When I realized that I was going to be staying in the Marina/Gaslamp Quarter area of San Diego for my conference, I was definitely excited. I knew I would have access to a fun and energetic night life and good food. So, when I arrived, I decided that I was going to head out to dinner, and my first stop would be for Mexican. But rather than look something up and go there, I just decided to see what I could find that looked interesting. I started up Fifth, and then looped around to Sixth checking out all of the craziness and scenery that was the night before Halloween in the Gaslamp before finally arriving back at Fred’s Mexican Cafe.
Fred’s was definitely full of energy and done up in a style that I would consider part tiki, part SoCal, part Mexican. The first thing you ran into was the bar that didn’t have stools, with the dining area around back. I ended up waiting for about 10 minutes before I was able to get a table. The first thing I did was order a margarita, and then I started looking through the menu. It was a one page menu, with a lot of things that I would say are “basic” dishes (i.e. tacos, enchiladas, etc.). I debated a lot of options, and ended up going with the baja fish tacos and the chicken chingaderas.
As in most “typical” places, my dinner started with chips and fresh salsa. The salsa was actually pretty mild, verging on sweet. It was predominately tomatoes, and no chiles or peppers to speak of. The margarita was good though; not overly sweet, a good amount of tequila and salt. Together the two worked ok, though I really would have preferred more spice.
When dinner made it’s way out, I was definitely excited. Mexican is one thing that Seattle is definitely not known for, so I was looking forward to some good Mexican food. It started out well with the chingaderas; Mexican egg rolls as they were described on the menu. They were chicken rolled in some sort of wrapper and then fried. They had a great crisp with every bite. On top were some fresh tomatoes that added a nice freshness to each bite, and the avocado based sauce brought in just the right amount of sweetness. There was also a slaw that I worked into each bit for a little add crunch and flavor. The tacos on the other hand were a bit of a let down. The fish was good from a preparation perspective, and it was topped with a pico de gallo style salsa. But, everything was pretty much one note. The texture was all about the same, the flavors were all about the same. I was expecting some sort of sauce, and there might have been one, but it definitely got lost. I didn’t end up finishing the second taco.
I thought that overall the dinner was good. I enjoyed the margarita and I definitely enjoyed the chingaderas. The vibe was awesome and as the Halloween party got going, it just got crazy and exciting. Was it the best Mexican food ever? No, not by a long shot. But, it was better than most things I can find back home, and I had a good time. For someone in the GasLamp, I’d probably recommend it as a place for a fun night out. Ok food, good drinks, good for dancing and having fun. Like I said, not a bad night.