4S Ranch Allied Gardens Alpine Baja Balboa Park Bankers Hill Barrio Logan Bay Ho Bay Park Black Mountain Ranch Blossom Valley Bonita Bonsall Borrego Springs Boulevard Campo Cardiff-by-the-Sea Carlsbad Carmel Mountain Carmel Valley Chollas View Chula Vista City College City Heights Clairemont College Area Coronado CSU San Marcos Cuyamaca College Del Cerro Del Mar Descanso Downtown San Diego Eastlake East Village El Cajon Emerald Hills Encanto Encinitas Escondido Fallbrook Fletcher Hills Golden Hill Grant Hill Grantville Grossmont College Guatay Harbor Island Hillcrest Imperial Beach Imperial Valley Jacumba Jamacha-Lomita Jamul Julian Kearny Mesa Kensington La Jolla Lakeside La Mesa Lemon Grove Leucadia Liberty Station Lincoln Acres Lincoln Park Linda Vista Little Italy Logan Heights Mesa College Midway District MiraCosta College Miramar Miramar College Mira Mesa Mission Beach Mission Hills Mission Valley Mountain View Mount Hope Mount Laguna National City Nestor Normal Heights North Park Oak Park Ocean Beach Oceanside Old Town Otay Mesa Pacific Beach Pala Palomar College Palomar Mountain Paradise Hills Pauma Valley Pine Valley Point Loma Point Loma Nazarene Potrero Poway Rainbow Ramona Rancho Bernardo Rancho Penasquitos Rancho San Diego Rancho Santa Fe Rolando San Carlos San Marcos San Onofre Santa Ysabel Santee San Ysidro Scripps Ranch SDSU Serra Mesa Shelltown Shelter Island Sherman Heights Skyline Solana Beach Sorrento Valley Southcrest South Park Southwestern College Spring Valley Stockton Talmadge Temecula Tierrasanta Tijuana UCSD University City University Heights USD Valencia Park Valley Center Vista Warner Springs

Almost hog wild

Ed doesn’t pig out too much at Doña Tina’s kitchen

Rene serves up the spuds, cheese, frijoles, and goat.
Rene serves up the spuds, cheese, frijoles, and goat.

I came in here for a notebook. I end up eating the house out.

I’m in the Northgate González Market, which everybody calls Mercado González.

It’s the new supermarket in Barrio Logan. Took the community 30 years to make it happen. But now it’s up and running, and guess what? It’s great for pretty much anything and cheaper than any other place I know. Everything’s labeled in Spanish first, of course, and Latino items get pride of place. But they have all the regular groceries, plus items like school notebooks. Which is why I’m here. ’Cause here they go for 99 cents to $1.99. Try finding that price in North Park.

Place

Cocina Doña Tina

1950 Main Street, San Diego

But, uh-oh: when you come in, you more-or-less have to pass by the in-store eatery, La Fonda de Doña Tina (“Doña Tina’s Inn”). Outside, the neon sign reads “Cocina [kitchen] de Doña Tina.” Whatever. It’s a combo of deli-type south-of-the-border foods such as stews, pork skins, menudo, goat meat, tortillas (flour, corn, and nopal, which they make here), big bags of rice (for 99 cents), and a restaurant with seating inside and outside on an umbrella-strewn patio.

I was here a year ago, soon after the place opened. Ordered a $1.99 pork taco al pastor. Delish, especially with the mix of brown, red, and green salsas they had.

“Would you like something, sir?”

It’s this restaurant guy. Label on his waistcoat reads “Rene.” There’s an urgency in his voice that gets me checking my watch. Oh, man. I’ve done it again. Come in late. Almost nine o’clock here.

“You’re closing, right?”

The chafing dish counter

“We’re going to have to start cleaning up pretty soon,” he says. “But you’ve still got time to order.”

Problem is, there is so much to pick from. Starting at the vertical spit for adobada pork, past a rack of chafing dishes loaded with shrimp soup, pork chops, chicken soup, frijoles, octopus, goat, spuds’n cheese, menudo, on and on. Prices are by the pound, mostly. Like, the goat goes for $6.99.

Ed' adobada taco

Just to get things rolling, I ask for an adobada taco. Same as I had last time. And — hey hey! It’s still $1.99.

Rene starts slicing the meat off the stacked slices, and slaps a couple of corn tortillas on the hot plate. Then he puts the meat in a small frying pan. Guess the vertical kebab heaters are already off.

