Quantcast
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

Rincon Azteca: a treasure no longer hidden

Homestyle mole, birria, enchiladas, pambazas and more in a one-woman kitchen

Red mole over chicken
Red mole over chicken
Place

Rincon Azteca Homestyle Mexican Restaurant

2172 Ocean View Blvd,, San Diego

Perhaps the most overused cliché in all food writing is to call a restaurant a gem. One might be an absolute gem, or a neighborhood gem. Most trite of all would be the term “hidden gem.” Yelpers have been particularly active in wearing the term out: a search for “hidden gem” on Yelp turns up about 1.8 million hits. That’s more hidden gems than you’ll find anyplace not guarded by a dragon.

A pombazo wet sandwich, with chorizo and potatoes

That said, I can’t find any better way to describe Logan Heights restaurant Rincon Azteca than the neighborhood’s hidden gem.

I’ll even double down on cliché: this gem is hiding in plain sight. A fresh paint job covers the small Mexican restaurant with an Aztec-inspired mural, whose brilliant blue and green hues attract the eye. However, its location in the middle of a mostly residential block of Ocean View Boulevard means there’s not a lot of drive-by traffic to spot the place.

Chicken enchiladas in green sauce

For the better part of ten years it has been doing business with a far less flashy paint job, under the name Mama’s Kitchen. That’s the same handle as a local charity dedicated to feeding impoverished families, so the recent Rincon rebrand makes sense.

However, neither the namesake Mama nor her kitchen have gone anywhere. Alicia Lorenzo told me she’s been in there cooking pretty much every day for the past decade or so, primarily by herself. Her homestyle dishes include daily cauldrons of soups; tacos made with hecho a mano tortillas; chicken enchiladas smothered in either green or red sauce; tamales of pork or beef; mariscos from aguachile to ceviche; and antojitos including sopes, huaraches, and gorditas.

Casual Rincon Azteca dining room, with mismatched dining furniture and pretty tablecloths

It’s a lengthy menu for any restaurant, and an especially impressive lot of recipes for one woman to deliver with as much consistency as I’ve found. A plate of deep, savory mole rojo over chicken ($8.50) floored me: when I ran out of tortillas and chicken I resorted to spoonsful of the dark red sauce. Enchiladas verdes were tangy yet soulful ($5), and worthy of repeat tasting. The beef birria sope ($3.50), pork tamal ($1.50), and asada huarache ($5.25) all left me wanting more.

A blue and green mural announce the name change from Mama's Kitchen to Rincon Azteca.

I even found a Mexico City style pambazo here ($5.50). The wet sandwich features chorizo and grilled potatoes on a long telera roll, dipped in guajillo salsa, grilled crisp, and finished with shredded lettuce and crema. It’s messy, but goes so well with a juicy agua fresca de Jamaica, a.k.a. hibiscus water. While I haven’t yet tried any of Lorenzo’s soups, which include menudo, goat birria, and pozole, I did witness another customer stop in one hot afternoon specifically to order the caldo de res. I figure, if someone wants soup on an 80-degree afternoon, it’s got to be something special.

Rincon Azteca is cash only, and Lorenzo’s English is nary better than my own restaurant Spanish, but if you can forego the convenience of paying through your smart phone, and can pronounce the words mole or birria, I suspect you’ll be glad you did. Let this gem be hidden no more.

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

Previous article

Al Capone’s film legacy

“I think it’s a good social document. It shows how an unscrupulous man can prey on society.”
Comments
0

Be the first to leave a comment.

Sign in to comment

Sign in

Red mole over chicken
Red mole over chicken
Place

Rincon Azteca Homestyle Mexican Restaurant

2172 Ocean View Blvd,, San Diego

Perhaps the most overused cliché in all food writing is to call a restaurant a gem. One might be an absolute gem, or a neighborhood gem. Most trite of all would be the term “hidden gem.” Yelpers have been particularly active in wearing the term out: a search for “hidden gem” on Yelp turns up about 1.8 million hits. That’s more hidden gems than you’ll find anyplace not guarded by a dragon.

A pombazo wet sandwich, with chorizo and potatoes

That said, I can’t find any better way to describe Logan Heights restaurant Rincon Azteca than the neighborhood’s hidden gem.

