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

Chamoy in Chula Vista

So, during my Baja lobster trip over the weekend, I also got a quick inauguration to some of the tasty snacks from the line. Then, while marooned in Chula Vista doing errands of an industrial nature, I got re-acquainted with some off those special tastes when I stumbled into La Fresca Deli on Broadway. My first thought was that it would be just another Senor Mango's, but it has a style all its own.

None

La Fresca is kind of shabby. Not gross, just drab, which is weird since everything is painted in bright, primary colors. Maybe it's because the place is stuck in a strip mall that, like lots of Chula Vista locales, makes me want to keep driving. Nevertheless, it's a stone's throw from an excellent barbacoa place, so I guess the whole "location, location, location" thing just doesn't apply in CV.

Suffice to say, my expectations were low.

I was wrong.

One of the treats that I enjoyed during a 3+ hour border wait was an order of tostilocos. The clamato ($5) at La Fresca reincarnated that meal as a drink. Much more than a virgin Bloody Mary, the clamato had clam and tomato juice, hot sauce, chamoy, pork rinds, jicama, peanuts, and cucumber, and lime in it. It was like an order of tostilocos without chips! Joy! So much salty, tangy goodness in one cup. The crunchy peanuts on the top were the best part, but the acrid tang of the chamoy was what made it all hold together. Chamoy, a sauce of salted prune brine and chili powder, has a funky taste that's a little bit fermented and a little bit pickled. I think it has a lot of the qualities that soy sauce gives to food--that certain savoriness that's hard to pin down but you know it when you taste it. Japanese cooks call it "umami" and it makes your mouth water just to think about.

I don't know what I was thinking, ordering pork skin and seafood juice from a dingy strip-mall deli, but I am glad I did.

None

Feeling inspired towards more chamoy, I tried the pico de gallo fruit salad. Little more than a bowl of jicama, cucumber, mango, pineapple, strawberry, and melon, the fruit salad came alive when I started smothering it in Valentina hot sauce and chamoy. Bottles of sauces were up on the counter and I went nuts with both. The result--a salty, spicy, fruit explosion--beat the muggy Chula Vista evening heat like nothing else.

None

Fruit cups and salads are between $4 and $8 depending on how big they are. The two fruits that stood out the most were the mango and the jicama, both of which combined with the chamoy to tease my palate. Everything else was good, but those were the best and it's no surprise that there's an entire "chamango" cup on the menu, which is just chamoy and mango.

Not too bad for what amounts to a dive bar for fruit.

La Fresca
1037 Broadway (Chula Vista) 619-427-1713
1021 Highland Ave (National City) 619-477-4790

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

Previous article

Secret audit findings hit Navy's hyped 3D printing boom

Hacker attacks due to sloppy security could jeopardize lives

So, during my Baja lobster trip over the weekend, I also got a quick inauguration to some of the tasty snacks from the line. Then, while marooned in Chula Vista doing errands of an industrial nature, I got re-acquainted with some off those special tastes when I stumbled into La Fresca Deli on Broadway. My first thought was that it would be just another Senor Mango's, but it has a style all its own.

None

La Fresca is kind of shabby. Not gross, just drab, which is weird since everything is painted in bright, primary colors. Maybe it's because the place is stuck in a strip mall that, like lots of Chula Vista locales, makes me want to keep driving. Nevertheless, it's a stone's throw from an excellent barbacoa place, so I guess the whole "location, location, location" thing just doesn't apply in CV.

Suffice to say, my expectations were low.

I was wrong.

One of the treats that I enjoyed during a 3+ hour border wait was an order of tostilocos. The clamato ($5) at La Fresca reincarnated that meal as a drink. Much more than a virgin Bloody Mary, the clamato had clam and tomato juice, hot sauce, chamoy, pork rinds, jicama, peanuts, and cucumber, and lime in it. It was like an order of tostilocos without chips! Joy! So much salty, tangy goodness in one cup. The crunchy peanuts on the top were the best part, but the acrid tang of the chamoy was what made it all hold together. Chamoy, a sauce of salted prune brine and chili powder, has a funky taste that's a little bit fermented and a little bit pickled. I think it has a lot of the qualities that soy sauce gives to food--that certain savoriness that's hard to pin down but you know it when you taste it. Japanese cooks call it "umami" and it makes your mouth water just to think about.

I don't know what I was thinking, ordering pork skin and seafood juice from a dingy strip-mall deli, but I am glad I did.

None

Feeling inspired towards more chamoy, I tried the pico de gallo fruit salad. Little more than a bowl of jicama, cucumber, mango, pineapple, strawberry, and melon, the fruit salad came alive when I started smothering it in Valentina hot sauce and chamoy. Bottles of sauces were up on the counter and I went nuts with both. The result--a salty, spicy, fruit explosion--beat the muggy Chula Vista evening heat like nothing else.

None

Fruit cups and salads are between $4 and $8 depending on how big they are. The two fruits that stood out the most were the mango and the jicama, both of which combined with the chamoy to tease my palate. Everything else was good, but those were the best and it's no surprise that there's an entire "chamango" cup on the menu, which is just chamoy and mango.

Not too bad for what amounts to a dive bar for fruit.

La Fresca
1037 Broadway (Chula Vista) 619-427-1713
1021 Highland Ave (National City) 619-477-4790

Sponsored
Here's something you might be interested in.
Submit a free classified
or view all
Comments
0

Be the first to leave a comment.

Sign in to comment

Sign in

Ask a Hipster — Advice you didn't know you needed Big Screen — Movie commentary Blurt — Music's inside track Booze News — San Diego spirits Classical Music — Immortal beauty Classifieds — Free and easy Cover Stories — Front-page features Drinks All Around — Bartenders' drink recipes Excerpts — Literary and spiritual excerpts Feast! — Food & drink reviews Feature Stories — Local news & stories From the Archives — Spotlight on the past Golden Dreams — Talk of the town 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 Outdoors — Weekly changes in flora and fauna Overheard in San Diego — Eavesdropping illustrated Poetry — The old and the new Reader Travel — Travel section built by travelers Reading — The hunt for intellectuals Roam-O-Rama — SoCal's best hiking/biking trails San Diego Beer — Inside San Diego suds SD on the QT — Almost factual news Sheep and Goats — Places of worship Special Issues — The best of Street Style — San Diego streets have style Surf Diego — Real stories from those braving the waves 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 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