He sees I’m still searching the menu. “We have the special combo deal, too,” he says. Oh, yeah. Two meats or veggies from the chafing dishes steaming away here, plus frijoles or rice, for $5.99.

But, uh, need for speed. I almost go hog-wild and order pork chop and mushrooms and chicken soup. But I end up choosing a combo of barbecued goat meat, potatoes with grilled cheese and peppers, and frijoles (you get four hot corn tortillas to go with that).

Then I can’t resist ordering a 16-ounce pot of caldo de camarón (shrimp soup) as well. Looks so luscious with peppers, shrimp, celery, and other stuff simmering in an angry-looking liquid you know is going to blow you away. So that’s $1.99 for the taco, $5.99 for the combo, $4.99 for the pot of shrimp soup, and a horchata, the rice drink ($1.99). Lord. With tax, that comes to $16. Feel bad, but not that bad, because I know Carla and I can have a leftover feast later.

So, pretty soon I’ve got this way-heavy tray, loaded and steaming. Before I sit down, gotta check out the salsa bar that fills up one end of the counter space. Ooh. Beautifully evil-looking pools of green, brown, and burnt-orange salsas. I try two.

I find a table in the seating area, near a couple of other Spanish-speaking families and teens and a couple of Caltrans guys talking about the dangers of doing work on freeways. Rene and his buddies are already hauling out the chafing dishes, covering them with foil, and scrubbing down hotplates. So I get into my main food. The adobada’s as good as I remember it, though, yes, meat’s been cookin’ a few hours. The spuds and cheese are comforting and familiar. But it’s the goat that’s interesting. Has that gamey goat taste I’ve come to love. Richer than beef, sorta like bison, but darker, richer. It’s like drinking Arrogant Bastard. You have to get used to the taste kick it gives you. Only then you start to appreciate the almost-molasses intensity of the taste.

But today, have to say, the prize goes to the shrimp soup. Hoo-wee! Zingy, but tasty. And this little pot of fire is a meal in itself. Five bucks worth of protein, TNT-strength heat with help from some chilies, and a generous amount of camarones.

Just to help Rene and the others out, and also not to pig out too much, I pack half of it all to go. Can’t wait to get back and fix us a late-nite combo snack of epic proportions.

I head out into the dark and down toward the trolley. It’s an odd, but good feeling. I feel like I’m coming back from another country. I mean, the barrio has tons of totally Mexican restaurants, but there’s something different about having a modern, 35,000-square-foot supermarket where everything is Spanish and English is the second language. How great that must feel for Loganites, to have shelves stocked with goods for them, to reverse the order of things, even if it’s just for an hour’s shopping.

Or an hour’s eating, natch.

The Place: Cocina de Doña Tina, in Northgate González Market, 1950 Main Street (at César Chávez), Barrio Logan, 619-237-8022

Prices: Adobada taco, $1.99; combo deal: two meats or veggies plus frijoles or rice, $5.99; barbecued goat meat, $6.99/lb; pork chop and mushrooms, $6.99/lb; 16-ounce pot of caldo de camarón (shrimp soup), $4.99; horchata (rice drink), $1.99

Hours: 6:00 a.m.–9:00 p.m. daily

Buses: 11, 901, 929

Nearest Bus Stops: 11, Logan Avenue at César Chávez Parkway; 901, César Chávez Parkway and National; 929, Main Street at César Chávez Parkway

Trolley: Blue Line

Nearest trolley stop: Barrio Logan, at Harbor Drive and César Chávez Parkway

Here's something you might be interested in.
Submit a free classified
or view all

Previous article

Subs off Imperial Beach, Yamamoto's killer, a kid in WWII San Diego

Tarawa, Japanese POWs, my dad's part in Hiroshima, Iwo Jima, captured in Burma
Next Article

Robert Graves: among the best poetry in English literature

A novelist, and classicist best known for I, Claudius (1934) and its sequel, Claudius the God
Rene serves up the spuds, cheese, frijoles, and goat.
Rene serves up the spuds, cheese, frijoles, and goat.

I came in here for a notebook. I end up eating the house out.

I’m in the Northgate González Market, which everybody calls Mercado González.

It’s the new supermarket in Barrio Logan. Took the community 30 years to make it happen. But now it’s up and running, and guess what? It’s great for pretty much anything and cheaper than any other place I know. Everything’s labeled in Spanish first, of course, and Latino items get pride of place. But they have all the regular groceries, plus items like school notebooks. Which is why I’m here. ’Cause here they go for 99 cents to $1.99. Try finding that price in North Park.

