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DINING By David Nelson MIGUEL'S COCINA: It’s the white sauce, silly.

Pair your tasty Baja-style carnitas with a Miguel's Margarita, mojito or housemade white sangria. (Courtesy of Brigantine)


Owned and operated by the Brigantine restaurant group, Miguel's Cocina serves visitors and locals with honest Mexican cuisine at affordable prices.

iguel’s Cocina,

the South-of-the-border-leaning off- shoot of San Diego’s homegrown and blazingly successful Brigantine Family of Restaurants, has made thousands of friends over the years with a simple dip that just drives ‘em wild. Basically a white sauce enriched with cheese and jalape- nos, this creamy dunk for crisp tor- tilla chips is a walk on the “mild” side that suggests Mexican flavors without going too far. It’s a must- have for many, and one of those restaurant-specific creations that has caused many first time guests to become repeat customers. The new Miguel’s Cocina in Old

Town replaces Zocalo, an upscale “Nuevo Latino” restaurant that fared well for some years, but had a higher price point. Lower-priced places have thrived in the recent economy, and as a result, Miguel’s occupies one of the primo locations in this exceptionally popular neigh- borhood. The restaurant’s name honors Mike Morton, who with his wife, Barbara, founded the Brigan- tine restaurant group in 1969. The front room is a semi- glassed-in terrace warmed by a fire pit, a fireplace and ceiling heaters, and the unroofed, open-to-the-ele- ments section must seem sizzlingly cool to visiting Midwesterners. Sitting there calls for sweaters and jackets during our current chilly season, however, at least for San Diegans accustomed to slight temperature variations between noon and midnight. (If you think about it, our town has just two seasons: day and night.) Tables are well spaced, and the music plays vibrantly but low, a definite plus, since conversations remain at a reasonable level and it’s possible to talk to your tablemates without shouting. Count on the space fill- ing up by 7 p.m. most evenings and quite possibly earlier. The overflow moseys along to the sizeable room in back, which also houses the bar, which specializes in mojitos, sangrias and, as you might guess, more Margaritas variations than are poured throughout Baja. Among the more unusual libations are a prickly pear Margarita made with cactus juice, Corraljo Blanco tequila and flavorings, a mojito spiked with Cruzan Coconut rum for decidedly sweet effect and white peach sangria.

If the complimentary chips ‘n’ dip hook you into a heavy snacking mode, open dinner with a hefty order of nachos that piles shredded beef or chicken onto a mound of chips nearly hidden from sight by garnishes of guacamole, cheese and sour cream. More delicate and interest- ing the house ceviche marinates shrimp, bay scallops and one or

like it); the rich queso fundido mar

more kinds of fish in lime juice seasoned Baja-style with diced tomato, onions and pungent cilantro. Cheese dishes are always well-appreciated appetizers at res- taurants like Miguel’s, so set your sights on such items as the que- sadilla (crisp or soft, however you


HOUR 7 Days

3 to 6pm


With the purchase of two entrees. Does not include drinks. Not valid with any other offers or on holidays. Exp: 03-17-11

Authentic Old World Mexican Cusine 3693 Fifth Avenue

• 619.546.5934 •

Gold Medallion Award Winner 2009

Thank you to the community for 21 Years of Support!


LUNCH $4.95 Starting at

527 University Ave (619) 291-7525 dessert . drink . dine Hillcrest Pennsylvania and Fifth Ave

y tierra (“sea and land”), a dish of mild melted cheese crowned with shrimp and crumbled chorizo sau- sage, served with flour tortillas on the side so you can roll your own tacos; and carne adobada mulitas, a very tasty presentation of mari- nated roast pork served on corn

tortillas dressed with beans and both Monterrey Jack and cheddar. Eat too much of any of these and you won’t get far with your entrée, since Miguel’s does not pull its punches when it comes to portion sizes. A cup of albondigas soup, delicately flavored and savory, makes a light and pleasing starter,

see Miguel's, page 22

A San Diego Landmark Since 1944 Quality Home Cooking

Miguel’s Cocina 2444 San Diego Ave., Old Town 298-9840; locations_miguels Lunch and dinner daily Entrees $9 - $20

San Diego Uptown News | March 4-17, 2011


As Seen on TV!

Restaurant & Bakery Breakfast • Lunch • Dinner

Any Menu Entree Up to 2 people minimum $8 Entree. Not valid

$2.00 OFF

with other offers, weekends, or holidays. Expires 03/17/11

Open Daily: 7am-9pm

2271 First Avenue (Corner of 1st & Juniper) • (619) 239-8176

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