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

After a weekend of unrest, lunch at El Chingon

Protests and police clashes add new twist to post-pandemic dining

El Chingon taco plate: beans and rice with baja fish, al pastor, and carne asada with fried cheese tacos
El Chingon taco plate: beans and rice with baja fish, al pastor, and carne asada with fried cheese tacos

At a nearby table, a group of young women are discussing the weekend protests, which saw thousands of San Diegans demonstrate against police brutality. Primarily they express concern the message of peaceful protestors could be drowned out by the opportunistic destruction of those who only showed up to loot. The four women work in Gaslamp restaurants, but their jobs didn’t bring them down here today, and neither did this lunch at El Chingon. They came downtown this Monday morning to help the cleanup effort that followed a tumultuous Sunday night.

Place

El Chingon Bad Ass Mexican

560 Fifth Avenue, San Diego

As I drove into the city center, signs of yesterday’s unrest were everywhere. Several blocks of Broadway were closed to traffic as police officers barricaded San Diego Police headquarters. Several retail storefronts exhibited broken glass; more had their windows covered with plywood — some since preemptively. Other businesses worked to get their own plywood barriers up ahead of sundown.

Current events may have dampened El Chingon's lively atmosphere, but it's still dishing up colorful and tasty Mexican food.

I chose El Chingon for lunch today, in part, because a Facebook friend had posted a photo of it this morning, with its own windows boarded up. But the plywood was down by time the Mexican restaurant opened for lunch, and from the outside things appeared relatively normal. But then, before I could enter, wearing a mask, my temperature was taken and my hands sprayed with hand sanitizer.

Gaslamp restaurant El Chingon, boarded up to prevent against riots

Oh yeah. We’re still in the midst of a pandemic. It’s tough to reconcile so many different, urgent matters taking place simultaneously. Some of the boarded-up downtown businesses have been that way since the shutdown started in March, and as their ranks grow, the prevalence of plywood recalls many a dystopian sci-fi film.

El Chingon re-opens following a weekend of civil disquiet.

Even for this food writer, it’s tough to think about food at a time like this. Following the highly publicized riots, looting, and arson that took place in La Mesa Saturday night — in La Mesa! — a number of downtown businesses chose to close shop as protestors swelled in number downtown on Sunday afternoon, and especially after police deployed tear gas and flash grenades in efforts to disperse them.

El Chingon was open Sunday, but from what I gather, it closed by 4:30 pm. Service staff helped board up the windows, and security staff stayed on to monitor the property.

After the weekend protests, police barricade the blocks around San Diego Police Headquarters.

It’s especially tough to reconcile a place like El Chingon with these confounding times. The place is built around colorful depictions of Mexican culture: it makes playful use of Día de los Muertos décor, pumps lively music through its loudspeakers, and specializes in agave spirit cocktails. More than anything, it’s a fun place, designed for fun and celebration.

Now, thick plastic sheets form ad hoc barriers between booths to prevent the spread of coronavirus. TVs tuned to news coverage display images of both protestors and looters taking to the streets of American cities large and small.

There are boarded up shops and restaurants around downtown, some due to pandemic, some to ward against looting.

The city is relatively calm this Monday lunchtime, and El Chingon still has a full menu to peruse, including take-out family meals of enchiladas, fajitas, and (thanks to sister restaurant Havana 1920), the classic Caribbean dish ropa vieja. For dine in, I’m at leisure to enjoy a $14 taco plate. For my three tacos I chose Baja-style fried fish, al pastor, and carne asada wrapped in fried cheese.

I can't imagine what the universe has planned next for the struggling restaurant industry, but I hope it's something great for a change. Because even though it feels like the world is falling apart around us, the next day these good folk of the restaurant industry are getting up, cleaning up, and continuing to provide welcoming spaces.

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

Previous article

Vista City Attorney and James Buss donate to Trump campaign

Chula Vista's Jill Galvez barred from voting on fire trucks
Next Article

Imperial Beach, town without pretense

Sleeping ban. sandcastle stomping, immigrant shelter, breakwater, Brian Bilbray
El Chingon taco plate: beans and rice with baja fish, al pastor, and carne asada with fried cheese tacos
El Chingon taco plate: beans and rice with baja fish, al pastor, and carne asada with fried cheese tacos

At a nearby table, a group of young women are discussing the weekend protests, which saw thousands of San Diegans demonstrate against police brutality. Primarily they express concern the message of peaceful protestors could be drowned out by the opportunistic destruction of those who only showed up to loot. The four women work in Gaslamp restaurants, but their jobs didn’t bring them down here today, and neither did this lunch at El Chingon. They came downtown this Monday morning to help the cleanup effort that followed a tumultuous Sunday night.