Place

Cocina Doña Tina

1950 Main Street, San Diego

But, uh-oh: when you come in, you more-or-less have to pass by the in-store eatery, La Fonda de Doña Tina (“Doña Tina’s Inn”). Outside, the neon sign reads “Cocina [kitchen] de Doña Tina.” Whatever. It’s a combo of deli-type south-of-the-border foods such as stews, pork skins, menudo, goat meat, tortillas (flour, corn, and nopal, which they make here), big bags of rice (for 99 cents), and a restaurant with seating inside and outside on an umbrella-strewn patio.

I was here a year ago, soon after the place opened. Ordered a $1.99 pork taco al pastor. Delish, especially with the mix of brown, red, and green salsas they had.

“Would you like something, sir?”

It’s this restaurant guy. Label on his waistcoat reads “Rene.” There’s an urgency in his voice that gets me checking my watch. Oh, man. I’ve done it again. Come in late. Almost nine o’clock here.

“You’re closing, right?”

The chafing dish counter

“We’re going to have to start cleaning up pretty soon,” he says. “But you’ve still got time to order.”

Problem is, there is so much to pick from. Starting at the vertical spit for adobada pork, past a rack of chafing dishes loaded with shrimp soup, pork chops, chicken soup, frijoles, octopus, goat, spuds’n cheese, menudo, on and on. Prices are by the pound, mostly. Like, the goat goes for $6.99.

Ed' adobada taco

Just to get things rolling, I ask for an adobada taco. Same as I had last time. And — hey hey! It’s still $1.99.

Rene starts slicing the meat off the stacked slices, and slaps a couple of corn tortillas on the hot plate. Then he puts the meat in a small frying pan. Guess the vertical kebab heaters are already off.

He sees I’m still searching the menu. “We have the special combo deal, too,” he says. Oh, yeah. Two meats or veggies from the chafing dishes steaming away here, plus frijoles or rice, for $5.99.

But, uh, need for speed. I almost go hog-wild and order pork chop and mushrooms and chicken soup. But I end up choosing a combo of barbecued goat meat, potatoes with grilled cheese and peppers, and frijoles (you get four hot corn tortillas to go with that).

Then I can’t resist ordering a 16-ounce pot of caldo de camarón (shrimp soup) as well. Looks so luscious with peppers, shrimp, celery, and other stuff simmering in an angry-looking liquid you know is going to blow you away. So that’s $1.99 for the taco, $5.99 for the combo, $4.99 for the pot of shrimp soup, and a horchata, the rice drink ($1.99). Lord. With tax, that comes to $16. Feel bad, but not that bad, because I know Carla and I can have a leftover feast later.

So, pretty soon I’ve got this way-heavy tray, loaded and steaming. Before I sit down, gotta check out the salsa bar that fills up one end of the counter space. Ooh. Beautifully evil-looking pools of green, brown, and burnt-orange salsas. I try two.

I find a table in the seating area, near a couple of other Spanish-speaking families and teens and a couple of Caltrans guys talking about the dangers of doing work on freeways. Rene and his buddies are already hauling out the chafing dishes, covering them with foil, and scrubbing down hotplates. So I get into my main food. The adobada’s as good as I remember it, though, yes, meat’s been cookin’ a few hours. The spuds and cheese are comforting and familiar. But it’s the goat that’s interesting. Has that gamey goat taste I’ve come to love. Richer than beef, sorta like bison, but darker, richer. It’s like drinking Arrogant Bastard. You have to get used to the taste kick it gives you. Only then you start to appreciate the almost-molasses intensity of the taste.

But today, have to say, the prize goes to the shrimp soup. Hoo-wee! Zingy, but tasty. And this little pot of fire is a meal in itself. Five bucks worth of protein, TNT-strength heat with help from some chilies, and a generous amount of camarones.

Just to help Rene and the others out, and also not to pig out too much, I pack half of it all to go. Can’t wait to get back and fix us a late-nite combo snack of epic proportions.

I head out into the dark and down toward the trolley. It’s an odd, but good feeling. I feel like I’m coming back from another country. I mean, the barrio has tons of totally Mexican restaurants, but there’s something different about having a modern, 35,000-square-foot supermarket where everything is Spanish and English is the second language. How great that must feel for Loganites, to have shelves stocked with goods for them, to reverse the order of things, even if it’s just for an hour’s shopping.

Or an hour’s eating, natch.

