Cenaduría Sinaloense La Espiguita
If there were one rule to remember while eating in San José, it's this: if a restaurant says "Sinaloa," it probably has really good food. As the nearest land mass across the Mar de Cortez, Sinaloa is the neighboring state to Baja California Sur. This explains why a large portion of San José's residents are Sinaloan: they moved west during Baja California Sur's massive development thirty years ago. With them they brought the tastes of Sinaloan cuisine.
Cenaduría Sinaloense la Espiguita is the restaurant of Sinaloa native chef Sandra Luz Zepeda. It's a local place visited by residents who live in the adjacent Colonia Chamizal. Here, a tabletop stereo plays Sinaloan banda while Señora Zepeda takes orders and returns to the kitchen to prepare them. The outdoor restaurant serves a variety of antojitos, meats, and soups including red pozole. But what the restaurant lacks in fancy decor it makes up for in flavor. I find myself visiting "La Espiguita" pretty often.
Sopes de pollo y de carne deshebrada - Thick puffy corn tortillas topped with lettuce, tomatoes, red onion, avocado, beans, and a cream sauce. One has hand-pulled chicken and the other, beef. The texture of the sopes (otherwise known as "gorditas," an affectionate word for a chubby girl) is phenomenal: stubby discs of masa that are simultaneously crispy and chewy, depending on which part of the griddle-cooked dough is eaten. Some locals take advantage of the dough's absorbency by ordering beef-stock consommé and pouring it over to fill the airy crevices.
Sope (gordita) de carne deshebrada - The edges of the sope are slightly raised -- like a pizza crust -- preventing the ingredients from spilling over. The texture is a bit soft in the middle making this is more of a fork-and-knife dish.
Tostada de carne deshebrada - A thin and crispy corn tortilla topped with juicy hand-pulled beef, fresh vegetables, queso fresco, and a cream sauce. These are very light and can easily be picked up with two fingers. The contrast between the crispy tortilla and soft stringy beef really makes this tostada special. Be sure to eat it before the tortilla gets soggy.
Pozole rojo - A traditional pork stew abundant in maize and garnished with raw onion, oregano, lime, and red chili. Pozole means "foamy" in Nahuatl, likely from the bubbles produced during the nixtamalization of the maize corn. The giant grains of corn -- each a bit larger than a chickpea -- have a potato-like starchiness that absorbs the broth. The raw onion adds a fresh short-lived spice, while the acidity of the lime cuts through the heaviness of the meat. It's a well-balanced, hearty stew loaded with flavor.
La Espiguita is open fairly late making this a great place for a local late-night meal. It's casual, unpretentious and strictly focused on serving great authentic food.