Fernandez Catering isn't one of those places you drive past and impulsively stop and grab a bite. In fact, just finding the darn place was a bit of a challenge. Located on Flower Avenue, right off Hollister in Nestor, my coworker who recommended the place couldn't even recall the name, nor the street, which had me driving fruitlessly around the area. Finally, one day she googled and found me the address of the place.
Located in what looks like an apartment building in a lot next to a smog shop, things were quite hectic on my visits there. There always seemed to be customers coming and going; many a bleary eyed gentleman grabbing birria to go. Ah yes, the birria de res. It's the only item on the menu. You can get it in different shapes and forms; queso taco, consomme con carne, tacos, quesadillas....in the end it's all about the birria here and rightfully so. It's also the only protein on the menu.
The customers all seemed like regulars....they all knew the main man here; Jorge. And as much as these places are sometimes somewhat insular, here I was greeted with smiles, and left to multiple handshakes. There's something very warm and hospitable about my visits here, even though they were quite busy.
I went full speed ahead on my first visit and got a full order of the birria de res.....which turned out to be quite a bit. In fact, I didn't eat again until well past dinner time. The birria is beefy and the broth rich with fat. The flavors also reflect said bovine heritage. I was told that I'd need to adjust the flavors so I wasn't surprised when this arrived lacking salt, which was easily added, along with the salsa, and lime to cut the richness and add some acid to the dish. No, this isn't health food; but it's truly soul food.
Add the fact that the hand made tortillas seemed to have been dipped in the birria juice and oil before heating on the griddle, and this just seemed too much of a good thing.
And yet, I couldn't get all that beefy goodness out of my mind. Add in how welcomed I was made to feel, plus advice from my coworker, "the order of birria is too much, go for the tacos......" I just had to return a couple of weeks later.
It was less busy on this visit and I was greeted with smiles and handshakes, which made me really feel welcomed. This time I was better versed and more prepared. I went with three tacos and some consomme. Along with a bottle of water, this set me back $8.96.
I knew this was going to be good good when I was advised to "have some tendon on your tacos..." Are you kidding me!
The consomme was piping hot, and with the help of some salt and lime, it just hit the spot. This is my kind of breakfast.
The tacos followed soon after.
When I was asked (twice) about which I preferred, I had to go with the tacos....though you need to get some consomme as well.
Overall, the spices are mild. You will need to add salt, but the flavor of the long cooked beef does shine through. And if you need some spice, you can always have a couple of bites of this:
The hours are rather limited; Wednesday thru Sunday 8am to 2pm. I visited at 8am and it started getting really crowded as I left. There's a rather limited amount of parking in the lot, but more street parking.
In the end....for me at least, this place was worth the effort to find.
Fernandez Restaurant and Catering
2265 Flower Ave. San Diego, CA 92154
Hours: Wed - Sunday 8am - 2pm