I’ll even double down on cliché: this gem is hiding in plain sight. A fresh paint job covers the small Mexican restaurant with an Aztec-inspired mural, whose brilliant blue and green hues attract the eye. However, its location in the middle of a mostly residential block of Ocean View Boulevard means there’s not a lot of drive-by traffic to spot the place.

Chicken enchiladas in green sauce

For the better part of ten years it has been doing business with a far less flashy paint job, under the name Mama’s Kitchen. That’s the same handle as a local charity dedicated to feeding impoverished families, so the recent Rincon rebrand makes sense.

However, neither the namesake Mama nor her kitchen have gone anywhere. Alicia Lorenzo told me she’s been in there cooking pretty much every day for the past decade or so, primarily by herself. Her homestyle dishes include daily cauldrons of soups; tacos made with hecho a mano tortillas; chicken enchiladas smothered in either green or red sauce; tamales of pork or beef; mariscos from aguachile to ceviche; and antojitos including sopes, huaraches, and gorditas.

Casual Rincon Azteca dining room, with mismatched dining furniture and pretty tablecloths

It’s a lengthy menu for any restaurant, and an especially impressive lot of recipes for one woman to deliver with as much consistency as I’ve found. A plate of deep, savory mole rojo over chicken ($8.50) floored me: when I ran out of tortillas and chicken I resorted to spoonsful of the dark red sauce. Enchiladas verdes were tangy yet soulful ($5), and worthy of repeat tasting. The beef birria sope ($3.50), pork tamal ($1.50), and asada huarache ($5.25) all left me wanting more.

A blue and green mural announce the name change from Mama's Kitchen to Rincon Azteca.

I even found a Mexico City style pambazo here ($5.50). The wet sandwich features chorizo and grilled potatoes on a long telera roll, dipped in guajillo salsa, grilled crisp, and finished with shredded lettuce and crema. It’s messy, but goes so well with a juicy agua fresca de Jamaica, a.k.a. hibiscus water. While I haven’t yet tried any of Lorenzo’s soups, which include menudo, goat birria, and pozole, I did witness another customer stop in one hot afternoon specifically to order the caldo de res. I figure, if someone wants soup on an 80-degree afternoon, it’s got to be something special.

Rincon Azteca is cash only, and Lorenzo’s English is nary better than my own restaurant Spanish, but if you can forego the convenience of paying through your smart phone, and can pronounce the words mole or birria, I suspect you’ll be glad you did. Let this gem be hidden no more.

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

Christopher Maddox: Dr. Demento got me started

Parody-song zeal from the Carlsbad “Crisis Crooner”
Next Article

Is your favorite brewery open yet? Check Magie's spreadsheet.

How a local beertender spent her pandemic spring showing people where to shop
Comments
0

Be the first to leave a comment.

Sign in to comment

Sign in

Art Reviews — W.S. Di Piero's eye on exhibits Ask a Hipster — Advice you didn't know you needed Best Buys — San Diego shopping Big Screen — Movie commentary Blurt — Music's inside track Booze News — San Diego spirits City Lights — News and politics Classical Music — Immortal beauty Classifieds — Free and easy Cover Stories — Front-page features Excerpts — Literary and spiritual excerpts Famous Former Neighbors — Next-door celebs Feast! — Food & drink reviews Feature Stories — Local news & stories From the Archives — Spotlight on the past Golden Dreams — Talk of the town Here's the Deal — Chad Deal's watering holes Just Announced — The scoop on shows 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 Of Note — Concert picks Out & About — What's Happening Overheard in San Diego — Eavesdropping illustrated Poetry — The old and the new Pour Over — Grab a cup Reader Travel — Travel section built by travelers Reading — The hunt for intellectuals Roam-O-Rama — SoCal's best hiking/biking trails San Diego Beer News — Inside San Diego suds SD on the QT — Almost factual news Set 'em Up Joe — Bartenders' drink recipes Sheep and Goats — Places of worship Special Issues — The best of Sports — Athletics without gush Street Style — San Diego streets have style Suit Up — Fashion tips for dudes Theater Reviews — Local productions Theater antireviews — Narrow your search 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 Waterfront — All things ocean 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