A San Diego landmark restaurant for over a quarter century, Café Coyote y Cantina is in the heart of Old Town. What sets this restaurant apart from the plethora of Mexican restaurants in San Diego is its designation as a certified “Tequila House,” by Academia del Tequila of Mexico City, Mexico; it is one of only two in the United States. Let their Tequila Ambassador educate you on Mexico’s greatest tequilas. With over 100 tequilas to choose from, you’ll be sure to leave having found your perfect selection. You may want to try the signature frosty Grande Margarita at this award-winning restaurant; you’ll be surprised by how smooth it is.
Café Coyote Ambiance
It’s easy to see why Café Coyote y Cantina has been voted Best Mexican Restaurant in San Diego year after year for a decade. Spanish architecture highlighted by colorful murals and rustic Mexican décor surround vibrantly colored courtyards. Splashing fountains and aromatic flowers in the restaurant’s esplande featuring shops with nostalgic candies, old-time fudge, and south-of-the-border imports create an Old Mexico ambiance that is hard to resist. Master bartenders, Mexican tortillerias, and strolling Mariachi’s all add to the restaurant’s festive, ambiance. Did you forget the flowers for your special occasion? Buy roses right from your table. The lively and popular restaurant is often packed with diners, and can therefore sometimes be noisy.
Café Coyote Food
The fare at Café Coyote y Cantina can best be described as traditional Mexican regional recipes, prepared by Mexican chefs. Meals begin with warm chips and salsa delivered to your table followed by a full menu of appetizers, soups and salads, traditional Mexican plates, taco platters, or combinations, and desserts. Patrons can also order a la carte from the menu; there is a special surf and turf menu as well.
If you’ve never eaten at Café Coyote y Cantina, you’d do well to choose from the Coyote Favorites menu. These are their most popular entrées served with Mexican-style rice, refried beans, and their famous handmade tortillas. Guests have raved about the Fajitas Fiesta – fresh bell peppers, mushrooms, and onions sautéed with your choice of chicken, beef, veggies, or shrimp that comes sizzling to your table. Act like a local and order San Diego’s favorite California Burrito with carne asada, French fries, and melted cheeses, stuffed into a large flour tortilla with guacamole and salsa fresca from the traditional Mexican plates menu. Another good way to go is the taco of the day. Menu specials change monthly. There are so many great choices; let your palate be your guide.
Old Town San Diego sells more tequila than anywhere else in the world, and you can thank Café Coyote’s Tequila Ambassadors, in part, for that distinction. Every Thursday evening they turn guests into tequila connoisseurs, much the same as sommeliers do with wine, by guiding them through their extensive menu of over 100 tequilas. They help guests develop their personal tastes, teach them food pairings, educate them on quality and price, and open them up to new ways of experiencing tequilas. Enjoy Happy Hours in the Cantina Monday through Friday with huge flat-screen plasma TVs for your favorite sports, famous cantina tacos, drink and draft specials, and specialty shots.
Café Coyote Details
Coyote Café is open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner every day, but Christmas Day, with extended evening hours on the weekends. The family-friendly restaurant caters to vegetarians, and welcomes children. There is free parking in the garage beneath the restaurant, and there is bicycle parking too. The restaurant can accommodate large groups as well as banquets, and has plenty of outdoor seating; dinner dress is casual. If you aren’t into tequila and Mexican beers, have no fear, there’s a full bar available. If you don’t have time to stop for a full meal, you can grab a few of their warm handmade tortillas with butter as you stroll by. For something different, try them in chocolate, cinnamon, or strawberry.
Dining tip: Check in with your Yelp app and get a free quesadilla, or get a complimentary specialty tortilla appetizer when dining in with a Go San Diego Card. There is no Wi-Fi here.
Café Coyote Neighborhood
Located at the corner of San Diego Avenue and Conde Street, Coyote Café is one block from Old Town’s Whaley House Museum, which is a must-see attraction. The 1857 Greek Revival-style home is purportedly haunted, and many tours play up that aspect of the residence as much as its historic roots. A block farther from Coyote Café is Old Town San Diego State Park. Tours take visitors through the neighborhood’s historic sites where you’ll see many buildings from the 1820s to the 1870s, and learn about the Kumeyaay, Spanish, and Mexican influences on San Diego’s history and development.
Be sure to check out the shops of Bazaar del Mundo, hop on an Old Town Trolley Tour, visit the Little Adobe Chapel, or take in a few of the neighborhood’s other 25 historic sites, museums, and galleries. If you have time, visit Presidio Park above and behind Old Town San Diego State Park. It’s one of the best places for great views of San Diego from East County to the Pacific Ocean. It’s also home to Inspiration Point, Palm Canyon, Padre Cross, Serra Museum, and the Mormon Monuments. Have a picnic, or watch a magical San Diego sunset from this quiet, panoramic vantage point.