Hot sauces and fresh juice complement the Sandia (front), Pibil (right), and De la Pato (back) tostadas
3139 University Avenue, San Diego
Casting my vote at the Reader Feast food and drink festival this year was easy. Yes, eventual winner Half Door Brewing Co. rightfully earned its victory with a combo of tasty beers and ahi poke tacos, and I revisited their booth three or four times during the course of a gleefully gluttonous afternoon.
Tostadas took over the east North Park spot that previously housed a coffee shop and then dessert bar
But I’ve had poke tacos before. What I’ve never tried is a fish tostada featuring a thin slice of watermelon covering the corn tortilla. That’s what I got at the booth representing Tostadas, the new North Park restaurant launched by Gerry Torres and Eduardo Baeza, owner and chef of nearby City Tacos, respectively. The melon, red snapper, and variety of fruits, vegetables, and dressing made this a tostada unlike any I’ve experienced. And trying something new is my favorite thing to do as a feaster.
An open kitchen lets you see the chef at work
That’s why I made a point of visiting the new restaurant ASAP. The first thing I ordered was a Sandia — the name given to the tostada I’d tried at the festival. I guess revisiting new experiences is my second-favorite foodie activity.
In the restaurant, the Sandia features ahi instead of red snapper, which is a lateral move at worst. The joy I felt eating the bright, layered, and colorful tostada was only slightly diminished by familiarity. On a hungry day I could eat four of these without blinking.
And there are about nine other tostadas on the menu to try, at four to six bucks a pop. Since I can’t eat shrimp, three of these were off-limits to me, and my friend swears that I missed out big time. So apparently any of the shrimp options should satisfy — there’s one featuring clam, sesame seeds, and olive oil and another with ceviche, octopus, crab meat, and pineapple.
As you can guess by now, these are rather artful culinary creations, contrasting the sweetness of fruit with savory, acidic fish and usually some sort of spice. By way of comparison I decided to try the Tostada de Pibil, which pairs black beans and shredded pork topped by avocado and achiote sauce. Though it might seem dull sitting next to some of the other tostadas on the menu, it still tasted great.
I also tried the De la Pato, which includes duck, pears, and strawberries. This sounded fantastic to me, though the large slices of duck breast and fruit didn’t marry the way the other ingredient combinations did. Worth checking out, but maybe try it last, after the scallop and octopus Callo de Hacha or the salmon marinated in vodka and dill.
The City Tacos team seems to be onto something once again with this new spot, and I envision several lunchtimes in my future characterized by a taco vs. tostada battle for my appetite.