Marty Graham 5:30 p.m., Feb. 5
El Sol: Jewel of University Avenue
Made my usual mistake tonight: Got the 7 and the 15 buses confused. Was aboard the #7, and we turned right on University. Wrong! Pulled the cord and found myself down at the bottom of that slope and that whole hill to climb up to Park. So I dawdle past the last little row of shops before the kudzu grass valley and then the climb.
But the second-last place is bright, full of lights and half of its tables full. And suddenly I remember.
This is “Nacho’s" place. Miguel, the Mexican cook who became famous by cooking burgers for President Clinton and his Secret Service posse when they were in town and Nacho cooked at Danny’s bar in Coronado.
Plus his burgers were voted by this paper and NBC and others the best in San Diego a few years back. And now he has created his own empire here, El Sol (2037 University Avenue between Florida and Alabama Streets 619-298-0874).
Just have to pop in. See what the happs is. And there he is, doing his own waitering and cooking as usual. Place is bright yellow and cream and dark red, inside and out, with lots of art on the walls, including all different kinds of metal suns, a long Last Supper print, a shrine, probably to Our Lady of Guadalupe, and old photos of Emiliano Zapata...
...and Pancho Villa.
Then: an avalanche of food: Two customers, Frank and Andy are munching away...
...Frank's dipping in to a carne en su jogo ("meat in its juices"). A rich stew in a bowl...
"This is the best," says Frank. "I mean this place, and this dish in particular. I live nearby. I'm in here all the time." He paid $7.99.
Andy gnaws on a mega burrito ($6.99). "It's got carnitas, pollo and asada in it," he says.
I was going to get the Clinton Burger, but start off with a coffee...
...a tostada de ceviche ($3.50)...
...a sweet tamal ($2.50)...
...and a churro ($1.50)...
...that I see advertised on the menu.
It's only after I put those away that I ask Miguel for two burgers - a Clinton Burger (with mushrooms and bacon, $5.99) and, hey, a salmon cheeseburger ($5.99), from the specials board. Carla will really go for that.
Now I'm armed and ready to climb that hill. Thanks Nacho!
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