Kirbie's Cravings

Jimmy Carter’s Mexican Cafe

Jimmy Carter’s Mexican Cafe, owned and named after native San Diegan Jimmy Carter, has been around for more than twenty years.

This past weekend, I spent some time with my cousin who was in town for a visit. I asked her what she was craving, and having previously lived in San Diego while attending college, she promptly responded with “Mexican.” I came up with a few suggestions and she picked Jimmy Carter’s.

I previously had some bites from Jimmy Carter’s years ago and have wanted to go back ever since for a full meal. When we walked in, I was surprised that the place was quite empty. During our initial visit, the restaurant had been completely packed.

The menu has quite a selection of breakfast and lunch items as well as even more specials written on a board.

Complimentary chips and salsa

Homemade Tamal

This was my cousin’s choice. The portion was quite large and she really enjoyed it.

Calamari Tostada and Carnitas Taco

One of the highlights of Jimmy Carter’s is supposed to be the calamari. While I thoroughly enjoyed my taste of it when I visited years ago, I found the current version to be much too salty. It still had the tender chew and light bread crumb coating, but it was far too salty for me to enjoy, which is a shame because there was a good amount included in the tostada.

Huevos Ranchero Jalisco

Mr. K chose this, one of his favorite dishes to order. He really enjoys Mexican breakfast food and he liked the version here.

Flour tortillas

We were also given two warm flour tortillas which tasted wonderfully fresh while they were steaming hot and was my favorite item of our meal.

Overall, I was a little disappointed with our visit. I liked the large selection of menu items, the reasonable prices, and Mr. K and my cousin both enjoyed their dishes. I didn’t like mine as much and I felt the restaurant seemed a shadow of its former self in terms of food, service, etc.

You can view the breakfast/lunch menu here.

Jimmy Carter’s Mexican Cafe
3172 5th Ave
San Diego, CA 92103
Jimmy Carter's Mexican Cafe on Urbanspoon

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6 comments on “Jimmy Carter’s Mexican Cafe”

  1. This is pretty close to where I live and the one time we went I was also pretty disappointed. Ordered a carnitas plate and the meat was super mushy. When I ordered a margarita and they didn’t card me (I am often told I look 19 -___- so pretty much always get carded) which I thought was odd and then the ‘drink’ I got tasted like lemon sugar water with no alcohol in it at all. Bf ordered tacos and he said they weren’t that great either. It’s often empty but I do see a couple regulars so I can definitely see this having been a good restaurant that has gone downhill.

    • When I went a few years ago during a food tour, the place was completely packed with a line out the door. We tried to go back several times soon after but I didn’t want to deal with the wait and they didnt take reservations at the time. So I was so surprised to find it empty, the employees moving slowly, etc. Sad.

  2. I’ve never heard of this place. I seriously thought ‘oh the president opened up a Mex restaurant here in SD?’ when I read the title of your post.

    The fresh warm tortillas would have been my favorite item too.

  3. I always think of the former president when I hear about this place haha. Never been though. Sounds like they have maybe started cutting corners. Too bad about the overly salty food!

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