Sean with his best friend, Rodolfo.
where is everybody?
This was last Tuesday, in Oceanside. I was looking for food. Don’t look for food on a Tuesday afternoon. Many places are closed. Last Tuesday in particular, the day the entire nation fell–exhausted, suspended, and bankrupt–the day after the Fourth of July.
So on July 5th, I walk around in a daze. I have a couple of hours before my last coaster heads south to Diego, at 7:36 p.m. (It’s not on the schedule, but a guard told me so.) So I’m looking for maybe a pint of Oceanside servza And enough food to keep me going. but where? I mean, Oceanside looks different every time I pass by. This time, it seems to me that everything between Cleveland Street and the beach is new and expensive. Restaurants, bars. But where I am now, between Civic Center Drive and Mission, there are more old school restaurants – that’s at least a look Cheaper. They probably don’t have to deal with new owners and higher rents.
I stop outside this bar. Pier View Pub. Behind him, at the bottom of the Pier View Way, the massive ocean wall that lies beside the Oceanside spots from turquoise to gray and back to turquoise, depending on the clouds and the afternoon sun. When the opportunity presents itself, the sun rises through the pub window and along the bar to light up Ashley’s blonde hair for the bar. to her tres mares Flashing blue and green eyes and a tropical flower tattoo running all the way down her left arm.
Chef Sean (White Hat) with friends, including President Obama (far right).
“Do you serve food?” I ask.
Ashley shakes her head. “Sorry. But you can bring it. Colima across the road makes good Mexican food. Just bring it.” Hmm. why not? Everything else is closed or too expensive. So hey, split, we’re over the Pier View Way, and it’s blown away! Colima. Problem: You walk in, the place is packed with many menu items around the walls, you need a guide and a watch. Fortunately, there are people ahead of me. All are military, on leave from Camp Pendleton. The first guy ordered a California burrito ($11.75). The second guy orders a California burrito. “California,” says Raphael, the big-looking guy here. “It’s our most popular ingredient.” That’s despite the huge selection. Fortunately, they have good color photos of every dish on the menu. Because it’s my turn now. I avoid burritos. I also avoid large slurry bowls that leak all over the board. I avoid the Anglo dishes like the 3 pancakes and 2 eggs or the ham and eggs platter or the omelettes (each $12.50). I even avoid the avocado bacon cheeseburger, which looks like a bargain at $9.95, and the giant-looking beef stew, which comes in at $13.50.
No, I want all Mexicans, now I’m here. And more: I want it in the style of Kolyma. Because they say Colima has fun food, things like toxinho corn, an ancient orange variety from Central America that tastes more savory than sweet. and iguana meat, “chicken of trees,” because iguanas are common there. “We are all from Colima,” says Rafael. Well, no iguanas, but they do have a whole black tilapia for $14.50. Except I’m concerned that I might spoil the fish you’re carrying across the street to the tavern and laying there on the table. So here’s breakfast and lunch, I’m thinking of getting a beef or chicken tamale ($3.95) to start with. But instead, I break my self-imposed taco ban this afternoon and go for a $4.70 crisp minced beef taco while I figure out my next move. Oh, what the heck: I asked Florentino, the guy at the cash register, about the carnitas tortillaonly because it looks golden and big.
A Mess, But a Beautiful Mess – Crispy Ground Beef Taco.
Ten minutes later, I empty everything on the table across the street at the Pier View Pub. I lose almost the entire load when I forget that they have a huge step down halfway through the pub bar. “Save well,” this guy, Aliki. It is an American Tongan. “I’m just waiting here for my wife to come out so I can sneak into the house,” he says. I notice he’s sitting across from an old sign: “Hide from wife’s forbidden phone rates.” They start at $1 for “no, not here”, then go up to $4 for “hasn’t been around all day”, and peak at $5 for “never heard of it.” Of course, in this enlightened day and age, they should be posting phone prices to “hide from the husband” as well.
Sean, the man seated on the other side, hugs Rodolfo, his three-year-old dachshund. “I named him after Rudolph Valentino, a Latin lover, because all dog girls love him,” he says. He’s a chef at a nearby restaurant, Le Citron, and has a picture of him and his cooking crew, with – hey! – President Obama! “It’s amazing to meet in this business,” he says.
So the tacos are delicious, but the carnitas tortilla It really is a bomb. Big chunks of ham marinated in a blizzard of shredded lettuce on a crunchy yet tender bun. “Yes, we had to raise our prices, but one thing we didn’t do was reduce our quantities,” Rafael told me at Colima’s. I can attest to this. Now I wash my own tortilla With Sculpin’s Mist IPA ($8.50) that Ashley brought me. But nonetheless, it’s too much for me.
Ashley – everyone’s favorite, and art walks by herself.
Hey man. I look at my watch. Gotta head south. This last train, 7:36, departs in fifteen minutes. I jumped. Rodolfo Yeps. “Rodolfo!” Sean says. “Verschlisen! Quiet!” he tells me, “She’s a smart dog. Understands German. Also Spanish, Japanese, Korean, and now you’re learning Persian.” When I leave, Sean plays pool, Aliki gets sleepy. I drink my last scalpin, and Billy Corrington sings: “God is great, beer is good, people are crazy.” Me, I find myself feeling a little crazy Because of that old mexican food, again.I guess I’m not alone.Colima has half a dozen joints around town.The only thing they don’t have?Any chicken from the trees.
- the place: Colima’s Mexican Restaurant, 308 Pier View Way, Oceanside, 760-439-4045; Also North Park, Chula Vista, El Cajon, Bonita and Tijuana
- hours: 9 a.m. to 9 p.m., Monday through Thursday; 9 a.m. – 11 p.m. Friday, Saturday; Sunday from 8 am to 9 pm
- the prices: Wrapped Tacos, $6.95; Taco Salad, $8.99; Surf and Grass Burrito, $9.50; California Burrito, $8.50; Pozzol with chips, $9.95; Black Whole Tilapia, Rice, Beans, $14.50; 3 pancakes and 2 eggs, $12.50; Pork and Egg Platter, $12.50; omelette, $12.50; Avocado Bacon with Cheese, $9.95, Beef Stew, $13.50