month-old station plays music by bigshots like Jack Johnson, U2, Queens of the Stone Age, Coldplay and Ben Harper, but the DJs will also play favorite songs from back in the day, ranging from Bob Marley, to The Ramones, to Depeche Mode, to The Clash. And don’t be surprised to hear The Pixies springing up on 94.9’s playlist relatively often; and none of this during a ’70s, ’80s or ’90s flashback hour, either. Playing timeless music that dates further back than one or two years is exactly the kind of consideration for its listeners that sets 94.9 apart from its competitors.

    Indeed, the station’s whole philosophy is to treat its audience as intelligent listeners who crave quality music, making this the wrong station to tune into for sex shows, interviews with Joe Millionaire runners-up or call-in ticket contests. (For those who really want free stuff, though, the station sends vans to the town to perform random acts of kindness.) The station will provide weather and concert updates, but that’s about it. Even the DJs make an extra effort to be personable and defer to the music, never cutting off the beginning or end of songs and apologizing for having to play commercials to pay that expensive San Diego rent.

    Perhaps the most endearing aspect of 94.9 is its willingness to fill prime-time slots with, well, more music. Sunday nights, notably, serves up local music only from 8 p.m. to 10 p.m.

    Striking the right balance between independent spirit and wide appeal, 94.9 isn’t going anywhere. This station says it, and students know it: “”It’s about the music.””

    Best CD store: Lou’s records

    By BILLY GIL

    Staff Writer

    You will love and hate Lou’s Records. This statement should speak volumes to fellow obsessive record-buyers. Love it because you can find pretty much anything you want there, if not used, then new at a decent price. You will hate it because you will not be able go there without buying a disgusting amount of CDs. Obsessive-compulsive buyers: You have been warned.

    “”Not only do they stock little-known records, but their staff is knowledgeable and helpful,”” said Thurgood Marshall College junior Kate Leiserson. “”They won’t look at you like, ‘Uh, how ’bout some Sum 41?’ when you ask for something rare.””

    This writer’s personal experience has proven this to be true on a recent trip up I-5 to Encinitas to visit Lou’s on “”journalistic research.”” This was in no way an excuse to buy even more CDs. As often done when visiting Lou’s, I asked one of the random workers a question regarding merchandise and, as usual, was pleasantly surprised with the response.

    “”Hey. Do you know Pavement well?”” I ask a girl working there.

    “”Yeah.””

    “”Well, do you think it’s worth it to buy this album [Slanted and Enchanted, used for $6.99], or should I buy the new one [a new refurbished version with bonus tracks for 12.99]?””

    “”Hmm, well if you’re not too familiar with the band yet, I’d say go for the cheaper one.””

    Polite, to-the-point and, most of all, accurate. This is the kind of service that should be expected from record retailers but is sadly not always the case. Instead of giving nasty looks or arrogant quips at musical inquiries (no “”you mean you don’t already have that?”” looks), the Lou’s Records staff is top notch.

    Of course, customer service would be nothing without a product to serve. In terms of quantity and price, there is no comparison in the San Diego area. Got old CDs to get rid of? Is that Nickelback CD collecting dust on your shelf (well, what the hell were you thinking in the first place)? Trade them in and collect money or store credit. Case in point: I traded in four old, somewhat tasteless albums and bought a new one and four used ones. Total amount spent: less than $30. Score!

    If further convincing is needed, Lou’s consists of three sections, one for new stuff, one for old, and one for DVD and video. Lou’s also regularly contributes to charities and houses in-store concerts for various artists, including the Special Goodness (Weezer side project) on March 6. What the hell are you waiting for? Get the music you really want.

    Best Mexican: el cotixan taco shop

    By KEELY HYSLOP

    Staff Writer

    Hanging outside of El Cotixan Taco Shop in neon red letters is a sign that reads “”Best Carne Asada in Town.”” Judging from the tantalizingly large and generously cheese-strewn plate of carne asada fries and slices of beef, hot and seasoned to perfection, that claim is not an empty one.

    As the name would seem to promise, the taco shop has delicious tacos, the contents of which are housed within succulent, freshly baked tortillas. With 15 varieties of tacos, including carne asada (beef), pollo (chicken), al pastor (pork) and the San Diego classic: fish tacos, the shop caters to all taco-eating palates.

    What would Mexican food be without burritos? There are 22 different types with every conceivable combination of filling imaginable. It is also pleasing to note that El Cotixan prides itself on its use of low cholesterol vegetable oil, so the burritos are juicy, but not dripping with excess grease.

    There are also a dozen different combo meals if one is seeking more variety in a meal. They are reasonably priced and arrive quite heavily garnished with lettuce and cheese. All the obligatory dishes are available: chile rellenos, enchiladas, chorizo, quesadillas, chimichangas, tamales, tostadas and a few others. The menu also contains several items that may not be so familiar, such as campechana (octopus and shrimp).

    One characteristic that makes this restaurant rather intriguing is how seamlessly El Cotixan manages to accommodate Americanized items, such as the caesar burrito, with more traditional Mexican cuisine, such as menudo.

    Be sure to try the horchata (Mexican rice milk), which comes with unlimited refills with the purchase of any drink. The taste is similar to chai tea. The tamarindo is also quite good. There are conventional drinks as well if one only wants a soda.

    Another unexpected feature of this restaurant is the unusually large breakfast selection. Here, one can order anything from chilauiles to French toast. Breakfast is served from 7 a.m. to 11 a.m. For the reluctant morning person, every breakfast includes free coffee.

    Located on Genesee Avenue near Balboa Avenue and right off of the 41 bus route, this place is both conveniently located and open 24 hours. The address is 4370 Genesee Ave., and on an Internet map search, it will show up as Taquera’s Cotixan Mexican.

    Other Best Of Winners

    Best band Dave Mathews Band

    Best UCSD eatery Food Co-op

    Best mall Fashion Valley

    Best video game Grand Theft Auto: Vice City

    Best book store Borders

    Best auto shop Jiffy Lube

    Best clothing store Buffalo Exchange

    Best UCSD College Muir

    Best computer store Fry’s

    Best sports bar Sports City

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