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The massive, small molcajete at La Sinaloense

How regionally inspired mariscos fill a restaurant patio in La Presa

The one-person order of the signature, cheese and shellfish molcajete dish at La Sinaloense
The one-person order of the signature, cheese and shellfish molcajete dish at La Sinaloense

When our server places it on the table, it’s so large that we assume the kitchen has sent out the two-person order by mistake. But no, this large bowl contains the single order of the Molcajete Sinaloense ($30).

Place

La Sinaloense

9410 Apple St, Spring Valley

Actually, the bowl itself is a literal molcajete — the traditional mortar and pestle of indigenous Mexico — and it has to be ten or twelve inches in diameter. Over its edges dangle octopus tentacles, a large cactus leaf, a whole, roasted poblano chili, and an entire stalk of green onion. Inside, the bowl (served over a protective blanket of hot foil) is overflowing with slices of avocado, cilantro, both panela and cotija cheeses, and most of all, a tomato-chili broth filled with shellfish. Shrimp, clams, mussels, scallops, crab — a veritable ocean of the sort of mariscos served in the coastal state of Sinaloa.

Though a heavily agricultural region known for producing rice, vegetables, and beef, we here in San Diego more immediately recognize Sinaloa as the birthplace of aguachile, and the inspiration behind tostadas piled high with towers of ceviche. So we almost had to order this signature dish of a restaurant called La Sinaloense, and had to leave wondering just how humungous the 40-dollar, two-person order must be?

An airy, verdant enclosed patio for this Mexican restaurant in La Presa

But first, we just had to appreciate the atmosphere. La Sinaloense has two locations, including one near downtown Chula Vista, but we checked out the original in La Presa. And, honestly, despite all my years of poking around, I never even realized there is a La Presa. It comprises the southeastern corner of Spring Valley, bordering the Sweetwater Reservoir. It just goes to show, this county’s about as big as that double-order molcajete!

Here, at the outer edge of the sprawl connecting East and South County, La Sinaloense makes a hidden oasis out of its sunbaked, corner location. A large, enclosed patio is draped with leafy plants, with a three-tiered, Mediterranean style, stone fountain opposite a small bar area. When we visited around lunchtime on a Monday, mounted TV screens were tuned to soccer matches, and nearly every table was filled with a large, Spanish-speaking party, happily devouring seafood.

A refreshing whitefish ceviche

The molcajete dishes prove the most elaborate and expensive on a large menu filled with Mexican favorites from both within and without the Sinaloa region, and most entrees under 12 dollars. In fact, Monday is dollar-fish-tacos day, and I would have been happy to eat a dozen of them, were I not determined to try the whitefish ceviche. It turned out to be refreshing as I hoped, washed down well with a bottle of Mexican Coke.

I’ve not yet been to Sinaloa, but when I go, I wonder if it will remind me of this happy little part of La Presa?

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The one-person order of the signature, cheese and shellfish molcajete dish at La Sinaloense
The one-person order of the signature, cheese and shellfish molcajete dish at La Sinaloense

When our server places it on the table, it’s so large that we assume the kitchen has sent out the two-person order by mistake. But no, this large bowl contains the single order of the Molcajete Sinaloense ($30).

Place

La Sinaloense

9410 Apple St, Spring Valley

Actually, the bowl itself is a literal molcajete — the traditional mortar and pestle of indigenous Mexico — and it has to be ten or twelve inches in diameter. Over its edges dangle octopus tentacles, a large cactus leaf, a whole, roasted poblano chili, and an entire stalk of green onion. Inside, the bowl (served over a protective blanket of hot foil) is overflowing with slices of avocado, cilantro, both panela and cotija cheeses, and most of all, a tomato-chili broth filled with shellfish. Shrimp, clams, mussels, scallops, crab — a veritable ocean of the sort of mariscos served in the coastal state of Sinaloa.

Though a heavily agricultural region known for producing rice, vegetables, and beef, we here in San Diego more immediately recognize Sinaloa as the birthplace of aguachile, and the inspiration behind tostadas piled high with towers of ceviche. So we almost had to order this signature dish of a restaurant called La Sinaloense, and had to leave wondering just how humungous the 40-dollar, two-person order must be?

An airy, verdant enclosed patio for this Mexican restaurant in La Presa

But first, we just had to appreciate the atmosphere. La Sinaloense has two locations, including one near downtown Chula Vista, but we checked out the original in La Presa. And, honestly, despite all my years of poking around, I never even realized there is a La Presa. It comprises the southeastern corner of Spring Valley, bordering the Sweetwater Reservoir. It just goes to show, this county’s about as big as that double-order molcajete!

Here, at the outer edge of the sprawl connecting East and South County, La Sinaloense makes a hidden oasis out of its sunbaked, corner location. A large, enclosed patio is draped with leafy plants, with a three-tiered, Mediterranean style, stone fountain opposite a small bar area. When we visited around lunchtime on a Monday, mounted TV screens were tuned to soccer matches, and nearly every table was filled with a large, Spanish-speaking party, happily devouring seafood.

A refreshing whitefish ceviche

The molcajete dishes prove the most elaborate and expensive on a large menu filled with Mexican favorites from both within and without the Sinaloa region, and most entrees under 12 dollars. In fact, Monday is dollar-fish-tacos day, and I would have been happy to eat a dozen of them, were I not determined to try the whitefish ceviche. It turned out to be refreshing as I hoped, washed down well with a bottle of Mexican Coke.

I’ve not yet been to Sinaloa, but when I go, I wonder if it will remind me of this happy little part of La Presa?

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