In San Diego one can easily get overwhelmed by the variety of Mexican cuisine available. However some restaurants always manage to stand out from the crowd and one of them is El Jardín in Liberty Station. At El Jardín they focus on several different regions in Mexico and the menu even tells you what dish was inspired by a specific region!
Their Executive Chef Claudette Zepeda-Wilkins is a native San Diegan that was also raised in Tijuana and Guadalajara. I could tell that the dishes on the menu were well thought out and inspired by either a family recipe or favorite dish. There were so many things that sounded good we had to try a little bit of everything until we were stuffed! Plus the drinks were unique, strong and packed with flavor that complemented all of the dishes regardless of what we ordered.
You can choose to dine inside or outside depending on the weather and since the sun has finally returned to San Diego we opted to sit outside. The outdoor patio is beautiful and filled with plants and other beautiful décor. I could spend all afternoon here on a weekend just enjoying the food, drinks and ambiance.
We started our evening early so it wasn’t too crowded but we did have reservations which I highly recommend because it did get busier as the evening progressed. Thankfully we had an amazing server that didn’t make us feel rushed and was helpful with suggestions for drinks and food. Service is huge for me and I can honestly say this is some of the best service we’ve received while dining!
For our first round of drinks we tried the Pineapple Tears which has Blanco Tequila, lime, serrano, pineapple juice and herb jalapeno oil. I love spicy margaritas and this one had the perfect balance of sweet meets spicy.
We also ordered the Prickley Paloma crafted with Blanco Tequila, grapefruit juice, lime juice, prickley pear syrup and soda. The prickley pear is what gives the drink it’s vibrant pink color. As far as Paloma’s go this one was also a bit sweeter than some I’ve had in the past which was a good thing! I don’t like them to be too bitter so I really enjoyed how smooth this version was.
Then it was time for appetizers! We tried the Taquitos which are from El Norte cuisine. These were stacked high and the only thing I wish was different was having more sauce to dip them in. They’re made with potato, cheese and braised short ribs. Then topped with shredded lettuce, crema and cotija cheese.
After devouring the taquitos it was time for another drink. This time I went with our servers favorite called the Telenovela Passion. It has Mezcal, ginger, passion fruit, lime and chamoy. If you want to be extra like me you can also ask them to add on a tamarindo candy for $2 more. In my opinion, it was totally worth it. I love Tamarindo candy and I don’t eat it very often so it was a nice little treat.
Finally it was time for the main event! I have heard great things about their Lamb Barbacoa (Pachuca, Hidalgo) so Jarod and I shared that along with a hearty serving of the House Guacamole (Aztecs, Pre-Hispanic). The Barbacoa was amazing! At first Jarod was worried there wasn’t enough to share but once we created tacos with the meat, guac and fresh tortillas it was more than enough for both of us. Their Barbacoa is a smoked lamb shoulder with salsa borracha, a side of olla beans, rice and avocado.
What I really liked about their House Guacamole was the addition of fresh pickled vegetables grown in their garden on site! It even had pickles and cauliflower which I never would have thought to add to guacamole before but now I want it all the time!
Overall, our experience dining at El Jardín was a memorable one and we both can not wait to go back. I heard they have an amazing brunch menu too so I think I’ll have to check that out next. I hope you go to check them out and enjoy your meal as much as we did!
📍El Jardín: 2885 PERRY ROAD, SAN DIEGO, CA 92106
🚗Parking: If it’s a weekend, be prepared to park a block or so away. But there is always parking!
🍽 Perfect For: Date Night or A Sunny Brunch