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Sisig and sarsparilla at the other Tita's

Plenty of space and way too much food for 8 bucks

Eight dollars gets you a lot of food, considering there's about three bucks worth of styrofoam on there. Sisig and lumpia. Tita's II.
Eight dollars gets you a lot of food, considering there's about three bucks worth of styrofoam on there. Sisig and lumpia. Tita's II.
Place

Tita’s II Restaurant

3421 E. Plaza Boulevard, National City

Actually, I was trying to go to Tita's Kitchenette, a cramped, cafeteria-style Filipino food counter on Plaza Boulevard in National City. But I passed right by without noticing. I might have driven another five minutes before I realized the error, except two minutes down the road I came upon Tita's II — a spacious, cafeteria-style Filipino food counter, also on Plaza Boulevard in National City.

I guess the expansion was necessary, as I've heard reports of long lines and lack of parking at Tita's original location. Good enough — I can only assume it's the same recipes, similar clientele, etc.

A storefront with about as much visual flair as the name would suggest.

This place has planet of room, with dozens of tables, a dancefloor, and a stage for weekend live performances and karaoke events. It looks like a nice-enough sit-down restaurant crossed with a youth center — well-appointed tables in a large, unfinished room with dark walls and corners.

And that cafeteria counter. With no menu in sight, this at least gave me a chance to wander back and forth and get an eye on dishes I might like. I grew up with a fondness for homemade lumpia brought to school potlucks by classmates, so I immediately ordered the egg-roll–like appetizer. But aside from the occasional chicken adobo, I really have little experience eating food from this culture.

A lot of it didn't look great. Sitting in a heating tray in the middle of the afternoon, how could it? I asked the girl behind the counter for pointers, and she said a lot of words I didn't quite catch as she spooned each corresponding tray full of stewed or stir-fried meats in turn.

I settled on sisig, a sour, salt-and-vinegar pork dish. At least, I did hear the word pork, just not exactly which part of the pig.

No matter. She heaped a giant portion of crusty white rice into a Styrofoam container, followed by an equally enormous portion of sisig. On a separate Styrofoam tray she added a pile of lumpia, and then ladled some pork and tamarind soup — possibly sinigang — into yet another piece of Styrofoam.

Basically, I was looking at a trayful of pork, Styrofoam, and two-hour old rice. What kind of drink pairs well with that? Who knows? Ever daring, I asked for a mysterious can behind the counter, labeled Sarsi. Sarsaparilla, it turns out.

The sisig tasted pretty amazing — bright, acidic, fruity — a strange assortment of flavors I never saw coming. So what if the crispy pork-rind like skin made it into some bites? I was enjoying myself.

For a couple of mouthfuls, at least. Then the greasiness started to seep in, the heaviness. The rice cut into it a little bit, but the rice had its own problems to worry about.

I turned to the lumpia for nostalgic salvation. Now we're talking, I thought, just before biting into a dense log of chewy shredded pork. Spiced all right, but more heaviness. The tamarind soup might have tasted wonderful, but at this point I just couldn't. Instead I walked out of there with the heaviest $8 worth of food I've ever partially eaten.

Next time, I'll try to get it right and will go to the too-busy-to-let-food-sit-around Kitchenette down the street. But I'll maybe see how the chicken adobo looks.

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Eight dollars gets you a lot of food, considering there's about three bucks worth of styrofoam on there. Sisig and lumpia. Tita's II.
Eight dollars gets you a lot of food, considering there's about three bucks worth of styrofoam on there. Sisig and lumpia. Tita's II.
Place

Tita’s II Restaurant

3421 E. Plaza Boulevard, National City

Actually, I was trying to go to Tita's Kitchenette, a cramped, cafeteria-style Filipino food counter on Plaza Boulevard in National City. But I passed right by without noticing. I might have driven another five minutes before I realized the error, except two minutes down the road I came upon Tita's II — a spacious, cafeteria-style Filipino food counter, also on Plaza Boulevard in National City.

I guess the expansion was necessary, as I've heard reports of long lines and lack of parking at Tita's original location. Good enough — I can only assume it's the same recipes, similar clientele, etc.

A storefront with about as much visual flair as the name would suggest.

This place has planet of room, with dozens of tables, a dancefloor, and a stage for weekend live performances and karaoke events. It looks like a nice-enough sit-down restaurant crossed with a youth center — well-appointed tables in a large, unfinished room with dark walls and corners.

And that cafeteria counter. With no menu in sight, this at least gave me a chance to wander back and forth and get an eye on dishes I might like. I grew up with a fondness for homemade lumpia brought to school potlucks by classmates, so I immediately ordered the egg-roll–like appetizer. But aside from the occasional chicken adobo, I really have little experience eating food from this culture.

A lot of it didn't look great. Sitting in a heating tray in the middle of the afternoon, how could it? I asked the girl behind the counter for pointers, and she said a lot of words I didn't quite catch as she spooned each corresponding tray full of stewed or stir-fried meats in turn.

I settled on sisig, a sour, salt-and-vinegar pork dish. At least, I did hear the word pork, just not exactly which part of the pig.

No matter. She heaped a giant portion of crusty white rice into a Styrofoam container, followed by an equally enormous portion of sisig. On a separate Styrofoam tray she added a pile of lumpia, and then ladled some pork and tamarind soup — possibly sinigang — into yet another piece of Styrofoam.

Basically, I was looking at a trayful of pork, Styrofoam, and two-hour old rice. What kind of drink pairs well with that? Who knows? Ever daring, I asked for a mysterious can behind the counter, labeled Sarsi. Sarsaparilla, it turns out.

The sisig tasted pretty amazing — bright, acidic, fruity — a strange assortment of flavors I never saw coming. So what if the crispy pork-rind like skin made it into some bites? I was enjoying myself.

For a couple of mouthfuls, at least. Then the greasiness started to seep in, the heaviness. The rice cut into it a little bit, but the rice had its own problems to worry about.

I turned to the lumpia for nostalgic salvation. Now we're talking, I thought, just before biting into a dense log of chewy shredded pork. Spiced all right, but more heaviness. The tamarind soup might have tasted wonderful, but at this point I just couldn't. Instead I walked out of there with the heaviest $8 worth of food I've ever partially eaten.

Next time, I'll try to get it right and will go to the too-busy-to-let-food-sit-around Kitchenette down the street. But I'll maybe see how the chicken adobo looks.

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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
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