Place

El Chingon Bad Ass Mexican

560 Fifth Avenue, San Diego

As I drove into the city center, signs of yesterday’s unrest were everywhere. Several blocks of Broadway were closed to traffic as police officers barricaded San Diego Police headquarters. Several retail storefronts exhibited broken glass; more had their windows covered with plywood — some since preemptively. Other businesses worked to get their own plywood barriers up ahead of sundown.

Current events may have dampened El Chingon's lively atmosphere, but it's still dishing up colorful and tasty Mexican food.

I chose El Chingon for lunch today, in part, because a Facebook friend had posted a photo of it this morning, with its own windows boarded up. But the plywood was down by time the Mexican restaurant opened for lunch, and from the outside things appeared relatively normal. But then, before I could enter, wearing a mask, my temperature was taken and my hands sprayed with hand sanitizer.

Gaslamp restaurant El Chingon, boarded up to prevent against riots

Oh yeah. We’re still in the midst of a pandemic. It’s tough to reconcile so many different, urgent matters taking place simultaneously. Some of the boarded-up downtown businesses have been that way since the shutdown started in March, and as their ranks grow, the prevalence of plywood recalls many a dystopian sci-fi film.

El Chingon re-opens following a weekend of civil disquiet.

Even for this food writer, it’s tough to think about food at a time like this. Following the highly publicized riots, looting, and arson that took place in La Mesa Saturday night — in La Mesa! — a number of downtown businesses chose to close shop as protestors swelled in number downtown on Sunday afternoon, and especially after police deployed tear gas and flash grenades in efforts to disperse them.

El Chingon was open Sunday, but from what I gather, it closed by 4:30 pm. Service staff helped board up the windows, and security staff stayed on to monitor the property.

After the weekend protests, police barricade the blocks around San Diego Police Headquarters.

It’s especially tough to reconcile a place like El Chingon with these confounding times. The place is built around colorful depictions of Mexican culture: it makes playful use of Día de los Muertos décor, pumps lively music through its loudspeakers, and specializes in agave spirit cocktails. More than anything, it’s a fun place, designed for fun and celebration.

Now, thick plastic sheets form ad hoc barriers between booths to prevent the spread of coronavirus. TVs tuned to news coverage display images of both protestors and looters taking to the streets of American cities large and small.

There are boarded up shops and restaurants around downtown, some due to pandemic, some to ward against looting.

The city is relatively calm this Monday lunchtime, and El Chingon still has a full menu to peruse, including take-out family meals of enchiladas, fajitas, and (thanks to sister restaurant Havana 1920), the classic Caribbean dish ropa vieja. For dine in, I’m at leisure to enjoy a $14 taco plate. For my three tacos I chose Baja-style fried fish, al pastor, and carne asada wrapped in fried cheese.

I can't imagine what the universe has planned next for the struggling restaurant industry, but I hope it's something great for a change. Because even though it feels like the world is falling apart around us, the next day these good folk of the restaurant industry are getting up, cleaning up, and continuing to provide welcoming spaces.

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

What opera is closest to California redwoods?

Tough competing with the English and Austrians
Next Article

Mostra Coffee is finally caffeinating 4S Ranch

Local micro roaster of the year replaces a boring chain coffeeshop
Comments
3

This looks good. I'm tired of the looting and rioting. Round them up and throw them all in jail. Enough is enough. There is no excuse for police brutality, but it's easily solved. Quit committing crimes and if you are stupid enough to commit a felony, quit resisting arrest. Problem solved. And the enablers will never get it. Newsom said "we're to blame." As a former moderate Democrat, I see through his bull. He's just looking for the minority vote.

June 1, 2020
This comment was removed by the site staff for violation of the usage agreement.
June 2, 2020
This comment was removed by the site staff for violation of the usage agreement.
June 7, 2020

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