Though Casa de Reyes occupied the same space that Casa de Pico had, the difference was immediately noticable. The bright, colorful umbrellas, which covered each table on the patio, has been replaced by a few beige tarps spanning the patio. The over all effect is that the whole area seems much more subdued and much less festive.
The day I went to check things out was at noontime on a Saturday in June. No long lines waiting for a table. In all fairness I'll say that it was still the early days of the opening and given time, this may change.
One thing I will mention, is about the service. As I said, no one was in line. I walked up to the hostess stand to ask a question and though there were two employees standing near and not engaged in other tasks, neither bothered to greet me and both took their time coming to assist me.
The question: "Do you allow smoking on the patio?"
"No." Was the answer.
Finally! Good news! The drab tan umbrellas have given way to a splash of color again! A new group of owners came to the rescue and took over the lease. They are a local, San Diego group and wanted to restore the vibrance that once was. They've done a nice job of it and we are very pleased.
Not only has the look changed, the food, service and vib is as good and festive as ever! I think you'll like having a meal here and if you arrive at the right time you might even see the dancers on stage!
Favorite Dish: I didn't stay so didn't try the food. However, there were no delicious smells drifting through.
The menu seemed to be only a mixed buffet and as I remember the price for lunch was $10.00, and for dinner $13.00.
I've eaten here and though I wouldn't say the food was better than Casa de Pico, I would say that it was very good and the service was attentive. So, while touring Old Town San Diego State Historic Park I can recommend this restaurant!
I'll put new photos up when I get them.
Juan Bandini came from Peru to San Diego in 1819. His home, La Casa de Bandini was completed ten years later and he lived there with his wife, daughter of Capitan Jose Maria Estudillo, the commander of the Presidio, until Bandini sold the home in the early 1850's. Since that time the building has served as a hotel, a store and even a pickle factory. Today it has been restored to the height of it's glory and it has become one of the most popular Mexican restaurants in the park.
There is a large patio area for dining year round and unless it's a rainy day, even the cool weather is warded off with heaters throughout. There are several dining sections downstairs and upstairs and along the portico there are places to sit, have a drink and watch the people passing by.
Even if a meal at Casa de Bandini is not in your plans, at least order one of their Margaritas, sit on the portico one evening listening to the Mariachis sarenading customers as they enter. Here it is easy to imagine the bustling social life of San Diego in the Hacienda days!
Casa de Bandini--the building--is in for another career change. I have heard that the company that won the bid for the area known as Bazaar del Mundo will turn this building into the Cosmopolitan Restaurant and Hotel. When I find out the definitive answer, I will place it here.
The restaurant has opened and the reviews fall short. It seems to be that first timers to this restaurant rave about the patio ambience but not the service, food or the Margaritas which they say is carbonated. What?
A hotel is expected to open in the building as well, but that is still a future plan.
Favorite Dish: The food at Bandini's was the best in traditional Mexican cuisine and the portions were generous.
The menu of the Cosmopolitan is not as extensive as when Casa Bandini and the prices are higher.
My favorites are Carnitas a la Michoacan ($11.95) and Chicken Fajitas ($11.95) however, these are by no means the only, nor the best dishes offered. So, whatever your selection from their enormous menu might be, you will not be disappointed.
The restaurant, Casa De Bandini will reopen it's doors late in 2006 at the historic Old Police Headquarters near Seaport Village. When this happens, I will let you know.
Note: That never happened.
Casa de Bandini Update: 2009
This restaurant has finally been reopened, Summer 2009 in Carlsbad, California and seems to be a great addition to the city. If you want to revisit this restaurant or plan a daytrip to Carlsbad and love Mexican food, you might consider a meal at Casa de Bandini in Carlsbad.
Casa de Pico is my favorite restaurant in Old Town. There are many other very good places for a meal. What makes it my favorite? The fantastic memories I have of sharing a meal with a friend? Spending the evening laughing with friends? Oh, the stories I could tell. Yes, this restaurant is a fun place to eat and I like the atmostphere here.
Many people judge a restaurant by the long line of people waiting to eat there. If that is any indication, this must be one of the best eateries in all of San Diego!!
This restaurant closed May 2005. I promise to let you know what replaces this favorite restaurant of mine. Though I am not happy about the proposed changes, I'm keeping an open mind and hopefully will have something wonderful to recommend.
When Casa De Pico opens its doors again I will add the information here. In the mean time there are other places that you can choose from that seem popular too.
The tip below this is about the restaurant that has replaced Casa De Pico. I will not go there to eat for various reasons, the most important being that it falls short in every way--IMO--and it's not worth the hastle to get there any more.
Having said that, I'm sure that first time visitors will be pleased enough with the place and it is a convenient stop while exploring Old Town San Diego State Historic Park.
I am leaving the Casa de Pico tip here for all those past visitors who loved having a meal here at their last visit and who might want to know what has happened to it.
Favorite Dish: If you are not hungry when you get here, you will be starving by the time you are seated! The wait is long no matter what time or day you are here. One good thing is that there is a very nice and quick-handed tortilla lady who will make and give you tortillas while you wait. Of course it is only good manners to give her something for her work. She will give you butter or chili sauce to add flavor to the snack.
My favorite meals at Casa de Pico are "tacos al pastor," "carnitas" or "chicken fajitas." For Starters, I like the Margaritas!
Casa de Pico is now located at the Grossmont Center Shopping Mall.
Address: 5500 Grossmont Center Drive, La Mesa
Phone: (619) 463-3267
This is some miles from Old Town but not far from the SD Trolley station at Grossmont. So, if you want to try it out, take a look at my La Mesa page. Look at the Restaurant tip and the Transportation tip titled, ""Grossmont Transit Center."
Fiesta de Reyes is a huge courtyard of restaurants, activities, and shops. We walked into here to look for a bite to eat, but it was way too crowded. Yet, it has lots of choices to eat, shop, and just sit and enjoy the entertainment of music being performed.
When we were here last, pretty much all the places were really busy and the lines at all the restaurants were out the door or just way too long. So we walked to this place to give it a try and they sat us right away. We sat on a lovely patio with a beautiful lattice about our heads just covered in beautiful dark pink and red blooms. The fragrance was wonderful. They took our order and we were served promptly. We chose traditional food and it was very good. The price was not bad either.
We didn't dine here, but we could see they had a very lovely patio area that looked so inviting. We looked at the menu and they had quite a good selection.
Get an instant answer from local experts and frequent travelers