The Place: Cocina de Doña Tina, in Northgate González Market, 1950 Main Street (at César Chávez), Barrio Logan, 619-237-8022

Prices: Adobada taco, $1.99; combo deal: two meats or veggies plus frijoles or rice, $5.99; barbecued goat meat, $6.99/lb; pork chop and mushrooms, $6.99/lb; 16-ounce pot of caldo de camarón (shrimp soup), $4.99; horchata (rice drink), $1.99

Hours: 6:00 a.m.–9:00 p.m. daily

Buses: 11, 901, 929

Nearest Bus Stops: 11, Logan Avenue at César Chávez Parkway; 901, César Chávez Parkway and National; 929, Main Street at César Chávez Parkway

Trolley: Blue Line

Nearest trolley stop: Barrio Logan, at Harbor Drive and César Chávez Parkway

Sponsored
Here's something you might be interested in.
Submit a free classified
or view all
Previous article

San Diego City Clerk attacked in re-tweet

VA San Diego doctors accidentally overpaid?
Next Article

Robert Graves: among the best poetry in English literature

A novelist, and classicist best known for I, Claudius (1934) and its sequel, Claudius the God
Comments
0

Be the first to leave a comment.

Sign in to comment

Sign in

Ask a Hipster — Advice you didn't know you needed Big Screen — Movie commentary Blurt — Music's inside track Booze News — San Diego spirits Classical Music — Immortal beauty Classifieds — Free and easy Cover Stories — Front-page features Drinks All Around — Bartenders' drink recipes Excerpts — Literary and spiritual excerpts Feast! — Food & drink reviews Feature Stories — Local news & stories From the Archives — Spotlight on the past Golden Dreams — Talk of the town Letters — Our inbox [email protected] — Local movie buffs share favorites Movie Reviews — Our critics' picks and pans Musician Interviews — Up close with local artists Neighborhood News from Stringers — Hyperlocal news News Ticker — News & politics Obermeyer — San Diego politics illustrated Outdoors — Weekly changes in flora and fauna Overheard in San Diego — Eavesdropping illustrated Poetry — The old and the new Reader Travel — Travel section built by travelers Reading — The hunt for intellectuals Roam-O-Rama — SoCal's best hiking/biking trails San Diego Beer — Inside San Diego suds SD on the QT — Almost factual news Sheep and Goats — Places of worship Special Issues — The best of Street Style — San Diego streets have style Surf Diego — Real stories from those braving the waves Tin Fork — Silver spoon alternative Under the Radar — Matt Potter's undercover work Unforgettable — Long-ago San Diego Unreal Estate — San Diego's priciest pads Your Week — Daily event picks
4S Ranch Allied Gardens Alpine Baja Balboa Park Bankers Hill Barrio Logan Bay Ho Bay Park Black Mountain Ranch Blossom Valley Bonita Bonsall Borrego Springs Boulevard Campo Cardiff-by-the-Sea Carlsbad Carmel Mountain Carmel Valley Chollas View Chula Vista City College City Heights Clairemont College Area Coronado CSU San Marcos Cuyamaca College Del Cerro Del Mar Descanso Downtown San Diego Eastlake East Village El Cajon Emerald Hills Encanto Encinitas Escondido Fallbrook Fletcher Hills Golden Hill Grant Hill Grantville Grossmont College Guatay Harbor Island Hillcrest Imperial Beach Imperial Valley Jacumba Jamacha-Lomita Jamul Julian Kearny Mesa Kensington La Jolla Lakeside La Mesa Lemon Grove Leucadia Liberty Station Lincoln Acres Lincoln Park Linda Vista Little Italy Logan Heights Mesa College Midway District MiraCosta College Miramar Miramar College Mira Mesa Mission Beach Mission Hills Mission Valley Mountain View Mount Hope Mount Laguna National City Nestor Normal Heights North Park Oak Park Ocean Beach Oceanside Old Town Otay Mesa Pacific Beach Pala Palomar College Palomar Mountain Paradise Hills Pauma Valley Pine Valley Point Loma Point Loma Nazarene Potrero Poway Rainbow Ramona Rancho Bernardo Rancho Penasquitos Rancho San Diego Rancho Santa Fe Rolando San Carlos San Marcos San Onofre Santa Ysabel Santee San Ysidro Scripps Ranch SDSU Serra Mesa Shelltown Shelter Island Sherman Heights Skyline Solana Beach Sorrento Valley Southcrest South Park Southwestern College Spring Valley Stockton Talmadge Temecula Tierrasanta Tijuana UCSD University City University Heights USD Valencia Park Valley Center Vista Warner Springs
Close