Miguel’s Cocina serves up value in Old Town

02_19_13_Features_Miguel_JMI swear it’s staring back at me, taunting me with a seductive look that says, “Come on, just another bite.”

I know I should stop. I haven’t even ordered my meal yet and I’m starting to feel my food limit get pushed. My self-control is tested as its creamy white exterior outshines the dish of chunky, red salsa next to it. I glance at the salsa and mentally force it to live in the shadow of the queso dip many other chip dips belong in as well.

As my friends and I shyly request more of this cheesy delightfulness, the waiter graciously boasts that we’re not nearly as bad as other customers.

“One guy puts the queso in a bowl and sprinkles the chips on top of it like it’s some kind of soup,” he said.

As our friendly waiter disappeared to retrieve more of this premeal snack, my friends and I discuss our instant admiration for this restaurant that has recently made its way into our lives. Miguel’s Cocina in Old Town offers a lively atmosphere while still maintaining an upscale twist.

Depending on the mood, the restaurant offers various eating options. A large open bar area inside maintains a casual and entertaining atmosphere. An outdoor deck provides an adventurous setting in the sunshine or a romantic ambiance during the night with a fireplace and heated lamps. A private wing inside has an intimate and classy feel.

Miguel’s has an overall environment that makes it its own in Old Town while other restaurants don’t seem as unique.

Although the free queso dip is what seems to leave the biggest impression, the restaurant shouldn’t be sold short there. Being the broke college students we are, my friends and I decided to take advantage of the happy hour menu.

For $6, I ordered chicken flautas that arrived cooked to perfection. Despite being such a simple item, many restaurants somehow get lost in the process of making them. Miguel’s impressed me with three lightly crisped corn tortillas snuggled tightly around shreds of juicy and tender chicken. The combination of guacamole, sour cream and salsa topped off this otherwise plain meal make it pop with flavor.

My friends, who are more frugal than I, took advantage of the $3 Tijuana-style tacos, which come with three tacos provided in four different varieties (carne asada, carnitas, shredded chicken and carne abobda). All of my friends were extremely pleased with their meals. When we got the check, one even said to the waiter, “I feel like I just robbed you.”

Miguel’s hosts a generous happy hour daily from 2-6 p.m., except Mondays, which is 2 p.m. to close. Another friend raved about the $4.75 margaritas available in regular, mango or strawberry flavors.

For adventurous diners able to stray from a budget, I highly recommend the ceviche appetizer. It’s worth every cent, which is 950 pennies for those who are curious.

Consisting of shrimp, scallops, and white fish all cured in citrus juices, your mouth will water prior to every bite. The additional ingredients of diced tomato, onion and cilantro are what make it impossible to put the crispy tortilla chips down. As I tried covering all the bare spots of the chips, the ceviche weighed on each one.

As a whole, the experience at Miguel’s is exceptional from start to finish. The friendly servers are on standby to refill the irresistible and never-ending chips and queso dip. Representative of Old Town as a whole, it’s a fun place to go with friends but also has great potential for a date night.

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San Diego State University’s Independent Student Newspaper Since 1913
Miguel’s Cocina serves up value in Old Town