Restaurant exudes Mexican flair

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by Alejandra Alonso, Contributor

Many things come to mind when thinking about Mexican restaurants.

The smell of fresh handmade tortillas, the sound of margaritas in the making, colorful decorations hanging from the ceiling, and mariachi serenading customers while they eat their dinner.

Customers can find all of this at the corner of Juan and Taylor Street in Old Town, San Diego.

Since its opening in March 1995, Casa Guadalajara has quickly become one of Old Town’s most popular restaurants through its lively decorations, festive music and authentic cuisine.

The restaurant’s embodiment of the Mexican culture has led to its award-winning recognition and success.

Sysco and US Foods recognized Casa Guadalajara as the Best Mexican Dinner House in 2013, The California Restaurant Association’s award it for Best Mexican Restaurant in 2010 and Star 94.1 FM listeners voted it San Diego’s top margarita in May 2011.

Asael Ruelas Vaquera, a weekend server and San Diego State student, said it’s the perfect place for college students to unwind after a long day at school.

“Our weekday happy hour, from 4-7 p.m., is one of the most successful aspects of the restaurant,” Ruelas Vaquera said. “We offer free food in the bar area with the purchase of any drink. It’s inexpensive with a great atmosphere.”

For all those who can’t make happy hour, not to worry. Casa Guadalajara has an impressive selection of dishes to choose from. The menu is divided into multiple categories — appetizers, fish, meat, vegetarian, dessert and drinks — making it easy to satisfy any craving.

The restaurant has a few house specialties on its menu.

One is carne asada and shrimp on a bed of Mexican rice served with beans and guacamole. Another is steak ranchero sauteed with onions, green peppers, tomato and cilantro, served alongside rice, beans and handmade tortillas. There’s also the carne asada burrito filled with steak and pico de gallo, topped with salsa roja and melted cheese.

Casa Guadalajara also offers create-your-own fajitas in its menu.

Patrons can choose from chicken, steak and shrimp, which come served with grilled onions, bell peppers, handmade tortillas, a side of Mexican rice, beans, sour cream and guacamole.

For all seafood lovers, the shrimp cocktail is a must-try. It boasts serious flavor with a balance of tomato juice, ketchup and avocado slices.

Some say a Mexican restaurant is only as good as its dessert, and Casa Guadalajara does not disappoint.

From deep-fried ice cream and delicious flan to traditional churros and bunuelos, its dessert is sure to satisfy any sweet tooth.

Whether it’s for a romantic evening with a loved one or an outing with a group of friends for great food and drinks, Casa Guadalajara is the place for all.