A strange thing occurred round these parts over the last couple of months. Two restaurants with similar names opened up, Don Diego and Dan Diego. At first I thought they were possibly related, but they couldn't be more different....one is a "Taco Bar" and the other is a "Euro Cafe and Pub". Both of them have one thing in common.....a huge selection of beer. I believe each has over a hundred different bottled and a good amount on draft.
Actually, I really wasn't too motivated to try the place out. But the Missus was working one evening and gave me a list of stuff She needed me to pick up. The last stop was from Sprouts (formerly Henry's) on Genesee. It was kind of late and I was both tired and hungry, so I thought why not check out this place.
The place looks more like a sports bar than a taco shop. They've really brightened up the place. You might remember it as being Trattoria Firenze.
There were ten beers on tap and at least a hundred bottled, with a good selection of local beers. I decided to try the various proteins in mini taco form, each ran about $1.85... and got a Yellowtail.
They quickly ran me out a basket of chips, which were thin and crumbly, not really that great, but hey, it's gratis, right?
The salsas are pretty straight-forward. I also noticed that the folks who seem to be running this "Taco Bar" didn't seem to be Hispanic. Which factored a bit into my ordering.
I've developed a bit of a habit when it comes to tacos....I always taste the protein on it's own first, just to see how it tastes. And the Adobada wasn't a good start as the meat was mushy and the marinade very bland.
The carnitas followed the same bland profile.
The carne asada took things one step further and was not only very bland, but also tough as heck.
I think the folks running the place are Middle Eastern, though the guy manning the grill is Hispanic. With this in mind, I ordered the birria just out of curiosity since it was listed as lamb on the menu. This was more like an asado of mutton as it was pretty tough. It did have a surprisingly decent gamey flavor to it.
One out of three ain't a bad batting average for bland meats in store bought tortillas with what seemed like store bought chips. The guys working here were very nice however, they even offered me more chips (I passed). So I thought it only fair to visit one more time.
While the place was pretty busy on my previous visit, things were pretty quiet on this day. Same nice group of guys working though.
I did notice something curious about the salsa bar on this trip...notice the olives and sliced pepperoncini.
I decided just to go off the deep end and try a gyro taco (gasp!), along with the birria this time out.
It was some very dry gyro meat on cold tortillas, topped with a tasteless under ripe tomato slice, topped with a sorta-tzaziki sauce that was too thick. Man, this was just plain bad.
The birria tasted just like what I had before.
I also tried one of the TJ style bacon wrapped hot dogs....ketchup and all.
So let us take this apart, shall we? A mushy hot dog, wrapped with burnt bacon, looking like a certain charred body part in a dry, cold, hot dog bun. I'll go out on a limb here and say the ketchup and mustard were the best part of this.....
I will again say how nice the guys here are and I was told that they were going to soon have 32 beers on tap. As for what I ate......well, you can figure that out, right?
Don Diego's Taco Bar
4421 Genesee Ave
San Diego, CA 92117
Daily 10am - 10pm